The bastardization thread.

Talk about all aspect of Japanese games.

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The bastardization thread.

Postby Recap » Thu May 18, 2006 9:49 pm

I have rarely played Western versions of Japanese games, but I'm getting curious about the changes a game get when it's ported to Western markets, besides the evident ones. Changes in the difficulty level and graphics/music are hardly tolerable.

I mentioned recently that many arcade games, especially Capcom's and Konami's, changed the difficulty and even the gameplay. The other day I read US Actraiser is easier than the original with less monsters for the action scenes.

This could be a pretty thread with the time, so what do you know? What about SN/PS RPGs, for instance?

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Postby Ganelon » Thu May 18, 2006 10:17 pm

WD generally tries to mess with some of their stuff (to nobody's surprise). Oftentimes, it's for the better as they clean up cinemas and reduce load times but other times, they change encounter rates, enemy stats, and item locations.

It's been well known that the MGS games have tougher difficulties in the US and all the early 90s beat-em-up differences I listed in an earlier topic. However, most RPGs don't have noticeable changes for the US release. One unique changed game was Shining Force II, which had to get rid of in-battle item searching since the English text took too much of the 16 meg cart space. That meant items visible on the map in 2 battles could not be obtained, which is admittedly minor.

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Postby jiji » Thu May 18, 2006 11:45 pm

From Sengoku Basara... to Devil Kings. Names were changed, controls were altered, storyline was changed, all historical references were removed. This decision came down right from the producer of the game, who was of the opinion that American gamers wouldn't be interested in Japanese history (and from a cynical point of view, he's probably right).

Difficulty changes (in both directions) have been common since the 8-bit days, and still occur nowadays. There's probably too many to list. As noted in GP's translation of an interview with Masato Maegawa, Dynamite Headdy was made harder for US release. Capcom's PS2 games are routinely bumped up to their Japanese "hard" difficulties for western release, and easier difficulties are removed. The reasoning is that Japanese gamers prefer to play through games quickly and sell them back, while American gamers need something harder to keep them occupied longer than the space of a rental.

And yeah, it's become tradition for MGS games to receive the hardest difficulty modes yet when they're released in Europe, and then these get included in Substance-style rereleases.

I'm not aware of too many region-specific difficulty changes in PS RPGs that happened outside of Working Designs' offices, but many Square RPGs receive (and still do receive) extras and tweaks for US release that are integrated into later Japanese releases.

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Postby CIT Seven Force » Fri May 19, 2006 1:21 am

Certain NES games were technically stripped down compared to their Japanese counterparts, as producers in Japan were allowed to use their own chips, but were forced by the licensing agreement to use basic Nintendo chips abroad. The prime example would be Akumajo Densetsu which has FM sound and more elaborate graphics than Castlevania III.

Another funny one off the top of my head would be Biometal (SFC) where the soundtrack (which is quite good) was replaced with songs by 2Unlimited in its Western incarnation. :roll:

Anybody from Europe will probably remember them with a certain sense of dread:

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:D

Anyway, I'm trying to remember a rare instance in which a Western version is actually better than the Japanese. Snatcher on Mega-CD might arguably be the best version of this game ever released. It got an extra intro, the characters in the Outer Heaven bar are now all references to Konami games, and some lightgun bits were added. On the other hand some nudity and gore is missing compared with the PCE version.

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Postby layzee » Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am

Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter had a pretty drastic feature change.

I don't know about the the Japanese version but I assume it is the same as the American version where there is a quicksave option and each game you had a very limited amount of save tokens (1-3) which allows you to make a hard save. Loading from a quicksave deletes that temporary save file, so dying meant you're screwed.

Interestingly, this was changed for the European PAL version. There was no quicksave, but now you had 10 save tokens each game. The game was much easier because of it (for better or worse, BoFV is pretty hard). The disadvantage is that it's much harder to gain a 1/4 dragon ratio (rank appointed upon completion of game, high enough rank offers more areas to explore in new game). The advantage of course is you can now finish the game without pulling your hair out.

I guess the European localisers were assuming PAL gamers weren't hardcore and good enough to play this game in its original form.

Another unexplainable change would be Chaos Legion. I'm not sure if this is actually correct but I assume it is. In the Japanese version, to upgrade your "Thanatos" legion to the highest level, you need about 20 million experience.

This amount was changed in the Western versions so now, for example, you for need 100-200 million (can't remember). It's certainly high enough for game-perfectionists like me to not bother with. Pretty pointless change.

Another weird thing I can't find an explanation for is that for PS1/PS2 games, in Japan, "o" is accept, and "x" is cancel. American games are "x" to accept, "o" to cancel. European versions I believe mostly follow the Japanese control scheme. I first encountered this in Rock Man X4 trying to enter the "ultimate armour" cheat code, which of course involves pressing x and o. (i.e. ultimate armour codes are opposite in JP and US versions)

Do Americans have significantly different-shaped hands or something. ;)

It's the stuff they keep changing in games that made me decide not to play Western localisations of games anymore (PS2 broken notwithstanding). Oh and because of English voice acting, but that's another story for another thread. :)

Here's another one: Guilty Gear on PS1 was a pretty ugly localisation. I've only played the PAL version so not sure if this applies to NTSC U/C version.

On the title screen and elsewhere, the localisers added all this extra shit like "Press X to start game" which did not exist in the JP version. I'm like "what were you expecting me to do, press the off button on my console!?"

The "Heaven and Hell" before a fight, and the "DESTROYED" graphics were removed for some reason. Even worse, they typoed it, so every time before a fight, it says "HEVEN OR HELL" in normal boring writing.

Another big WTF were they thinking was that, in the JP version, every character would say a few words after the fight is won (with character portrait). You know, stuff like "LOL I PWNED J00 N00B!" They didn't even bother to translate it so it's all gone. As a result, Testament's and Justice's intros + music were removed. Interestingly (or not), all endings remain + translated.

I could keep ranting, but that's enough for now. :D

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Postby Gaijin Punch » Fri May 19, 2006 11:03 am

jiji wrote:This decision came down right from the producer of the game, who was of the opinion that American gamers wouldn't be interested in Japanese history (and from a cynical point of view, he's probably right).


Very, very curious to see how the US version of Okami comes out. If it didn't require me buying a modchip, I'd buy it and play it. It's as japanese as they come...just wondering if they'll put a good old touch of whitey in there for good measure.

As per Chaos Legion... I believe the PC version is like, shitloads harder than the PS2 version (of any region) but don't quote me on that. I played the JP PS2 version. Not a terrible game, but extremely repetitive. WOuld've hated it if it was hard as nails.

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Postby CIT Seven Force » Fri May 19, 2006 11:34 am

layzee wrote:Another weird thing I can't find an explanation for is that for PS1/PS2 games, in Japan, "o" is accept, and "x" is cancel. American games are "x" to accept, "o" to cancel. European versions I believe mostly follow the Japanese control scheme. I first encountered this in Rock Man X4 trying to enter the "ultimate armour" cheat code, which of course involves pressing x and o. (i.e. ultimate armour codes are opposite in JP and US versions)

Do Americans have significantly different-shaped hands or something. ;)


I'm sure this is because in Japan circle (maru) = okay/correct, and cross (batsu) = wrong. So that control setup would seem logical to a Japanese person, whereas in the West cross kind of means "check".

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Postby Recap » Fri May 19, 2006 12:24 pm

Interesting notes, there. I was aware of WD labor. Did they change Alundra's gameplay/difficulty too? What about Magic Knight Rayearth and Lunar series?







.

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Postby icycalm » Fri May 19, 2006 3:30 pm

Does anyone remember the Aliens arcade by Konami, circa 1990? I reviewed it a while ago:

http://www.insomnia.ac/reviews/ac/aliens/review.php

Even though the game is a 2D side-scrolling shooter, the US and World versions feature two additonal (and very crappy) first-person stages. Avoid at all costs.

Cool thread, though. I know tons of games that were changed/butchered. I'll be back with more.
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Postby Gaijin Punch » Fri May 19, 2006 6:51 pm

but many Square RPGs receive (and still do receive) extras and tweaks for US release that are integrated into later Japanese releases.


One thing I forgot. Final Fantasy VII, X, and X-2 all have international versions. I'm sure XII will as well. The only other one off the top of my head is Xenosaga. I believe both of them have "Reloaded" versions which feature US voices (ugggh) and maybe some extras.

I do recall Zelda: Wind Waker having a few little edits here and there. There's one treasure map that's kind of tricky to find. Requires a map to a map to a map or something. This was changed, as well as at least one heart container location.

Can someone comment on Shenmue? There's a few parts where Ryo reads the name of someone's house or shop, which is obviously written in Japanese. Do they subtitle these parts in the English version? From what I've read at Shenmue Dojo, they seem to use
1: The "western" Chinese names for the Chinese characters.
2: Full English translations for all the moves.

I'm curious how they handled the part in II with the 4 "butoku".

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Postby pancakesandsex » Fri May 19, 2006 8:24 pm

final fantasy x / x-2 voices are pretty good. they occasionally suffer from a "speed up" where a response sounds faster than it should and totally out of place (i'd imagine it was a lip sync thing), but they got alot better for x-2 (these games are pretty fresh in my mind since i just got done with x and im playing x-2 right now)

Xenosaga 1 had great voice acting in the US version too, it just had awful gameplay, dont be hating for the voices.

XS2 on the other hand changed the voices for several main chars, and that, on top of crappy gameplay and awfully mixed sound effects in the cinemas made me ditch it 2 hours in.

im interested in getting ffx/x-2 international to leave on the shelf for when the replay bug hits me, since they have a bunch of extra features, and i didnt play for completion the 1st time.

some other games that have particularly good dubs:
metal gear solid (whole series)
Zone of the enders (although anubis is a bit engrishy, its at least well acted)
Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner 1-2

best-worst voice acting ever:
castle shikigami 2 - the translation is 100% literal, and the dubbing is basically read from that literal translation. actually the dubbing doesnt even match the onscreen text half the time cuz its so engrishy the actors seem to adlib something that makes more sense. its worth playing cuz the game itself is 100% in tact, and the dub is b-movie grade hillarious-bad

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Postby icycalm » Sat May 20, 2006 12:56 am

Note that the International versions of Square's games are still Japanese games. NTSC-J and all. Same goes for Reloaded versions.

Recap is asking about changes in NTSC-U and PAL games from the Japanese originals.
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Postby Dais » Sat May 20, 2006 8:47 am

Recap wrote:Interesting notes, there. I was aware of WD labor. Did they change Alundra's gameplay/difficulty too?


To quote the juicy bits of the "Translation Notes" in the manual itself:

After licensing the game, we began translation of text and compiled our usual "wish list" of changes. The biggest change we made was to copy a portion of the great animation from the ending of the game to a complete new opening at the front of the game. The original opening was simply a long string of ameplay footage that didn't get us too excited about the game. The new opening features an all-new CG-rendered Alundra logo and exciting new music. We hope it pumps you up about what to expect in the game.

There were a host of other minor changes made to the game to improve playability and limit user frustration. The status menu was made accessible from the L2 and R2 buttons, instead of just STARt. We also adjust the timing of the buttons that appear and disappear in Elene's dream to give the player more time to make the jumps required. Monster difficulties were also rebalanced, generally to make a few bosses eariser to kill. However, bosses were also made more dangerous in that if they managed to hit ALundra, their blows were much more lethal. This lessened some of the boredom of the later bosses, where they really weren't much challenge to fight, but took forever to kill. We also rewrote the closing song with all-new lyrics that we felt more closely reflected the tone of the game.


*cough*

I won't say a word more on Alundra, except that it's one of the worst beautiful and awesome games I own.

Several years ago, I actually planned to make a site about those things which are lost in translation during Japanese-to-English localizations...everything from cigarettes becoming coffee cups to entire features being removed. Sadly, I didn't really take any notes, so now I'm only left with scattered bits of information in my brain.

Maybe I should start compiling a list, just in case.....nah.

As noted, the US doesn't always get the short end of the stick, or whatever the saying is. The US release of Treasure's Astro Boy was notably more interesting in terms of enemy patterns, as well as featuring a new enemy or two and some interface tweaks (competently translated to boot!). The US release of FFT Advance took out some of the quite likely frustrating number-based laws ("cannot heal for more than X", "cannot do less than X damage"), while doubling quest item inventory space and adding multiple secret characters/quests.

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Postby layzee » Sat May 20, 2006 10:47 am

If you don't mind not listening to JP VA, then I suppose the upcoming US release of Rogue Galaxy will be an improvement.

http://ps2.ign.com/articles/703/703125p2.html

An all-new planet not available for the Japanese version is definitely the largest of said additions, as is a completely new sub-story to accompany it. Moreover, chain attacks no longer occur randomly as they did overseas and now they're activated manually through use of items that are dropped by monsters. More than 100 exclusive items, weapons, and other collectable goodies have been thrown in as well, and several animations have been shined up or expanded upon for its domestic release.


citcelaid wrote:I'm sure this is because in Japan circle (maru) = okay/correct, and cross (batsu) = wrong. So that control setup would seem logical to a Japanese person, whereas in the West cross kind of means "check".


Ah okay. Still strange though that PAL Final Fantasy VII has circle as accept. But of course, most games have configurable buttons so this point is rather moot.

Dais wrote:Maybe I should start compiling a list, just in case.....nah.


I considered this at one point (list, not site) but I couldn't really be bothered. :)

I commonly encounter "What, this wasn't in the English version" moments but I never noted any down either.

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Postby Recap » Sat May 20, 2006 12:35 pm

icycalm wrote:Recap is asking about changes in NTSC-U and PAL games from the Japanese originals.


Right. And I don't want this to be another one of those 'US dubbers suck" threads, to be honest. I was asking about the not-so-evident changes. And especially on pre-128-bit games. For instance:

- Rage Racer: Western versions are harder than the original. Classes 5 and 6 are almost broken due to it.

- Hansei Zaru Jiroo-kun no Daibouken: Known in the West as Spanky's Quest, they changed the first world completely and God knows what else.




To quote the juicy bits of the "Translation Notes" in the manual itself:


Now that's what I was looking for. Thanks much. What kind of silliness and arrogance lived in the heads of Working Designs people? It's scary.



The US release of Treasure's Astro Boy was notably more interesting in terms of enemy patterns, as well as featuring a new enemy or two


Wasn't that present in the Japanese version's harder difficulty level?





If you don't mind not listening to JP VA, then I suppose the upcoming US release of Rogue Galaxy will be an improvement.


These days the thing is different than before the FFVII phenomenon. Globalization makes the devs and companies think about the Western version of their games even before it's decided, hence the changes are usually "improvements", since they usually come from the devs themselves. That's why I was more interested in the pre-128-bit era.

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Postby Gaijin Punch » Sat May 20, 2006 1:08 pm

icycalm wrote:Recap is asking about changes in NTSC-U and PAL games from the Japanese originals.


Those are changes in NTSC-U games. They just happen to be re-released in Japan. It is whoring, in every way shape and form.

Another 128-bit one that I know isn't Recap's cup of tea, but Jet Set Radio in the US, actually got some good changes, and some bad. The extra tracks (one especially) are really good. So good it doesn't appear on the soundtrack. :( The extra stages are fun I suppose, but they don't really fit.

Back to what you want to hear:
AFAIK: Phantasy Star II had subtle changes in the characters. Namely, some of them were a bit more bitchy than they were in the US one. I've only played the rather bland remake in Japanese, and this quite some time after playing the original in English. For what it's worth, the series is pretty well known for staying faithful to the original (except for the FM audio, of course). phantasy-star.net I believe has all the differences for all the games listed.

JPN Astro Boy


I played a demo of this before it came out at a TGS. It was only 5 or 6 units, and there was only myself and one other person playing it, while just about everything else had an hour queue. It did not move me in the least. I hear the US version is "better" but new patterns aren't going to do much for me in this realm.

Working Desings


I think I've only played one game by them (Shining Wisdom on the Saturn?) and don't really remember much of it. From what I've heard, they tweak shit all the time. Didn't they translate a sign in Cosmic Fantasy 2 as saying "Coming Soon: Cosmic Fantasy 3!". :?

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Postby Ganelon » Sat May 20, 2006 9:11 pm

Gaijin Punch wrote:For what it's worth, the series is pretty well known for staying faithful to the original (except for the FM audio, of course). phantasy-star.net I believe has all the differences for all the games listed.


Except for the names of course. We can't have US kids fighting Dark Phallus now can we? A lot of name changes in PSIII and IV for some reason...

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Postby Gaijin Punch » Sat May 20, 2006 10:09 pm

IV was bad. The first game translated it as "Dark Falz" which isn't bad considering they had to work within a very confined amount of space. It was a bit confusing though in PSII when you fought Dark Force.

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Postby Josee » Tue May 23, 2006 8:49 pm

Gaijin Punch wrote: Very, very curious to see how the US version of Okami comes out. If it didn't require me buying a modchip, I'd buy it and play it. It's as japanese as they come...just wondering if they'll put a good old touch of whitey in there for good measure.


I'm actually going to by that game the day it's available near me. It's one of the few games I'm actually looking forward to getting. So, if there's anything I can do to let you know just how screwed up it got during localization, let me know!

All that aside, I try not to focus too much on the changes made to games when they are localized. If I don't know something has been changed, then it typically doesn't bother me, which is why I don't go out of my way to find what has changed. If I do find out that something has changed about the game, then that usually sets me off.

Although, there is a game coming out for the U.S. that has had some drastic changes to it, that actually make it better than the original Japanese verion, the name slips me right now though.
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Postby Macaw » Fri May 26, 2006 3:47 pm

- The western release of Assault Suit Valken (called Cybernator) had a huge amount cut out of it, such as the portraits of the characters when they spoke, a whole lot of text, some characters were completely removed, and an entire scene was deleted. Cutting out the characters portraits was a ridiculous idea as it made it much harder to know who exactly was talking, and combined with the missing text and missing scene the story was far less involving than the japanese release.

- The american release of Final Fight Tough (Final Fight 3) had all the black dudes re-coloured to white dudes.

- Western releases of Akamajou Dracula (Super Castlevania 4) had all the blood and religious stuff removed. Also for some bizarre reason they changed the sound your whip makes to something far worse.
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Postby Recap » Fri May 26, 2006 5:09 pm

Macaw wrote:- Western releases of Akamajou Dracula (Super Castlevania 4) had all the blood and religious stuff removed.


This type of censorship is quite usual, isn't it? Makaimura, Metal Slug, SNK fighting games, Capcom's Vampire series... But I heard it's present on many RPGs too? Which ones?

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Postby Shapermc » Fri May 26, 2006 11:52 pm

Recap wrote:
Macaw wrote:- Western releases of Akamajou Dracula (Super Castlevania 4) had all the blood and religious stuff removed.


This type of censorship is quite usual, isn't it? Makaimura, Metal Slug, SNK fighting games, Capcom's Vampire series... But I heard it's present on many RPGs too? Which ones?

The only one that I can think of off the top of my head is Mother (more info here: http://www.lostlevels.org/200407/200407 ... ound.shtml).

Also, all of the Nazi symbols were removed from Bionic-Commando NES in the US release. I find that kind of interesting. I ran across a project a little while back that was putting it all back in.

But really, yes, there are far to many to list. Most of them I don't know. A huge one is Super Mario Bros. 2 in the US which is... Doki Doki Panic (something like that) in Japan, but then it got re-released as SMB US or some similar name.

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Postby Gaijin Punch » Sat May 27, 2006 12:57 am

Can't believe I never caught this. Never knew that the original title was actually called The Return of Hitler. :? Not much of a Famicom man.

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Postby Josee » Sat May 27, 2006 5:09 am

Oh yeh, I remember that.

They did a lot to change the heavy Nazi themes in the original version of the game. Even though at the end it was clearly Hitler you shot with a rocket.
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Postby JoshF » Sun May 28, 2006 2:18 am

Sega of America changed Magical Hat's Flying Turbo Adventure into the bland peice of shit known as Decap Attack.


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