What's in a name? In the case of Terranigma (which I've just started to play), the English title seemed to be a reference to an enigma about the rebirth of civilization until I found out that its original Japanese name, Tenchi Sōzō, translated to The Creation of Heaven and Earth. In fact, for games targeted at kids, many Japanese titles are downright metaphysical, plumbing the depths of spirituality and history to weave together their strange tales, lost in the American translations, particularly in the case of these 7 games.
Chô Wakusei Senki Metafight (Super Planetary War Records: Metafight):
World War III sounds flimsy in comparison to a battle that not only devoured the planet, but went meta too. Blaster Master, as we on North American shores knew it, not only destroyed our thumbs, but our brains too because it was so mind-numbingly difficult (though I still couldn't stop playing it). The original plot involved an Emperor Goez from the Inbem Dark Star Cluster preparing to take over the galaxy. In Blaster Master, Jason's attempt to save his frog led him to down into a natural biosphere full of radioactive creatures peacefully living out their lives until Jason unleashed his hell on wheels to cause pandemonium. In the end, he was reunited with his frog while exterminating all life in the core of the planet. Who knew the Super Planetary War's ultimate villain was you?
Hoshi no Kābī: Yume no Izumi no Monogatari (Kirby of the Stars: The Story of the Fountain of Dreams):
Kirby's Adventure began with a dreamless night, the kind I'm having right now as I'm jogging in an insomniac's marathon. The drought in the Fountain of Dreams, followed by its gushing release via the Star Rod, resulted in the birth of Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic which in turn was swallowed by Kirby and spat out in a transformative Super Mario Bros. 2, a dream within a dream within a Kirby.
Hittorā no Fukkatsu: Toppu Shīkuretto (Hitler's Revival: Top Secret):
What do Bionic Commando (1988) and Inglorious Basterds (2009) have in common? Hitler's face explodes in both as he dies a gruesome death.
God Slayer: Haruka Tenkū no Sonata (God Slayer: Sonata of the Far Away Sky):
Nietzsche didn't take Crystalis into consideration when he said: "God is dead." SNK's sonata to defeating Emperor Draygon and a super computer called DYNA was a sublime mix of The Legend of Zelda, Nausicaa, and The King of Fighters. But just like mixing the four elemental swords combined into something brand new, Crystalis's blend of science fiction, anime, and fantasy made for one of the greatest RPGs of my youth. It would take Xenosaga 3 several decades to deliver Nietzsche's riposte: "Also sprach Zarathustra."
Beruseruku Mireniamu Farukon Hen Wasurebana no Shō (Berserk Millennium Falcon Arc: Chapter of the Lost Flowers):
Berserk's first season ends on probably the greatest cliffhanger of all time, and worst, it never got resolved. (Spoilers) Guts and company are about to all be sacrificed by Griffith to the God Hand, dying in hell on earth. The episode concludes without revealing if they escaped, if they succumbed, or it was all a bad dream. I've heard the Manga continues the saga, though I've never had the chance to read it. When I heard a Berserk game was out for the Sega Dreamcast, I immediately bought it, hoping for some clues as to what happened afterwards. Sword of Berserk: Gut's Rage is violent and bloody. Mandragora's are infecting people and turning them crazy. But as I was hoping for resolution, all I got were lost flowers that made me mad enough to rip my old anime DVDs to shreds and still leave me dissatisfied. WHAT HAPPENED TO GUTS? I'm still wondering...
ActRaiser 2: Chinmoku e no Seisen (ActRaiser 2: The Crusade for Silence):
There have been way too many crusades throughout history. Soldiers have died in the name of religion, ideologies, and nations. But never have so many been beheaded, sundered, and obliterated in the name of Silence. Considered a prequel by some, ActRaiser 2 had you fighting the seven great sins. But the designers left out the boss fight against the greatest sin in gaming; a sequel that silenced everything good about the original. I'm crusading in the hopes that Fumiaki Shiraishi gets to do a proper sequel.
GeGeGe no Kitaro - Youkai Dai Makyou:
Ninja Kid for the NES was the first NES game I bought and it was also the strangest. The original game (based on a popular Manga) revolved around Japanese folklore and the main character, Kitaro, who was born in a cemetery. He also had no left eye, his empty socket being covered by his streaming hair. The original sprite was replaced by Ninja Kid in the NES release. The enemies were some of the most bizarre ever; a blue woman with two faces and a snout, a rock-star boss firing musical melodies, and a King-Kong/cyclops fused beast. Ninja Kid was clad in blue and always had a goofy smile. Surrounded by some of the most horrendous beasts ever, his cheery mien was an unusual contrast. I didn't know any of the story until many years later. Like many of the games from the 8-bit era, I both loved and hated the game. For the longest time, I'd read there was no ending, the game cycling over and over. A YouTube Video showed me otherwise. How do you translate that moment of revelation over a lifelong question via the internet in Kanji?
Peter Tieryas is still running the insomniac's marathon at tieryas.wordpress.com.