: You're the American branch of a Japanese game company. Your company has a catalog of successful, long-running franchises that could stretch across the Pacific; problem is, a good portion of them never actually made that jump themselves.
Can you be blamed? It's not like the U.S. had a market in the early 90's for anything with more text than a hearty "Congraturation!" or more strategy than "jump on the enemies and don't get hit"
(and even if there was, that's the company line and you're sticking with it).
But then, somehow or another, the fans find out. Maybe a character made an appearance in a crossover that did make the jump
. Or maybe it's just that in this glorious age of the Internet where anyone who can use a web browser can discover that you've been holding out. Whatever the cause, your shortsightedness has reaped the wrath of a sizable chunk of your fanbase. Oops.
So, on a whim, perhaps due to pressure from your parent company or the fans who are flooding your inbox with death threats on a daily basis, you release the latest game in the series in America
. Surprise, surprise: it's a hit, the fans want more, and now you've got the next game and the game after that lined up on your release schedule. And thus you have a successful franchise transplant, even if it was a decade or so late.
But what's this? The fans are still sore about the games they missed
? What can you do? The consoles they were released for have been dead for years. How can you make money off of these games when you have no profitable way of releasing them?
Honestly, not much. Not on your own, anyway. But your Japanese branch likes money just as much as you do, and seeing how many of the titles the U.S. fans want happen to already be well-established classics in Japan, you can expect them to get remade
. They port the game to a new system, slap a fresh coat of paint on it and append a fresh subtitle to the name, and you can then localize the brand-new version, proudly declaring on all the merchandising (and maybe on the packaging too) that it's "a lost adventure available outside of Japan for the first time ever!"
It should be noted that while this does mostly apply to the trip between Japan and America, it often rubs off into the European export as well (because so few games are localised into UK English).
This scenario is the ideal remedy for the scourge of No Export for You
, although there will always be those who won't be satisfied with anything but the unmodified original. Even beyond that, there's also the chance that the remake will be worse than the original
A sub-trope of Video Game Remake
. See also American Kirby Is Hardcore
. May be a result of Sequel First
, Adaptation First
or Marth Debuted in Smash Bros.
- Fire Emblem was first introduced to Western gamers through the appearance of Marth (from the original Fire Emblem for the Famicom) and Roy (from the then-current Fire Emblem: Fūin no Tsurugi) in Super Smash Bros. Melee. It was shortly afterward that Nintendo, either emboldened by the new presence of Fire Emblem in the public consciousness or harassed by fans angry to realize that they had denied Americans one of their major franchises, began releasing the Fire Emblem series in America. Of course, any Fire Emblem games released before they made this momentous decision (the first six in the series) remained Japan-only. Half of this status quo changed with the release of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon for Nintendo DS, a remake of the first game and the upcoming Fire Emblem: New Mystery of The Emblem ~ Heroes of Light and Shadow (a remake of the Super Famicom's Monshō no Nazo). Roy remains an orphan on Western shores, and was even replaced with the more familiar Ike in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
- Except the changes that Shadow Dragon made from the original were mostly rather poorly received, earning the wrath of the fanbase again. Double oops. And now Heroes of Light and Shadow, which wasn't so poorly received, has been been given No Export for You treatment, with Nintendo skipping to localizing the following original title, Fire Emblem Awakening. Triple oops, but fortunately no quadruple oops in the case of Awakening, and if the international release of Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is anything to go by, international gamers will likely have the option to play a digital copy of the game in addition to a physical one (both games were physical-only in Japan, with Nintendo giving Layton a digital release internationally for gamers who prefer that option)) At least Nintendo seems to still care about the series's Western fanbase as far as future releases are concerned, because in addition to Awakening being localized, Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones was one of ten games available to Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors, so it's possible that Heroes of Light and Shadow was skipped due to its predecessor's poor reception in the U.S.
- Gyakuten Saiban ("Turnabout Court") was originally a trilogy of Japan-only adventure games released on GBA, starring pointy-haired lawyer Ryuuichi Naruhodo and pitting the player against a set of diabolically-contrived frame jobs in order to see his innocent clients cleared of their charges and the guilty parties brought to justice. Featuring a strange blend of oddball humor and murder most foul, the games never saw the light of day in the U.S....that is, until Capcom decided to remake the first title as a DS game: As it would give Japanese players the option to play the game in English, Capcom figured that they may as well giving the game a US release a shot, dubbing the game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, with the punny names of characters changed into puns easier for English-speaking players to get. Its resounding success inspired Capcom to bring its sequels to the US as well.
- Dragon Quest is a curious case: while its popularity in Japan has never spread beyond its borders, it's one of the few franchises where the publishers didn't monkey with the numbers to hide missing entries. Adding to the bizarreness is that it was never the publisher's decision not to release the missing games outside of Japan: it was the developers. Given the choice between localizing their latest title for the overseas market and starting work on a sequel, they chose the latter - twice in succession - thus condemning Dragon Quest V and Dragon Quest VI to import-only status for many years and leaving a curious gap between the fourth (for NES) and seventh (for Playstation) entries. A remake of the fourth game was made for Playstation and announced for the U.S., but due to the aforementioned development team disbanding, it never came to fruition without someone to program the game to implement the English script, and the frustration continued when Dragon Quest V was remade for Playstation 2. Finally, post-merger Square Enix has come through for the U.S. market, delivering the "Zenithian Trilogy" - Dragon Quest IV, V and VI — all on Nintendo DS. (Even better news for Europe: while the U.S. had never seen the DQIV remake before now, Europe had never seen DQIV at all, or any of the preceding games, originally leading to the curious decision to ax the numbers from the European titles and refer to them solely by their subtitles of "Chapters of the Chosen" and "Hand of the Heavenly Bride", possibly in a vain attempt to hide this fact, though Dragon Quest IX and Dragon Quest VI were released with the numbers intact. Thanks to a little-known invention called "the Internet", nobody was fooled by the ones with the numbers removed.)
- Medabots did this for the Game Boy Advance, remaking the second game for the Game Boy Color (Medarot 2) for it (Medarot 2 Core) when the anime was released in America. However, they didn't continue to export the next games of the franchise (remade or not) because it died in Japan around 2004 (and eventually Medarot DS was released on 2009, with no export for the West.
- Doubutsu no Mori was a widget title for the Nintendo 64, released only in Japan: billed as a "communication RPG", it dropped the Fish out of Water protagonist in a town full of Funny Animals and pretty much let them do whatever. Then it was remade for the GameCube and came to America as Animal Crossing. The rest is franchise history.
- Magi-Nation did this in reverse, taking a US-made Gameboy Color game and remaking it for Gameboy Advance in Japan (though they changed the Deadpan Snarker hero into an Idiot Hero).
- Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan was a successful rhythm action title for DS and one of the most highly-imported games for the platform. Smelling money, Nintendo reinvented the game for the Western market as Elite Beat Agents: different characters, different songs, exact same gameplay. It was good enough that Japanese gamers imported it as a sequel. Since then, Ouendan has seen an official sequel in Japan, and rumor has it that Elite Beat Agents has one just around the corner...
- Chrono Trigger never saw a release in Europe. The DS port has, however, made it to the rainy shores of Britain and beyond.
- Due to fact that Nintendo released Final Fantasy I a bit late in the American market (three years after the Japanese release to be precise), Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III for the NES were skipped, with their numbers being appropriated by Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI; Final Fantasy V for the SNES was also passed over for American release, and no Final Fantasy games came out in Europe before Final Fantasy VII. After Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation brought the series international recognition, Square released remakes of five of the previous six games for that system (generally in two-packs) in the U.S. and Europe with their proper titles. The actual Final Fantasy III was the one older Final Fantasy game which never saw release on the PlayStation, but it was later remade for the Nintendo DS with a massive overhaul and finally saw its long-awaited international release.
- The original Star Ocean was never released Stateside, either; the franchise didn't gain ground in America until the coming of Star Ocean: The Second Story. In 2008, however, Tri-Ace released PSP remakes for not only Second Story (as Star Ocean: Second Evolution) but, before that, the original (as Star Ocean: First Departure).
- Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song is a PS2 remake of the SNES Romancing SaGa. Until its release in 2005, none of the Romancing trilogy had reached stateside — though the rest of the SaGa games arrived on their original platforms. Currently, it remains to be seen whether the DS remake of SaGa 2 will make the jump as well, or if the other Romancing games will get remakes/ports.
- Super Mario Bros. 2, the Mission Pack Sequel (not to be confused with Super Mario Bros. 2, the dolled-up international version of Doki Doki Panic) was first released outside Japan when it was remade for the SNES as part of Super Mario All-Stars, where it was titled Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. A somewhat altered port was included on Super Mario Bros. Deluxe for the Game Boy Color. The Famicom Disk System version was eventually released on the Wii and 3DS's Virtual Console service outside of Japan and is sold as The Lost Levels, though the actual game is unaltered (i.e. the title screen still says "Super Mario Bros. 2").
- Harvest Moon: Back to Nature For Girl was never released on its home console, the Playstation, outside of Japan but was directly ported to the PSP.
- When Capcom originally made the Disney's Magical Quest trilogy for the SNES, the third installment never made it out of Japan. Upon the second go-round for the GBA, Capcom made sure to bring it out of there.
- When Pokémon Red and Blue came to America, rather than making them direct ports of Red and Green, the games instead got two more or less remakes with the graphics and glitch fixes that came with the Japanese Blue version, but the Pokemon lineups of the original Red and Green versions. This strange case of inbreeding gave us the Red and Blue we all know and love. Why releasing them as Red and Blue in America (most likely just because those colors are known for being the antithesis to each other for some reason in America) instead of Red and Green, only to go back to the Red and Green naming scheme for THOSE games' remakes is anyone's guess.
- The PlayStation game Kamen Rider Ryuki game was remade for the Wii as a Kamen Rider Dragon Knight game, with an added beat'em up mode. Bonus export remake points: Developer Eighting recycled the engine and many assets from the PlayStation 2 game Kamen Rider Climax Heroes. In turn, the stuff created for Dragon Knight was recycled by adding the rest of the Ryuki cast to Climax Heroes OOO.
- The original MSX2 versions of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake were never released outside Japan (with the exception of an English version of the first game that came out in Europe). Around the time Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater came out, Konami remade both games for mobile phones, although these were still strictly Japanese releases. It wasn't until their inclusion in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence that both games saw a proper international release.
- The Sega CD version of Snatcher was made exclusively for the overseas market and never had a domestic Japanese release (although it was made using the PC Engine version as its base). Bonus points to the localization team for expanding the ending and explaining what happens to Mika, Katrina and Napoleon before Gillian leaves for Moscow.
- Kingdom Hearts: Coded was remade (as Re:Coded) for a non-Japanese release... because Coded was only for cell phones.
- Gundam Battle Assault is an entire series of this. The first game was a remake of the Japanese game Gundam the Battle Master 2, tweaked to focus on Gundam Wing, complete with Wing Gundam replacing the Hamma-Hamma (Wing being little more than a Palette Swap of the Zeta) and a plotline centering on Heero Yuy kicking everyone else's butts to bring peace.
- A couple of years later when G Gundam was brought to America, the game was remade again as Battle Assault 2, bringing in machines from G as well as the Wing movie Endless Waltz (as well as several characters from Zeta and ZZ being removed to avoid spoilers in anticipation of their American release, which mostly fell through).
- Then, when Gundam SEED came to the States, its own action game for the PS2 was remade as Battle Assault 3, becoming a 3D fighter (and gaining God Gundam and Wing Zero, their character models taken from the earlier game Encounters in Space).
- Bomberman '94, the third and final Bomberman game for the PC Engine, was ported to the Sega Genesis and released in the west under the name of Mega Bomberman after sales of the TurboGrafx 16 were discontinued in the states. There were no Bomberman games for the Japanese Mega Drive.
- Although the original version of Tales of the Abyss was released in English in North America, PAL countries didn't get it at all. However, they did get the Nintendo 3DS Updated Re-release.
- Fahrenheit was remade for North American release as Indigo Prophecy, largely due to explicit sexual content which was edited out for that region. Fahrenheit features 3 explicit sex scenes (one of which was player controlable!). Indigo Prophecy retains only one of these scenes (because it results in a significant pregnancy), and the 3D models are given different skins so that the woman has no nipples in the amended scene.
- The American version of Shenmue II for the Dreamcast was canceled a few months before its scheduled release date, so an Xbox port was released in its place a year later. Europe got both, the Dreamcast version (which kept the Japanese voice acting and added subtitles) and the Xbox port.
- Rockman & Forte was released exclusively in Japan for the Super Famicom in 1998 (which was pretty late during its lifespan, since the platform was already discontinued in the west) and then ported to the Game Boy Advance in 2003, in which it got an official western release as Mega Man & Bass.
- Inverted with Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap for the Master System. The game was meant to be released in Japan as well under the name of Monster World II, but the sudden discontinuation of the Sega Mark III in that region caused the game to be canceled. The game was eventually released in Japan, in the form of a PC-Engine remake titled Adventure Island (retitled Dragon's Curse in the west to avoid confusion with Hudson's own Adventure Island series), and later as a straight Game Gear port of the original Master System title.
- Also inverted with Balloon Kid, the sequel to Balloon Fight. The original Game Boy game was only released in the West, but there was a Game Boy Color version titled Balloon Fight GB that was released almost a decade later. There was also an earlier Famicom port titled Hello Kitty World that replaces all the original characters with Sanrio ones.
- XZR II originally was a Japan-only computer game, but when it was greatly overhauled as Exile for the Sega Genesis and Turbo Duo, both console versions were translated.
- A Nintendo DS remake of the original Front Mission was released in the U.S., after Square Enix had released two later sequels there.
- The first two Valis games were originally for the PC88, MSX and other Japanese computers; the internationally released versions were the considerably redesigned remakes for the TurboGrafx-16 and Sega Genesis.
- Final Fantasy Tactics was translated to Engrish and released in the USA, but it never saw the light in Europe until the PSP port, with a much better translation.
- The 1991 PC Engine CD-ROM game Cobra II: The Legendary Man was ported to the Sega CD and released in North America in 1995 under the title of The Space Adventure.
- Psychic World, a side-scrolling action game for the Master System and Game Gear, is a remake of an MSX2 game titled Psycho World. Notably the Master System version was only released in Europe.
- The Tantei Jinguuji Saburo Visual Novel series remained Japan-only for two decades, until the original three games for the Famicom Disk System were remade for the Nintendo DS as Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles.
- The combined remake of Ys Book I & II for the Turbo CD is an unusual example: the original Ys was previously released outside Japan in the forms of stand-alone ports for the Master System and IBM PC, but not Ys II.
- The original Adventures of Lolo for the NES was created specifically to introduce the Eggerland series to the American market and consisted entirely of recycled puzzles from the earlier Eggerland games released in Japan. The sequels to it were then brought to Japan, but with the title numbers bumped down and some puzzles swapped out for harder ones.
- Several NES ports of arcade games were ported twice, usually for different regions:
- The NES port of Rampart was a straight port of the arcade version by Tengen, whereas the Famicom version by Konami retains the play mechanics, but alters the aesthetics and plot considerably.
- The European version of Rainbow Islands is noticeably more authentic to the arcade original (with the exception of the music due to copyright issues, although the North American release had the same problem) and had the two player mode while the Famicom/North American release didn't.
- Fantasy Zone was ported to the NES by Tengen in the US, but by Sunsoft in Japan. The Sunsoft version sports graphics that are a bit more colorful but also a bit more cramped. Its music may be more accurate in its bass line, but the Tengen version's music sounds more complete overall. For some reason Tengen reduced the number of targets per stage from eight to six.
- Donkey Kong Land III, three years after being released in North America and Europe, made it to Japan in the form of a Game Boy Color remake (titled Donkey Kong GB: Dinky Kong & Dixie Kong) that was released nowhere else.
- Although Bravely Default: Flying Fairy was never released outside of Japan, its Updated Re-release, Bravely Default: For the Sequel, got an international release thanks to Nintendo.
- This happens with the Monster Hunter series sometimes.
- Monster Hunter 2 on the PS2 was never released outside of Japan, but its PSP port Monster Hunter Freedom 2 and that port's Updated Re-release Monster Hunter Freedom Unite were.
- Monster Hunter 4 on the Nintendo 3DS stayed in Japan, but its Updated Re-release Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is planned for an international release.
- The first three Inazuma Eleven games were originally for the DS, but later received a bundled-up remake entitled Inazuma Eleven 123: The Legend of Endou Mamoru for the 3DS. Europe had previously gotten localized versions of the first two games, but around the time it was to receive the third, the DS's life was gone for all intents and purposes and Europe instead received the 3DS port. Some time later, North America (which had never received the game up until then) finally received the first game, carrying the European DS version's translation with some edits for localization on the 3DS port. Most of Europe also received the remake as well...except for the UK, which wasn't as lucky due to the fact the North American localization had redubbed voices that differed from the already-established British voice actors.