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

s_mirage

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We can thank Working Designs for having a hard-ass version of Popful Mail on SEGA CD.

And Thunderforce V, and for wrecking Silhouette Mirage. All because they were scared that the games had to be rock hard or they'd get completed quickly and returned to the store. This didn't affect me at the time as they weren't released in the UK anyway, but it did cause me to dislike Working Designs later.
 

Grinchy

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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

It's amazing to think that there was a time when developers had to make their games harder in order to get people to buy them. It's the complete opposite now.

If you give a young kid a game he can't immediately feel good at, you've just given him a coaster.
 

Sixfortyfive

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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.
Masato Maegawa (Treasure CEO) explicitly cited this as the reason why Sega of America wanted the difficulty tweaked for Dynamite Headdy.

FWIW, the main reason why I never owned a Mega Man game growing up, despite liking them a lot, was because they were some of the few NES games I remember being able to beat on a rental at the time. So I guess this idea had at least some merit.

In the arcades it was nearly always the other way around.
The only arcade game I remember with major difficulty tweaks between regions was Konami's X-Men game, which was more difficult in the US for all the wrong reasons.

And Thunderforce V, and for wrecking Silhouette Mirage. All because they were scared that the games had to be rock hard or they'd get completed quickly and returned to the store. This didn't affect me at the time as they weren't released in the UK anyway, but it did cause me to dislike Working Designs later.
Vic Ireland has stated in the past that return policies at the time more or less forced their hand, as there was almost a no-questions-asked full refund offered within a week of sale or something at at least one major chain.
 
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I dont think the disney games were hard just poorly designed.. alot of the "hard" in those games come from wonky mechanics like collision detection issues and all that bullshit
 

Sir Ilpalazzo

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Some of the US versions of the original Ghosts 'n Goblins kind of dip into bullshit levels. The Satan bosses in stages 5 and 6 have their speed massively increased and their health doubled, even though they were clearly built around being fought with the short-ranged cross weapon. There's a few other tweaks in the international versions too (and it seems like we eventually got versions of the game with reasonable Satan bosses), but that's the big issue with the original US version.
 

Lumpy Onion

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7th Saga for SNES had the stats tweaked with by Enix USA to make the game much more difficult than Elnard for the Super Famicom. After a while I grew to like the challenge, but compared to my playthrough of the import it was insanely difficult. My first playthrough I got stuck in the final world map area and couldn't even beat a random encounter to gain levels. Had to restart the entire game and ended up beating it with careful planning.

Kinda random, but they also changed the loud synthesized door-opening sound effect in the first town's castle to the generic menu clicking sound. Kind of obscure thing to change, but they did. Maybe on accident when they were messing with the game? I don't know or particularly care.

And holy shit at Working Designs' tweaking of Exile 2. Y'all ruined the game for me to the point of making it practically impossible.
 

ITA84

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Vic Ireland has stated in the past that return policies at the time more or less forced their hand, as there was almost a no-questions-asked full refund offered within a week of sale or something at at least one major chain.

Which reminds me Alundra was another game whose difficulty was raised: most notably every enemy's HP were significantly increased, making most fights last much longer. I don't know for sure whether enemy attacks were made more powerful as well, though.
 

MrCunningham

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I get this feeling that games were made harder for western audiences back then so it would be less likely that somebody could finish the entire game on a two day rental period. I think it was common that developers feared that their games wouldn't make enough money at retail due to rentals.
 
In the arcades it was nearly always the other way around.

Really? Arcade games tend to be harder in the US.

For example, The Konami beatemups were edited so that some games had time-limit/health-meters (Crime Fighters) or health pick-ups were removed entirely (X-men)

This was mostly limited to beatemups though.

7th Saga for SNES had the stats tweaked with by Enix USA to make the game much more difficult than Elnard for the Super Famicom. After a while I grew to like the challenge, but compared to my playthrough of the import it was insanely difficult. My first playthrough I got stuck in the final world map area and couldn't even beat a random encounter to gain levels. Had to restart the entire game and ended up beating it with careful planning.

Funny thing about that.
What Enix did was A) make level-ups require more experience* and B) lessen the stat increases from level-ups.

Aside from making the game noticeably more difficult, it massively increased the possibility of ruining your progress.

In 7th Saga you choose from 7 heroes. They're all after these runes (which are attained through quests and stuff). It's not uncommon for the other 6 heroes to fight you and steal your runes if you're defeated. The other heroes level-up alongside you, but they receive the full Japanese-version stat bonuses. Thus, the more you level, the more of an advantage they'll gain. You could end up facing an impossible fight.

Then there's the giant middle-finger that is the final world. If your level is too low, you won't even be able to win the random battles!

*IIRC.
----
Astro Boy Omega Factor US also received a difficulty-bump. Easy is Japan's normal, normal is Japan's hard, etc.
 

Sixfortyfive

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Astro Boy Omega Factor US also received a difficulty-bump. Easy is Japan's normal, normal is Japan's hard, etc.
IIRC, the US version has 3 different settings while the Japanese version has 2, and it's more of a case of the Western release getting a properly balanced game, unlike the rushed Japanese version.
 

entremet

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Playing now. Wtf @ ash, lol.

Yep. Ash was cut for the US release lol.

Great collection that gets overlooked. Still the only way to play BK3 in the US without resorting expensive importing or ROMs.

M2 has added some nice options like scanlines support, NTSC blur filters and such for the accurate experience.

All those Sega Vintage Collections are worth owning for retro fans.
 

CamHostage

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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.

That was the kind of playground talk of the time, that somebody who knew somebody who knew somebody whose dad went on business trips to Japan and brought them back a Famicom (or DieHard Game Fan readers, though the NES wasn't crux to its import business so I'm not sure if they ever talked about SM2/LL?) they would tell tale of this "secret" Super Mario 2 that Americans just couldn't handle because it was so hard. Reality is, Super Mario 2 was outdated by the time it would have come out over here, and honestly wasn't that good of a product (it would have made a decent "expansion pack" if that was a thing in the day as it was with the FDS, but as a full-priced game with those graphics and that bullying gameplay, it would not have been received well; it's not thought much of in Japan either, as far as I know.) The re-introduction of Luigi as his own characters with particular attributes is the best addition in that game, and yet SMB2USA did it better. They made the right choice with DokiDoki/SM2, it was a great and beautiful-looking game that went on to unexpectedly influence future Mario games in interesting ways and thus has taken its place in canon, while SM2/LL is an oddity that has earned the name "Lost Levels".
 

Timu

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Return of Double Dragon(JP) is easier than Super Double Dragon(US) due to more continues(9 vs 5) and having an easy option. Also enemy projectiles do far less damage in the JP game whereas in the US game it almost instantly kills you.
 

TreIII

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Return of Double Dragon(JP) is easier than Super Double Dragon(US) due to more continues(9 vs 5) and having an easy option. Also enemy projectiles do far less damage in the JP game whereas in the US game it almost instantly kills you.

I remember that~!

You always had to live in fear because one off-screen knife thrown at you could REALLY ruin your day.

Did not know that the Japanese Battletoads was made easier, though.
 

PensivePen

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The US version of RE1 was made more difficult so that players would have a harder time completing it on a rental, with fewer ribbons and no auto-aim. They also wanted the developers to remove the interconnected nature of the item boxes, so that your items would only stay at the box you put them in, but it was decided that was going too far and they didn't implement it.
 

entremet

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The US version of RE1 was made more difficult so that players would have a harder time completing it on a rental, with fewer ribbons and no auto-aim. They also wanted the developers to remove the interconnected nature of the item boxes, so that your items would only stay at the box you put them in, but it was decided that was going too far and they didn't implement it.

That would've been crazy lol.
 

Doczu

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The US version of RE1 was made more difficult so that players would have a harder time completing it on a rental, with fewer ribbons and no auto-aim. They also wanted the developers to remove the interconnected nature of the item boxes, so that your items would only stay at the box you put them in, but it was decided that was going too far and they didn't implement it.

But when they did in the Remake, it was one of the best dificulties i have evercplayed!
 

PensivePen

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But when they did in the Remake, it was one of the best dificulties i have evercplayed!

I think it's a great optional mode because it encourages careful planning. But I would never want to do it that way on a first playthrough.
 

KentBrockman

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They also wanted the developers to remove the interconnected nature of the item boxes, so that your items would only stay at the box you put them in, but it was decided that was going too far and they didn't implement it.

I remember at least one magazine getting a review copy with this in place.
 

BBboy20

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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

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.
Wow, a god damn hidden gem!
 

Azuran

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Nintendo did this with Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn for some reason. Our Normal mode was the Japanese hard, so it's no wonder you get your ass handed to you right from the get go in that game.

They also kept easy mode the same, which means there's no difficulty balance at all. You either play the easiest game ever made or a punishing one that constantly reminds you how much you suck at SRPG.
 

entremet

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Masato Maegawa (Treasure CEO) explicitly cited this as the reason why Sega of America wanted the difficulty tweaked for Dynamite Headdy.

FWIW, the main reason why I never owned a Mega Man game growing up, despite liking them a lot, was because they were some of the few NES games I remember being able to beat on a rental at the time. So I guess this idea had at least some merit.


The only arcade game I remember with major difficulty tweaks between regions was Konami's X-Men game, which was more difficult in the US for all the wrong reasons.


Vic Ireland has stated in the past that return policies at the time more or less forced their hand, as there was almost a no-questions-asked full refund offered within a week of sale or something at at least one major chain.

Was Gunstar made harder for the US?
 

TheYanger

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Yeah I recall this being the opposite in the NES era, then somewhere after that (SNES/Gen? much more common in 32 bit and on though) it flipped - Japanese games tend to be really easy in comparison now to appeal to a wider audience. But like Mega Man and FF2 and stuff were vastly easier over here.
 

OtakuReborn124

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Nintendo did this with Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn for some reason. Our Normal mode was the Japanese hard, so it's no wonder you get your ass handed to you right from the get go in that game.

They also kept easy mode the same, which means there's no difficulty balance at all. You either play the easiest game ever made or a punishing one that constantly reminds you how much you suck at SRPG.

Speaking of Fire Emblem, Path of Radiance was the opposite actually. I believe they cut the original JP Maniac mode and replaced with a Baby's First Fire Emblem mode for Easy.

I always thought the difficulty bump from older games was in part due to developers playing the game over and over again and finding it to be too easy from repetition and then artificially inflating it afterwards, though I guess that's not mutually exclusive from the fear of people beating their game too quickly.
 
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Yeah I recall this being the opposite in the NES era, then somewhere after that (SNES/Gen? much more common in 32 bit and on though) it flipped - Japanese games tend to be really easy in comparison now to appeal to a wider audience. But like Mega Man and FF2 and stuff were vastly easier over here.

SOME games were actually made easier on the western side (One that comes to mind is Actraiser, the US version's stages were quite a bit easier, fewer enemies and obstacles and then the PAL version had both difficulties available.) but no, even during the NES days, if the difficulty changed it was usually made harder for the west.
 

The Argus

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Playing Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze at the moment and it's reminding me how brutal old games used to be. And with DK:TF you get a decent save/continue system, no so much the classics. I always figured the Japanese versions were harder for some reason.
 

luka

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original release of metal gear solid in japan only had one difficulty, which would become easy mode in the international versions.

edit - looks like i was beaten
 

Manmademan

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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?

I don't think this was consistent at all. Super Mario Brothers 2 didn't come out here, largely because the japanese considered it "too hard" for american gamers. we got Doki Doki panic localized as SMB2 instead.

Mega Man 2 had an "easy mode" tacked on for the US release because the default was considered "too hard."

The US Version of Life Force had the "Konami Code" that granted 30 lives, the Famicom version omitted it.

Which version was "harder" (US or JP) came down to the developer, or the individual game. there was no grand conspiracy against rentals- quite the opposite in fact. Blockbuster Video bought hundreds of thousands of copies of videogames day 1, and it wasn't unusual to see certain titles ONLY released through blockbuster in the 16 bit era.
 

Hikami

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This happened with Onigiri (Japanese MMO), when it was released in the west last summer the exp rate was 1/10th of the Japanese version. So you had to start grinding already at level 5 (max level is 100 something).

They raised the exp rate later but it's still a lot lower than the Japanese version. I've played both versions and the English one is just unplayable like that.. don't see why they needed to make the harder.
 

Wheeljack539

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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)

James? Are you referring to AVGN?
 

BocoDragon

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Picked up a copy of Ninja Ryukenden 3 last year for just this reason.
 

Manmademan

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If I'm not mistaken, Nintendo attempted to sue Blockbuster to prevent them.

not exactly. The right of companies to rent things here is well established. Nintendo sued certain branches of blockbuster for photocopying instruction manuals ("copyright infringement"), not renting the actual games.

http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1989-08-13/business/8902250572_1_nintendo-blockbuster-video-games

Nintendo is a bad example to try and use here though, as they were notorious for anticompetitive and price fixing tactics during the NES era, and got dragged into court for trying to strongarm retailers to keep prices artificially high. edit: ironically it was extremely rare for a first party nintendo game to see a difficulty bump from JP to US. Outside of extremely minor tweaks to zelda and SMB3, I can't think of any.
 

Akuun

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I think Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams had some ridiculous paddding of boss health. They had like 4x the health compared to the same bosses in the Japanese version.
 

Timu

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In the arcades it was nearly always the other way around.
I don't know man, Japanese Arcade versions of The Simpsons and X-Men were much easier than US versions due to more health items, weapons and powerups. I can even beat Mr. Burns without dying in the The Simpsons Japanese arcade version.
 

chris3116

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Zelda 2 is my perfect exemple for your thread. The japanese version is very easy. You could upgrade the attack faster and the bosses are mostly easier than the the western version.
 

ShadowgeistX

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Nintendo did this with Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn for some reason. Our Normal mode was the Japanese hard, so it's no wonder you get your ass handed to you right from the get go in that game.

That explains so much. Well, I still don't like Micaiah's group anyways. Their terrible combat potential at most points of the game was just extra fuel for the fire.
 

MrCunningham

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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

Yeah this was not uncommon. The lead designer of Ecco the Dolphin said somewhere that he designed the game to be hard on purpose because he was a bit paranoid about people completing it in one rental session. And yeah, the game was hard because of this.

That area in the Lion King is a real good example of this. They put in a challenge spike as a stopping point for people who rented the game. I remember getting frustrated at that level too, when I rented it as a kid. Oddly , that second stage was probably one of the reasons that turned me off of ever wanting to own the game.



Really? Arcade games tend to be harder in the US.

For example, The Konami beatemups were edited so that some games had time-limit/health-meters (Crime Fighters) or health pick-ups were removed entirely (X-men)

This was mostly limited to beatemups though.

Beat 'em ups were notoriously bad for this in the arcades. They were designed around being quarter munchers. Though a lot of early western made arcade games from Midway were like that too. Like Eugene Jarvis's games.