Unused Dialogue & Script Retranslation

Posted By at 6:07 PM on Monday July 20, 2015

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Art by cellar-fcp

In celebration of The Last Guardian’s official re-unveiling, let’s treat ourselves to a closer examination of the game designer Fumito Ueda’s acclaimed first release!

One of the primary hallmarks of Ueda’s creations thus far is the simplicity in their storytelling. In both ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, Ueda showcased his ability to express a sweeping story with a minimal amount of dialogue and exposition, allowing players to fill in the narrative backgrounds of his expansive game worlds with their own imaginations.

“How do you make a statue of an elephant? Get the biggest granite block you can find and chip away everything that doesn’t look like an elephant.” – Source Unknown

ICO, the director’s first game, was originally conceived in 1997. Its design process was similar to that of the elephant sculptor quoted above. Rather than constantly striving to add new content to their title, the development team instead concentrated on subtracting elements that distracted from the game’s focus and reduced the players’ sense of realism. It is for this reason that ICO lacks an interface, features only one class of enemy, and fixates entirely on the protagonists’ quest to escape from the castle.

However, while looking back on the game’s development during a Q & A session that followed an ICO development retrospective he participated in at the 2004 Game Developers Conference, Ueda noted that the team may have gone too far with this subtractive design process. (Accordingly, the approach was scaled back when his team began work on the game’s sequel, Shadow of the Colossus.)

Indeed, a recent examination of ICO’s script files allowed us to quantify just how minimal the game’s storytelling is. Both the Japanese and English versions of this title contain only 115 subtitle cards. Of these 115, a whopping 77 go unused – nearly seventy percent of the game’s text! These cuts eliminate vast swaths of exposition from the narrative, removing backstory, character development, and several major conflicts.

Luckily, thanks to the file extraction powers of einstein95, a member of The Cutting Room Floor wiki, we can now examine the unused dialogue and unearth its many secrets. First, however, there are a few things I should cover:

Before We Begin

The Subtitle Cards

Screenshot Courtesy of NomadColossus

Firstly, it’s important to note that none of ICO’s voice acting is in English, necessitating the use of subtitle cards. One of the game’s major motifs is the fact that Ico and Yorda don’t share a common tongue, and are thus unable to communicate, except via calls and gestures. As recounted by 1UP in an article covering the 2004 GDC retrospective:

Explaining why he opted not to include subtitles for Yorda’s dialogue, [Ueda] said that it was critical to the physical contact and “holding hands” concept that [the two characters] not be able to communicate and talk to each other all the time during gameplay.

The nameless language spoken by Ico and the villagers is subtitled into English, while the language spoken by Yorda, dubbed “Runic”, is subtitled into a pictographic cypher that corresponds to letters in the English alphabet. The Queen, the third major character, switches between languages depending on who she is talking to.

Much like in Shadow of the Colossus, these subtitles are stored in the game’s files as images that are overlaid across the screen, rather than in plain text. For the purposes of this article, I’ve dubbed these image files “subtitle cards”. There are 115 unique cards in all. However, 77 of these are unused, and do not correspond to any voice acting that appears in the game.

Because they went unused, these subtitle cards never received a translation, and had their contents blanked for the North American release. Fortunately, the text in 74 of these images was left untouched in the Japanese version, allowing me to provide you with a translation. The remaining 3 cards are blank in every release.

New Game Plus & Translating Runic

Runic Chart From Team Ico Wiki’s Article on Runic

ICO was released in North America on September 24, 2001, over two months earlier than its December 6th debut in Japan. Because of the rushed Western release, the North American version of the game is missing several features that were incorporated into the Japanese version, including a New Game Plus.

During this powered-up second play-through, Yorda Runic subtitles (as well as the Queen’s) are translated into English. As a result, for each line in Runic, there are two corresponding subtitle cards: an Runic copy and an English copy.

Evaluating the Official Translation

While I was translating the unused cards, I noticed that the English translation of the game was, in parts, somewhat lacking. This is a shame, for it gives foreign players an even more tenuous grasp on the game’s already-barebones story. As such, I have also retranslated the used subtitle cards. Hopefully the extra details unveiled will contribute to fans’ knowledge of ICO.

Ready to Go?

Well, that about covers it. The rest of this article is chalk full of spoilers, so avoid reading further if you’d still like to play through the game yourself. If you don’t have access or doubt that you’ll ever get around to finishing your play-through, you can experience the entire narrative of the game by watching the HD remaster’s cutscenes here.

The Villagers Part the Statues

The game opens with Ico being transported in chains by a group of villagers to the foot of a mist-cloaked castle. Their leader uses a pulsating sword to gain access to a chamber in the interior.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
000 Man Get the sword. 剣を Bring me the sword.

Ico Imprisoned

Ico is then locked inside a sarcophagus, left to an uncertain fate. Alas, his captors’ parting words offer little in the way of comfort.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
001 Man Do not be angry with us.
This is for the good of the village.
我々を恨むでない
すべては村の為なのだ
Do not think ill of us.
This is all for the good of the village.

Ico Discovers Yorda

After escaping from his sarcophagus, our horned protagonist begins wandering around the castle, and soon encounters a mysterious girl in a cage.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
002 Ico Is anybody there? Who are you? だれ?だれかそこにいるの? Who is it? Is someone there?
003 Ico

Unused

おーい Oi–!
004 Ico What are you doing in there? なにしてるの?そんなところで What are you doing up there?
005 Ico Hold on. I will get you down. ちょっとまってて
いま 下ろしてあげる
Hang on a minute.
I’ll get you down!

Ico once had an additional line in which he called out to Yorda.

Yorda Is Freed

After employing some acrobatics, the boy succeeds in freeing the mysterious caged girl from her imprisonment. However, in the conversation that follows, it’s established that neither of the protagonists can speak each other’s language. A vexing turn of events!

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
009 Yorda Who are you?
How did you get in here?
あなた だれ?
どこから入ってきたの?
Who are you?
How did you get in here?
010 Ico ?? ?? ??
006 Ico They… They tried to sacrifice me
because I have horns.
ぼ ぼく イケニエなんだ
ツノがはえたから
I, I’m a sacrifice.
Because I have horns, see?
007 Ico Kids with horns are brought here. ツノのはえたこどもは
ここに連れてこられるんだ
Children who grow horns
get taken to this place.
008 Ico Were they trying to
sacrifice you too?
きみもイケニエなの? Are you a sacrifice, too?

The subtitle cards in this article are presented in the order in which they appear during the game. However, there are a handful of occasions where the subtitle cards’ file numbers do not match their chronological order, such as the scene above.

In this instance, reading the cards in the order of their file numbers results in a nonsensical conversation, with Ico answering Yorda’s question before she even asks. This may suggest that the dialogue for this scene was rewritten. (Indeed, we’ll soon see more evidence of script revisions in the unused lines.)

Ico Rescues Yorda From the Shadow

The duo’s first meeting takes a sudden turn for the worse when introductions are interrupted by a horned and shadowy monster. Popping out of a portal in the floor, it scoops up Yorda, apparently aiming to depart with the damsel. Ico, however, is not so keen on this idea. Wielding a wooden stick, he fends off the beast and rescues his new friend.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
011 Ico What was that creature
that came after you?
今のなに?
きみを狙ってた?
What was that just now?
Was it after you?
012 Ico It’s too dangerous for us
to be here!
きみも こんなところにいると
あぶないよ
It’s dangerous for you
to be here, too.
013 Ico We need to get out of here. とにかく ここから出ようよ Anyhow, let’s get out of here!
014 Ico

Unused

あ きみのなまえは? Oh yeah, what’s your name?
015 Ico

Unused

きみのなまえは? What’s your name?
016 Yorda

Unused

ヨルダ… Yorda…
017 Ico

Unused

よろしく ヨルダ Nice to meet you, Yorda!
018 Ico

Unused

また さっきのがでてくるかも
急ごう
That thing might come back
again, so let’s hurry.

Due to the developers scrapping Yorda’s introduction scene, Ico only learns her name secondhand, when the Queen addresses her later in the game.

Yorda Parts the Statues

Yorda uses a crackling power to part the four statues that bar the way out of the tower.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
019 Ico How did you do that? どうやったの? How did you do that?
020 Yorda

Unused

わたしは ここを
はなれられないの…
I can’t leave
this place…
021 Yorda

Unused

あなた ひとりでいって You go on alone.
022 Ico

Unused

だいじょうぶ さっきみたいな
やつなら ぼくがやっつけるから
It’s OK! If it’s those things you’re
worried about, I’ll take care of them.
023 Ico

Unused

だから安心して…ね? So, don’t be afraid… alright?
024 Ico

Unused

だいじょうぶだって
ぼくにまかせて
It’s fine, I told you!
Just leave it to me.

It seems that Yorda originally hesitated to accompany the horned boy on his quest to escape from the castle. Her unused dialogue would have provided an earlier hint towards the fact that it wasn’t only the iron bars of the cage that prevented her from leaving. Ico, as usual, is sweetly reassuring.

Ico & Yorda Make a Run For It

In this scene, Yorda and Ico employ the least ninja-like strategy ever in an attempt to bail out the front gate.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
025 Ico Look, the gate is open!
Now we can get out of here!
みて 門があいてる!
そとに出られるよ!
Look! The gate’s open!
We can get out!
026 Ico Let’s go! いこう! Let’s go!

Caught by the Queen

Unfortunately, this mad dash for the exit is blocked by the castle’s ruler, who is unimpressed by the children’s plan to abscond from the fortress. Despite her sinister appearance, however, the Queen is surprisingly merciful towards the pair. She chides them for their antics, but ultimately allows Yorda to stay with Ico, and even encourages the boy to leave the castle himself, albeit this time without her daughter in tow.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
031 Queen Come back, Yorda. さぁ 帰っておいでヨルダ It’s time for you to come home, Yorda.
032 Queen

Unused

ヨルダ
なぜ だまっているのだ?
Yorda…
Why do you say nothing?
033 Ico

Unused

オマエはだれだ! Who’re you?!
034 Queen So, you’re the one aimlessly
leading my Yorda around.
おまえだね わたしのかわいい
ヨルダを連れまわしているのは
So, you’re the one who’s been
leading my little Yorda around.
035 Queen Do you know who this girl is? その娘が誰か
わかっているのかい?
Do you have any idea
who she is?
036 Queen That girl you’re with is my one
and only beloved daughter.
おまえと一緒にいるのは
わたしのたったひとりの愛娘――
The girl who stands beside you
is my beloved daughter and sole heir.
037 Queen Stop wasting your time with her. ――いずれはこの城を継ぐもの Someday, she will inherit this castle.
038 Queen She lives in a different world
than some boy with horns!
あたまにツノのはえたおまえとは
すむ世界がちがうのだ
You and my daughter inhabit
different worlds, horned boy.
039 Queen

Unused

すむ世界がちがうのだ You and my daughter inhabit different worlds.
040 Queen

Unused

おまえは 崇高なるわれわれに
ただ仕えていればよい
To give your life in service
to nobility such as we…
041 Queen

Unused

その 命を賭けてな Such is your lot.
042 Queen

Unused

だからこそ この城に
連れてこられたのではないのか?
That is why you were brought
to this castle, is it not?
043 Queen Now, know your place
and leave here.
さぁ 身のほどをわきまえて
ここから 立ち去るがよい
Now, remember your place,
and begone from here.
044 Queen

Unused

さぁ 身のほどをわきまえて
その娘のことは あきらめろ
Now, remember your place,
and give up your designs on my daughter.
045 Queen

Unused

さぁ おいで ヨルダ Come along, now, Yorda.
046 Yorda

Unused

あなたなんか
わたしの母さんじゃないわ
You are not
my mother!
047 Queen

Unused

ききわけのない子だ… Disobedient child…

This scene’s unused dialogue reveals the first of several plot points that are either omitted, or deviate from, the story as it appears in the final game.

Firstly, the Queen discloses that Ico was brought to the castle to serve its masters with his life. Secondly, an outspoken Yorda actively objects to the Queen calling her “daughter”, bringing the true nature of their relationship into question. Is Yorda’s denial of her parentage simply an act of rebellion? Or is it evidence that, like Ico, Yorda may herself have once been brought to the castle unwillingly? Sadly, the issue is never revisited.

We also see more evidence of script rewrites:

There are two similar messages in which the Queen dismisses Ico. In the first message, which was used in the game, she tells the boy to go away. In the second, unused message, she orders him to leave her daughter alone.

Art by unhai

Once again, the subtitle cards’ file numbers do not match their chronological order. During the game, the scene where the monarch makes her first appearance, which I’ve dubbed Caught by the Queen, directly follows the scene in which Ico and Yorda attempt to escape through the castle gate, referred to in this article as Ico & Yorda Make a Run For It. As such, you’d expect their dialogue to be ordered accordingly.

In reality, however, there is a small gap in numbering from the last subtitle card of Ico & Yorda Make a Run For It (card 26) to the first card in Caught by the Queen (card 31). The missing cards, 27 to 30, instead comprise the scene that follows Caught by the Queen: a sequence I’ve dubbed The Queen Disappears.

As it stands, the dialogue in The Queen Disappears only makes sense if it follows the dialogue in Caught by the Queen. However, the numbering of the cards in The Queen Disappears suggests that they originally appeared between the previous two scenes.

Artist Unknown; Retrieved From 2ch

On the topic of the used cards, the game’s official English translation completely omits the Queen’s description of Yorda as her heir. There’s no way the original Japanese text could be interpreted as “Stop wasting your time with her,” which makes me wonder whether the change in meaning was a deliberate decision on the localization team’s part, or whether it was simply the result of a translator phoning it in at 4:59 pm on a Friday, and then never going back to recheck their work.

The Queen Disappears

Once the Queen has taken her leave, Ico rushes over to help Yorda up.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
027 Ico Are you okay? だいじょうぶ? Are you alright?
028 Ico

Unused

いまの…だれ? Who… was that?
029 Yorda I have angered her… あの人を
怒らせてしまったわ…
I’ve gone and made
her angry…
030 Ico

Unused

だいじょうぶ きっと出られるさ
もう少しがんばってみようよ
Don’t worry. I know we can escape.
Let’s keep going a little longer.

In the omitted lines, Ico inquires as to the angry Queen’s identity. He also offers Yorda some encouragement.

As mentioned in the previous section, the card numbers for this sequence place it between Ico & Yorda Make a Run For It and Caught by the Queen, which no longer makes sense chronologically.

The Queen’s Voice Echoes

Ico helps Yorda up from the ground. Meanwhile, ever the helicopter parent, the Queen employs the handy skill of telepathy to wonder aloud why her daughter is going along with the horned boy’s harebrained schemes.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
048 Queen Yorda, why can’t you understand? なぜわからぬ Why do you not understand?
049 Queen You cannot survive in the
outside world.
おまえは外の世界では
生きていけないのだよ
You cannot survive
in the outside world.

This scene contains the first of three lines that suggest Yorda would not be able to survive in the world beyond the castle walls. How literally this is meant is unclear.

Following the Confrontation (Deleted Scene)

Artist Unknown; Retrieved From 2ch

Despite being able to understand only a portion of the Queen’s admonishments, Yorda sweetly apologizes to Ico for his tongue-lashing by the woman who claims to be her mother.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
050 Yorda

Unused

きっとひどいことをいわれたのね
わたしの所為でごめんなさい…
I’m sure she said horrible things to
you. And it’s all my fault… I’m sorry.
051 Ico

Unused

ぼくなら だいじょうぶ
さぁ 行こう
Don’t worry about me.
Come on, let’s go.

Luckily, Ico doesn’t seem to hold it against her, and the two set off on their way.

Yorda’s Rebellion (Deleted Scene)

Art by sammy-art

What follows is an entirely unused confrontation between the Queen and Yorda. In it, the Queen attempts to appeal to Yorda’s emotions, while the latter stands her ground. In an attempt to neutralize what she sees as the catalyst for the troubling changes in her daughter, the monarch doles out a harsher punishment to Ico than the sharp words of their last encounter.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
052 Queen

Unused

ずいぶんと 待ちくたびれたよ I have had enough of waiting.
053 Queen

Unused

ヨルダ わたしの気持ちも
わかっておくれ
Yorda, please try to
understand.
054 Queen

Unused

おまえを 苦しめたくないんだよ I do not wish to hurt you.
055 Queen

Unused

こんなにおまえのことを
想っているのに
You have always been at
the forefront of my thoughts, and yet…
056 Queen

Unused

そんなわたしをおいて
どこへ行こうというのだい?
You say you intend to leave me
and run off to who-knows-where?
057 Queen

Unused

おまえはここでしか
生きられないのだよ
You cannot live
outside these walls.
058 Yorda

Unused

わかってるわ… I know that…
059 Queen

Unused

では なぜ わたしのそばにいない Then why aren’t you here by my side?
060 Yorda

Unused

わたしは戻らない I’m not coming back.
061 Yorda

Unused

母さん
あなたは 間違ってるわ
You’ve got it
all wrong, Mother.
062 Yorda

Unused

わたしは 自分の
生きたいように生きる
I’m going to live the way
I want to.
063 Yorda

Unused

その代償として わたしの
命が失われようとも
Even if I have to
pay for it with my life.
064 Yorda

Unused

罪のない種族の犠牲のうえに
生きながらえるよりずっとマシだわ
It’s far better than surviving on the
sacrifices of an innocent people.
065 Queen

Unused

なにをいいだすのだ? ヨルダ What are you saying, Yorda?
066 Queen

Unused

あれほど素直だったおまえが… You have always been so obedient…
067 Queen

Unused

これだけいっても
わからないのかい?
Do you still not
understand?
068 Yorda

Unused

ええ
わたしの気持ちはかわらない…
That’s right.
I’m not going to back down.
069 Queen

Unused

おまえをそこまでかえたのは
そのツノの はえた子供かい?
Is it the horned boy who has
caused you to change so?
070 Yorda

Unused

この子は関係ないわ! He has nothing to do with this!
071 Queen

Unused

いずれにせよ その子には
すこしお仕置きをしないとね
In any case, I shall have to
issue him a little punishment.
072 Queen

Unused

おのれの種族の
立場をわからせるためにも
It will also serve to put his people
in their place.
073 Queen

Unused

ハハ
おまえのそのツノは飾りかい
Ohoho. Are those horns of yours
mere ornament?
074 Queen

Unused

さぁ 邪悪者はいなくなった
いっしょに帰ろう ヨルダ
There, the wicked one is gone.
Now, let’s go home, Yorda.

In this deleted scene, Yorda receives some significant character development, outlining her reasons and motivations for wanting to be free of the castle.

Had the unused lines not been axed, the seed of defiance Yorda planted by denying her parentage and refusing to go with her mother in Caught by the Queen would have bloomed into a full-scale rejection of her mother’s way of life, gradually building up to her outright rebellion in the game’s final act.

Yorda’s dialogue also suggests that the ruler of the castle is prolonging her life by feeding off the life force of the sacrificed horned children, who continue to serve under her as shadows.

The nature of the punishment inflicted upon Ico is lost to time.

Unknown (Deleted Scene)

Artist Unknown; Retrieved From 2ch

From this little snippet, it appears something ill was to befall Yorda, too.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
075 Ico

Unused

おや まだ息があるみたいだね
いま楽にしてあげよう
Whew. Looks like she’s still breathing.
I’ll let her rest for now.

The Queen Punishes Ico (Deleted Scene)

Artist Unknown; Retrieved From 2ch

This scene seems to take place directly after Yorda’s Rebellion. In it, Yorda entreats the Queen to stop hurting Ico, then rushes to check on her friend’s welfare.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
076 Yorda

Unused

やめて! Stop!
077 Yorda

Unused

だいじょうぶ? Are you alright?
078 Ico

Unused

う うん Y, yes…
079 Yorda

Unused

ごめんなさい
わたしのせいでこんなことに
I’m sorry…
It’s my fault that this happened to you.
080 Ico

Unused

アイツは!? Where is she?!
081 Yorda

Unused

いないよ 消えちゃった…
もうだいじょうぶよ
She’s not here… She vanished.
Everything’s alright now.
082 Ico

Unused

いま 言葉がつうじたよね? You understood what I said just now, didn’t you?
083 Yorda

Unused

うん… Yes…
084 Ico

Unused

とにかく いそがないと… In any case, we have to hurry…

Yorda Opens the Gate

This time, Yorda uses her own power to reopen the castle’s main gate, sapping her strength in the process.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
085 Ico

Unused

ヨルダ! Yorda!
086 Yorda A little more. あともう少しよ Just a little further…
087 Ico

Unused

あともうすこしだよ がんばろう Just a little further! Let’s keep going!
088 Ico Are you okay? だいじょうぶ? Are you alright?
089 Ico

Unused

あともうすこしだよ Just a little further!

Contrary to the file order, Ico’s “Are you alright?” precedes Yorda’s response in-game.

Yorda’s line of encouragement has two unused revisions that were intended to be spoken by Ico.

Yorda Releases Ico’s Hand

Yorda and Ico make it out the gate and halfway across the stone bridge connecting the castle to the mainland. Suddenly, the bridge starts retracting as the Queen shows up to foil the duo’s second attempt at escape. Ico attempts to jump back across the gap to Yorda, and slips. Fortunately, he is saved from falling when the girl grabs his hand.

Our protagonist’s luck is short-lived, however: the Queen quickly exerts a dark sphere control over the castle’s heir. Sensing what is about to happen, she thanks the horned boy for trying to help her, before the Queen’s powers cause her to release her grip, and send Ico plummeting towards the dark waves below.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
090 Ico

Unused

ヨルダ! Yorda!
091 Yorda Thank you… ありがとう・・・ Thank you…
092 Ico

Unused

ヨルダーー! Yorda––!

Ico would have originally called out for Yorda; first as the Queen’s powers began to overcome her, and then a second time as he fell.

The Queen Appears on the Throne

Fortunately, Ico does not perish in his tumble towards the surf. His fall is broken by some hanging cages, across which he is able to navigate in order to re-infiltrate the castle. Unfortunately, he is too late: Yorda has been turned to stone. Ico makes his way to the Queen’s throne room, aiming to confront the antagonist. At first glance, the throne appears empty. As Ico turns to leave, however, he is brought up short by a voice.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
093 Queen Wait. 待ちなさい Stop right there.
094 Ico

Unused

あの子になにをした! What did you do to her?!
095 Queen

Unused

ここからふたりで抜け出せるなどと
本気でおもっていたのか?
Did you really imagine that I would
let you two slip away from here?

Though the Queen never directly answers Ico’s question, her unused response suggests that she was in control of the situation all along, and never would have suffered the pair to escape.

Ico Confronts the Queen

Stayed by the voice, Ico turns and approaches the throne once more. This time, he sees that the chair is occupied by the monarch.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
096 Ico What did you do to her? ヨルダをどうするつもりだ What do you want with Yorda?
097 Queen Silence boy. You’re too late. あきらめろ もう手遅れだ・・・ Give up your foolish ambitions. You are already too late…
098 Queen My body has become too old
and won’t last much longer.
わたしの この躰も
もう長くない
This body of mine
will not last much longer…
099 Queen But Yorda is going to grant me
the power to be resurrected.
ヨルダにはわたしの意志をついで
城の主として復活してもらう
I shall bind my will to Yorda,
and use her to reincarnate as master of this castle.
100 Queen To be my spiritual vessel is the
fulfillment of her destiny!
それがあの子の宿命 いわば
ヨルダはわが”魂の器”なのだ
That is the girl’s destiny.
She is the vessel for my soul.
101 Ico

Unused

そんなことはゆるさない! I’ll never let you do it!
102 Queen

Unused

おまえがクビをつっこむ
話ではない
This is none of
your affair.
103 Queen

Unused

おまえがどうあがいても あの子は
元には戻らないのだから
No matter how hard you struggle,
the girl will never return to normal.
104 Queen The next time her body wakes,
Yorda will be no more.
つぎに目覚めたそのときには
もはや おまえなど憶えてはいまい
The next time she wakes,
she will remember nothing of you or your time together.
105 Queen Now put down the sword
and leave.
さぁ
その剣をおいてたち去りなさい
Now…
Put down the sword and leave this place.
106 Queen That is what she would
want you to do.
あの子もそれを望んでいたぞ That is what Yorda wished you to do, too.
107 Ico

Unused

うそをつけ! Liar!
108 Queen

Unused

運良くたすかった命は
粗末にするもんじゃない
Luck has helped you survive this long.
It would be a shame to throw it all away now.

Surprisingly, the Queen is willing to give Ico one more chance for mercy. Her unused lines suggest a final offer to spare the boy’s life.

In addition, the retranslation of her used dialogue reveals a little more detail regarding her plans for her daughter.

Ico Attempts to Strike the Queen

With a yell of frustration, Ico lashes out at the Queen with her own luminescent sword, provoking the final battle.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
109 Queen You’re a nuisance, boy.
Do you want to die that much?
悪い子だね
そうまでして死にたいのか
Foolish child.
Do you truly wish for death so badly?

The Queen is Defeated

Ico avoids the Queen’s waves of darkness and strikes at her shield, gradually weakening her to the point where he can strike a mortal blow.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
110 Queen Yorda will never be able to
escape this castle…
あの子は けっしてこの城から
出ることができないのだ・・・
The girl will never be able to
leave the castle…
111 Queen Even if you take… my life… たとえ おまえが わたしの・・・
命を 奪ったとしても・・・
Even if…
you take my life…

Yorda’s Sendoff

Following the Queen’s death, Yorda is revived as a shadowy being. Unlike the monarch’s other shadowy servants, however, she acts with a will of her own. Gathering Ico’s limp body from the throne room floor, she carries him out of the crumbling castle to safety, and places him in a canoe. As Yorda pushes off the boat, she bids the the boy farewell.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
112 Yorda Good-bye. さよなら Goodbye…

Blank Files

Artist Unknown; Retrieved From 2ch

As mentioned in the notes for this article, the last three subtitle cards are blank in every version of the game.

File Char. EN Script JP Script Retranslation
113

Unused

Unused

114

Unused

Unused

115

Unused

Unused

The End?

This is not the end, however. You may have noticed that there is one word of spoken dialogue at the end of the game for which there are no subtitles.

After the credits, there is a small sequence in which Ico regains consciousness, having washed up on a beach on the mainland in Yorda’s canoe. The player regains control temporarily, allowing them to walk down the beach for a ways and happen upon a figure lying prone in the surf. This is none other than the girl from the castle! An FMV begins, panning over Yorda, who flinches slightly and opens her eyes, which eventually catch sight of Ico. Upon seeing her friend, she says something that sounds like “Say…ee…?”, the final line of the game.

Art by FixelCat

True to form, Yorda is speaking her own language, nicknamed Runic. Runic is produced by writing Japanese words in the English alphabet, omitting several letters (mostly the vowels), reversing the spelling of each word, and pronouncing the result.

Well… for the most part. Runic does use one English word. It’s written “sey” and pronounced “say-ee”. Read backwards, that means Yorda’s last line translates to “Ye…s…?”

Read More

Art From ICO’s Chinese Fan Translation

Runic isn’t the only language in ICO that can be translated. It turns out that the common tongue used by Ico and the Queen can also be deciphered, though it’s a more complex process than decoding the simple Runic cypher used for Yorda’s lines.

Of particular interest is the fact that the spoken dialogue occasionally differs from the subtitles, perhaps hinting that the voice acting is based on an earlier version of the script. This also holds true when it comes to translating the Runic subtitles. In my next feature, I will cover both of these anomalies.

In the meantime, if you enjoyed this article, check out my Shadow of the Colossus content!

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Till next time, folks.

GlitterBerri out.

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7 Responses

  1. Jake says:

    Loved this article!

    Seeing the cut dialogue is interesting for sure, but honestly I think they made the right choice to trim it. A lot of the unused stuff is unnecessary IMO and the deleted scenes would have stilted the pace of the game.

  2. Slim and Check says:

    While reading your Shadow of the Colossus translations, I wondered if anyone had thought about translating ICO too. Two days later and we get this! Must be my lucky week.

    On a related note, have you ever come across the interview where Ueda states his interpretation of the ending of ICO is that it’s a dream? I’ve read rumors the interview’s subtitles were inaccurate, and I’ve always wanted to know if this was true or not. If you’re interested, here’s the video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2svF-fV4VU

    They start to talk about ending’s meaning at 11:10.

    Here’s one of the comments that made me have doubts:

    ‘mmm, i think the video was subtitled incorrectly. when the captions read, “i guess that’s the real meaning,” actually what ueda said in japanese was “but i guess that really, they really did meet.” (tada, demo hontou no imi ha, hontou ni deatterundesu ka ne).

    immediately preceding this, when ueda reiterates what the interviewer was asking (about it actually being a dream sequence or not), it sounds to me more like he’s confirming if that’s what he actually meant to ask rather than clarifying that it is indeed a dream. when the interviewer tries to confirm that the ending really is a dream, he asks the translator (who answers directly) rather than ueda himself. hence why ueda says at the end, “tell him he’s free to interpret it that way.”

    having only played the jp version myself (and am now reading the novel), i never got the impression it was a dream… although a bittersweet ending is much more japanese.’

    And another:

    ‘yes, the translation of what Ueda is said in Japanese is wrong.
    “I guess that’s the real meaning.” is actually he said ” But they really met at beach, I guess.”‘

    Anyways, thanks for the amazing work so far. Can’t wait to find out more details about those fictional languages!

  3. […] GlitterBerri has put all the translated speech on her site, along with video footage timed to show the relevant quotes. So if you want to grab a cup of tea […]

  4. Rinshu says:

    That was incredible. Thanks for all the hard work!

  5. Robby says:

    Wow, that was great, well put together too. I love stuff like this. So fascinating to think that there is more to this game than meets the eye. For the most part though, I actually think the cuts were good. It adds even more to the mysteriousness and let’s me fill in the blanks with feelings rather than any hard facts. Good stuff!

  6. takenoko says:

    Amazing work. I loved reading the whole thing. I have some commentaries though if it’s alright.

    006 The “see?” seems unnecessary. He’s not asking for agreement nor does he gesture at his horns.

    038 I kind of like the original translation, since the queen explicitly states that one of the major differences between her daughter and Ico is the fact that he has horns.

    Really liking the high-and-mighty phrasing that you’re giving with the queen lines.

    044 Just a nitpick, but since the queen says “sono musume” it’s probably more likely to be “that girl” than “my daughter”

    046 Since it’s kind of ambiguous, maybe “You’re no mother to me!”

    056 Kind of feel like the “You say” part can be dropped, since Yorda doesn’t explicitly say those things. It’s like saying “Are you trying to tell me that you want to leave me to run off somewhere?”

    068 Since Yorda is throwing her mother’s words back at her, I think something like “No, it’s you who don’t understand my feelings.”

    Weird, so at some point Ico and Yorda learn to understand each other? I can see why that was cut.

    104 has me a bit torn. I kind of lean on the original translation, since the implication is that Yorda will be the queen the next she awakens. Something about having Yorda’s memories be erased arbitrarily ruins the narrative, I think.

    But other than that, I thought the translations were spot on. They were thoughtful and really captured the spirit of the conversation. Great job putting this together.

  7. HerrEmil says:

    This was really interesting, thanks a lot for putting this together :)

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