Are you surprised by that title? It isn’t obvious that there even is one, but Youtuber 2CPhoenix makes a strong case that there is, that’s (mostly) consistent across the game’s signage! Here’s their video on it (9 1/2 minutes):
These kinds of ciphers aren’t to common in games, but they’re not unheard-of either. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker uses one for the Hylian language, which it even translates for you if you play through the game a second time, and there’s at least one other such language that’s used in Breath of the Wild for Shiekah artifacts. And of course, working out a cipher that’s used in many locations is a major late-game puzzle in Fez.
The “language” of what are possibly the Noki in Sunshine Mario Sunshine is one of those things where, like Bubble Bobble’s Bubble Alphabet, the letters are actually heavily stylized versions of our familiar Latin alphabet, meaning, if you kind of take your brain off the hook slightly and just try to read the glyphs like they were words, you can get a bit of a sense of what they’re saying. Or at least I can. A little.
It’s enough to make one want to take a second look at the fakey-letters in some other Nintendo games, such as the Splatoon and Pokemon series….
Fez was eagerly anticipated in development for several years, and Fish was one of the subjects of the movie Indie Game. It was the subject of tremendous applause when released, winning the both the Seumas McNally Grand Prize and Eurogamer’s Game of the Year in 2012, as well as Indiecade Best in Show in 2011, . For some idea of how long ago that was, the 2011 winner of the Seumas McNally Grand Prize was freaking Minecraft.
But then, at the height of its popularity, Phil Fish got into an argument on the center of all internet strife, that place where sanity goes to die: Twitter. He would cancel Fez’s sequel and swear off game development. He returned briefly in 2014 at what would turn out to be exactly the wrong time, the shameful era of GamerGate, before going underground again.
It was something of a coup that Robert Purchese got an interview with him. If I had known it was something one could just do I might have considered it myself.
Phil Fish’s Fez remains one of the outstanding achievements of the early days of indie game culture, and his being basically hounded out of it during GamerGate remains an egregious travesty.