I am Error

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The original usage of the phrase in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

I am Error is a quote from the 1988 release of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) video game Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. The quote is spoken by a villager named Error in the town of Ruto.[nb 1] The popular conception of this quote is that it was a mistranslation, though translator Clyde Mandelin noted that the Japanese version had a similar statement and that another character in the game is named "Bug" (possibly referring to a computer bug), which was actually mistranslated "Bagu" due to how the name Bug is phonetically written.[nb 2] The quote has been referenced in other works, including Super Paper Mario, The Binding of Isaac, and Guacamelee!. The quote (and by extension its character) have been identified by critics such as GamesRadar, GameSpot, and Official Nintendo Magazine as one of the most well-known elements of video games and a popular Internet meme. IGN, however, felt that the quote was one of the worst mistranslations in gaming.


The 1988 release of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link featured a non-playable character (NPC) who would initially say only the lines "I AM ERROR." He could be found in a town called Ruto. When the player advances to the Harbor Town of Mido, an NPC there advises the player to "Ask Error of Ruto about the Palace". If the player then goes back to Ruto and speaks to Error, he provides a hint about how to gain access to the Island Palace. Despite the belief that the quote was a mistranslation, video game translator Clyde Mandelin stated that the original Japanese version of the game contained a line which - when translated into English - states "My name is Error..." In addition, another character is named "Bug" in the Japanese version, possibly referring to a computer bug, though this name was mistranslated to "Bagu" since the word bug is written phonetically in Japanese as bagu.[3]


Since its appearance, according to translator Clyde Mandelin, "I am Error" has become known as one of the "biggest mistranslations of early NES games".[3] Mandelin and Official Nintendo Magazine contributor Thomas East both noted that the idea that the "ERROR" portion of the phrase is in fact an Error message is a popular misconception,[3][4] however East included the phrase in his list of "22 classic gaming mistakes" due to its in-game relationship to the character of Bagu.[4] Due to his unusual introductory salutation, Error has been identified as one of the most well-known video game characters by Nintendo World Report.[5] VideoGamer's Emily Gera included him in a list of the "oddest character names in games" and noted that the meme made him a big character.[6] GameSpot suggested that "I am Error" would be among the best "translation oddities" for long-time gamers.[7] Jeff Gerstmann's review of Zelda II on the Game Boy Advance cited the quote as one of the positive elements of the game.[8] GamesRadar included it in their list of the 40 most repeated quotes and their list of the 100 best video game quotes.[9][10] IGN included it in their list of the worst in-game quotes at number two. The editor claimed that he "ranked up with Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster."[11] GamesRadar's Brett Elston used the quote to refer to ideas in The Legend of Zelda games that did not work.[12] Nintendo Life's Morgan Sleeper compared Castlevania II: Simon's Quest's translation to the quote.[13]

Appearances in other works[edit]

The 2007 video game Super Paper Mario features a boss battle against a character named Fracktail, a robotic dragon. It is at one point hacked, which causes it to utter several confused lines, including "I AM ERROR. PRESS ANY KEY TO RESTART."[14] An achievement in the 2013 video game Guacamelee! was given the title "I AM ERROR" in reference to Zelda II.[15] Zeno Clash II features it as an achievement title.[16] The quote is featured in the 2010 video game Fossil Fighters: Champions.[17] Video game designer Edmund McMillen featured references to the quote in two of his games: Time Fcuk and The Binding of Isaac.[18][19] He noted that the use of the quote in Time Fcuk was for "flavor and humor."[18] The appearance of Error in The Binding of Isaac were noted by McMillen to have been mistaken by players a lot to be McMillen himself.[19] Cheezburger founder Ben Huh claimed that "I AM ERROR" as a meme gained popularity after "All your base are belong to us".[20] The Sydney Morning Herald included it in a list of memorable video game quotes.[21] The Escapist's Brett Staebell called Error a "pioneer in game humorology." He uses the quote as the subtitle for his article.[22] In the fan-made Zelda II hack titled Zelda II: The Adventure of Error, Error has his own adventure.[23] The album Bagu and the Riverman by DJ Cutman and Spamtron featured a song titled "I AM ERROR" as its lead track.[24] It appears as the 404 page on Nintendo of Europe's website.[25] Nintendo Treehouse's presentation of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U displayed an error page based on this scene during technical difficulties.[26]


  1. ^ Due to space considerations, the original Japanese version of this line (published with the 1987 Famicom Disk System release) was rendered in single-byte katakana rather than double-byte Shift JIS characters as would be expected for standard Japanese writing. The original line reads: Ore no na wa Erā da... (オレノナハ エラー ダ...).[1][2]
  2. ^ The original Japanese is rendered as Bagu (バグ).


  1. ^ Nintendo Co., Ltd (January 14, 1987). The Legend of Zelda 2: Rinku no Bōken (in Japanese). Famicom Disk System. Nintendo. 
  2. ^ Altice, Nathan (2015). I Am Error: The Nintendo Family Computer / Entertainment System Platform. Platform Studies. MIT Press. p. 1. ISBN 9780262328401. 
  3. ^ a b c Mandelin, Clyde (2013-06-20). "WHAT’S UP WITH THE "I AM ERROR" GUY IN ZELDA II?". Legends of Localization. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  4. ^ a b East, Thomas (2012-12-18). "22 classic gaming mistakes". Official Nintendo Magazine. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  5. ^ Kaluszka, Aaron (2011-05-29). "A Legacy of Personality: The Characters of the Legend of Zelda". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  6. ^ Gera, Emily (2010-12-16). "Oddest Character Names in Games". VideoGamer. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  7. ^ "Un-Valentine's Day: Game Stuff We Love to Hate". GameSpot. 2007-02-14. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  8. ^ Gerstmann, Jeff (2004-11-12). "Classic NES Series: Zelda II Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  9. ^ Wilde, Tyler (2012-06-23). "The 40 most repeated game quotes". GamesRadar. p. 2. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  10. ^ "The 100 best video game quotes of all time". GamesRadar. 2013-05-30. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  11. ^ "Top 10 Tuesday: Worst In-Game Quotes". IGN. 2006-04-18. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  12. ^ Elston, Brett (2012-06-23). "Looking back: The Legend of Zelda". GamesRadar. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  13. ^ Sleeper, Morgan (2014-01-22). "Castlevania II: Simon's Quest". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  14. ^ Zablotny, Marc (2012-12-04). "9 amazing Paper Mario facts and secrets". Official Nintendo Magazine. p. 3. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  15. ^ Hilliard, Kyle (2013-12-27). "The Best Achievements And Trophies Of 2013". Game Informer. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  16. ^ "Zeno Clash II". GameRankings. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  17. ^ Moehnke, Mike. "Fossil Fighters: Champions - Staff Review". RPGamer. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  18. ^ a b McMillen, Edmund (2009-11-22). "Time Fcuk - A Postmortem". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  19. ^ a b McMillen, Edmund. "If you only wear black t-shirts, why is the I AM ERROR guy dressed in purple? I though purple was a thing of your past (not that it's important).". Edmund McMillen. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  20. ^ Huh, Ben (2014-03-12). "10 classic memes that owned the Internet". CNN. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  21. ^ "Re-Play: Play it again, Sam". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2011-03-10. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  22. ^ Staebell, Brett (2009-09-22). "A Comedy of Errors". The Escapist. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  23. ^ "Everyone’s favorite Zelda II error gets his own game". Siliconera. 2006-06-07. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  24. ^ Ponce, Tony (2011-12-05). "Have a chiptune dance party with this Zelda II album". Destructoid. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  25. ^ "404 – I AM ERROR". Nintendo UK. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  26. ^ Nintendo Treehouse: Live @ E3 2014 -- Day 2: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (YouTube video). Nintendo. 2014-06-12. Event occurs at 28:43.