As a general factor to note when it comes to values dissonance and video game storytelling, Japanese gamers and critics alike are generally more accepting of wacky, over-the-top, and - above all else - heavily disjointed plotlines that western gamers often find difficult to keep up with or make sense of. In Japan, games such as Bayonetta, Killer Is Dead, Final Fantasy XIII, and Devil's Third have been praised for their wild and exciting plotlines that take players on a multitude of different setpieces and plot twists. In the western world however, such games have been criticized by many discerning gamers and critics (i.e. Yahtzee and Jim Sterling) for being poorly thought-out and all over the place; a jumbled mess of ideas thrown randomly together with no overarching theme, concept, premise, or focus point that would otherwise tie everything together. As Jim points out in this video, this is likely the reason for Square Enix's infamous downward spiral in the West post-2001.
As a side note, this style of storytelling was, and still is, prevalent in Japanese media such as anime, manga, and light novels, and so it is natural for contemporary Japanese video games to follow suit. Said method of storytelling has been hit or miss with Western fanbases though, and it doesn't help that some adaptations either leave with a Gecko Ending or are just left unfinished compared to the source material.
Gambling in general - CERO appears to have little to no problem giving an "A" (all ages) rating to games with in-game casinos (such as some Dragon Quest games or Ni no Kuni), neither does ESRB, as you will see these games with an "E" or "E10", not listing it as one of the reasons behind its rating. Other countries and regions, however, are much stricter. This has resulted in some discrepancies in rating (ie, Dragon Quest VII being "PEGI 12" but "E10" in NA or Ni no Kuni getting the Korean equivalent of an "M" rating yet everyone else listed it as "T" or "PEGI 12") or even affecting future development. (See Pokémon)
The manual for Interplay's PC adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring had a section explaining that the portrayal of some elements of the setting reflected the source material and might conflict with modern sensibilities.
Natsume and xSeed have run into this a few times while translating the Harvest Moon games:
The Japanese Harvest Moon DS Cute (2005) had a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship/Gay Option, where your girl could engage in a "Best Friends Ceremony" with some of the other female characters, at which point they'd become essentially the same as a wife. Although relatively mundane for Japan, this would've been considered shocking to certain parties in the US, particularly at the time of release, so the feature was quietly dropped from the US version of the game. Both dropping it and the way Natsume handled dropping it have upset fans, though, and it wasn't helped in retrospect by the fact that, not even a decade later, the feature probably would've survived thanks to America's rapidly changing attitudes toward gay marriage.
There was also Harvest Moon GBC 3, which gave a choice of playing as either a male or female. The male character could get married and have a child and continue playing. The female character's game ended as soon as she married. Also, the love interest for the male character was completely useless until livestock was purchased, which could only be bought after growing a certain amount of grass. The love interest for the female character merely began as incompetent.
In Harvest Moon: Back to Nature For Girl, your game also ended after you became married (except for with one bachelor). Though this was changed in the enhanced remake, More Friends of Mineral Town.
A few games feature a mini-game which is essentially a Lighter and Softer version of chicken fighting.
Several games have your significant other or child wanting to bathe with you. While innocent and familial in Japan, it raises eyebrows in several other countries.
If it's historical and has a level of detail beyond personally killing things (effectively, a strategy game), it probably qualifies. Take Rome: Total War: the men in your family line are the most important characters in the game, providing bonuses when they lead armies and run your cities, with stats and intricate trait and retinue systems; the women don't even have stats, they're used for making babies and bringing new men into their family.
Slavery is a particular problem with historical building games. Some use it as a critical game mechanic, others pretend that it didn't happen. In Medieval: Total War, if one is playing as a Muslim faction, it is possible to sell captured soldiers/rebels into slavery (for Christian factions, the option is "execute"). It is also possible to launch Crusades or Jihads against another group.
Each province in Europa Universalis III produces a particular trade good. In Africa, one of the possible trade goods are slaves. The game, however, gives the player no benefit for finding slaves other than the actual direct profit from the trade good... and even then, one prefers to find gold or ivory (Another resource that conjures values dissonance) in Africa. It's possible to abolish the slave trade, at which point all of a player's provinces that "produce" slaves start producing something else; this is usually beneficial, because it gives players another shot at finding gold in their provinces.
Whether you want slaves or not actually depends on economic reasons, just like in actual history. Slave producing provinces give a big bonus to provinces that produce cotton, tobacco, or sugar; and if you abolish the slave trade, you're just as likely to find near-useless millet as you are ivory or gold. Even if you do find ivory or gold, it isn't a huge step up from slaves; and if you own more than a few of the aforementioned provinces that benefit from slaves, you're likely to lose money even if you strike nothing but gold.
Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun and its sequel have gotten a lot of flak over the use of the terms "civilized" and "uncivilized." All the countries in the world are divided into these two categories, with "civilized" countries being able to industrialize much easier and research technology much better. This rather simplistic dichotomy works well for game balance purposes, but still generates controversy. The developers respond that the game, which covers the period of neo-imperialism and the heyday of scientific racism, is by its very scope Eurocentric, and that their detractors are just reacting badly to values dissonance.
Civilization has whales and elephants as exploitable resources your civilization can take advantage of, often as luxury trade goods. For modern, western civs, that might mean tourism, but for most civs in most time periods it really means whaling and hunting for elephants as labor and ivory.
Civilization IV also have the Civic Slavery, which is derided by some players to be inherently evil. Yet in practice is both quite normal given the time period where it's most worthwhile in, which pretty much is everything pre-Renaissance/pre-industrial depending on your game-plan. And it's such a strong civic that deliberately not using it might put you back a couple of levels of play.
Similar to the above is the "Heresy" technology from Age of Empires II, which kills any of your units that are converted by an enemy priest. It fits the time, and from a pure gameplay standpoint it's a very beneficial upgrade (you still lose the unit, but your enemy doesn't get it), but many players consider researching it a Moral Event Horizon.
Hideo Kojima's self-confessed fetish for demure, quietly emotional women was never so bad as in Snatcher, where the thirty-two year-old protagonist has a number of sexualized interactions with a demure, quietly emotional fourteen-year-old model. (To give you an idea of the sexualization, she has a birthmark on her inner thigh shaped like a heart, and you actually need to know that (to prove to her that you have access to the Snatch organization files) in order to continue the game. You can also make the protagonist sniff her panties and, at one point, he accidentally bursts in on her naked in the shower.) While side characters complain, it's because the man is technically married, although no side characters comment when another female character asks him out and he accepts. The localization aged her up to eighteen and removed the panty-sniffing and nudity.
Something similar happened in Metal Gear Solid. It's worth remembering that the plot involves an eighteen-year-old who has never had a previous relationship hooking up with a thirty-two-year-old, and that no-one at all thinks this is odd — in fact, the other characters actively encourage it and point to her youth as a reason why she's perfect for him. It gets worse when you remember that Meryl was originally going to be thirteen (modeled after Natalie Portman's character in The Professional/Leon), and was only aged up to an adult because the character designer had trouble imagining a thirteen-year-old handling a Desert Eagle like in the script.
This is itself an example of Values Dissonance — 16 is the Age of Consent in most of the developed world, including most states in the US. People in the US tend to think of treating 16-year-olds as sexually available adults creepy because 18 is the age of consent in California, which produces much of the US's entertainment and exports its ideas about the appropriate age of consent and when someone can be considered a mature adult to the rest of the country.
This is also slightly mitigated by the fact that Paz is not actually 16 years old.
The European version of Platinum removed the slot machines because PEGI has gotten harsher on gambling references. Moral Guardians elsewhere complained too, and in HeartGold and SoulSilver, the slot machines were replaced outside of Japan (even in North America, which did have slot machines in Platinum). Every game (including remakes) released afterwards lacks them entirely, even in Japan (this is lampshaded in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire). When Pokémon Red and Blue were rereleased on the 3DS Virtual Console with slot machines intact, the game's PEGI rating went from 3 to 12. The same happened with the Gen II games.
The Pokémon games also give a meta example: The idea of splitting the content between two games and requiring players to trade for version-exclusive content is often viewed very differently by different audiences. The Japanese players see it as a Socialization Bonus. A lot of western players see it as a money-grab that forces them to buy the same game twice for 100% completion.
Some believe that this is why the starters are generally predominantly male. In Japan, gifts are Serious Business, and female Pokémon are considered more valuable than male Pokémon due to their role in the breeding mechanics (females determine what species of Pokémon is born, males determine the child's move set, the latter prior to Gen. VI). Thus, since each Gen's starter is a gift to you from the region's Pokemon Professor, the male to female ratio for Starters is heavily on the male side to discourage trading it.
The Pokémon series usually treats children leaving the house at a preteen age to become Trainers as perfectly natural. In some other countries, as has been addressed throughout the page, an eleven-year-old leaving the neighbourhood unsupervised can cause mass panic, much less walking around the country. Pokémon Black and White addresses this, as it's set in a counterpart region to New York City and nearby parts of New Jersey rather than somewhere in Japan, so the American (particularly urban American) aversion to Free-Range Children has to be looked at. The protagonists are ambiguously between fourteen and seventeen this go around, rather than explicitly eleven (RGBY) or ambiguously ten-to-thirteen (other games in the series). Even then, Bianca's father is very apprehensive about letting her go off by herself and appears to try and bring her home when she reaches Nimbasa City. And in Pokémon X and Y, which is set in a counterpart region to France, the protagonist's age is even more ambiguous as it's possible to make them look older or younger simply by changing their hairstyles.
The entire concept of Pokémon to certain animal-rights advocates seems like the idea of capturing monsters and forcing them to fight, seeming suspiciously similar to bloodsports like cockfighting, and trapping the Pokemon in Poké Balls has been compared to caging circus elephants. PETA even released various... parody games (for lack of a better word) in which the Pokemon fight their abusive trainer, or similar. (For whatever reason, they waited until long after the series became an established Nintendo franchise to do so; at least the Mario one referred specifically to a then-recent release.) Nintendo did fire back on these, however, with threats of legal action. Originally it was actually intended to represent a game that captured the childhood passion that the original Game Freak creator Satoshi Tajiri had for collecting bugs and letting them fight against each other. However, as the company switched from CEO to CEO it has become established that the Pokemon in-universe are sentient, and willing to fight and compete with each other. This isn't unlike several real-life animals (if anything, Pokémon battles are less dangerous than that).
It's more like Critical Dissonance, but Western critics gave Pokémon Mystery Dungeon spinoffs lukewarm and tepid ratings for its bland gameplay focus, but the Japanese critics gave them better (if not perfect) ratings for unique gameplay and story finesse.
The Disgaea series is consistently rated A in Japan, the equivalent of E or a low-end E10+, and is marketed accordingly. In America and Europe, the games are rated T and 12+ respectively, and aimed at teenagers and adults, as the games have a lot of fanservice designs and shots, particularly after a battle is completed. The English translations also tend to have a moderate amount of profanity.
Fatal Frame may come across as a well-balanced game that can be enjoyed by Western and Japanese players, but are actually very Japanese. Aside from most ghosts being based off of Japanese mythology or belief on ghosts, most of the games involve Human Sacrifices. Fatal Frame I, III, and V are the most noticeable in making it clear in their endings that a human sacrifice is the correct choice in the end; a Western game would usually focus on finding a third option to appease whatever calamity has occured, rather than choose to sacrifice someone.
Shirou Emiya earned a large amount of fan hatred for his seeming Stay in the Kitchen attitude towards Saber's fighting in the Grail War. Some argue he's actually a subversion, just mortally afraid of Saber dying - although heroic spirits don't actually 'die' (and painfully aware that he's not qualified to fight alone) and initially doesn't understand why, settling on this as a random excuse (although he says Kiritsugu taught him 'girls should be protected'). Notably, he doesn't act this way towards any other woman, even Saber herself in the non-Fate routes, and the very idea is even mocked on occasion. This doesn't dismiss his bizarre approval of Ayako's attempted molestation for 'teaching her femininity' (though even the other characters in-story were angry with Shirou over that remark). However, this along with Stay in the Kitchen, fades from the later arcs, and in another arc where Ayako is attacked by Rider but Shinji spreads rumors implying she was raped, he is horrified.
The same is true for the vanilla Persona 3, except that it has a CERO "b" (12+).
In both Persona 3 and Persona 4, doing well on your exams makes you more popular. Viewers of Western media are typically used to the opposite trope. That said, Shu, despite being the top student of his class, doesn't have any friends until he gets caught cheating, and his greatest academic rival (who also isn't very popular himself) stands up for him. In addition to that, while Persona 5 does increase your charm if you do well on your exams, the two smartest Phantom Thieves (aka Futaba and Makoto) don't have a lot of friends even before the former became a shut-in, and Joker doesn't have a lot of friends in Shujin Academy as a majority of his confidents don't even attend that school.
Yukari Takeba's sizeable Western hatedom stems predominantly from her having the unfortunate combination of this trope and a Scrappy Mechanic. In a game that depends on you mastering Social Links, and with the ability to Reverse and Break Social Links, Yukari's Social Link depends heavily on understanding a Japanese perception about personal strength, responsibility and maturity. These are so contrary to typical Western perceptions that she is the absolute easiest character in the game to accidentally mess up with. Of particular note is one case in which you can Reverse her Social Link by choosing to hug her when she's at a low point. As mentioned elsewhere, hugging is a highly intimate act in Japan, but one that many Westerners wouldn't think much of.
Mara's presence alone should be enough to force an M rating on any MegaTen game it's in, since the Persona in question appears as a man-sized slimy penis with a mouth, spindly human arms and Naughty Tentacles riding a chariot. The few US-released games in the franchise that don't have a T rating are the same games that don't feature him. A prime example would be comparing Persona 4: Arena Ultimax to Persona Q. Ultimax is a fighting game that features teenagers beating up each other with swords, knives, etc. and doesn't have Mara. It's rated T. On the other hand, Q has RPG elements of defeating Shadows and even has a cute artstyle...and has Mara. It's rated M. M for Mara indeed.
There's even a bit of Values Dissonance between English speaking countries on the series, since America is the only country that rates the Persona series as high as M (17+). There, "sexualized imagary" (Mara and some female Personas having exposed breasts) is enough to warrent an M rating, whereas other countries don't consider that nearly as harsh, since there's no actual sexual acts depicted in the series. Looking at the ESRB page for Persona4 also shows that a major factor in its M rating was the "King's Game" scene, where the teenaged protagonists go to a bar and start acting drunk and playing "drinking games" despite the game making very clear that their drinks are non-alcaholic (the bar has never served alcohol in years). This is probably due to America's legal drinking age being much higher than most other countries.
In the Golden re-release of Persona 4, Adachi complains about having to serve as a peacemaker in a domestic dispute as an example of how boring Inaba is, reflecting Japanese attitudes about outside intervention in family affairs. That said, Adachi's boredom over being stuck as a detective in Inaba results in him killing two people and sitting back to watch as the end of the world happens, so it's unclear how sympathetic he's supposed to be when complaining about his work. In another bit of Adachi-related Values Dissonance, he also claims that he wanted to become a police officer so that he could legally carry a gun, something that would naturally happen as a result of Japan's strict gun control laws (and makes one wonder how Naoto, a teenager, got permission to carry one).
Haru's father, the fifth target of Persona 5, is meant to ultimately be more sympathetic than many of the other targets, in large part due to how thoroughly he recants and apologizes at the end of his Palace and how he truly cares for Haru, deep down, as well as the fact that he's assassinated on live TV after his change of heart. However, his original sin is arranging Haru's marriage for political gain. While arranged marriage is still decently common in Japan, especially among the well-to-do (and thus it's not too unusual for him to be doing it either way), and while the game is still unambiguous that the situation is cruel and unfair to Haru, in Anglophone countries not only has the practice become universally reviled and makes Haru seem like nothing but a bargaining chip (which the Palace emphasizes at points), but Okumura's initial willingness to force Haru into a marriage with a man who is pretty much two drinks and a bad day short of being a physically violent rapistnote The conversation between Okumura's Shadow (i.e repressed feelings) and the manifestation of how Okumura sees his son-in-law makes it clear that Okumura knows what he's doing puts Okumura squarely into the Kamoshida tier of bastardy for many, with his apology not doing much to mitigate things (it doesn't help that his pre-battle "apology" was a lie to get the Thieves to lower their guard). Opinion might've softened on him if he had more time to follow up on improving his relationship with Haru and making her life better, but since he isn't given the chance...
A common complaint for Persona 5 from Western critics is that, despite the game heavily dealing with the nature of youth being misunderstood by the previous generation, the game has no Gay Option (unlike previous Persona games) and not much in the way of positive LGBT representation. This is in part a fundamental misunderstanding of the theme, as while America heavily associates such issues with discrimination (which LGBT topics fall under), Japan is far more routed in social corruption (which the game deals extensively with).
Shenmue II has a barmaid in the British Colony of Hong-Kong thank Ryo for being so honest about being too young to buy alcohol at age 18. For the record, legal age for buying alcohol in Britain (and Hong Kong) is 18, but it's 20 in Japan and 21 in the US.
Sort of noticeable in the Metroid series of games: In the Japanese-made 2D games, Samus is a somewhat understated character, implied to not be terribly well-known outside of people who need to know who she is (typically, the Federation and some of the Pirates that she has history with). In the American-made 3D games, Samus is well-known by nearly everyone, played up like some sort of celebrity or war goddess, universally feared by the Pirates and well-respected by even the newest recruits in the Federation; in other words, a more Hollywood-esque portrayal of a heroine of her stature. Incidentally, the Japanese 2D games are also the ones to show Samus scantily clad in her "reveal", even in Zero Mission, the first 2D game to show her in her Zero Suit (which appear in some of the endings, but she's wearing less in others). It was the Americans who first made an attempt to cover her up, with Prime never showing less than her without her helmet, and Prime 2 featuring her slinky but functional-looking Zero Suit. Prime 3 goes back to a simple helmet removal.
Of course, this has led to a large quantity of Americans Hate Tingle with the latest release in the series, Metroid: Other M; some of which being the various materials that were published to establish her emotions. For instance, the Japanese viewing "Bounty Hunter" as just a cool title rather than a badass anti-hero and/or amoral law enforcer, with a proposal in Prime 3 by Retro for side quest bounties being denied by Nintendo as something a good person like Samus would never do.
This trope is in full effect in Other M with Samus's relation with Adam.note And arguably the entire game. As mentioned above, in Japan Samus is less a bounty hunter and more like a Private Military Contractor who still technically works for the Federation military just on a less formal basis. As the story was written with the Japanese fanbase in mind, they consider Adam's assertions of his rank over Samus to be normal procedure. In America, Adam is seen as a psychotically abusive controller who has mentally conditioned Samus to obey his commands even after Samus has stopped officially working for him.
One need only look at Other M's reception among fans and critics in the West and in Japan for a good example of Values Dissonance. While Critical Dissonance is in full effect on both sides of the pond, Western fans utterly despise the game with very few exceptions (due to the mentioned Samus-Adam "relationship", and if not that then Samus's encounter with Ridley) while Japanese fans are more mixed, leaning negative. Its major criticisms are roughly the same in both regions, interestingly enough. A good portion of the agreement can be aimed at just how poorly it's implemented, where Samus doesn't even try to activate her personal heat shields without Adam's okay and would rather quite literally burn alive than just bring up the question.
In the Japanese release of EarthBound (Mother 2), in the land of Magicant, which exists only in Ness's mind, the protagonist is naked (a Japanese symbol of purity), while in the US he appears in his pajamas as he did at the beginning of the game in all versions, as nudity—especially child nudity—is considered extremely sexual there.
The game features one scene where a child is spanked by their parent. This was censored in English translations. While many parents still believe in corporal punishment, it's rarely portrayed positively or for laughs anymore due to worries of child abuse.
To some extent, most Western gamers have a dislike (if not outright hate) of mobile gaming for having a bunch of Shovelwares designed for "casuals" with microtransactions that they consider to be greedy cash-grabs. Most Eastern gamers (particularly in China and Japan) are particularly okay with mobile gaming, but most Japanese gamers hate PC games for being Shovelwares that are "too expensive" or "too complicated to set up" and would rather keep their gaming console and computer functions as separate. Most Chinese and South Korean gamers Take a Third Option and throw some soft spots for PC and mobile gaming, since console gaming faces difficulties in these countries. The increased smartphone adoption in many, especially Eastern, countries certainly don't help.
While received favorably outside of Japan and generally seen as a fun and heartwarming game with tons of Video Game Caring Potential, Valkyria Chronicles has a strongly Japanese ideal of unity and has a tendency to kill anyone with a unique character design who either doesn't wear some type of uniform, or betrays the one they have. It leads to some Family Unfriendly Aesops when it comes to the titular Valkyria, who disavows her superpowers essentially because they make her stand out too much.
That...might explain why Valkyria Chronicles III completely went the other direction when it comes to values (except Camaraderie, that's inviolable). Your characters are society's refuse, they constantly go against their superiors' orders (for better or for worse), at some point they have to fight and kill their own countrymen, and their Valkyria, Riela, is not trying to do anything to change people's perception of her as a "freak". VC3 thrashes the usual Japanese values out of the window and then tosses live grenades on them just to make sure.
Rule of Rose was subject to this trope in many parts of Europe where the publishers were pressured to pulling it out of the shelves. All because it depicted children as something other than innocent little angels, capable of extreme cruelty and spite, and possessing early signs of developing sexuality — even though nothing unwholesome happens with preteen children in that area, and the sexual abuse of a sixteen-year old girl is treated with all the horror it deserves.
The Nancy Drew game Shadow at Water's Edge plays with this trope, as it is set in Japan. Part of Miwako's resentment towards Yumi, apart from sibling rivalry, is that she left the Ryokan to start her own career making bento instead of staying to run the hotel as expected of her. According to Miwako, this makes Yumi "selfish". This logic only makes sense if you understand that in Japan, independence is frowned on and that you're supposed to do what's expected of you. However, it is also revealed later on that the girls' mother actually wanted them to lead their own lives and not take care of the Ryokan unless they wanted to do it, proving that the general attitude towards an issue does not necessarily hold up for everyone.
The entire court system is this. It is supposed to satirize the Japanese court system, which is heavily biased towards the prosecution, an aspect that baffles western audiences (who are used to more impartial systems).
Godot, a character in the third Ace Attorney game, is viewed by western audiences as sexist and patronizing towards women: he refuses to take Franziska seriously and tends to refer to her by condescending pet names, not to mention his insistence that Mia needed to be protected, if not by him then by Phoenix. While it is still presented as a character flaw in the Japanese version (given that his guilt over his failure and resentment toward Phoenix led him to make a plan to protect Mia's sister Maya that results in him killing their mother), it's not presented as a serious flaw; as a result, he's pretty much universally beloved in Japan (although he is still much-loved in western audiences as well).
Godot in general tends to be a source of Draco in Leather Pants, from both Western and Eastern fans, who see his 'women must be protected' thing as romantic (towards Mia) rather than sexist.
Well, if he knew about Franziska's tendency to whip and slap everyone around her to get her way, Godot may have been playing more on her immaturity and young age than her gender. Which goes with him calling her things like "filly". There is no retort for the 'women must be protected' thing, however.
This trope may also account for why Dahlia Hawthorne repeatedly makes mean-spirited jabs at Mia's age, calling her "Madame Fey" and a "spinster". At the time of her death, Mia was twenty-seven and very attractive, leading these insults to seem pretty out-there to western players. In Japanese culture though, a woman tends to be considered past her prime when they're twenty-five (though this is becoming a less-common view).
Japan insisted on partial removal of nukes from Fallout 3 before it would permit release in the country. Specifically, the nuclear bomb in Megaton could originally be either permanently defused (good option) or rigged to blow up the entire settlement (evil). The Japanese version removes the latter option and also renames the "Fat Man" nuclear grenade catapult to "Nuka launcher". Strangely enough, the weight-reducing modification kit for the weapon apparently retained the name "Little Boy".
This trope is part of the reason American Kirby Is Hardcore exists. While video games make cute characters and box art a common selling point in Japan, in America it is relatively a niche market outside children or casual gamers. Attempts to move towards the happy box art of most Japanese games is far outweighed by the amount of box art that turns them into sword-wielding warriors or have them wear scowls on par with Jean-Claude Van Damme. Case in point—the Starfy series was a big hit in its native Japan, but despite a fun and unique gameplay style, the cutesy appearance of the title character caused the series to be a commercial failure in America and no games have been released since in any country.
Quite a few games with an ESRB rating back in the 90s when released today have had a change. For instance, a few K-A (Ages 6+) games get slapped with the newer E10+ (Ages 10+) or even T (ages 13+). The new ratings come with extensive lists of possibly objectionable content listed on the website as well, which allows consumers to make a more informed decision based on their own values and avert this trope. Sonic Adventure 2, when released for Dreamcast and Gamecube back in '01, got an E for Everyone rating, but when it was re-released for XBLA, PSN, and Steam in 2012, it got bumped up to E10+, because its content is now considered too dark and mature for an E-rated game. See Same Content, Different Rating for more about the topic.
The opposite can happen too: In 1984, Germany banned River Raid for its violent content; in 2002, the ban was lifted, and it was rated free for all ages. In America, the Streets of Rage series usually got MA-13 ratings (Sega's equivalent to the T rating) because they were considered very violent for their time, but with modern-day re-releases, they are now rated E10+ because they're not as violent as games you'd see today.
Night Trap was very controversial when it came out and was partly responsible for the creation of the ESRB. Nowadays, it looks downright tame, and very Narmy. The re-release made of it made 25 years later only got a T rating.
Left 4 Dead 2 is filled to the brim with zombies that can be blown apart to pieces and have their blood and guts spill all over the place. Most places in the world are used to this type of violence in media, but Australia and Germany are heavily against such violence and consider this type of content too extreme for minors. The German and Australian versions of the game are heavily censored by disabling dismemberment and zombies immediately vanish upon death. The fire effects on zombies are also disabled, which can actually make the game harder if you can't tell whether or not you set zombies on fire.
The censored versions of the game also removed the riot infected (zombies in body armor) because Germany and Australia heavily frown upon violence against authority figures. Some time later, Valve was allowed to put the removed zombie back in the game after they removed the "Security" logo on the chest.
Australia's game classification system in general can be a case of this trope for other countries, as several games are rated higher or lower there than everywhere else. It seems that sex and violence are really the only things that can push a game into the two highest categories (MA15+ and R18+), while countries like America can have games rated M due simply to mature themes (the MegaTen series being a prime example). Australia also views cartoon violence as less "harsh" than realistic violence, hence why games like Super Smash Bros., Ratchet & Clank, and Team Fortress 2 get lower ratings there than America. Meanwhile Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland, rated T by the ESRB and 12 by PEGI, was classified R18+ in Australia simply for "references to sexual violence", EarthBound is slapped with an M (13+) for crude humor and "sexual references", and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword got a 15+ rating over there, but an E10+ rating in America and 12+ in Europe.
As a whole sexualizing violence in any form whether it be depictions of rape or any way of mixing sex and violence really gets up Australia's nose: the reason why Thrill Kill was banned was not because of the violence but the way it seemed fetishised. Night Trap made censors believe part of the game was about kidnapping and torturing women. The alien anal probe from Saints Row 4 was one of the reasons Australia was outraged and banned the game. They didn't like the sexually suggestive character models and the damage shown in Mortal Kombat 9 and went to the point of having boarder security and the Australian Navy prevent the game from reaching their shores. And games that depict or hint at rape or sex slavery are now given an automatic R rating (older games that had it are seemingly unaffected) for sexual violence.
This even extends to Europe as well. In America, Bayonetta and Lollipop Chainsaw both received the Mature 17+ rating, whereas Europe gave both of them the 18+ rating due to having lots of gore and sexual content/dialogue. Also in Europe, Metal Gear Solid 3 received an 18+ rating (it got the Mature 17+ rating in America) all because of the torture sequence.
Blizzard repeatedly had trouble distributing World of Warcraft in China because Chinese culture considers desecration of the dead, and any depiction of bones or mutilated corpses, obscene. Among the changes that had to be made were removing exposed bones from undead models, replacing the skeletons left by player deaths with headstones, and changing the graphics for decapitated heads with bags implied to contain them. Lord Marrowgar, a large monster that's made up of bones◊, had to get an entirely new model◊ in the process (and presumably, so did his Palette Swap, Earthrager Ptah). None of those would make a Westerner bat an eye.
Another problem was that China worried about game addiction a lot more than the western markets, forcing Blizzard and other companies to implement stronger Anti Poop-Socking measures.
A noticeable aversion was the Mists of Pandaria expansion. Despite showing China's beloved national animal, the panda, in scenes of brutal fighting, explicit torture, and less-than-upstanding social situations, China was too flattered by how incredibly badass they were and how well they captured the most endearing parts of their scenery and culture. This meant that Pandaria was the first expansion that didn't have be Bowdlerized and got a truly global release. As an aside, the original reason Pandaren hadn't appeared in the game earlier? China was angry that the Pandaren brewmaster in Warcraft 3 had a Japanese style instead of a Chinese style, that Blizzard got it right in Pandaria may have been another contributing factor.
Pretty much a given for any Romance Game or Dating Sim. Cultural differences in gender roles have a lot to do with that.
Doom is still a pretty bloody game, but it's very hard to imagine it attracting the controversy now that it did back in the day after the release of other games that top it in the gorn department several times over (God of War being a shining example).
Wolfenstein and Mortal Kombat were also shocking, Mortal Kombat because the entire point of the game is to kill people for sport (although the blood just looks like thick tomato juice) and Wolfenstein because at that time it was unprecedented for a video game to contain bloodshed at all (even though the graphics on that game were so primitive that the blood looked more like red confetti than anything else).
Kunio-tachi no Banka: Sabu shot Misako, Kyoko, and Ken during different parts of the game. While it's already considered to be a Moral Event Horizon, the Japanese gun laws prohibits most kinds of firearms to the point that even some Yakuza refuse to hold one with the penalties being high (firing irresponsibly ranges from three years to life in prison). It also means that Sabu lost his honor after those acts.
Dead Rising 2 has a lengthy plot about how Phenotrans is keeping life-saving medicine from the public due to the cost exceeding the benefits from giving it. This is just plain strange to countries where medicine is a government provided service.
In Japanese media, crossdressers are sometimes viewed as transsexual by Western audiences, with Naoto Shirogane from Persona 4 and Chihiro Fujisaki from Dangan Ronpa being the most prominent examples of this issue, as a handful of Western fans insist that they are transsexual despite canon saying otherwise. This is due to misunderstanding their problems in regards to Japanese culture; in Japan, it is extremely important for a person to fit a certain criteria of what it means to be female and what it means to be male. If they don't meet enough of that criteria or act in a way that is against it, they are shamed for it or not taken seriously. Naoto was insecure about her femininity because she wanted to pursue a career in a male-dominated field but knew they would dismiss her skills if they knew she was a girl. So she cross dressed in order to make sure that didn't happen. Chihiro was constantly bullied because he was too frail and shy to be considered a real boy by Japanese standards, and started cross dressing as a means of escape since his personality was seen more proper for a female, not because he identified as such. Both are examples of individuals who couldn't live up to the gender standards of Japan and had to find a way to conform to it instead.
A similar problem arose with Kanji from the same game as Naoto. To a lot of Western players, his shadow and problem is often seen as his being Armoured Closet Gay. According to Word of God, Kanji's sexuality is supposed to remain ambiguous to each player, though his actual problem is stated to having to do with his hobbies: drawing, crafting things with his own hands, which includes knitting things. It's the same issue as with Naoto, Kanji is aware that his hobbies are not those of 'a man' and he hence would not fit into the idea of what a man is. Even with Kanji admitting that he wants someone to accept him with his un-manly hobbies and that it's not so much an attraction to men as it is a strong aversion to women whom might make fun of those hobbies (as his mother points out in his Social Link, the boys weren't any more accepting of him), a lot of Western players remain on the whole gay idea.
Unfortunately, that led to an even bigger problem for Yosuke, a lot of things he said throughout the game to tease Kanji about his issues ended up making him sound homophobic to Western audiences. The LGBT rights movement in Japan has not yet made the same strides its Western counterparts have, which consequently means it's way more common for Japanese media to have comic relief characters whose sole joke is that they're gay, or outdated views on homosexuality in general.
Related to this, Bifauxnens in anime and Japanese video games note such as King from The King of Fighters and the above-mentioned Naoto will often prompt speculation from Western fans that the character in question is either a trans man or a lesbian, particularly the latter, since in much of Western media, having a female character wear men's clothing used to be a common way of implying she wasn't heterosexual. In reality, the ubiquity of the Bifauxnen archetype in Japanese media can likely be traced back to the influence of the Takarazuka Revue, with popular characters like Princess Sapphire and Haruka Tenoh being two prominent examples.
One theory that has been made to explain why JRPGs are popular in Japan but not in the West is the fact that JRPG require a lot of level grinding. Japanese gamers are perceived as being more patient than Western gamers and perceive the idea of level grinding in order to get some ultimate reward in the end. In the West most people do neither have that kind of patience nor the wanting for a reward, which is the reason why many Western gamers get frustrated with those games and give up on ever trying one, which results in low sales. This may be the same reason Monster Hunter is a best-selling series in Japan, but is a Cult Classic at best in the United States. On a similar vein, Random Drop and Rare Random Drop when it comes to items are seen as widely accepted in many Asian gaming circles since they don't mind potentially waiting a long time to finally get that Infinity +1 Sword. Western players greatly despise those game mechanics for being too reliant on luck.
In addition, JRPGs are criticized by western gamers for their linearity, as they are used to open-world WRPGs centered around making decisions and having the plot continue based on those choices. In addition, WRPGs tend to have a high level of character customization. Inversely, Japanese gamers have a tough time getting into WRPGs because they tend to find the open-world gameplay too overwhelming (any choices made in most JRPGs, will have one correct answer with the others either not allowing you to proceed or triggering an alternate route or even a bad ending) and inhibits the writers' ability to tell a compelling story. In other words, the conflict seems to be that western gamers want to be the protagonists of their RPGs, whereas Japanese gamers would rather just follow along with the narrative.
This has seemed to be turned on its head that both are successful in the west while flipping the common perceived stereotype, what with the Western-made "JRPG" Undertale and Japanese-made "WRPG" Dark Souls.
Clayfighter 63 1/3 has one fighter named Kung Pow, who looks like a caricature of the Asian stereotype, but is played straight. Aside from the typical squinty eyes, Kung Pow uses woks for one of his attacks, has typical kung fu acrobatics, and pulls out a Chinese carton of food when he wins and asks if it's to stay or to go. While no one would have batted an eye to the stereotype in 1997 when the game was released, looking back on it in today's time makes the whole character be seen as terribly racist or the developers simply not thinking things through when they designed the character.
The Tower of Druaga. The game boasts a 60-dungeon floor with many treasures to uncover, many of which are required or else the game becomes much harder at best and Unwinnable by Design at worst. The treasures often have absolutely obtuse requirements for revealing them, and just to make matters worse, some treasures actually hinder the player despite their obscure requirements. The game was a hit in its native country of Japan, but failed to find an audience in Western territories, especially the US. Part of the reason it succeeded in Japan is that Japanese gaming communities tend to be more communal; players at arcades will often exchange strategies to help benefit each other, and some arcades will have guestbooks for customers to write in, often to discuss these strategies. By watching others play, one could learn how to unlock each floor's respective treasure without having to commit a lot of Trial-and-Error Gameplay; in the 80's, well before the age of the Internet as an affordable service, discussing with and watching other players at the arcade was the only way to finish the game if you didn't subscribe to magazines or the like. The idea of arcades being places where players socialize is somewhat lost on Westerners, save for scattered pockets of Fighting Game players, Rhythm Game players, and pinball players, and on top of that, there is the commonly-Western idea that using guides and others' playthroughs to facilitate one's own progress in a video game is a sign of weakness.
Averted in Seattle, WA, where arcades are not only places for socialization, but there are chairs, tables, benches, and often even bars to encourage socialization. People from Seattle are often disappointed when they visit arcades elsewhere in the country and learn that they are not intended for socialization, at least where the games are located.
7 Sins, which is probably the closest thing in Europe and Brazil to an eroge, features an interesting set of this when it comes to erotic content in gaming (read: softcore sex scenes). PEGI (which covers Western Europe) and USK (which covers Germany) gave it a 16+ rating while the BBFC (which covers the United Kingdom) gave it an 18+ rating. It seems that the UK has quite different ideas from the rest of Europe when sexual expression is concerned.
Similarly, America's ESRB is much harsher on sexual content than most other countries, and many games that get M ratings for sexual content in America get lower ratings overseas (such as Akiba's Trip, which is rated the equivalent of T in Australia). "Partial Nudity", which even extends to exposed breasts on monster enemies not intended as sexual, is grounds for an automatic M rating in the ESRB's system, while other countries allow it in lower ratings and only give high ratings for full-frontal, explicitly sexual nudity. And the gap between the ESRB's M and AO ratings is only sexual content in most cases, leading to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas getting pulled from shelves and re-rated due to the "Hot Coffee" mod (there was little fanfare in Europe since the game was already rated 18+ for violence anyway). Skimpy outfits on characters is sometimes enough for an ESRB M rating, which often results in outfits being censored in US releases (for example, Tharja's swimsuit scene in Fire Emblem Awakening's DLC was censored in the US version, but not in the European version).
It may be getting better, if one does wanna take a look at the Shantae series. For having a lot of cute girls in skimpy outfits and braless mermaids, it does go pretty well in the E10+/T rating.
50 Cent once mentioned he played the games he starred in with his kid, saying that violence wasn't an issue as long as he was around to explain it but that he would turn the sound off because of the swearwords. Some people in Germany, where people no longer give a shit about swearing but violence remains the Moral Guardians' Berserk Button, burst into laughter at his priorities.
In the United States, a common practice for queueing up is to put down some sort of object to symbolize your position in the line, often a coin or a card; once your marker is at the front of the line, you drop your credit in and play. In fact, for a long time, arcades could purchase "Competitor" coin racks for players to put their queue-marker coins on. Once your credit is up, it's time to hand your turn to the next player and move your marker to the end of the line if you intend to play again; playing another credit when someone else is waiting is seen as selfishly hogging the machine and is a Fandom Berserk Button.
In the Philippines, you drop your credit(s) in to indicate lining up, and however many credits are before you indicates when your turn comes up. Most players will often stack multiple credits; while some players will get irked at the practice, it's widely accepted, if grudgingly.
Killer7 has high ratings in most of the world (in the US it got an M and in Europe it got an 18+), but in Japan it was so controversial that it has gotten a Z rating (which is the Japanese version of a US AO rating) after some of its scenes were censored. This is one of the few cases where a Japanese game is less offensive to foreigners than it is to Japanese themselves.
The Western release of Fire Emblem Fates had its skinship feature removed, with Nintendo openly stating the change was due to values dissonance between what is considered acceptable in Japan vs. what is considered acceptable in North America. It didn't stop many fans from protesting the removal and other changes as unnecessary censorship.
Additionally, the fact that Fates features a bisexual protagonist with two same-sex options was seen as quaint (and in some cases, not good enough) by Western gamers, since same-sex romance options are a fairly common feature of franchises like Mass Effect and Dragon Age. However, this was indeed quite progressive...in Japan, which is actually not as LGBT friendly as some people like to believe. Meanwhile, Forrest is mocked in the west for his appearance, despite that that isn't seen as too controversial in Japan.
The fact that the game pushes a pair of cousins (the Male Avatar and Azura) as Implied Love Interests for each other. This is actually a double-whammy of Values Dissonance: first-cousin marriage is legal in parts of America, but it tends to get side-eyed more than it does in the rest of the world, which considers such a thing perfectly fine. Marrying one's cousin was also not that uncommon in the medieval ages, the time period the game is set in. Asugi and Midori, whose fathers are brothers, can also get married, and in what may partially be an oversight, it's possible for characters to marry their father's sister's childnote For example, Leo's son Forrest, and Odin's daughter Ophelia are normally unrelated, but if Odin marries Leo's sister, Elise, Forrest and Ophelia become cousins, but can still get into a relationship.
Elise, Sakura, and Hayato are implied to be between 12-15 years old, yet they can marry and have children. This wouldn't be out of place in the timeframe the game takes place in (when people could be married off at that age and where teen mothers weren't uncommon) but everywhere else it comes off as Squick worthy. The localisation also made sure to point out that yes, Elise, Sakura, and Hayato are indeed adults who just appear younger. Nyx's own appearance as well dramatically up-plays that she is not a child. Corrin is similarly able to be made to look very young, but will be stated to be an adult.
The child characters are implied to be teenagers or very young adults. While they can't have children (except with Corrin), they can indeed "S" support with others. As above, this is technically legal (and was common) in the timeframe they live in, but in the new tens comes off as illegal or chock full of Unfortunate Implications. The localisation avoids this by having their supports be more platonic in nature and in some cases, ends with them deciding to go out with one another rather than get married.
Hisame was seen as a no-nonsense serious person who was considered somewhat boring, not even being The Comically Serious... but one gag in Japan was his hobby of pickling vegetables. Why was it a gag? Because that was him acting like an "old man". In the west? That would just make people confused.
The Longest Journey was made in 1999 and 2000, and it was rated "M". Playing it today, you would actually be wondering why it is rated "M", as any violence, gore, and innuendo is what the ESRB actually allows in a game rated "T" today.
Final Fantasy VI is remarked upon for its strong female characters, who still stand up as such today. Unfortunately, it also has multiple heroic male characters who are sexually violent or possessive towards women, with this being played as a charming mild flaw (child-flirting Edgar, celebrity stalker/kidnapper Setzer). This was accepted as a normal trope in pulpy fantasy fiction in Japan in 1994, and at the time signalled a Darker and Edgier, Hotter and Sexier tone that averted the Politically Correct History of previous Final Fantasy settings. Nowadays it comes across as being quite awful. Even Squaresoft felt embarrassed about it, to the point where an intentional goal for Final Fantasy VII was to make it less sexist.
Several Animal Crossing games feature a hat called the "Warbonnet", which is a Native American headdress. In America, wearing them if you're not Native American has become a hot topic in the 2010s due to it being seen as cultural appropriation by many. It seems Nintendo knows this as well, as the 2015 game Splatoon has a Dummied Out headdress hat which is presumed to be deleted due to controversies surrounding headdresses. The two series are from the same team so it's possible future Animal Crossing games will not include the Warbonnet accessory.
A lot of early marketing for the early Mortal Kombat games featured teenagers or even preteens despite the games being notoriously gory. Likewise, almost all adaptations (including the movie and cartoon) were toned down and aimed at a young audience. Modern advertising aims the games exclusively at adults. They would never get away with implying youth can buy the games like they did in the 1990s, especially with how the violence has become less cartoony and over-the-top than it originally was. In fact, Mortal Kombat is one of the reasons the ESRB system was even created in the first place.
In the Japanese version of Ice Climber the yeti-looking Topis are seals. They were redesigned internationally due to the fact that seal clubbing is more of a controversial subject outside of Japan. This change affected Super Smash Bros. Melee as well. Even if you put your game's language to Japanese, Topis will not turn into seals unless you own a Japanese copy.
The idea of allowing player to buy items, gear, or even skipping several character levels via cash shop in an MMORPG is heavily divided among gamers. For Asian players, they have no issue cash shops since they can buy exactly what they want without any fluff and can level up faster (most Asian countries enforce a law that heavily limits how much time someone can play an online game). For Western players, cash shops are seen as pay to win that devalues the idea of working towards your goals purely on your effort instead of Bribing Your Way to Victory.
Final Fantasy All The Bravest was not exactly a critical hit in Japan, but it was not reviled at the level it was in the west. All the Bravest is centered around DLC characters, which are randomly selected after you purchase it. There is a chance you could get duplicates, and you are not compensated if you do. Outside of Asia, this created an outrage, with reviewers and players seeing the game as a shameless money grab and a roll of the dice, especially since downloadable content itself is divisive in North America, Australia, and Europe, and the microtransactions common in mobile gaming even more so.note Blind boxes, blind bags, and collectible card games DO give you randomly selected things inside, but plenty of hobby shops exist where they open them up, and people will buy the opened goods knowing what's inside at substantial markup just to eliminate the randomness. That's how disliked random goods are outside of Asia. That is, outside of Asia, All the Bravest was considered a way for Square to wring as much money out of their fans as possible with little to no gameplay benefit. In Japan and nearby countries, however, it was seen as a natural digital extension of the Gachapon and UFO Catcher machines found everywhere there, which dispense random display figures, and they didn't see a problem in randomly-allocated characters you have to pay for.
Society Marches On eventually and critical hit games like Granblue Fantasy and Counter-Strike Global Offensive features such randomization as one of the main gameplay mechanic. Though for CSGO (and several other Steam games) it's limited to cosmetic items only and such "hobby shops" mechanic are integrated to the Steam client itself as the Community Market.
In The Legend of Zelda, the third dungeon is in the shape of a Manji, which is sometimes called a reverse swastika. While the Manji itself has a more religious meaning, most western players saw it as the swastika used by the Nazis. On the subject of religion, the game and its sequel have the holy cross symbol on Link's shield and on the gravestones found in the graveyard. The Magic Book item not only had a cross on it as well, but it was called a Bible in the Japanese version. Originally, the games were going to feature Christianity as the main religion everyone followed, but the idea was changed to having just nameless gods. While Japanese games usually have no problem using religious references and characters, they are widely seen as taboo for Nintendo games due to the main audience being young children. The cross idea was dropped by The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, but the Japanese version still referenced gods and the title was called Triforce of the Gods instead of A Link to the Past. By The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, characters and text talking about goddesses and gods were done more freely in the English version since there were no real life religions or symbols being used.
The Update 1.10 of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe removed an Inkling Girl gesture due to this. The Bicep-Polishing Gesture was edited into a fist bump by removing the part where she grabs her arm. In Japan it's just an excited gesture but in many regions it's an offensive gesture.
The 3DS version of Dragon Quest VIII had some people (mostly in the US) complain that it was "censored" because of a few scenes being changed, as well as some of Jessica's outfits that were made to cover up more skin compared to the original version on the PS2. Nintendo actually didn't have anything to do with these. This was actually because what CERO deemed acceptable in 2004 for an "All ages" game was different than in 2016 - Nintendo meanwhile didn't care, they were happy to allow it to maintain its "T" and "PEGI 12" ratings.
In Catherine, the primary motivation for the nightmares being experienced by men is to weed out men who won't marry and father children, with the main argument being that the world is undergoing an underpopulation crisis. This may make sense in Japan, which is known for its aging population and low fertility rate, but this entire premise can come off as laughable in the rest of the world; many countries experience the exact opposite problems with people having far more kids than they can support thus leading to major strains on population-sustaining infrastructure.
The use of Blackface is an extremely sensitive topic. In Japan, it's a non issue and it's freely used in many games. For everyone else, blackface is extremely offensive and are edited to be less obvious. One example is the character Oil Man in Mega Man Powered Up who had pink puffy lips and a dark blue face, which was very close to the blackface stereotype. The character also had shades of Uncle Tomfoolery, which did not help matters. The international version of the game change the color scheme to be less close to the blackkface stereotype, but the characterization didn't change.