This is the crazy history of Japanese video games that were unrecognizable

Japanese video games are the most successful games. Do you remember how Nier got to the stores? It was sold that the protagonist was not Western enough for the European and American public, which meant that in our market we had one hero and in Asia another. Why did something like this happen ? The process is always the same: a game is set in Japan, it crosses the pond to the United States and the marketers believe that the concept must be westernized for some reason. A measure that tends to always go wrong, although there are some curious cases in which the software has ended up becoming a double cult game among its players. Today at Technoeager we want to see how extreme the changes developed by the firms in the 80s and 90s were.

But let’s not be unfair: you have to put yourself in the context of the story to understand how delusional some situations that we are going to explain today are. We are facing a very early moment in the video game industry, with some businessmen who only understood how to count tickets and sell the cheap to the highest possible price , not what the girl would want to see in their consoles when they inserted the cartridges of their newly founded companies. However, that does not prevent us from enjoying the delirium of the decisions made and enjoying their outrageous consequences, some completely unexpected for the gamer parish of the moment and the one that would come in the future.

Ready to learn about some of the most drastic identity change cases of the 8-bit and 16-bit era? There are many companies involved! Some very famous and with very famous cases and others … not so much. We started!

Doki Doki Panic

The Japanese video games company are smart in creating games. The situation was soft in the North American territory: NES was already a sales success and Super Mario Bros. had worked as the Trojan Horse that it was expected to be and from the United States they wanted more: it was time to launch Super Mario Bros 2 to the market. However, Arakawa , president of Nintendo of America, notices something that prevents the launch of what could be a top-seller of the new NES Christmas campaign: the original game had a devilish difficulty and was very similar to the original game in all sound and visual aspects. The consequences could be dangerous and awaken old ghosts of the ’83 Crisislike the frustration of the users, anger in the stores and a new clash with the main customers of the industry at the end of the eighties: the parents.

A solution had to be found and soon. He had names and surnames: Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic! It was a video game in which Shigeru Miyamoto himself had collaborated and that was born thanks to a collaboration with Fuji TV . Obviously, the game had nothing to do with the Super Mario universe or anything like it, but that did not stop the developers from changing the protagonists for the quartet of Mario, Luigi, Toad and Peach and rename it Super Mario Bros 2. Yes, American and European players soon realized that, in terms of playability, the sequel didn’t have much to do with the original game, but somehow it was forgiven and users accepted the sequel without giving it much thought. Another hit for Nintendo.

They were other times, and not many players would know of the existence of the original Super Mario Bros 2 until the times of the Internet. The first suspicions of the Famicom Disk software came with the premiere of Super Nintendo’s Super Mario All-Stars , which featured a mysterious video game called Super Mario Bros .: The Lost Levels , which turned out to be the original sequel. Even Doki Doki Panic was re-released in Japan with Mario characters under the name Super Mario Bros. USA ! One of the curious circumstances of the present story resulted in the adoption of many of the elements seen in the original game into Mario’s own mythology. Can you imagine Mario’s lore without Birdo today?

Japanese Video Games: Tecmo Cup Football Game

I have a childhood memory with playing Tecmo in 8 bits : a friend told me I had suspicions that his newly bought football game was Tsubasa by animations and some characters who starred … but everything dissipated to the view that neither Atom nor Price were there. As it turned out, my schoolmate was right: NES’s Tecmo Cup Football Game was Captain Tsubasa’s western namesake on the Famicom , the first installment of Yoichi Takahashi’s classic manga in one of the main sagas that would take advantage of the ever-beloved Tecmo Theater from the signature behind Ninja Gaiden.

Japanese video games

But how much could one and the other game change? A lot actually: the images inspired by Takahashi’s creation were exchanged for some hideous characters without any charisma and the names were adapted by some more recognizable to users in the West. They didn’t kill each other much either: David, Kevin, Ralph, Brett, James, Anne … to be fair, it’s not like they killed each other in the Italian adaptation of the television series that we ate in Spain , certainly, but here everything was dotted with those characters of doubtful taste. Of course, nothing like seeing Damon with his tiger shot and the co-stars take their twin shot. How could my classmate not be suspicious?

Do you know what is the most surreal circumstance of the present development? That Tecmo Soccer in Spain arrived translated into Spanish. I don’t need to remind you how many games were translated into Spanish on the NES, right? Well imagine what a game by Oliver and Benji would have been in Spain in our language. A real pity that it did not come true. Incredible is that we had to wait until 2010 to finally enjoy an authentic Oliver and Benji video game in our borders. It was Captain Tsubasa: New Kick-Off , and it was, in turn, the premiere of the Japanese ace in the territory of the Nintendo touch laptop.

Japanese video games: Renegade

The case of Kunio Kun and Renegade is also curious because of the success of both games in the different markets of the world, resulting in an unprecedented parallel success for two brands that, in reality, are the same. Nekketsu Kôha Kunio Kun has the honor of being one of the first beat’em up video games in history, planting a title in which a thug from a Japanese school, Kunio, was limited to breaking the nose of rivals from other Japanese schools. Upon reaching the West, its distributor, Taito , decided that the Technos video game should change its marked Japanese accent for a more markedly American one and that it was already being a hit in theaters around the world:The Warriors.

Since the game was not going to be called after the Walter Hill movie and Kunio Kun was too exotic, the game was christened Renegade and was released in arcades in the United States and Europe with great success. The production had such a great acceptance that the always mythical Ocean would soon arrive wanting to take advantage of the success of arcades and release its own versions for microcomputers of the time. Another total success. So much, in fact, that they had no problem releasing two sequels of their own that repeated the success of the original, Target: Renegade and Renegade 3.. It had little to do with The Warriors or high school battles, but it didn’t matter at all: Ocean had another success on his hands.

Technos couldn’t replicate Renegade’s success with Kunio Kun? Unlike! The brand was even more successful in its home country , which served good old Kunio not only to star in countless sequels, but to even have his own series of sports games like Nintendo World Cup or Dodge Ball . Kunio Kun would receive another cultural change with its premiere on Game Boy: when it arrived in the United States, its distributors preferred to rename it Double Dragon 2, they put new sprites in line with its sister saga and it was launched in stores. Kunio starred in one of the best beat’em ups on the Game Boy and nobody knew it.

Dragon Power, Black Belt and Street Combat

We include the final three cases because they are identical to each other : two animated licenses from Japan that when they arrive in the West are exchanged for nondescript sprites that have nothing to do with their original works. The first case is that of Black Belt , which takes the game of Hokuto no Ken from Master System ( The Fist of the North Star ) and reconverts its protagonist and whitewashes the most violent themes of the software. Did you notice that the enemies you knocked out in the game seemed to disintegrate? Well, it was no coincidence: it was Hokuto Shinken in all its glory, but you didn’t know it. Particularly painful is the surreal coverwith which the title came to our borders. An indescribable horror, like so many other grotesque covers of Master System.

The Dragon Power thing , another drama: it is the American adaptation of Dragon Ball: Shen-Long No Nazo , and it was limited to changing names and characters so that it had nothing to do with Akira Toriyama’s manga . It is striking that, being a game that follows the events narrated in the television series, how do you save the moment of panties? Substituting them for a delicious sandwich. The luck of the present case is that it was a problem that the Americans ate: in Europe, as happened with the video game Knights of the Zodiac. They decided to bring it to France, which importation made it easier to some extent for the wealthiest players to get the cartridge from the neighboring country. However, the great fever in Spain with Dragon Ball video games would occur with the Super Butoden .

Street Combat is one of the best Japanese video games with a true visual tragedy. In Japan it was Ranma ½’s first fighting video game, Chonai Gekitohen, and in the West it was a painful fighting production that didn’t stain or clean wherever it went. It perverts everything beautiful and wonderful in Rumiko Takahashi’s manga to add the most innocuous and saddest characters to ever star in a fighting video game. The imaginative laziness of American artists led them to star in one of the saddest names of wrestlers in memory: GI Jim. Of course, as he was a soldier and could resemble a GIJoe … the joke is told alone. A veritable disaster of biblical proportions.

Leave a Reply