As virtually everyone knows, Super Mario Wiki is by far the best source of Mario information you can find online. With thousands of users adding pages about every character, location and object in the series, and up to date coverage on basically every Mario title ever made, the site is a veritable treasure trove of information about our favourite Italian plumber and his wacky adventures.
Yet like every other wiki and fan site online, it’s not perfect. Sometimes mistakes come up, like when Chargin’ Chucks were initially ‘identified’ in Super Mario Galaxy 2 footage.
Sometimes names aren’t available in English, like with various Super Mario Land and Wario Land enemies. And sometimes users are simply trolling or trying to trick people with vandalised pages and nonsense. It’s rare, but it happens none the less.
Which is why for any ‘credible’ writer or content creator, the site should be used more as a stepping stone to information about the series rather than an end in itself. Yes it’s good for summaries (and places to find out more information), but that’s it… actual research should involve playing the games, looking through reference materials and asking Nintendo about the series and its characters.
Which is in turn is exactly what Dark Horse Books didn’t do. Why? Because in their translation of the recently released Super Mario Bros Encyclopaedia, they copied information wholesale from Mario Wiki. And this led to some… embarrassing mistakes.
Such as this one, involving a familiar enemy from Super Mario Sunshine:
In the book, it’s called a Soarin’ Stu. Which on the face of it, makes sense, since the ground based one is known as a Strollin’ Stu and other Mario Sunshine enemies have the same pattern in their own names.
But it’s not right. The enemy in game is actually called a Winged Strollin’ Stu, with the original name actually being a placeholder/fanon name from some random Mario fan site. It was only on the wiki because they needed something to fill in the gaps.
Yet Dark Horse’s translators didn’t get this. They just went to Mario Wiki, lifted the name from the page and didn’t even bother looking for an accurate source on the thing. Like say, the official strategy guide the wiki’s own editors used to update the name later on.
And it’s not the only time they did this either. No, there’s also this character, with the obviously French name ‘Lumacomète’:
Which obviously isn’t the official English name for the character. No, it’s the French version used as a placeholder in Mario Wiki, which just got copied over by Dark Horse’ translators without checking its accuracy.
Other examples of this copying include the Super Mario Land 2 enemy page, which is equal parts awkwardly transliterated Japanese names and equal parts basic descriptions:
As well as the Mario 64 one, which refers to the Fire Chomp esque enemies from Wet-Dry World as Kuromame instead of Keronpa Ball (or a localised equivalent).
It’s terrible translation work, wastes an opportunity to find out legitimate names for these obscure characters and enemies in favour of copying outdated sources.
But why did it happen? Well, I think this kinda sums it up really:
I can't speak for the other translator, but I referenced the wiki extensively. Not being super-familiar with all of the English-naming conventions that was my go-to source for a lot of things, especially game titles. I found it incredibly helpful!
— Gegege no Zack (@ZackDavisson) 23 October 2018
Yeah, at least one of the translators (Gegege no Zack) wasn’t too familiar with the naming schemes used for the series, and referenced the wiki extensively when working on the Mario book. He also often went with whatever the fans used whenever an official name couldn’t be found, hence all the wiki sourcing for unconfirmed names like Soarin’ Stu and Lumacomète.
So that’s the explanation. Apparently a lack of familiarity with the series and a tendency to rely on fan nicknames for unnamed characters led to the whole affair. No malice or laziness, just inexperience and a need to work on something you didn’t know much about.
But that doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t justify the results either way. After all, the French and Spanish versions apparently did their research, and got correct translations for names into those languages. And the Japanese one was obviously rather well researched too.
No, it was just the English one that copied from Mario Wiki without really checking its sources, and it’s disappointing to see here. Poor show there Zack and Dark Horse. You had a great opportunity to deliver an indepth, well research reference book about the Mario series, and you screwed it up with untranslated names, fanon conjecture and mistakes taken from outdated versions of the articles.
Let’s hope your future work doesn’t make the same mistakes.