Game Freak’s Pokémon Crystal was an absolutely massive game on the Game Boy Colour, and original Pokémon translator Nob Ogasawara reveals that bringing the game to English gamers was one hell of a challenge.
Revealed in a recent Twitter post, the original Pokémon translator celebrated the game’s 22nd anniversary. Launching in 2001, Pokémon Crystal was an expanded version of Gold and Silver with even more features, dialogue and more.
Ogasawara revealed that Crystal was the last Game Boy game they ever translated. However, the game was a massive title to bring to the platform due to the limitations of translating old games.
“Whose bright idea was it anyway to plunk a full-fledged JRPG on a GB cart?” Ogasawara asked. “It's cruel and unusual punishment.”
The OG Pokémon translator explained that the minuscule character limit for each line was a hassle to work with. When the translator moved to the Game Boy Advance, the hardware’s expanded character limit was a godsend.
“GBA's approx. 40-characters/line thereafter felt like an ocean,” Ogasawara told fans.
Nob Ogasawara was not only the original translator for the Pokémon games, but was also instrumental in the games’ success in the west. Ogasawara changed the names of the Pokémon from their basic Japanese names into creative English versions.
For example, Charmander’s Japanese name literally translates into Fire Lizard. Sandshrew’s Japanese name is literally just Sand, and Krabby is just the Japanese name for Crab.
Ogasawara added the gorgeous character that the Pokémon franchise is not only known for, but is still kept to this day. The original translator departed from the franchise in 2009 following the completion of the Sinnoh game Pokémon Platinum and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky.
Nob Ogasawara has not returned to the Pokémon franchise since his departure almost 15 years ago. However, the translator has been willing to discuss the series at length with fans, revealing many details about the creation of the games’ English translation.