Thanks to the tireless efforts of Rage Quitter 87, we can finally enjoy a manual comparison! Huzzah.
The Japanese manual I'm translating from is from archive.org
Note about the Prologues: In Japanese, they're labeled "The Distant Battle - Prologue -", "The Distant Battle" being Garou Densetsu 3's subtitle. (It follows up from Garou Densetsu's "The Destined Battle" and 2's "The New Battle".) In English, it's "Prologue: The Legend of the Lone Wolves Lives On!"
Fatal Fury didn't have a tradition of subtitles like Garou Densetsu did, so they had to pick something. "The lone wolves" goes at least back to FF2, so might as well go for it.
Prologue: Hong Kong
|My translation||Official translation|
|Hong Kong. A single man emerged from a lonely harbor warehouse.
"All bark and no bite, huh? Tch."
A cruel smile twisted his lips. Back in the warehouse multiple bloodstained bodies were scattered around, all destroyed by the man.
"Splendid work, as usual," came a voice from behind, and the man turned around.
"You got the location of those Jin scrolls*?"
"Yes, I have confirmed one of them is in Southtown."
"Southtown, huh... Heard the crime boss there's some guy named Geese. Then again, I also heard he was dead."
The way the man spoke, you could tell he was already basking in his victory.
"King of Fighters in Southtown.... Heheh, seems that these scrolls might just be pulling everything together."
That night, the man left Hong Kong for Southtown.
*Three secret scrolls passed down from the era of the First Emperor of China. It is said only on the strongest fighter may lay hands on them, and their true meaning will only be revealed when all three are united. After over two thousand years the scrolls were scattered around the world, where they wait for the strongest fighter to appear....
|Hong Kong. A mysterious figure emerges from a secluded warehouse.
"Hmh. What a bunch of wimps."
A chilling smile twists the man's lips. Inside lie the bloodsoaked bodies of his victims, heartlessly disposed of by this lone figure.
"You haven't lost your touch," comes a voice from behind.
The man turns.
"Did you find the secret scrolls of Qin*?"
"One of them has been seen in Southtown."
"Southtown? Isn't that Geese's territory? But he's supposed to be dead." the man remarks, with a hint of relief and triumph in his voice.
"The King of Fighters is being held in Southtown now, isn't it? Very good. This will be a perfect chance of steal the scroll."
The two take off from Hong Kong toward Southtown.
*The three sacred scrolls of the Qin Dynasty. Only the most powerful human in the world can possess their power, which, when the three scrolls are gathered, can bring nations to their knees. Will this terrible power be unleashed after 2,000 years of rest? Will Geese seize Southtown by the throat and subject it to his unique sense of humor? Will Andy finally get a haircut? Play on, little warrior, play on!
The footnote translation is a combination of Kishi and my work
You don't want to see what the Markdown for this looks like behind the scenes.
This is a surprisingly straightforward translation, compared to the other two. The one weird bit is the footnote, which makes more sense when you realise that in the manual itself, it's below Terry's story. Since I split up each one individually so I could talk about them, I moved the footnote to where it makes more sense...at the cost of making the English footnote very out of place. It specifically references Geese's prologue, which you'll see below. Makes sense when it's after Terry, but not here. Sorry!
Since the meat of this is such a straightforward translation, the comments are more nitpicky. Like the warehouse isn't specifically in the harbor in English, or that Yamazaki is relieved not to have to fight Geese in English but this does not exist in Japanese. One thing that does need extra comment is that in English, Yamazaki straightforwardly thinks KoF will be a good chance to steal the scrolls. He's a bit more mystical in Japanese, saying that perhaps the scrolls are pulling everything to Southtown, like they're manipulating fate or something.
The English is also in present tense for some reason. The Japanese is past tense and I'm more comfortable with that, so that's what I did. The present tense does make the events sound more immediate to draw the player in, though.
You can't tell in English, but the mysterious voice Yamazaki is talking to is extra-polite. Japanese players who went back to read the manual after beating the game would immediately recognize it as Chonshu. It's a bit harder to tell in English, but you could probably guess it's one of the Jins and Chonshu is the more active one.
Talking about the footnote: The scrolls are not necessary "sacred" in Japanese, just secret. "Most powerful human" also doesn't necessarily map to "the strongest fighter", since a human could be powerful politically or through religion, but I don't think the Pope could possess the secret scrolls.
There's a key point obscured in the English: in Japanese, the player isn't supposed to know what will happen when someone gets all three scrolls. It's a mystery. The English says that they can "bring nations to their knees", which sounds cool but doesn't match what the scrolls are supposed to do...or what they actually do. The English also makes it sound like the scrolls are already gathered, when that's not entirely true in Japanese.
And then there's a big dose of the editor's sense of humor.
Final note: Yes, the first dynasty of Imperial China is usually written "Qin" in English, so the English manual is entirely correct on this point. The Jin brothers' family name is written using the same character, which is usually pronounced Shin in Japanese. I really have no idea where "Jin" came from but it's official in English and Japanese, so that's what we're going with.
The real question is why it's Qin in the manual. It absolutely looks like the same person wrote the manual and the game, but in the game it's Jin. Were they done at different times? That would suggest the manual was done first, and the pictures on the English version's back were from an earlier version of the game. Perhaps the manual was just finalized first, and the game went through some last-minute edits. We may never know.
|My translation||Official translation|
|"This town sure has changed."
At the same time the mysterious man was leaving Hong Kong, a car sped down Southtown's Main Street. Sitting in the back was a single personage.
"There's no end of scumbags rushing in, so it's gotten a lot more lively 'round here lately. But don't worry, the Tower is still standing strong," replied Billy Kane from the passenger seat.
"I see. So this is what happens when I'm away... Hahaha, it must be hard on the mayor and the police chief."
"This's what those Bogards get for all their hard work. Real ironic, huh?"
"Still, this town will be put back in order soon enough...thanks to my strong hand."
Billy nodded in response to Geese's words.
"Look, Mr. Geese. You can see it now."
The car sped through the twilight, aimed directly at Geese Tower.
"Now watch. This is where it all begins...my new ambition."
|"This place sure has changed."
As the mysterious figure leaves Hong Kong, a familiar figure is noticed travelling down Southtown's Main Street.
"When I was here last, it was a town of lawlessness, a vicious pit of decadence and sin. Oh, those were the good old days! But I see the tower is still standing. Maybe there's still hope," snickers Billy Cane riding in the passenger seat.
"Yeah, those were the days. Heh, heh, It looks like the mayor and the police chief have finally decided to do their usual corrupt doings."
"Ironic, huh. Thanks to the Bogards, we may just get out old job back."
"Yeah, will get this town back to normal, if my name ain't Mai Shiranui."
Billy grins and nods.
"Yeah, Mai, we're almost there. Hah, hah, hah."
The car heads toward Geese Tower.
"Yeah, Geese Howard is back all right. Ready to show my new plans along with my refined sense of humor. Eh, Billy. Yah, hah, hah!"
Here we go. This is the Fatal Fury 3 I know and honestly love, in a strange way.
The English loses that Geese is sitting alone in the back seat of the car. In fact, it doesn't mention the car at all! Just from the second sentence, Geese could be walking.
Billy's line gets really confusing in English. In Japanese, it's pretty straightforward: Southtown has actually gotten worse since Geese left, because of the power vacuum. But Geese Tower is still there, so everything's ready for Geese to come back and start ruling with an iron fist again. This whole idea is mangled in English. Instead Billy seems to be lamenting that Southtown has cleaned up compared to when Geese was in charge, and is looking forward to turning Southtown back into a town of lawlessness. (also, name typo)
Geese's following line has similar problems. In Japanese, he's laughing at how the mayor and police chief must be swamped under crime now that he's not around to control things. In English, he seems to be calling them corrupt...but that gets confusing. Usually corruption goes with lawlessness, so is the current Southtown crime-ridden or not?
Then Billy's line keeps being confusing. In Japanese, Southtown getting worse is the ironic result of the Bogards knocking out Geese: they wanted to save their town from the evil crime lord, but just ended up increasing crime. In English, it sounds like Geese is going to get his position back because of the corrupt mayor and police chief, and it's not clear what this has to do with the Bogards.
Then it rolls into a weird joke for the rest of the prologue. The "will" instead of "we'll" is there in the original.
Finally, the English drops that this is all taking place at dusk. It's a minor detail, but it coordinates with the game opening, so it's a bit sad it's lost.
|My translation||Official translation|
|"Wonder what kinda face Richard is gonna make when he sees me."
Terry grinned, thinking about his good friend and enjoying the pleasant haze of nostalgia. He had heard about Pao Pao Cafe 2's opening while he was on his training journey, and had cut the journey short to go back and enjoy the opening party.
But as soon as he got into the city and saw what had become of Southtown, Terry's expression darkened.
"What the hell's going on? It's even worse than before! Don't tell me it's because Geese is gone...?"
Lost in complicated thoughts as he walked, Terry eventually arrived at Geese Tower. There, memories of his previous battle to the death rose within him.
(Geese. You're laughing at me from beyond the grave, aren't you? But watch. I'll protect this town with my own two hands!)
But Terry didn't know that Geese Howard had already been revived. And more than that, an even more terrifying enemy was heading straight towards Southtown...
|"I wonder what Richard's gonna say when he gets a load of me," jokes Terry as he thinks of his old friend, savoring a nostalgic moment. Terry heads toward Pao Pao Cafe West, taking a moment out of his unending training. But as Terry looks around his old town, he senses something just isn't right.
"What is going on there? It's worse than when Geese was ruling this town. I guess he had more power than I thought."
A cloud of dread blackens Terry's thoughts as he shuffles by Geese Tower. Memories of the battle of the death long ago smack Terry as if they were as fresh as yesterday.
"Geese must be laughing at me from the bowels of hell! But by these hands, these fists of iron, these digits of virtue, I will make this town safe once again! This I swear!"
Little does Terry know, however, that Geese has managed an iron-fisted comeback to unleash his reign of terror once more in Southtown.
The English drops the whole idea that Terry's been on a training journey, and that's why he hasn't been home to see Southtown go to pot. He's been doing "unending training", sure, but that could be done in Southtown. It's possible that part got cut to make room for the footnote, which is somewhat longer in English.
Pao Pao Cafe 2 - Pao Pao Cafe West. They were really consistent about that in English, which is nice.
It sounds like Terry starts off near Geese Tower in English instead of wandering by there while thinking about something else. "Shuffles" is also an...interesting choice of word there.
Then Terry's line is...technically accurate, but very SNK. It's also worth pointing out that Terry just thinks that in Japanese, but in English he apparently says it out loud like a crazy person.
Then the whole idea of the mysterious man coming to SOuthtown and being an even bigger threat than Geese was dropped completely. That's really weird! A big part of early Fatal Fury 3 is trying to sell Yamazaki as the new threat!
In general, Terry's prologue is less weird than Geese's, but drops a few bits of important info for no particular reason. Unless it really was making room for those jokes in the footnote, which...yeah, I can't say I'm surprised.
|My translation||Official translation|
|Look at the previous usage warning for information about saving and loading. All right, next are the character introductions. You'd better read the special move commands carefully.||If you had read notes on use on P.5, you wouldn't be reading this, bozo! Well, now, let's move on to the interesting stuff!|
This is a small line from Geese on page 19, after the information about continuing. The previous paragraph talks about saving your game in the middle of the story, which is why Geese mentions the earlier cautionary notes on saving/loading data. (it's basically the same in English and Japanese, so it didn't seem worth my time to fully translate)
The Japanese is fairly straightforward, reminding the player about the previous warnings about save game management, then some advice about what's next. In English, this is a bit more obscure. The player would have to flip back to page 5 to figure out what Geese was talking about, which, I suppose, would be a refresher on saving. It's a bit more harsh than in Japanese. English Geese also doesn't mention that next are the character introductions, or tell the player to study special move commands. This is all just grouped together under "the interesting stuff".
All in all, English Geese is less helpful than Japanese Geese. Though I do appreciate the "bozo".
|My translation||Official translation|
|Oversway (Attack Avoidance)||Do the Dimension Dodge (Avoiding Attacks)|
|Oversway Attack||Dimension Devastator|
|Anti-Oversway Attack||Anti-Dimension Dodge Attack|
Most gameplay terms are the same in Japanese and English (dash, small jump) or have consistent translations across the industry (backdash), but the editor got a hand in with the lane jumping. As you can see, the Japanese "oversway" gets changed to "dimension dodge", which is both more memorable and incredibly SNK.
What's really odd, though, is that earlier, when going over the buttons on page 10, the English manual gives A+B and B+C as "Oversway to the foreground" and "Oversway to the background". So clearly at one point they were planning on keeping that term the same, but it got changed in the in-depth explanation later.
I'm not sure any English-speaking player ever seriously used "dimension dodge" as a term.
|My translation||Official translation|
|Loving Words from Mr. Geese (Game Advice)||Now, a Few Words of Advice from Geese|
|It's a remarkable thing you did, reading all the way through the user manual. Good job. There are still essential parts of this game that haven't been covered, and those you should seek out for yourself as you play. But, as a reward for reading all the way to the end, now I, Geese Howard, will personally deign to grant you some game hints.
In this game, the time left over after a round ends determines the player rank. Player rank consists of letters, like "E" or "A". At the end of the match, the time it took you to defeat your opponent is added to your score and those together are used to calculate your rank. Therefore, getting a good rank isn't just about beating your opponent quickly, you must also get a high score. Incidentally, the rankings are, in ascending order: E -> D -> C -> B -> A -> AA -> AAA -> S. If you advance through the game with continual high ranks, something amazing will happen in the final match.
Next, I'll tell you about a secret technique: the art of the combination attack. For example, when you're playing Terry, successively input the commands A -> A -> Forward+C. If you do, you'll get a one-two punch followed by a backblow, and if you did it right, they'll all combo together. Other characters also have combination attacks like this hidden within them. Go play around with Terry, see what you get.
Finally, the man you saw in the beginning of the opening movie? That man is holding the key to the entire game. If you should happen to fight him, then you must win in one round, without fail!
|Okay, now listen and listen good. I don't want any more incidents like the one with loading the memory cards. I will not repeat myself twice - or even three times. Even though you've read through this whole book, no small feat in itself, I got a few more secrets for you. Nah, I ain't gonna tell ya. Okay, maybe just a couple.
After you win a match, your fighting skills are ranked at certain levels like "E" or "A". This, of course, is based on the time and the score calculated on the time it took to beat your opponent. The quicker you can beat your opponent, the higher your score will be, and your ranking will increase. The rating are E, the lowest, and the one you'll most likely be stick in - heh, heh- followed by D, E, B, A, AA, AAA, and S. The S meaning "Superb," like me. The higher your rank, the more likely you will find a few surprises.
Next, a few words about some hidden combination attacks. For example, using Terry, try this little command and enter it repeatedly during a battle: A, A, ->+C. Doing this, you can create combination attacks like one-two punches followed by a back blow. Each character has their own special hidden combinations - even me. Try a few commands like the one I gave you.
Finally, the weenie who appears on the Title Screen holds the key to our little drama, not me. If you have a chance to meet up with him, push his face in for me, huh, your little Geester. Adieu, suckers!
The English combines the title and subtitle, and makes it sound like an announcement. It's cute.
The actual writing is a bit more confusing. In Japanese, it's straightforward. Geese praises the player for reading all the way through a tiny pamphlet, showing a deep grasp of the average game player's reading ability. Then he hints at other parts of the game that haven't been covered (supers, I suppose?) and says he'll give the player a few extra hints. This is all written in a super-pompous way, which is normal for Geese.
Then in English... First we get a mysterious reference to some sort of "incident like the one with loading the memory cards". It's clearly calling back to pg. 19, where Geese reminds the player about save game management, but makes it sound like the player already screwed up loading and saving in some undefined way. Given it comes right before Geese saying he won't repeat himself, perhaps it's a reference to how the player previously needed information about save game management repeated? Except the information wasn't repeated, it was just referenced. Weird.
The rest has some connection to the Japanese, saying that reading the entire manual is "no small thing", and then a confusing bit on if Geese is actually going to give advice or not. The idea of essential parts of the game that aren't in the manual is dropped completely, which feels like an oversight.
It's interesting that the Japanese manual assumes the player already had a concept of rank and just needs to be told how this game calculates it, while the English goes into an explanation of what it is first. The English does get a little confused on the specifics of calculating rank, where it puts a lot of emphasis on beating the opponent quickly, while the Japanese goes out of its way to say that a good rank isn't just about being fast, it's also about having a high score. The English also gets in a few jokes, and makes sure to offer an explanation of why "S" is the top rank. It's not something we think about today, but that would've been weird back in a 90s American arcade. However, the English then drops the specific idea that if you get a good rank something will happen in the final match and replaces it with "a few surprises". It's not obvious in English that getting good ranks will change your ending, but it's very obvious in Japanese.
Minor notes on combos: In Japanese, Geese is specific: input the commands successively, one after another. In English it's "repeatedly", which is wrong. It sounds like you're supposed to spam that throughout the match, which is not a great idea at all. Then the English says that using this you can create combination attacks "like one-two punches followed by a back blow", instead of that specific combo resulting in a one-two punch followed by a back blow. That's also confusing and I wonder if it was a mistranslated to begin with, because it doesn't sound like something the editor just rewrote. It is cute that they replaced the word "Forward" with a little arrow graphic, though. That's a nice touch. (Even if I can't render it here. Check it out in the original.)
The final paragraph drops the entire idea that if you beat Yamazaki you must defeat him in one round without fail (presumably referring to the Accident! fight), which is a requirement for getting the good ending. It's very direct and obvious in Japanese, but in English it sounds more like if you win the fight then that's enough. It's not enough!
I do have to point out the power of "weenie", "Adieu, suckers!" and "your little Geester", though. That's the real SNK touch. "Geester" didn't stop there, since it also appears in KoF97, though with a different spelling. The "-ster" suffix also showed up in Art of Fighting 2, which did come out fairly close to Fatal Fury 3. The editor was going through a phase.