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[legend of zelda ganon]10 Things You Never Knew About Legend of Zelda Localization

2021-10-05

  Zelda is a series that lives and dies on references, but that can’t happen when the localization isn’t up to snuff.

  By Renan Fontes

  Published 1 day ago

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  Zelda Triforce Master Sword

  It’s hard to deny the impact The Legend of Zelda has had on gaming as a medium, from influencing design conventions to helping set a foundation for 3D games on a whole. The Legend of Zelda is a premier franchise that rarely stumbles, but there’s one area where the series has always been lacking: localization. Zelda’s English localization has never been offensively bad, but it’s often left something to be desired.

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  Between arbitrary name changes and an inability to keep the series’ lore consistent has only hurt The Legend of Zelda. The fact of the matter is that Zelda’s English localization prevents audiences from appreciating the full scope of the franchise’s storytelling. Zelda is a series that lives and dies on references, but that can’t happen when the localization isn’t up to snuff.?

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  Link from Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: Adventure of Link

  The original Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link are notorious for having poor English localizations. Both games are rife with typos, devoid of proper in-game context, and generally feature hints that don’t make sense when translated from Japanese to English. These localization issues were bad enough where Nintendo actually had to slightly alter the first Zelda’s script for future re-releases. While most localizations of the era were lacking, the first two Zelda need coherent text to ensure in-game direction isn’t lost.?

  

  Nintendo of America wanted nothing more than to pretend religion didn’t exist during the SNES days, going so far as to censor any references to real world religions they could. This resulted in a severe downplaying of A Link to the Past’s divine elements – a core part of the game. While the translation isn’t incorrect, what’s colloquially known as the Sacred Realm these days was originally translated as the Golden Land. Fortunately, Ocarina of Time course corrected with the more fitting Sacred Realm.?

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  The Legend of Zelda started running into significant lore issues due to the English localization rather early on. A Link to the Past was released as Triforce of the Gods in Japan and came with a manual that details the franchise’s backstory at great length – discussing the role the Gods played in creating Hyrule along with the Master Sword’s forging.

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  Bafflingly, the English translation makes several changes to the manual for no real reason. The biggest change the Master Sword from an ancient weapon created eons ago to a blade made specifically to defeat Ganon: something Skyward Sword contradicts. Beyond that, the English manual downplays the full weight Gods carry in The Legend of Zelda.?

  Twilight Princess Link and Wolf Link

  Twilight Princess’ complicated development resulted in a complicated localization. Writer Aya Kyogoku was working on Twilight Princess’ script up to one month before the game’s release, simultaneously working with Nintendo of America to localize the game. The end result is a story that – while compelling – isn’t accurately translated from Japanese to English despite being fairly well written. The origin of the Oocoo are different between regions, along with Zelda’s relationship with the Resistance.?

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  Demise’s speech at the end of Skyward Sword?seems to indicate that the spirit of Malice, Link, and Zelda are locked in a perpetual cycle of reincarnation. Not just that, Demise curses Link and Zelda to always reincarnate alongside him. Or so it seems. Demise’s speech in the original Japanese text isn’t meant to be taken so literally. Link and Zelda are cursed in the sense that mankind will always be cursed to contend against an evil like Demise. There isn’t necessarily a curse at play.?

  

  Tri Force Heroes underwent an interesting English localization by Zelda standards as the game’s translation was handled by two different teams: Nintendo of America localized the North American release while Nintendo of Europe worked on the PAL release with different approaches. Where Nintendo of Europe sought an evergreen localization that translated the text accurately, Nintendo of America packed their Tri Force Heroes with memes that now painfully date the game.?

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  As excellent as Breath of the Wild is, Nintendo of America dropped the ball with their English localization worse than ever. Along with making arbitrary changes and failing to recognize references (Marin Bay is incorrectly translated as Malin Bay), Breath of the Wild’s English release cuts out Link’s diary. In the Japanese version, the in-game mission log is written in first person from Link’s perspective.

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  In the English version, Link’s diary is a bog standard mission log devoid of personality. All the character development Link has in Breath of the Wild is lost if you play in English. You’ll never read about Link regaining his memories or wanting to see Zelda smile again. There’s simply no excuse for NoA neglecting to translate an entire chunk of Link’s characterization.?

  

  Demons are a staple of The Legend of Zelda, something that consistently gets downplayed in the English localization. For whatever reason, Nintendo of America prefers to translate instances of “demon” to “evil.” This has the effect of making the series’ villains seem a bit more simplistic than they otherwise are while neglecting to show off the full scope of Zelda’s demonology. Demons play a large role in the series’ storytelling and the English localization should start to embrace that.?

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  Calamity-Ganon breath of the wild

  It perhaps goes without saying, but Nintendo of America has a habit of embellishing certain details about The Legend of Zelda – sometimes changing important information for seemingly no reason. Breath of the Wild’s English localization features a particularly baffling instance where Zelda goes from warning Link that Ganon is trying to resurrect himself in Japanese to him giving up on resurrection. It’s a change that not only betrays the context of the scene, but Ganon’s entire character. And for seemingly no reason.?

  

  Arguably the biggest problem with The Legend of Zelda’s localization is just how inconsistent the series has been under Nintendo of America. A Link to the Past was so poorly translated that it’s hard to spot thematic connections from future games. Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild both feature key mistranslations along with the latter forgoing established terminology like “The Blade of Evil’s Bane” for new translations. Nintendo puts so much effort into The Legend of Zelda on a developmental level that Nintendo of America rarely respects when it comes for localization.?

  Next:?12 Legend Of Zelda Fan Games That Belong In Nintendo’s Library

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  About The Author

  Renan Fontes

  (264 Articles Published)

  A writer by day and an actor by night, Renan’s interests include Dragon Ball, The Legend of Zelda, and Brazilian music.

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