For video game preservation enthusiasts, this is a very exciting day. Art of Nintendo Power has acquired and preserved a Final Fantasy English localization prototype for NES, meaning this is a version of the classic Square RPG that almost no one has ever seen before. It features a variety of differences in its English text, as expected of a prototype, and the details have been shared with Hidden Palace. In particular, there’s already a page set up with every dialogue text difference between the Final Fantasy English localization prototype and the final game released in North America in 1990.
Presenting, an early English localization proto of the original Final Fantasy, courtesy of @ArtofNP! This prototype contains a large number of text differences in comparison to the final US release. Enjoy! https://t.co/kdtwGL2ygH pic.twitter.com/NmC05BFquO
— The Hidden Palace (@HiddenPalaceOrg) December 7, 2020
Now, to be honest, Final Fantasy on NES didn’t receive the greatest Square localization in the first place, which was the norm back then; in fact, “localization” was barely a term that existed in this context back then. So as would be expected, this English prototype contains some even funkier use of language. Garland’s infamous line of, “I, Garland, will knock you all down!!” was originally, “I,Garland,will knock you all down in a minute!!” The latter is of course even funnier. Monsters likewise have rougher preliminary names.
However, beyond those quirks, this Final Fantasy English prototype also contains references to death and killing that were absent in the final release, which would imply this prototype was from before Nintendo of America applied its quality control to it. Nintendo typically insisted that explicit references to things like death and religion be removed in those days in order to preserve a family-friendly image. Additionally, there are even some artwork differences, as Hidden Palace states, “For instance, while The Eye enemy is using its final US design, the Medusa enemy is still using its Japanese design.” It is speculated these adjustments too were part of Square’s process to receive Nintendo’s approval to publish the game in North America.
Are you excited that a Final Fantasy English localization prototype for NES has been unearthed after all these years?