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    Posted on April 22nd, 2010 keving 3 comments

    Kurt Kalata writes:

    I saw you wrote a bunch of FAQs for Shadowgate and such awhile back. I’m working on an article for ICOM Simulation’s games for my site, Hardcore Gaming 101, and I found something interesting – Shadowgate shows up on a bunch of kusoge lists, which I found pretty surprising. Apparently it was on a TV show awhile back […]

    It’s a ridiculous game, but it’s certainly nowhere even close to the depths of Deadly Towers or Atlantis no Nazo, and it’s usually at least relatively fondly remembered by the US fans. My question is – do you have any idea why they regard it as such? The Japanese Wiki entry makes mention of some of the wacky death messages – maybe there was something in the translation? Or maybe they just didn’t dig all the insta-kill stuff?

    There’s a few reasons for this. First, kusoge is often as much a term of endearment in Japanese as derision — the game equivalent of saying a movie deserves to be on Mystery Science Theater 3000. A kusoge may not be a fun (or even playable) game, but it’s entertaining nonetheless because of its sheer silliness, whether intentional or not. It’s “hating” a game so much that you start to find it lovable, somehow.

    Why does Japan single out Shadowgate for this title, though? As Kurt mentioned, it’s a game where you have the freedom to die in all kinds of inventive ways, many of which produce overwrought death messages. The Japanese-language version, however, is far more overwrought than the English one — it’s written wholly from a first-person perspective and consistently reads like a ten-year-old trying to imitate Shakespeare. (The way the NES/Famicom Shadowgate always uses two exclamation points where one would suffice adds to the cheesiness.)

    Here are a few Shadowgate death lines, English followed by my translation of Japanese:

    (after using your torch on yourself three times)
    English: You finally set your hair on fire. The rest of your body soon follows!!
    Japanese: Yaagghh!! My hair, my hair!! It’s burning!! The burns spread across my body!! I writhe in pain as I breathe my last.

    (after using your sword on yourself)
    English: You thrust sword [sic] into your chest!! Blood begins to flow!! Suicide won’t help in your quest!! The Warlock Lord will surely triumph now!!
    Japanese: I thrust the sword’s blade into my left breast. …Blood pours out of the wound!! Ahhh!! How could I be so foolish? I took my own life, with my own hand!! …The world will surely be cloaked in darkness after I die…

    (after attempting to defeat a cyclops with your bare hands)
    English: A battle cry dies in your throat, as the cyclops crushes your skull with his club.
    Japanese: Quicker than I could attack, the club descends upon my head!! My head has been cracked open!!

    (after jumping out many of the game’s windows)
    English: With a cry you jump to your death!! It takes only a couple of seconds before you hit the bottom with a thud.
    Japanese: I scream in vain as my body floats in the air!! As I spin, various disconnected thoughts pass through my mind. The last thing I saw was a twinkling star, shining its eerie light in the midst of darkness.

    (after awakening the chained female werewolf)
    English: With a loud roar, the wolf pounces on you, taking your life!! The wolfs [sic] powerful jaws rip your throat out!!
    Japanese: Agghh!! The woman transformed instantly into a wild, ferocious wolf. It’s angry!! It’s attacking!! Ahhh!! I’m done for!! Arrghh!! The wolf’s fangs glint in the light, and at that instant, I became the werewolf’s latest meal.

    You get the idea, I think. It’s this rather odd writing style, unique among 8-bit console games in Japan, that makes Shadowgate so memorable over there for its kuso-ness. (The Japanese Famicom versions of Deja Vu and Uninvited aren’t nearly as pre-teen in their script, sadly.)



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