Samurai Shodown

Tam Tam

I really can't blame SNK for getting the terms wrong here.

Challenges

vs self

Literal translation Official translation
Your eyes are those of a warrior's. The same blood flows in our veins. Your eyes are a warrior's. Your clothes...well.

The first sentence is basically the same. The second goes from Tam Tam recognizing 2P's similarities to making a joke. That's our SNK!

But this is a good time to bring up the unusual way Tam Tam's lines were written. Japanese has three writing systems: kanji, the complex Chinese characters, hiragana, the simplier curving characters, and katakana, the simpler angular characters. (Here's an overview of Japanese writing systems courtesy of Legends of Localization). Usually, hiragana is used for grammar (particles, verb conjugation, etc) and Japanese words. Katakana, on the other hand, is usually used for foreign words, emphasis, and generally distinguishing the word.

Tam Tam completely reverses this. For his lines, what would usually be written in hiragana is in katakana and vice versa. This gives his lines a very strange and foreign look for Japanese audiences.

Unfortunately, there's not really a good way to translate this into English - we just don't have the distinction in writing systems. Some translators have used alternating capitals (lIkE ThIs) or other methods of playing with capitalization, but I didn't think any of those made sense here. They make the speaker sound monstrous or inhuman, but Tam Tam's deal is that he's an honorable but very very foreign warrior. So I'm exercising my ability to blather on down here to let everyone know what's going on.

The official translators and editor don't seem to have access to anything but capitals, so doing anything with that would've been impossible for them. They seem to have handled things by occasionally having Tam Tam speak in somewhat broken English, but other times he just sounds like everyone else. For instance, this line is indistinguishable in style from basically every other character in the game.

vs others

Literal translation Official translation
When a victory is claimed, proof is required. I will take your scalp. Wherever you hide, my spear will find you.
I am a hero; you are not. That's why I'll win. I'm strong, you're weak. You'll lose. Questions?

One of the few times where I can be sure of which line goes with which.

I'm not sure what happened with the first one. Oddly enough it's shared with Earthquake, but it doesn't make sense for either of them. The only person who uses a spear in Samurai Shodown 1 is Kyoshiro and his challenge lines are completely different. Mysterious!

The Japanese line says "hair", like the hair on your head. I figured they probably meant "scalp".

The second line changes Tam Tam from a hero to just being strong. It changes the nuance a bit. The Japanese word is 勇者/yuusha, which is made up of the characters "brave" and "person", so it's also translated as brave, valorous, etc. Robot fans will know of the Brave series of shows from the 90s, most famously King of Braves GaoGaiGar. ...this isn't super relevant, I just wanted an excuse to bring up GaoGaiGar.

The "Questions?" format feels familiar from the 80s/90s, mostly from the "This is your brain on drugs" ad. It's not a perfect match and it's a fairly generic line, but there's some similarities.

Win Quotes

vs self

Literal translation Official translation
One must shout when a hero dies. Urarara urarara urararara! I salute your noble death. Wook ah wook ahh woo woo.

It's supposed to be a kind of ululating war cry. Think Tarzan, or, uh, Serpentor. They have a long history, but are also very hard to write down in English and look good. I don't think the official translators were trying all that hard, though.

That said, the basic concept of the line, that Tam Tam is shouting to honor his doppelganger's death, is the same across both languages. I actually rather like how the English handles that part.

Win with killing normal

Literal translation Official translation
My Latin blood spurs me to battle. My boiling blood bubbles for battle.

Yeah, he specifically says "Latin". This is unspecified in the English version, in favor of some determined alliteration. Tam Tam's supposed to be Mayan, but it's been a couple centuries. A few Spaniards probably wandered past their isolated jungle village at some point. (and he's apparently from modern day Venezuela so let's just not worry about any sort of historical or geographic accuracy)

I guess there's a minor nuance difference between Tam Tam's blood spurring him to battle vs just boiling (which could be in response to battle, not the cause) but it's pretty small.

Win with special move

Literal translation Official translation
Carve the samba rhythm into your soul! Uuura, ura, ura, uraaa! Feel the samba rhythm. Chika cha, chika cha. Babaloooh.

The Japanese is a bit more forceful in contrast to the English. We also see the same problem as with the self win, where it's hard to write this stuff out in English without it looking silly. SNK did try to do more of a samba rhythm than in the self win, which is a nice touch.

Win otherwise

Literal translation Official translation
My soul is the blazing heat of the sun. It dried yours up completely. My spirit burns like the sun and I shall dry you like a prune.

The English line adds a bit of a silly comparison, but it's generally quite accurate. I'm not entirely sure what it means to dry up someone's spirit, but that's what he says.

There is the minor difference that the Japanese line is in past tense, while the English is in future. The past tense makes more sense for a win quote, since the battle is already over, but I guess it could be a delayed effect.

Clear

Literal translation Official translation
Quetzalcoatl, my Lord! I grant you every honor, great one! Oh! Great Quexiquatil! I am yours for eternity.

Look. It was really hard to find information on Aztec gods in English, in Japan, in the 90s. I have the definite advantage of having the internet at my fingertips here. It's too bad, but also kind of inevitable, that SNK would just go for a best guess.

Tam Tam calls Quetzalcoatl his god here, but that doesn't really sound good in English after a century or so of swearing. I went with a more obviously-religious phrasing. I'm also not 100% about the second sentence, but I think that's about right.

"I am yours for eternity" isn't quite right, but has the same idea and sounds pretty religious. I'm willing to call it close.

Story

Stage 4

Literal translation Official translation
Tam Tam: The "stone" isn't here either. Tam Tam: It's not here.
Tam Tam: ! Tam Tam: !
Tam Tam: What's this? Tam Tam: What?!
Amakusa: Kukuku... Behold, I am the vengeful spirit of Amakusa. Now, cry and plead unto the dark god! Amakusa: Call me Amakusa, Amakusa!
Tam Tam: Darkness is no god! Tam Tam: The dark guy?
Amakusa: The stone you search for already belongs to my dark god! If you should wish to hold it once again, kneel before him and cover this world in darkness! Amakusa: Join me and the dark guy and receive the kanoishi you seek.
Tam Tam: I refuse! Darkness brings only ruin...the light of the sun is god! Tam Tam: No, dark guy is evil. Not like.
Amakusa: Heheheh...then prepare yourself for death! Amakusa: Then die,you crazy funster!
Tam Tam: What a dangerous soul! Tam Tam: He dangerous.

One thing that stands out here is Tam Tam using noticeably more broken English than he does, well...anywhere else. I'm not sure what brought on this decision (someone else did it? Editing passes? Change in how to handle Tam Tam's lines in the middle of the project?) but it's there. Mysterious.

The whole idea that Tam Tam is looking for a specific stone is lost in English. First in the first line, where he doesn't specify what he's looking for, and later when Amakusa bewilderingly calls it "kanoishi" (lit. "that stone") instead of translating the term. I have no idea what brought that on, since it's not a particularly notable term and there's no reason to leave it in Japanese. If I had to make some wild guesses, it would be the translator was going fast, knew the stone had some sort of special name, and just misread the line. It's very odd either way.

And as usual, Amakusa's offer is vastly cut down in English. It seems that SamSho1 had some truly brutal character limits and for whatever reason, they couldn't just add new screens like they did in other titles. At least the general idea of "join me and get the object of your desire" is there.

Tam Tam's refusal puts less emphasis on him already serving the sun and more on specifically Amakusa's boss being evil. It makes his refusal sound a bit more personal and a bit less principled.

And finally, the legendary "you crazy funster". I have no idea where this came from - SNK liked the "-ster" suffix, and funster is a known English word. But the exact formation apparently tickled the editor's funny bone, because in addition to being a shared line here, it also shows up in World Heroes 2 Jet. Which means that I'm going to have to eventually look at the World Heroes series....

Tam Tam specifies that Amakusa is a soul in Japanese, but this is lost in English.

Ending

Literal translation Official translation
Tam Tam: Ooh...the Palenque Stone! At last I have recovered it. Tam Tam: The Pherenx stone! Wow, I have recovered it.
Tam Tam: My Lord, Quetzalcoatl! Restore light to this land! Tam Tam: Great Quexilcatol! Bring light to this land.
Mother: Bongo-chan! Mother: Oh, Bongo!
Bongo: Mama! I can stand up! Bongo: Mama! I can walk!
Woman: Grandpa! Woman: Grandfather!
Grandfather: Oooh...for some reason, I feel much better. Grandfather: For some reason I feel alive,reborn!
Tam Tam: It's all over. And now, the mask I vowed to wear until my task was accomplished...is no longer needed. Tam Tam: It's over. Having lifted this load off my people, so, too off comes this. Adios, dudes!

Palenque was a real Mayan city and once again, you really can't blame SNK for not getting that one right. I only got it because it showed up in the dictionary somehow. Otherwise I would've assumed it was some fantasy thing and taken my best shot at the katakana, just like the translators did. (couldn't they have just gone over to the devs and asked? We may never know why that wasn't possible but it doesn't look like they ever did)

"Pherenx" is a very odd way of reading that and makes me wonder if the translators weren't trying to get to "phoenix" instead. Why? No idea.

There's a minor nuance change between "restore light" and "bring light". In English it sounds more like there wasn't light before or something.

In general the first few lines are so similar they're not worth looking at in super detail. "I can walk!" is more natural than "I can stand up!" and you can make some arguments either way for the grandfather's line.

Tam Tam's final line has a few minor changes. It's stated directly in Japanese that the reason he was wearing a mask was a vow, whereas the reasoning in English is unstated and therefore much more obscure. But there's some cute rephrasing going on here. In Japanese putting the "is no longer needed" at the very end is just how you say things. Verb goes at the end. So you get that nicely dramatic bit where he pauses and then throws off the mask. This doesn't work as well in English, so they just rewrote the line and added "Adios, dudes!" at the end for that dramatic moment. I personally think that's cute, even if the actual line is made up and "dudes" is a hell of a thing for Tam Tam to say.

All in all, a mixed bag.