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  • In the Japanese version of Final Fantasy VIII, Zell's Trademark Favorite Food that he keeps trying to get from the cafeteria is a particular type of bread. In the English version it's hot dogs, and in French it's pretzels. This causes a minor Dub-Induced Plot Hole in the Dance Party Ending, where Zell is seen stuffing his face — he finally got some of that damn bread! Fortunately, the bread looks enough like hot dog buns that most American players, at least, were able to get the punchline of the Brick Joke.
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  • Animal Crossing (2001) was heavily influenced by Japanese culture. For the release of the internationally-released GameCube port, much had to be replaced by something the Western market can relate to, like a Japanese fireplace being replaced by a barbecue grill, during localization; what Japanocentric elements did remain were typically exoticized or presented in more Western-friendly terms. However, the Japanese team liked the changes so much they released the game as Dōbutsu no Mori e+ in Japan as well. Many of the westernized changes ended up being used even in Japan in the sequels, due to the first game having proven the viability of the IP abroad as well as in Japan. This even affects characters: in the original Japanese version, Tom Nook is a Tanuki while Kapp'n is a Kappa. International localizations change them into a raccoon and a turtle, respectively, but the Punny Names reference what they're really supposed to be.
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  • In Banjo-Tooie and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Banjo has an attack where he uses Kazooie as a blunt object to bludgeon enemies. In the Japanese version of the game, it's stated that Banjo is using Kazooie as a harisen. Obviously this isn't what the British programmers at Rare intended, but it neatly bridges the gap between Western and Eastern slapstick.
  • In God Hand, the Tension Gauge-increasing powerup item was Curry in the Japanese version. It was decided that curry wasn't a very common dish in the States, and so the American release features pizza instead.
    • There was a God Roulette move that would cause a steel pan to drop on Gene's head for a moment of invincibility, but this was removed in the US version, as that particular slapstick joke is more understandable for Japanese players.
    • The term God Reel to describe the slot machine-style special moves was changed to the aforementioned God Roulette, as "Reel" is a Japanese slang for those kind of gambling games.
  • Subversion: The NES game Chubby Cherub, a localized version of a Little Ghost Q-Taro Famicom title. The title character's sprite and the title screen were the ONLY graphical alterations. This runs contrary to other localized licensed games of the era, when all references to the show it was based on were removed.
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  • The two Daiku No Gensan games to arrive in the US before Hammerin' Hero received a particularly half-assed version of the "poorly-done pandering" version, renaming the main character from Genzo to Harry, and a few other minor touches, such as renaming the ramen stands in the first level to different things. (Kuromoku-gumi to Rusty Nailers is justified, as without translation notes, Kuromoku-Gumi is nothing more than gibberish to English speakers). Please note, however, that Harry still dresses unmistakeably like a Japanese carpenter, and the enemies who come out of what are now diners and pasta stands still throw what are visibly Japanese noodle bowls.
  • Hot Shots Golf is the US localization of Everybody's Golf. Anime-style characters have their names changed, are available as unlockable characters, or are replaced with Western Animation styled characters.
  • In Hyrule Warriors, the game uses a letter-based ranking system to grade the player's performance at the end of missions. In the Japanese version of the game, the highest possible grade is an "S-rank". In the North American and European versions of the game, the highest rank is instead changed to an "A-rank", following English's conventional alphabetical order. "S" is often used in Japanese media to stand for something along the lines of "Special" or "Super", often with the connotation that it is more outstanding than a simple "A". Many foreigners are not familiar with this nuance, which is what prompted Nintendo of America to make the change. Interestingly enough, Hyrule Warriors is the only title where this change was made.
  • The Cute 'em Up game Kiki Kai Kai ~ Nazo no Kuro Manto for the Super Famicom contained many references to Japanese mythology; the two player characters are a miko and a tanuki, the former's weapons are ofuda and an ōnusa, and the enemies are various types of obake. The official English version went by the title of Pocky & Rocky instead of attempting to translate the original title, and correspondingly renamed the aforementioned player characters to Pocky and Rocky. (The Theme Naming was not present in their original names, Sayo-chan and Manuke.) The ofuda and ōnusa were referred to as "cards" and "magic stick". Finally, Manuke / Rocky was referred to as a raccoon, rather than a raccoon-dog (the correct English name for tanuki). Also, the obake were called "Gorgonzola Goblins".
  • At the beginning of Grim Fandango there is a clown who can make balloons shaped like Robert Frost. As Robert Frost is not well known in France, the balloon is said to be shaped like Captain Haddock (from Tintin) in the French version. When Manny Calavera examines the balloon he says: "That doesn't look like Captain Haddock at all." The Spanish version changes Frost with Gloria Fuertes, and the Italian version uses Siegmund Freud.
  • EarthBound has the statues shaped like a pencil and an eraser. In the original Japanese version, they are shaped like an octopus and a type of Japanese wooden doll. This was changed to preserve a cute bit of wordplay - the Japanese word for eraser is "keshi", while the wooden doll is named "kokeshi". The name that erases the doll statue, therefore, is called the "kokeshi keshi".note  The English version's changes not only preserve the joke (the "kokeshi keshi" is now the "eraser eraser"), it added one as well (the pencil eraser now makes a lot more sense)! The food references, some of them quite plot-important, were also largely changed to reflect the tastes of American audiences.
  • The English translations of the Ace Attorney games change the setting from Tokyo to an unnamed metropolis in southern California, albeit one which looks a lot like Tokyo. English-speaking fans have lampshaded this by referring to the setting as "Japanifornia". Even the head of the localisation team has stated she likes this nickname.
    • Maya's Trademark Favorite Food is either ramen or burgers. This throws people off when people first meet the ramen cart man in Apollo Justice, though in the Professor Layton crossover she is shown eating burgers with Phoenix Wright.
    • The Punny Names get the treatment even with characters that have Japanese names start appearing. Although Amanogawa probably got shortened due to technical issues.
    • Unfortunately for the series, this translation got more and more difficult over time. The first game didn't reference Japanese culture very much, so there was no difficulty in culturally translating all of it. Then in the second game we see the Fey's home, which is a very, very Japanese temple in the mountains. Since this only involves the setting, though, the game mostly just kind of ignored the fact that this was clearly not America. But in the 5th game, an entire case revolved around Japanese youkai mythology. The official say on the matter by the localization team is that the series actually takes place in an alternative universe America, where anti-Japanese-immigration and settlement laws were never passed, which is referred when Niles Tails Vale is stated to be have been founded by Japanese immigrants. Awkward Zombie parodied this here.
  • There are various older Japanese games which, during German translation, received lots of pop-cultural references and in-jokes, often in the form of replacing various NPC's non-relevant statements.
    • The German version of Secret of Mana has many German pop-culture references including an NPC called Heino, a musician often parodied for his look, looking for his sunglasses. The translator, Claude M. Moyse, was also a staff member of Club Nintendo magazine, and added corresponding in-jokes. Square had given him bad working conditions, essentially forcing him to work from a preliminary (read: bad) English translation, but explicitly said that the game was supposed to be funny, so he presumably had to come up with new gags.
  • Saiyuuki World and its sequel for the Famicom were both based on Journey to the West, but due to them being a Shout-Out to a Chinese novel that was largely unknown outside of China and Japan, when the second game was localized as Whomp 'Em for the NES, the main character was changed from Son Goku to a generic Native American, some of the more Eastern-oriented items were changed into Native American-like ones, the Buddha statue in the ending was changed to a totem pole, and the game's setting was Hand Waved as taking place in America instead of China (though the stage taking place in a bamboo forest was left untouched, apart from the panda enemy in it being changed to a regular grizzly bear).
  • Dynamite Headdy did quite a bit in changes for the international version; removing nearly all of the dialogue which cuts out a lot of the story is one such example. Trouble Bruin was recolored brown instead of purple, and a giant doll became a mech. The boss in Headdy Wonderland was completely redesigned for Western audiences. Originally it was a Geisha that upon defeat becomes demonic with sharp-as-hell claws. The Western release got a robot and the claws were not as sharp.
  • The few Kunio-kun games that were released internationally have this in some way or another, and are usually considered separate series overseas:
    • The first game in the series, Nekketsu Kōha Kunio-kun, was released overseas as Renegade. Kunio was renamed Mr. K, and his white gakuran uniform was replaced with a matching brown vest and pants getup obviously inspired by The Warriors. The outdoor train station from the first stage was replaced by an underground subway and all the enemy characters were redrawn as well with the exception of the final gang (although the Yakuza hitmen were recolored black). The rice ball item was also replaced with a hamburger (though the NES manual's translators neglected to change the "hamburger" picture, hilariously enough).
    • Super Dodge Ball (the American version of Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu) had the simplest change in the series. Since the game already had an international theme, the nationality of the main team and their first rivals was simply changed from Japanese to American and the CPU-controlled American team became Japanese. In the NES version, the Russian team, originally the penultimate team, become the final team in the American localization.
    • River City Ransom, the American version of Downtown Nekketsu Monogatari, anglicized the names of every character (with Kunio becoming Alex and Riki becoming Ryan) and replaced their Japanese high school uniforms with t-shirts and jeans, and the game's currency was changed from yen to dollars. Oddly enough, the Game Boy Advance remake features an Americanized script with the same anglicized names from the original NES game, but keeps the school uniforms from the Japanese version, though the box art makes them look more like kung-fu uniforms.
    • Nekketsu Kōkō Dodgeball Bu: Soccer Hen was released overseas as Nintendo World Cup. Originally all the 13 teams in the game were Japanese, but were given different nationalities in the overseas version, with some of the sprites and palettes changed and their stats switched. However, the Famicom version was programmed so that only allowed the player to use one team in Tournament Mode and one of five teams in Vs. Match Mode. The localization staff attempted to compensate for this by allowing the player to change the nationality of the main team in Tournament Mode, which changes the team's overall palette and power shots.
  • A rather peculiar example would be Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan and Elite Beat Agents. When OTO became a surprise hit through imports, the developer decided to make a sequel tailored towards an American audience. Needless to say, it was still really strange for Americans (the basic concept is made even weirder). Unlike most examples, however, fans (including Japanese fans) reacted positively to EBA; enough that the Agents make a cameo appearance in OTO 2.
  • Kirby:
    • In Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards, one of the health-recovery foods you can find lying around the levels is, in the Japanese version, an onigiri, a common Japanese riceball. The American version had it changed to a sandwich instead, though Waddle Dee can still be seen munching on one in the end-of-level Bonus Round once he's recruited after the first level. In addition, the fourth HUD style in the Japanese version uses kanji in place of the various icons to show Kirby's number of lives, his health, and his current Copy Abilities (i.e., the kanji for "fire" will be shown instead of a flame icon, etc.). For the international versions, this was changed to a crayon-drawn version of the regular HUD instead.
    • The same thing was done with at least the SNES version of Kirby Super Star. See the difference between the US version and the Japanese version.
    • In the original Kirby's Dream Land there's an item that lets Kirby fly infinitely and shoot as many air puffs as he likes. In the Japanese version, it's a sweet potato, with sweet potatoes in Japan having much the same reputation that beans do in the West, I.E. they make you gassy. In America, it was changed to a mint leaf that gave Kirby infinite minty breath. The sprite was ambiguous enough for this change to stick: When Kirby: Triple Deluxe reintroduced the item to the series, the item is clearly a sweet potato in the Japanese version. In the Western versions, it's clearly a mint leaf.
  • Clock Tower: Ghost Head, all that was done was name changes, like Yuu becoming Alyssa or Shou becoming Bates. The setting, however, while changed from Osaka to San Francisco, looked exactly the same — the first house you explore is very Japanese, the hospital you visit has signs in it written in Japanese, and the whole thing takes place during a endless thunder storm. Storms are normal occurrences for Japan during the summer, but they would be very rare for San Francisco.
  • In the first Trauma Center game, all names were changed to English, and the series was relocated to "Angeles Bay", California. However, just about everything else remains the same. New Blood averts this; the game takes place in the United States in all regions of the game, and all character names are left as is.
  • The North American arcade game Bust-A-Move Again is the regional name for Puzzle Bobble 2, but the iconic bubble dragons Bub and Bob have been replaced by hand sprites. The hand sprites were not in any release of the first Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move. Thankfully they kept Bub and Bob in the console/portable releases of PB2/BAM2 due to probable Canon Discontinuity...except the US release of Taito Legends 2.
  • Averted in Pump It Up; nearly every Korean pop song appears in both the Korean and international releases.
  • The Japanese releases of the Giga Wing series use kanji to separate digits in the freaking huge scores that players often get; notably, there's a kanji every four digits instead of the three-digit groupings used in the West. The non-Japanese versions lack any kind of digit separators (not even commas), making reading scores in those versions a little trickier.
  • The Tokyo Xtreme Racer series changes all units from metric (the system used in almost all non-American countries, Japan included) to U.S. units. Most characters' names were changed from Japanese names to Western ones as well, despite the game still obviously taking place in Japan, which creates a Dub-Induced Plot Hole in Tokyo Xtreme Racer 3 when character names are left intact and references to Tokyo Xtreme Racer Zero characters are present.
  • Police 911: In the Japanese version, you start in Tokyo, then travel to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. In the US version, it's the other way around, in addition to the stages being in a slightly different order.
  • Tecmo's 1st Captain Tsubasa is translated into Tecmo Cup Soccer Game upon exporting. It features blondes and non-Japaneses who represent a strangely named national team instead of Japan.
  • Most Rhythm Games change the songs' languages to fit the localizations region.
  • The Japanese version of Police Quest redraws the game to make everyone look like Anime characters.
  • Fan Translations of the Touhou series often run into this problem due to ZUN's (in)famous fascination with obscure elements of Japanese mythology and mind-bending wordplay (Japanese, natch). Cultural translations have occasionally resulted in local Fanon differing between countries, though the internet has been helpful in getting everyone on the same track.
  • Although the arcade version of Contra, and its sequel Super Contra, were released almost unaltered in Europe (the former came out as Gryzor and actually inspired a set of 8-bit computer ports under that title), when it came time to release the NES version in PAL territories, Konami had to alter the character designs of the human characters (both players and some of the enemies) into robots, since Germany in particular had strict censorship laws which forbade the selling of video games that depicted human characters killing each other with machine guns. Thus, the NES Contra became Probotector and all the Contra sequels on home consoles followed suit. This lasted all the way until, ironically enough, Contra: Legacy of War for the PS1, in which all subsequent Contra sequels (at least the ones that came out in Europe), were identical to their American counterparts (aside for the Virtual Console re-releases of the older games).
  • Alex Kidd in Miracle World had rice balls replaced with hamburgers in the version included as a built-in game with some models of the Sega Master System.
  • The Spanish version of The Simpsons: Hit & Run replaces Kent Brockman's Channel 6 News with Channel Ocho for the TV gag in the Simpsons house.
  • The Romance Games of Voltage, Inc. have Westernized localizations with re-done artwork released by Voltage's American subsidiary, Voltage Entertainment USA. The Westernized versions of games originally set in Japan are adapted to American settings, with corresponding Race Lifts and Dub Name Changes for their casts, as well as other adjustments: for example, the plot of 10 Days with My Devil involves a Celestial Bureaucracy of angels and demons. The Voltage USA adaptation My Killer Romance re-styles the demons as "Soul Collectors" and the angels as "Reincarnation Agents," probably because the depiction in the original version of the game doesn't bear much resemblance to a Western audience's understanding of what angels and demons are supposed to be like.
  • Persona got a particularly infamous one. It turned the locale from Japan to Chicago, yet didn't even do that right - a major location is a Shinto shrine, for example, and the houses are incredibly Japanese - and it gave all of the characters American appearances. By that, it gave them white skin and non-black hair, made one character black, for no particular reason but to have a Jive Turkey comic relief, and made everybody speak like an 8 year old after drinking Red Bull. Even Maki, the main character of sorts, is made childish and annoying. And of course, it's made this version of the game a cult classic.
  • Pokémon:
    • The franchise, in games and the early episodes of the anime, establish yen as being the official currency of the Pokémon world (even in the regions based on New York and France, curiously enough). When the games were localized for other regions, the fictional Pokémon Dollar currency, using a design based on the yen symbol with a P instead of a Y, was created to avoid alienating Western players - although the exchange rates appear to be closer to yen, considering the price of even a basic healing item often numbers in the triple digits. Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness use the P symbol even in Japan.
    • There are also various items whose names are changed in the translation for this reason. Rage Manjū becomes "Rage Candy Bar", while Forest Yōkan is translated as "Old Gateau"note .
    • Another Pokémon example comes with the villainous Team Rocket. Originally based on Yakuza, the localizations style them more as a Mafia-type group, even naming the boss "Giovanni".
  • The Legend of the Mystical Ninja replaced the Power-Up Food with hamburgers and pizza for the English version, even though the setting is still obviously Japan. The localizations of later Goemon games didn't replace the rice balls, or the protagonists' names (Kid Ying = Goemon, Dr. Yang = Ebisumaru).
  • Rushing Beat: Rushing Beat, Rushing Beat Ran and Rushing Beat Shura were localized as Rival Turf!, Brawl Brothers and The Peace Keepers (with Brawl Brothers in Europe titled Rival Turf 2), making the three games in the series appear unrelated, with changes to character names and backstory (Douglas Bild becomes Oswald "Oozie" Nelson), plot and setting (no longer taking place in Neo Cisco), alterations to stages, special moves and difficulty settings, and cover art featured on most "worst cover art" lists.
  • Tomodachi Life has a number of changes to fit its export audiences:
    • Yen is changed to dollars in the North American version and euros in the European version.
    • One of the events was shiritori in the Japanese release, but was changed to a Rap Battle for the American release, and both are in the European release.
    • Miis will bow to each other after certain interactions in the Japanese version if they're friends, as is customary in Japan. The bowing animations were changed/removed elsewhere.
    • Most if not all Japanese-oriented food items (and there's a lot!) were changed in favor of more internationally-recognizable cuisine in the American and European versions. The Nintendo-based items were appropriately changed as well, such as the Famicom becoming an NES.
  • In The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang, the chicken noodle soup that happens to be one boss's improbable weakness was nabeyaki udon in the original Japanese version.
  • The original Japanese Mother 3 features a sunbathing pig on the beach near Tazmily, who mentions that he's been having dreams involving the name of a famous ham company. In the Fan Translation from the team, this was changed to the pig seeing the words 'Oscar' and 'Mayer' in his dreams.
  • Interestingly, the design of the eponymous Rusty Slugger in Rusty's Real Deal Baseball is completely different between the Japanese and international releases of the game, sharing few similarities beyond "anthro dog with a comb-over" (his name was also changed to an English-language pun; he's Inuji Darumeshi in the Japanese version). Also interestingly, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Ultimate have trophies and spirits of both designs, respectively.
  • In the Japanese version of Ristar, the boss of world 5 is a giant cat robot that is defeated by feeding it hot soup. This is a play on a Japanese expression: a person who can't eat spicy food is called a nekojita, literally "cat tongue". Obviously this would seem pretty nonsensical to Western players, so the boss was redesigned into an ice monster to preserve the hint to its weakness.
  • An example of an addition exists in the Portuguese dub of Ratchet & Clank, where Mr. Zurkon will sometimes, in the middle of a battle, start singing "Todos os Zurkones sabem bem matar"note , as a reference to the children's song "Todos os patinhos sabem bem nadar"note .
  • The PlayStation line of consoles and its games traditionally map the red O button to "Okay/Confirm", and the blue X button to "Cancel/Back" for Japan-region consoles and games, referring to the idea of "O = OK and X = NGnote /no". However, that symbolism is largely foreign in the Western world; blue is commonly associated with positivity and red with negativity, and Westerners are more familiar with the concept of "X marks the spot", so North American and PAL versions of PlayStation consoles and games swap the mappings of the confirm and cancel functions. Damn You, Muscle Memory! ensues for players in Japan importing games from the West and vice versa, as well as Western gamers who play localized versions of Japanese-developed games that don't do the confirm/cancel O/X swap - and is only further compounded when a game gets remade on a newer system and does make the switch, if you're used to the original version.
  • When the South Korean horror game White Day: A Labyrinth Named School was remade in 2015, a localized version for Japan was made changing the character's names and school uniforms to reflect a Japanese setting. Compare the original Korean cover to Japan's.
  • Splatoon 2:
    • During the Latin American Spanish "Cake vs Ice Cream" Splatfest, Pearl mentions Tres Leches cake and Marina mentions Tres Leches ice cream. In the North American English version, the same conversation just mentions "cake" and "cake ice cream".
    • Internationally, the "Action vs Comedy" Splatfest referred to film. In Japan, Pearl and Marina were talking about j-dramas.
    • During the English version of the "Hot Breakfast vs Cold Breakfast" Splatfest, cereal is referenced. In the Dutch version it's changed to muesli.
  • The English version of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony amends a line referencing the rivalry between the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants in Japanese baseball, by bringing up the equally-ferocious (by U.S. standards) rivalry between the NFL's New York Jets and New England Patriots instead.
  • The Japanese version of Shovel Knight, being the retraux game that it is, underwent a variety of "reverse-localization" changes to make it look and feel more like a Japanese-made game from the NES/Famicom era, from subtle things like katakana on the title logo and altering the palettes of certain enemies to animated grass and Snot Bubbles to redrawing graphics and face portraits to look more animesque and allude more to Japanese culture. Details here.
  • Monster Rancher 4 and EVO had two boss monsters, Garp and Mao Mao, receive design overhauls for overseas releases. In Japan, Garp was named Genbu and had a black shell, while Mao Mao looked like a giant chicken. Overseas, Garp has a spiky green shell and Mao Mao was given a tropical bird design, like a parrot.
  • In the English version of Yo-Kai Watch, the series was changed from a Japanese setting to an American setting. This included westernizing the names and changing yen to dollars, but most other Japanese references were kept intact. In the third game, the main male character moves with his parents to America. The English translation has him moving down South instead. Instead of not understanding English, he can't understand the dialect and accents.
  • In the Brazilian Portuguese version of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, a mention of the Wright Brothers in the English version is instead changed to Santos Dumont, a Brazilian inventor often credited in Brazil with the invention of the airplane, instead of the Wright Brothers.
  • Money Puzzle Exchanger, the international Neo Geo version of Money Idol Exchanger, changes the sprites of yen coins to make their denominations more obvious.


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