Anecdota

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Solving Zelda’s Greatest Mystery: The Secret Messages


Hi there! So if you’ve played Zelda 1 for the NES,
heck, even if you haven’t played it, you’ll probably recognise this guy – the old man. And apart from offering Link his sword at
the start of your adventure, this guy blesses the player with a variety of useful, or seemingly
useful, advice. Things like “Digdogger hates certain kind
of sound.” great! Now I know that when I’m fighting the Digdogger
boss, I should use my whistle. Or another one, “Aim at the eyes of Gohma”. Perfect! When I’m fighting the Gohma boss, I’ll
be sure to hit it in the yes with my bow and arrow. But some of the old man’s advice is less
handy. “THERE’S A SECRET IN THE TIP OF THE NOSE.”. Where-where is the tip of nose? I don’t know. Does he even know? Or most famously of all, “Eastmost penninsula
is the secret.” What on earth does that mean? Where is the eastmost pennisula? PENNINSULA. Double N! That’s not even how you spell peninsula! And so, across America, millions of kids were
left wondering where this so-called “PENNINSULA” even was. And I’m not gonna pretend to have all the
answers. I don’t have any insider information or
anything. But I think, if we take a look a look at some
of the most common theories, we can decide for ourselves not only where this pennisula
is, but what all of the old man’s messages mean. Let’s take a shot! Hi there, welcome to Thomas Tired Docs! So today we’re investigating the old man’s
cryptic messages from Zelda 1 for the NES. But before we get started looking at these
cryptic messages, I think it’ll be helpful to look at a completely different set of cryptic
messages. The Japanese ones. Maybe they’re only cryptic because I don’t
speak Japanese. “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu, Toumasu desu”
is about as far as I go. But, thankfully, translator Clyde Mandelin
has compiled a list of all of the old man quotes, and their original Japanese counterparts. Thanks, Clyde! And so, let’s start with some of the easier
to pin down quotes, working our way up to the more mysterious ones, eventually finishing
with our old friend, “Eastmost Penninsula is the secret.” Ooh, exciting! But first, let us begin from the beginning. And, our very first encounter with the old
man is the absolutely iconic, “It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this.” This phrase has been printed on T-Shirts,
and mugs alike, both of which with the wrong font, but we’ll let that slide. Heck, this person had it tattooed on their
back. Sorry mysterious tattoo person, I can’t
find out your name for the life of me. You will have to remain an enigma for now. But yes, this phrase. There’s not much to encover here, but if
we compare it to the original one, we can see some slight differences. As translator Clyde Mandelin pointed out,
the Japanese text begins from the top right of the old man’s head. This was probably to give the rough idea of
a speech bubble, or something like that. However, when it came to the English version,
a lot more room was needed to convey the same information. And so, the text was stretched out across
the whole room’s width. To be honest though, I think it looks a lot
better like that. Maybe that’s just because I’m used to
it though. Anyway, moving on, there are some other encounters
you have with the old man before you enter a single dungeon. Like this one “Take any one you want.” I think that’s pretty self explanatory. Just in case though, here’s the original
Japanese, which essentially says “I’ll give you any one you want.” Not much in it, then. Oh, but let’s pause for a second. Because a little bit of nuance is being lost
here. In Japanese, there’s a lot more room for
expression, and dialect in a simple sentence like this. So while in English, “take any one you want”
doesn’t really convey anything more than the sentence itself, the original Japanese
“sukina houra sazukeyou” soyes a sort of “old man” vibe to it. The word choices, the vocabulary, it all helps
to sell the image of an old man. Of course this can be done with English! Take Hagrid from Harry Potter for example. “Yer a wizard Harry”. In the book itself, the famous line “yer
a wizard harry” is literally written “yer a wizard”. YER. And in fact, Zelda, this very first game,
does a similar thing with a couple other characters. Take this shopkeeper. “Buy somethin’ will ya!” Just from this sentence alone, we get a sense
for who this character is. And that’s cool! But as for the old man, there’s not really
a way to convey “old”ness in English. You could maybe use more formal language,
but then I you’d just end up sounding like a butler. Oh well. Onto the next old man encounter. Actually I’m getting impatient, so let’s
skim through these last few obvious ones. We’ve got “Take any road you want” which
might’ve sounded more like “take any path you want” but ther’es not really much
in it. Oh, and that’s what the old man says when
you’re choosing which shortcut to take across the world map. Talking of secrets, there’s a few secret
caves you might actually regret entering. “Pay me for the door repair charge,” demands
the old man, with an aggressive swagger. Maybe I invented that last bit. In the original Japanese, he essentially says
the exact same thing, maybe a little more like “You owe me for the door repairs”,
but tomato tomato. Oh, but this is a good place to pause for
a second. Because, there’s actually more than one
english translation of this game! The original NES game, the version hidden
animal crossing for the gamecube, plus weirdly enough, the 3ds virtual console version, all
of these use the original, pretty rough at times translation. But when the game was rereleased for the GameCube,
Nintendo decided to clean up a few of the more glaring translation errors. A lot of stuff didn’t change, but there
were a few lines here and there that Nintendo decided to update. This updated version wasn’t just used for
the GameCube release though, it can also be found on the Game Boy Advance, the Wii Virtual
Console, the Wii U Virtual Console, plus the Switch. And there’s an easy way to check which version
you’re playing: look at the title screen carefully. Right at the bottom, there’s this copyright
notice, which reads © Nintendo 1986. That’s the original translation. But if you’re playing one of the updated
versions, the date will be updated at the bottom. In this case, the Switch version says 2003
on it. Anyway, returning to our “Pay me for the
door repair charge” guy, the updated version of it removed the word “charge”. “Pay me for the door repair”. I suppose that does sound a little more natural,
although I’m not convinced there’s a whole lot in it. Alright, I’m sick of the overworld now,
so let’s enter a dungeon! It’s time to go exploring, folks! Now, I was originally going to cover every
single old man message from the game, but we’re already way over 1000 words and we’re
just getting started, so I’m gonna leave out the boring ones and stick to the spicy
ones. First off, there’s a variety of bad grammar
going on here. The infamous “Eastmost penninsula is the
secret”, which we’ll get to later, plus dungeon five’s “Digdogger hates certain
kind of sound”. Oh, and dungeon 6 contains “Aim at the eyes
of Gohma”, which sounds ok, until you realise Gohma only has one eye. Now I’m not trying to pick on anyone who’s
learning english – this language is hard, y’all – but this is an official, first party
nintendo game. And this is the kind of thing that any native
english speaker would spot instantly. So I figured, maybe the translator is Japanese? How can we find out? Well, let’s play end credits bingo. And to add an extra level of chalenge all
the devs are using pseudonyms. 3, 2, 1, Go! Yamauchi, Miyamoto, Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka,
Takashi Tezuka, Toshihiko Nakago, Yasunari Soejima, I. Marui, and lastly our old pal
Koji Kondo. Oh, and if you don’t know about the Golden
Triangle of Miyamoto, Tezuka and Nakago, I suggest you watch my video on Mario 3 once
this video’s over, but before that, we’ve got ourselves a problem. There’s no translator listed. I did try looking a little more into it to
try to find out who this mysterious translator is, but I ultimately came up blank. If you know who it is, or heaven forbid you
could get me in contact with them, I would be forever grateful! Ok, I’m getting bored now, so let’s add
some dramatic tension with a YouTube staple – a countdown! [countdown sfx] Number 5 is from, funnily enough, dungeon
number 5: “SECRET POWER IS SAID TO BE IN THE ARROW.” What does that mean? Is that just telling us to use the bow and
arrow? I mean, we’ve already been doing that for
ages by dungeon 5. Well this is actually a super interesting
example of regional console stuff at work. I’m probably gonna make a more in depth
video about this in future, but I’ll touch on it in this one too. Let me introduce you to an unsuspecting little
enemy, called a Pols Voice. Now, in the Japanese version of Zelda, this
enemy was pretty unique. You see, the Famicom, the Japanese version
of the NES, had a weird little feature inside one of its controllers. Unlike the NES, where you plugged in the controllers
yourself, the Japanese Famicom actually came with them pre attached – look they slot in
neatly like this. Very satisfying. And in player 2’s controller, ONLY player
two’s controller, there’s this tiny little microphone. See! And so, Zelda’s developers decided to make
use of this within the Pols Voice enemy. That’s right, in the Japanese version of
Zelda, their weakness is sund from the Player 2 microphone. Oh no, but how would anyone manage to figure
out that obscure weakness? Well, that’s where the Japanese old man
has our back! Exclaiming “There are some creatures weak
against sound.”, or something to the effect of that but in Japanese. Now, the NES controllers – both of them – lack
any kind of microphone, SO, when the game was brought over to the good old US of A,
the localisers had to replace that sound weakness with something else. And, what they eventually decided on was arrows! And so, they swapped out “There are some
creatures weak against sound.” with the more applicable, “SECRET POWER
IS SAID TO BE IN THE ARROW.” Now, I don’t think this is a great hint,
to be honest. I mean, it’s so vague that I can’t imagine
it’s of much use to anyone. Oh well, water under the bridge. By the way, there’s actually quite a lot
more here, so I’m thinking I’ll make a whole video expanding on all the nitty gritty
details – be sure to subscribe and ring that notification bell to see that when it eventually
comes out. I love YouTube! Right, next up, number 4 – in dungeon 7, we
meet the old man who proclaims “THERE’S A SECRET IN THE TIP OF THE NOSE.” and what
on earth does that mean? What nose? What tip? I think you’re getting a little senile. *laugh* Alright, so this is I believe a little
disputed. Because if we look at the game’s map, there’s
nothing here that looks much like a face. Except our lovely link boy over here, haha! But it’s the same with the dungeon – none
of these rooms look particularly face-like, do they? But it turns out this whole dungeon is apparently
the open mouth of a demon, so much so that the dungeon is actually called, “The Demon”. I guess if we add some lines here, and some
teeth, it kind of looks like it..? I have to say I’m not buying it. But if we imagine that this dungeon is the
gaping mouth of some kind of demon, they I guess the nose would be somewhere around here. And it turns out this room in the top right
is where you need to go to fight the dungeon’s boss. It’s kind of weird though. I mean, this room is shown on the map, so
this hint seems kinda pointless to me. And there’s a good reason for that. Because in the Japanese version of the game,
this old man’s hint is completely different! “Spectacle Rock is an entrance to death.” Yeah, that’s like not at all the same thing. It’s not even a hint for the same place
– it’s referring to what you do after you’ve left the dungeon, once you’re ready for
the final dungeon. You head to this set of rocks, which look
kinda like a pair of spectacles, or glasses, and that’s how you get to death mountain. I mean, this hint is crucial! Why they got rid of it from this dungeon is
really anyone’s guess. But instead we ended up getting a pretty useless
hint directing us to a room which isn’t even hidden on the map. But would the developers really cut such a
crucial hint? No actually! Because number 3 is up next, and this can
be found inside dungeon 8. Ahem. “Spectacle Rock is an entrance to
Death.” Wait wait wait. Yeah this one probably seems kinda familiar. It’s our old friend from dungeon 7. But hang on. Did the Japanese version just have the same
hint twice? Well no. This guy originally said “Look for the arrows
in Death Mountain”. And that, is crucial to finishing the game. You need arrows to defeat the final boss,
Ganon, but the english game doesn’t even tell you that you need to be looking for them. I mean, I really can’t imagine what the
localisers were thinking. Translator Clyde mandelin theorised that maybe
a bunch of the hints accidentally got shifted along by one, but how no-one managed to spot
this before the game shipped is anyone’s guess. Right number 2! This is getting exciting! This next one is a real obscure one, and it
can be found within dungeon 8, again. “10TH ENEMY HAS THE BOMB.” Sorry what? What does that mean? If I was 9 or 10 and playing Zelda as a kid,
heck, even now at 17, I wouldn’t have a clue what that means. I mean, 10th enemy of what? The 10th enemy you’ve ever killed? Well it turns out that this is actually hinting
at a really obscure game mechanic. Get this – if you kill 10 enemies in a row
without getting hit, and then kill the last one using a bomb, they’ll actually drop
more bombs when they die. But hey, isn’t that really obscure and kinda
stupid. Yes, yes it is. I mean, this hint was in the game itself and
still no-one figured out this bizarre mechanic for years. Oh, and funnily enough this is yet another
case of the english localisers pulling a hint out their ass. The original Japanese hint read, “Search
for the Lion Key.” And what that’s referring to this is key,
called the magical key, which looks like the head of a lion. This thing is essentially a master key, allowing
you to unlock any door in the game. Your key count even changes to read A, which
is apparently short for almighty. Don’t quote me on that though. Now, why would the english localisers replace
this really useful tip with an oblique reference to an obscure mechanic. Euhu? Your guess is as good as mine! Right, but, now it is time for the final hint
– numero uno, baby! And we’re talking about the absolute classic,
the quintessential cryptic old man message from Zelda, “EASTMOST PENNINSULA IS THE
SECRET.” Now, this is from the very first dungen you
enter, so this is one of the first impressions that new players would’ve gotten of the
old man. And to be fair, it’s not wrong… Anyway, before we go any further, let’s
look at what the original Japanese text said. And shockingly enough, it was completely different. “You can’t use arrows if you run out of
money.” Oh great, that’s a useful thing to know. Or at least, that’s what I think. Clearly that’s not what the localisation
team thought, as completley reaplced it with the now iconic “Eastmost Penninsula is the
secret.” Oh, and the fact that this line was written
specifically for the english version makes the spelling and grammar problems much stranger. And you know I mentioned the updated translation
for later releases of the game? Well, not even this fixed the spelling error
in penninsula. But, finally, for the switch version of the
game, Nintendo decided enough was enough, and got rid of that pesky second N. Horray! But hang on. Where is the eastmost peninsula? What does that mean? Well, again, there’s no definitive answer. But we can get some clues but looking up what
a peninsula even is. Because I’ll be honest, I didn’t know. I thought it was just an area of land, but
it turns out it has a specific definition. It’s a piece of land that juts out into
the sea, usually surrounded on 3 sides by water. And armed with that knowledge, let’s take
a look at some popular theories as to where this peninsula lies. Firstly, some believe that it’s referring
to this fairly eastern spot of the overworld, where you collect the white sword, which is
a more powerful version of the sword you start with. There’s a few problems with that, though. First off, while there is some kind of lake
outside this cave, the water is surrounded by land, and not the other way round. Plus, to pick up this sword you need 5 heart
containers unlocked, and when you finish dungeon 1, the most you can have is 4. Ok, so if it’s not that, then where else? Well, some people theorise that perhaps we
should be looking a little closer to home – inside the dungeon itself! Because, if we zoom out and take a look at
the layout, we can see that the dungeon’s boss is right off to the east of the dungeon. And that would make sense. But again, we hit the peninsula problem. I really can’t see a way in which is considered
a peninsula. There’s no water or anything like that,
and I’m just not buying it. Luckily, there’s one more spot it could
be, back out in the overworld. If we look even more to the east, we can see
this secluded group of trees, inside one of which Link can “play money making game.” Now, this is actually another example of slightly
wonky old man grammar, but putting that aside, this area seems a much more likely candidate. It’s a lot more to the east, PLUS it’s
jutting out into a body of water! But what’s the secret? Well, the wall off to the side of this area
is actually a FALSE WALL, leading to a hidden area where link can meet a secret moblin. “It’s a secret to everybody.” Is this the eastmost peninsula? Maybe. Maybe not. But this is certainly a peninsula, it’s
certainly eastmost, and that is certainly a secret. Alright, and that’s the lot of them! But wait, before you go, I’ve got two important
things to say – firstly, a lot of this video’s script was sourced from this amazing book
by Clyde Mandelin, and the link to that is in the pinned comment. But even more importantly than that, this
channel just hit 100,000 subscribers! I mean, that is crazy, I still like can’t
fully believe it, and I just wanted to say, thank you so, so much guys for sticking with
me this long, and I hope you continue to enjoy my videos here on out!

100 thoughts on “Solving Zelda’s Greatest Mystery: The Secret Messages

  1. UPDATE: I just realised that the image that I thought was Clyde Mandelin is actually of someone else, and for that I'm super sorry sorry! I edited this video under super strict time constraints but it's still incredibly disrespectful to use someone else's image, and I wholeheartedly apologize 🙁

    BUY CLYDE MANDELIN'S BOOK: https://www.fangamer.com/products/legends-of-localization-zelda-book
    FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/thomasgdocs

  2. Aaaaargh I can’t take the fake laughs at the end of every sentence!! Is that a popular thing kids do nowadays or a sign of autism?

  3. I don't know who does your captions but it doesn't match the way you're talking. I get adding stuff you meant to say, but they even change the entire meaning of some of the stuff you say (like placing the word Switch almost every where you say Wii U)

    Regarding your statement of "When you finish the first dungeon, the maximum amount of heart containers you can have is 4" is incorrect. The only requirements for most heart containers on the overworld are bombs and the candle, both of which you only need money to obtain.

  4. Lol I love how you seemingly misinterpret the "tip of the nose" clue. You say that there isn't anything in the game that looks like a face, then go on to point out the spectacles, which imply a face lol. Where is the secret cave located? Between the spectacles, aka, the nose. I think it may be the same hint, just far more cryptic.

  5. Thanks for this.
    I feel enlightened and stupid at the same time. But I'm glad to get some clarification on that stupid old guys rambling after all this time!

  6. This video goes to show that people have a real lack of imagination and attention. I played and beat this game when I was 10. Before the internet.

    Some of these things are very specific.
    The secret is in the tip of the nose is pretty obvious if you look at the dungeon map. As the the peninsula go east. Find the peninsula. Only a grammar nazi would fail at was is being communicated here.

    Either you are extremely think or you were running out of ideas for YouTube videos. I was embarrassed for you.

  7. @03:11 — I would pick one of the flames. Oh wait, I tried that already about 30 years ago. Nevermind.
    Re; "Tip of the Nose" — perhaps the "spectacles" are meant to resemble"nostrils" instead?
    Mmhhm. Yes.. eastmost peninsula.. secret it is. You must use the Triforce, Link.. you must. Mmhhm.

  8. Wasn't there a bombable wall in the top right of that dungeon that would count as the "tip of the nose"? Or am I remembering wrong?

  9. Games back then didn't spend hardly any money on translations. In the 80s games had a handful of people working on several projects at once, so localization wasn't possible, just translation. That's why old games are so full of Engrish, they were frequently translated by people who barely spoke English to begin with, let alone fluently enough to make the translation sound natural and nuanced.

  10. something I found on the internet: "The eastmost peninsula, refers to the land at the top left corner, where you can walk through a wall to get a secret. (Peninsula is a bit of land surrounded by water.) "South of arrow mark hides a secret" – In the second quest, a dungeon is hidden one screen south of rocks that make an arrow mark."

  11. Dude this was back when Nintendo thought it was cute to drop hints in games and in Nintendo Power magazines in order to get you through games or when people just couldn't figure their games out. I think there also used to be a hint line.
    Some of these hints would make more sense if you actually played the game. The tip of the nose one was actually the top right most piece of the map. Some secret in the room, but I can't remember what it was. Someone mentioned in comments that it is the way that leads to the boss so you have to find it to complete the dungeon.
    If this this just a clever way for gamers to help you beat this game and you're just now playing it, then pretty clever! Although… Walkthrough videos and tutorials exist now on YouTube and gamefaqs.

  12. The nose one did kinda maie sense. Every dungeon had some kind of shape, I even figured this out myself the first time I played thie game, so it's not that far-fetched

  13. I always thought that gray rocky area u have to use the raft to get to was the eastmost Peninsula…at least it made since as a kid..and u get a heart there so yea

  14. The triforce piece in the dungeon is a peninsula. p Peninsula is a universal term for "Open on 3 sides, connected by one." In my kitchen we have a peninsula, not an island because the counter is connected to it, and the triforcepiece is on one.

  15. Just a small anecdote from someone who's working in games localization for 15+ years now: It's not unlikely for game localization to start before a game is totally finished, proofread, etc. so it's certainly possible the translated texts with a completely different meaning might have been in a pre-release version of the game. Don't forget the western version also had some graphics changed, so they might have worked on two versions in parallel. On the other hand, this game is from a time where localization was basically an edge case, the exception, not the norm. Many Japanese games never saw a western release, sometimes attributed to localization (not just translation) work necessary, etc. So doing a second localization pass or update might have been something they considered not necessary or even a waste of time. Doesn't explain the changed re-releases though…

  16. Some of these cryptic messages actually refer to the dungeon map. I have also heard the term peninsula to refer to other things from furniture to buildings, not just land in water.

    Eastmost peninsula is the secret: The secret is where the boss is, as you stated. (though that message has been changed from the Japanese version.)
    The secret is in the tip of the nose: Again, look at the dungeon map. Go to the most top right room of the dungeon.

    …as far as the translators, I believe the original team translated the game, and if few of them were that good at English, that would explain both the errors made and why there is on translator mentioned.

  17. So, they never taught you that Florida, Italy, Korea, etc were peninsulas in geography class? Sounds like UK schools are very different. In the USA they drilled that into me at a VERY young age and CONSTANTLY referred to "peninsulas" for the rest of my education. It's inescapable.

  18. I know where all this stuff is .

    It was well known back when the game came out .

    The messages where purposefully made vague to make the game harder .

    A peninsula is a stretch of land going out into water .

  19. 10:55 wrong room. This message isn't really that cryptic when you think about it. It's the upper most right hand room that's the secret. I don't remember this message being that cryptic but that might just be me. I think my mind just sees faces more often then it should.

  20. Superb video. So much fun. I love this game and its cryptic stuff.
    Have you seen a video by Zeltik,? He thinks they've got one of the dungeons from this game

    actually in breath of the wild!

  21. When you get the dungeon map there’s a small isolated linear set of areas that resembles a peninsula on the east most side and at the end is a boomerangs

  22. See, and here I'd think a bomb's explosion would be a loud noise so they could've just left the weakness in. All a player would have to do is drop a bomb in the room and poof! all the Pols Voices disappear. But nope! Weird weakness to arrows despite giant ears…

  23. You didn't know what a peninsula was? That's like 4th grade. Then again we have Florida to worry about so maybe that's why

  24. Ah, thank you for this video. I finished this game a month ago and I ended feeling a little stupid for don't understand what the old man said in every part of the game. One of the hardest games I've played, btw.

  25. Youtube has ruined me. Everytime I heard you say "But First" i thought "Oh no, it an ad" But then you went to the translation, and I was overjoyed. This is a great video, Keep it up!

  26. Great video. I always wondered about the Zelda manual showing a choice between wooden boomerang vs sword. It never appears as a choice in game. My thought was that it was a beta version by japan. Any thoughts?

  27. I've played this game and beaten it.one of the best games Nintendo had put out.i also beaten the super Nintendo game of the legend of zelda too,it's not as easy as it seems but it can be done,it will take time.

  28. Take either the heart piece or the bottle?that's easy go with the heart.the more you have the better the chances you have at surviving. You can buy more bottles,don't turn up on getting any heart pieces.

  29. Top right of the dungeon map is what I interpreted as ”Tip of the nose”. There is a series of stones there that could represent a ”tip” and you push the stone in the tip to reveal stairs.

    That tip helped me when I played the game, was surprised to see it on this list.

  30. And it seems like the lion key is in the tip of the lions nose. Hmmmmm.

    And without the extra N in peninsula the words don’t center correctly. Maybe that’s why it’s there?

  31. Sacred power is in the arrow could have the double meaning of pols voice's weakness, and of the silver arrows. Though its a stretch.

  32. "There's a secret in the tip of the nose." Observe top right tip of this levels map, kinda protruding sorta like a nose. Now then, useful info to search for a hidden secret. By this point in the game many have forgotten about the hands living in the walls that return you to the start of the level. Many also tend to forget that in order to move a movable brick one must first kill all enemies. So here the secret (secrets really) become quite obvious.

  33. There's a mistake at 3:39: it sounds like you input a wrong character in the voice synthetizer. Your video says 「スキナ ホウラ サズケヨウ」, whereas what's written is 「スキナ ホウヲ サズケヨウ」. ラ (ra) and ヲ (wo) look similar but they're not the same. 😉

  34. Where on Earth do you get the idea that the "tip of the nose" would be somewhere near the boss room? That is not even a SECRET. It is a boss. The tip of the nose would be at the top of the mouth, and the end of the tip.

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