A Japanese Video Game Studio Tried To Make Up Names For Baseball Players, And The Results Were Ridiculous
Making up foreign names must be harder than you’d imagine.
Fans of old-school video games know that they hail from a different era. The stories were less cinematic and immersive, as was the technology, so game development was certainly a lower-stakes affair than it is today.
If you’re wondering just how slapdash the process was, a recently-unearthed relic from the 1994 Super Famicom (the Japanese equivalent of Super Nintendo) game “Fighting Baseball” offers a hilarious snapshot of a video game developer trying their very best.
While the North American version of the game had a license from the Major League Baseball Player’s Association that allowed them to use the names of real pro ballplayers, the Japanese version of the game didn’t have that right, so someone working on the game had to create fictional but “realistic” names of American and Latin American baseball players using the resources at their disposal.
The results are, well…
The names range from “just a little off” (like “Willie Dustice”) to “what?” (as with “Onson Sweemey,” “Dwigt Rortugal,” and, my favorite, “Bobson Dugnutt”).
Of course, if you were to task the average North American with creating a roster of Japanese names, the results would be equally ridiculous and funny, but there’s something about the little discrepancies here that reveal just how much influence one letter can have. Further, there’s a quaintness here in the notion that this effort, in a bygone era, was “good enough” to get out the door.
Granted, this iteration of the game was never meant for North American audiences, so it likely raised very few eyebrows in its day. But now, well, people are delighted with the find.
This thread on Reddit goes a long way to making sense of the names, which, as user Gamblor29 indicates, seem to be systematically chosen using familiar sports surnames tweaked by a letter or two, then paired with a common, but unrelated, first name.
While we could give points for coming close with names like "Sleve" and "Bonzalez," it's also incredibly easy to be amused by someone's effort that came up just a little short and in doing so gave us some truly wonderful gibberish to marvel upon.