Friday, May 2, 2008

The Girl With the Stars in Her Eyes

Rosalina, the newest addition to the Mario mythos, has a name that changes considerably depending on what language you speak. The fact that she has different names in different languages is notable to geeks like me because Nintendo has in the past made an effort to minimize the number of alternate names that major characters have. For example, Princess Peach (on whom Rosalina is clearly modeled) was previously known to American video game players as Princess Toadstool, and it wasn’t until the dawn of the 64-bit era in 1996 that she officially become known to English speakers as Peach, the name she had all along in Japan.

the teal lady herself
When Rosalina was first glimpsed in promotion materials for Super Mario Galaxy, she was dubbed Rosetta. I took this to be a reference to the Rosetta Stone, as women in Mario games tend to be named after objects, but upon playing the game through, I realized that the connection wasn’t there: She doesn’t have any associations with language or communication, this post notwithstanding. Today, I found that a rosetta is can actually a type of orbit that, if traced, makes a rose-like shape, which would make a lot more sense, given that Super Mario Galaxy takes place among stars and planets and all that celestial stuff. It’s actually quite an elegant, sensible name for a space princess, really. Of course, it really makes no difference for Americans, since Nintendo renamed her Rosalina for Galaxy‘s release here. (To confuse the point further, she’s known in some French-speaking regions as Harmonie and in some Spanish-speaking parts as Estela.)

an illustration of a rosetta orbit, via wikipedia
Space Girl don’t get no respect, it seems.

And yeah, Nintendo has allowed Toad and Bowser to have alternate names inside and outside Japan, but they don’t have quite the variety that Rosalina has. (They’re Kinopio and Koopa over there, but just about every other region uses the Western names, or some variation thereabouts.)

1 comment:

  1. What I like about Rosalina is that she doesn’t exist to be someone’s buddy or partner or girlfriend or anything. Think about it. Peach is Mario’s girl, basically, and in the same way Daisy is either Luigi’s girl or Daisy’s friend. Dixie has Diddy, Kammy has Bowser, and even Birdo was only brought back because Yoshi needed a friend. Rosalina doesn’t really have a counterpart, even though she was clearly modeled on Peach.