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The early trend of making Japanese games harder for Western releases.

entremet

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I didn't know about this when I first played these games, but it was common, around the NES/Famicom era and beyond for Japanese developed games to be made more difficult for western localizations.

Many theorize this happened to due to rentals being legal in the US. Higher difficulties would incentivize gamers buying the games. I don't know how true this is, but it is a common theory.

One of the most notorious games to suffer this fate was The Adventures of Bayou Billy for NES.

The original Famicom game was much more reasonable. The game was known as Mad City for the Famicom and it's much better for it. I enjoy games that are hard, but also fair, but the Adventures of Bayou Billy was crazy.

Another victim of ridiculous difficulty tuning was Ninja Gaiden 3 NES. The Japanese original had unlimited continues, much like its American sequels, but Tecmo decided to have only 3 continues for NG3. The decision was pretty baffling honestly.

What other games where this has happened? Are there examples where this has happened for the betterment of the game in question?
 

Dawg

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I always felt like older games on the SNES etc (not just localizations) were made harder to artificially lengthen the game.

That's why, if you get really good at them, some of those game can end up being really, really short.
 

Sir TapTap

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Not sure if this counts, but Quest 64 was significantly harder in America than Japan. Though the US version was released first despite being a Japanese dev.

Also Contra 3 removed cheat codes in the US version because...because fuck you that's why
 

Tyrant Rave

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Happened with original Devil May Cry 3.

Our Normal Mode was the same as Hard Mode in the Japanese version.
 

jett

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The Japanese version of Contra: Hard Corps has lifebars. Lifebars in a Contra game.
 

Regiruler

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I thought it was usually the reverse notion? SMB 2/LL was held back from western release because it was too hard, and needed to be replaced so the 3 in SMB 3 didn't confuse consumers.
 

fhqwhgads

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Luigi's Mansion is a weird case, the game was made harder solely for the European and Australian releases. Made the extra difficulty significantly harder and made it so you could only get the highest endgame rank by playing on the extra difficulty.
 

Inuhanyou

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Many japanese speculate the rental thing to actually be the main reason, on 2ch and niconico that's the generally accepted answer. There are huge debates about the merits of renting whenever the topic is brought up, because there is literally never been a rental market for games over there.

I don't know true it is, but it would be amusing to think the "balls to the wall difficulty of yesteryear" that people look back to with nostalgia and fondness was just a product of Japanese companies wanting to make sure their games were not easily beaten over a weekend.
 

Tain

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It also happened the other way around from time to time (Mario 3, off the top of my head). Konami did the Western version difficulty increase pretty often.

What other games where this has happened? Are there examples where this has happened for the betterment of the game in questions?

As jett said, Contra: Hard Corps. The US version is the definitive one. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

Ninja Ryukenden 3 is a little too easy. Ideally that game would have been the Japanese version but with limited continues. I hear the US version gets hilariously strict time limit wise near the end.
 

entremet

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Damn you Streets of Rage 3

Oh yes!

BK3 is so so much better.

Protip: If you have an 360, the Streets of Rage Collection was done by M2. It has all the versions of each game, including Bare Knuckle 3!

Much cheaper than importing BK3 and great emulation as its M2.
 

andymcc

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There are instances of the opposite happening too.

For example, Mega Man 2's only difficulty in the Japanese version is the equivalent of the American "Hard". When getting hit in Super Mario 3, Mario reverts back to his original size instead of Super.
 

entremet

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There are instances of the opposite happening too.

For example, Mega Man 2's only difficulty in the Japanese version is the equivalent of the American "Hard". When getting hit in Super Mario 3, Mario reverts back to his original size instead of Super.

Super Mario 3 is my favorite game ever.

I wish there was a way to play this version in the constant re-releases of the game.

I don't have NES/Famicom anymore and Nintendo's eShops are region locked.
 

Some Nobody

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Many japanese speculate the rental thing to actually be the main reason, on 2ch and niconico that's the generally accepted answer. There are huge debates about the merits of renting whenever the topic is brought up, because there is literally never been a rental market for games over there.

I don't know true it is, but it would be amusing to think the "balls to the wall difficulty of yesteryear" that people look back to with nostalgia and fondness was just a product of Japanese companies wanting to make sure their games were not easily beaten over a weekend.

There's probably enough evidence for this to prove false, but it would be hilarious if it were true. Then again, half the insane difficulty of the past was just a design holdover from when games needed your quarters, so...
 

entremet

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Luigi's Mansion is a weird case, the game was made harder solely for the European and Australian releases. Made the extra difficulty significantly harder and made it so you could only get the highest endgame rank by playing on the extra difficulty.

Some PAL territory games also got harder. Shadow of the Collosus is a semi recent example.

And of course European Extreme Mode in MGS2, which everyone got in Substance later.
 

Jeremy

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Many japanese speculate the rental thing to actually be the main reason, on 2ch and niconico that's the generally accepted answer. There are huge debates about the merits of renting whenever the topic is brought up, because there is literally never been a rental market for games over there.

I don't know true it is, but it would be amusing to think the "balls to the wall difficulty of yesteryear" that people look back to with nostalgia and fondness was just a product of Japanese companies wanting to make sure their games were not easily beaten over a weekend.

Can you go into this further? I'm not making the connection.
 

Skilletor

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Oh yes!

BK3 is so so much better.

Protip: If you have an 360, the Streets of Rage Collection was done by M2. It has all the versions of each game, including Bare Knuckle 3!

Much cheaper than importing BK3 and great emulation as its M2.

There's a Streets of Rage collection?

wtfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff
 

entremet

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There's a Streets of Rage collection?

wtfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff

Yes. Only on the 360, though.

They did a few Sega ports to the 360 under the Sega Vintage Collection moniker. All excellent emulated. Way better than the Sonic Genesis Collection in terms of accuracy.
 

andymcc

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Can you go into this further? I'm not making the connection.

The Japanese game industry successfully got a legal ban on the rental of game software, hence games weren't able to be rented there (they still aren't fwiw). Many theorize to combat the popularity of rental in other territories, Japanese companies adjusted the difficulty as a means to discourage renters from beating the game so they'd be compelled to buy in order to finish.

Super Mario 3 is my favorite game ever.

I wish there was a way to play this version in the constant re-releases of the game.

I don't have NES/Famicom anymore and Nintendo's eShops are region locked.

i always felt the majority of the US SMB3 was too easy and have always preferred the Famicom version.

this rental store i used to get my games from as a kid had Famicom games so I had played SMB3 well before the US release. At the time, I never understood why the game felt WAY easier than the Japanese version I had played lol
 

sir_kevith

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Double Dragon 2 was much easier on the Famicom version too I remember. You could play through the whole game on the easier difficulty on Famicom while you'd get cut off before on the NES.

I never was able to actually beat it on the NES.
 
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And of course European Extreme Mode in MGS2, which everyone got in Substance later.

There were already differences between the japanese and US versions as well, the japanese Normal difficulty was Easy in the western releases, japanese Easy was changed to Very Easy and japanese Very Hard was obviously US/PAL's Hard mode. Only Extreme and then in Substance European Extreme were the same across regions.

And the first one didn't actually have a difficulty selection in the japanese release. The whole game was set to the western Easy mode, basically.

Are there examples where this has happened for the betterment of the game in questions?

All the classic RE's were made harder for the western releases. In the first one it was kind of bullshit, they tinkered with the player's and enemy's health too much, removed auto-aim, which made thinks a lot more frustrating, (The Director's Cut reversed everything to the japanese difficulty in Original mode.) but the second game benefited from the increased difficulty.

Again the players and enemy's stats were tinkered with but not as extreme as it was in the first game, you faced more enemies, most ammo pick ups were moved and more hidden (Which got kind of ridiculous at times to be honest.) and auto-aim was made optional. Since the japanese release was piss-easy and the changes this time around still kept the game fairly easy, I'd say it was for the better.
 

Inuhanyou

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Can you go into this further? I'm not making the connection.

As stated above, its a concept uniquely foreign to the Japanese market, that's why i would not be surprised if its true.

A metric fuck ton collectively shat their pants when James one time offhandedly said he would always rent games from the video store(like many of us did)
 

Syril

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As stated above, its a concept uniquely foreign to the Japanese market, that's why i would not be surprised if its true.

A metric fuck ton collectively shat their pants when James one time offhandedly said he would always rent games from the video store(like many of us did)
I was reading about it. Apparently it started because during the Famicom era, tons of video stores would order a single copy of each game and then make a fuckton of bootlegs to rent out. Technically renting was never illegal, but copyright holders have the ability to prohibit rental of their games, which almost all of them have exercised.
 

entremet

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Another game I remember was Dynamite Heady on the Genesis. The Japanese versions was much easier.
 

TheMoon

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Luigi's Mansion is a weird case, the game was made harder solely for the European and Australian releases. Made the extra difficulty significantly harder and made it so you could only get the highest endgame rank by playing on the extra difficulty.

This was based on feedback that the US version was too easy. They mirrored the hidden mansion for the EU release.

I always thought it was the other way around.

Yea, me too. Making western versions harder is a thing I remember more from the late 90s-mid 00s era.

Maybe it's just the JRPG thing because those definitely were made easier for dumb Westerners.
 

entremet

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FF iv, in the american version they added new abilities, but harder difficulty.

FFIV is such a weird one.

Original SFC--which was easier.
SNES version--harder but new abilities.
Hard type SFC--the hardest one, never made it here until later.
 

entremet

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The US version is crazy lol. Bosses have so much health...

Yep. I still haven't beaten it.

That's literally the opposite of what happened. The American version of FFIV removed special abilities from several characters and had a tamer difficulty.

You're right. It's confusing. Then there's the SFC FFIV Easy type as well. Hard Type was the original SFC release.
 

Haunted

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Ive heard a lot of it was based on the rental market. Lots of western developed games had huge difficulty spikes early in games to prevent people from beating them purely through renting. I imagine this was the same logic used when releasing Japanese games in the west.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kILeyo1iv0A#t=1112
Was just about to mention this video.

Kinda hilarious if you think about it. Game design has always been impacted by outside factors for one reason or another.
 

woodypop

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Yes. Only on the 360, though.

They did a few Sega ports to the 360 under the Sega Vintage Collection moniker. All excellent emulated. Way better than the Sonic Genesis Collection in terms of accuracy.
I didn't know about the SoR Collection. Thanks for that info!

What other Sega ports were released under that moniker?
 

InfiniteCombo

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This might be a figment of my imagination, but owning both Resident Evil 2 and Biohazard 2, the latter is much easier than the former. The same seems to be the case for the sequel (Biohazard 3 being easier than Resident Evil 3).

Not sure if games published in 1998 and 1999 are considered "early" for purposes of this thread.
 

entremet

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Ive heard a lot of it was based on the rental market. Lots of western developed games had huge difficulty spikes early in games to prevent people from beating them purely through renting. I imagine this was the same logic used when releasing Japanese games in the west.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kILeyo1iv0A#t=1112

Gat damn, that game was hard. I was super surprised since Disney games were easy. The Jungle Book was also hard as fuck.
 

Haruka

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There's an interview in a book that I own (Untold History of Japanese Game Developers) with a Japanese dev who worked on Gaiares, a shooter game which was made crazy hard when it was released in America, and this what he said:

Kouji Yokata said:
Yamamoto-san, the programmer, was in charge of the game balance, but this game was originally intented for the overseas market, to begin with. But overseas, since their was a tendency for people to buy and play a game and then immediately sell it, as well as rental systems, the overseas publisher had asked us to make the game even more difficult so that it would not be rented and completed easily. So we went over to the overseas publisher to show the demo, and they said: "You should make it even more difficult!" We started getting concerned at this point, but we complied with the request. So ultimately the game became very difficult when it was released.

So, the rental theory appears to be legit.
 

entremet

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I didn't know about the SoR Collection. Thanks for that info!

What other Sega ports were released under that moniker?

Just copying and pasting form Wikipedia.

Sega Vintage Collection: Golden Axe (Publisher: Sega)
Sega Vintage Collection: Streets of Rage (Publisher: Sega)
Sega Vintage Collection: Monster World (Publisher: Sega)
Sega Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Co. (Publisher: Sega)
Sega Vintage Collection: ToeJam & Earl (Publisher: Sega)

All by M2 so superior emulation. None of the Backbone/Digital Eclipse nonsense.
 

jett

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A reverse-example of a western game that was made easier for Japanese audiences is Battletoads. Entire level areas were cut, most noticeably the harder areas of the Turbo Tunnel stage.
 

woodypop

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entremet

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This might be a figment of my imagination, but owning both Resident Evil 2 and Biohazard 2, the latter is much easier than the former. The same seems to be the case for the sequel (Biohazard 3 being easier than Resident Evil 3).

Not sure if games published in 1998 and 1999 are considered "early" for purposes of this thread.

It still happens, though. PS2 era it was still going on.
 

QisTopTier

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Back in the day they used to make them easier because "Americans were not that good at games" or something. Funny thing was people in general loved hard ass stuff and gobbled it up. Meanwhile the Japanese market started to hate harder games and enjoyed simpler casual stuff for the most part.

So now the common thing is Western releases get the difficulty turned up and Japanese releases get it toned down.


Of course all of this is pretty silly overall
 

L Thammy

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Many theorize this happened to due to rentals being legal in the US. Higher difficulties would incentivize gamers buying the games. I don't know how true this is, but it is a common theory.

I've heard that Resident Evil's limited save ribbons were based on the same reasoning. Makes a lot of sense. I made it to the World of Chaos in Final Fantasy VI in one rental; there was definitely a little metagame of "I bet I can beat this before I have to return it".

If I'm not mistaken, the original Sengoku Basara also had a shade of this. Sengoku Basara's Normal mode is Devil Kings' Easy.