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Paper Mario: Russ T.

Unveiling Localization Secrets in the First Paper Mario Game

Hey there, fellow Nintendo enthusiasts! Today, I stumbled upon a captivating post by @MrCheeze_ on Twitter that inspired me to delve into the enchanting realm of Paper Mario. In this extraordinary RPG developed by Intelligent Systems (known for their exceptional work on Fire Emblem and Advance Wars), we encounter a delightful character named Russ T. who resides in the magical universe of the Nintendo 64.

The Journey of a Name: Kinopon, Russ T., and the Toads

Let’s begin with an intriguing linguistic tidbit. In the Japanese version of the game, Toads are called “kino,” derived from the word “kinoko,” which means “mushroom.” Thus, “Kinopon” is a fusion of the Japanese name for Toads and “pon,” a variant of “本” (hon), meaning “book.” “Pon” is also a charming way to end a name, just like “Timmy” for Tim or “Rusty” for Russel—adorable, isn’t it?

Witnessing name changes during localization was rather common, especially during the N64 era. Curiously, Russ T. wasn’t the only Toad to undergo such a transformation:

Unraveling the Mystery: Russ T.’s Dubious Dialogue

Now, let’s explore Russ T.’s dialogue, which proves to be quite peculiar. He mentions something that doesn’t exist in Paper Mario: icons representing an enemy’s potential attacks. Let’s delve into the original Japanese text and its English counterpart to determine if it was initially designed that way:

Japanese Official English Direct Translation
Original Japanese text goes here Official English text goes here Direct translation goes here

Some suggest that Russ T.’s name hints at his knowledge being a bit rusty, but I’m quite certain this is the only factual inaccuracy he possesses throughout the entire game. Hence, much like his name, this error appears to be a result of localization creativity. The essence of the Japanese text emphasizes the potency of status effects, urging players to utilize them more effectively than their adversaries.

Apart from mistakenly interpreting the Japanese term for the Dizzy status— 目を回す (me wo mawasu), meaning “to faint” (literally “to spin one’s eyes”)—as Paralysis, the most glaring mistake seems to be glossing over the significance of “コツ” (kotsu). While it literally means “bone,” it can also convey the notion of a “trick,” “know-how,” “knack,” or “secret.” When combined with “ちょっとした” (chottoshita), meaning “slight” or “minor,” it essentially becomes “a little tip.” The Japanese text doesn’t make any mention of symbols or icons, leaving us uncertain whether this confusion arose from misinterpretation or simply fabrication when “kotsu” was misunderstood.

It’s plausible that this line underwent changes during the development process, and the localization team inadvertently omitted the necessary updates. Perhaps the feature did exist at some point but was removed for various reasons. I recall certain enemies displaying the statuses they could inflict through animations, as exemplified by Bloopers emitting electric sparks. It’s conceivable that these were initially represented by icons but later replaced with unique animations for enhanced aesthetics.

During this period, Nintendo often worked on localizations simultaneously with development, resulting in faster Western releases. Notably, PM’s localization was entrusted to a team that would eventually become what we now know as Treehouse (you might recognize Hiro Yamada, Tim O’Leary, and Bill Trinen if you’re a localization enthusiast). One significant change brought about by Treehouse localization was the implementation of more simultaneous or near-simultaneous worldwide releases, thanks to concurrent localization efforts.

Therefore, if the aforementioned feature was indeed removed, it’s plausible that this little tutorial NPC’s dialogue was unintentionally overlooked during an update. Alternatively, the localization team might have hastily skimmed over this rare line from an NPC most players would only engage with once or twice. Translation errors are not uncommon, particularly in text-heavy games like this one.

Are there any other localization nuances or lost tips from Paper Mario or any other games that you’d like to share? Feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me on social media. Remember, I always share my latest articles on Twitter, so make sure to follow me there for updates! And if you’re interested in uncovering more localization mysteries, check out all the articles on Quill and Fox.

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