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American Kirby Is Hardcore

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American Kirby is definitely in it to win it.

"Being happy is sometimes rather pleasant, really. Japanese developers understand this mysterious truth, but while they keep trying to export their eternally sunny characters to us, we just keep transforming them into gloomy, moody tough guys."

When a Japanese game is released Stateside, there's a tendency to make the box art, or even the character models, a little more hardcore. Maybe it's as simple as adding Angry Eyebrows, or maybe the character's model is completely redone. This is often done to characters who were originally intended to be cute. Sometimes this trope goes the other way, too: an American character may be made cuter for the Japanese release.

This has to do with Values Dissonance and Americans Hate Tingle to a lesser extent. Japanese culture, in general, is very accepting of cuteness anyplace, and will take it in stride. American culture, to the contrary, is not so tolerant of things bright, colorful, and innocent and instead celebrates anything manly and edgy. In a hard contrast to the Japanese, Americans often view cuteness as a sign of childishness and immaturity, and thus have a strong aversion to it in any media that's not explicitly kid-oriented. This attitude goes so far as to color American perceptions of Japanese culture; some historians have occasionally (and controversially) attempted to link Kawaisa to the national humiliation endured by Japan in World War II and the nation's resulting 180° turn from a warrior culture to a pacifistic one. And speaking of color: in modern Japan, pink is a value-neutral color. There are even pink gas stations. In the US, bright pink tends to be associated with young or adolescent girls, so expect a toning-down of any ostentatiously pink cover images (and gas stations).


And in an extra bonus, if ever the game is brought out to Europe, expect the artwork cover to be more artistic than usual regardless of whether or not the buyer can make sense of the artwork.

This trope is one reason why GameFAQs has a separate tag for box shots, since sometimes it just happens that the box art of the games differs.

A subtrope of Cultural Translation and related to Darker and Edgier. It's also not always a bad thing, mind you; if the game itself isn't particularly cutesy, then giving it cute box art is just weird. It can also mean that a game with cute art direction may hide a heart of blackened steel underneath that gamers might miss out on. On the other hand, if you're thinking about buying a game whose main character is an adorable pink puffball surrounded by sparkles and rainbows, then whether or not he's smiling on the cover honestly shouldn't be a deal-breaker (though it's perfectly normal if you're wondering why he isn't smiling).


See also Mascot with Attitude, since many examples are an attempt to turn a character into one of these.

Note: Weblinks Are Not Examples! Please include a description of the cover art in your examples.

Video Game Examples

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  • The Trope Namer here is Kirby. The box art for many of his games since Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land note  have had angry eyebrows added to the main character to make the pink puffball seem more aggressive. This strange practice is joked on originally in this YTMND and subsequently in this Brawl in the Family strip. It seemed to have calmed for a brief time with Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Kirby Super Star Ultra, and Kirby's Epic Yarn, whose box arts have Kirby actually looking happy for a change, but crept up back again with Kirby Mass Attack and Kirby's Return to Dream Land. Ever since Kirby's Dream Collection, the box art has been consistently the same across all regions, apparently alternating between cheery Kirby and ferocious Kirby.
  • In Europe, it depends if the localization team wants to use the Japanese or American version as a basis. It seems that Europeans are expected to be able to stand happy Kirby.
  • Earlier in the series, this applied to advertisements rather than box art. A Kirby's Dream Land 2 commercial aired in the US turned Kirby, Rick, Kine, and Coo into scowling tough guys (or, you know, as tough as an 8-inch high puffball and his similarly-sized friends can be) roughhousing some Hell's Angels, ending with a menacing voiceover by Tony Jay. Also compare the commercials for Kirby's Dream Land and Kirby's Adventure, to say nothing of the magazine ad for Kirby's Avalanche and Kirby's Dream Course. "He used to be such a good boy." The commercial for those games also established Kirby as a criminal.
  • Kirby's Avalanche shows Kirby as a Jerkass who acts sarcastic and mean to his friends, saying things like "Oh, I'm so scared" and the like. The game was an installment of the ineffably cute Puyo Puyo series rebranded for an American audience, giving Kirby a personality more similar to Puyo's protagonist, Arle. Ironically, the cover of the game is a rather cute image of a cheery looking Kirby and Dedede.
  • It also showed up in Kirby Super Star, albeit not so much the box art as the in-game dialogue, and not so much Kirby as Meta Knight. In Revenge of Meta Knight, what used to be an Anti-Hero with uncertain motives, as usual, was given several rewritten lines of dialogue to make him sound less like he was trying to do a good thing for Dream Land and more like he was trying to be the next Hitler. He even got "Prepare to Die!" as a line, replacing the fairly innocent "Now we duel!", explicitly ignoring Nintendo's policy at the time. It's something of an Out-of-Character Moment compared to later games, and yet the changes were largely kept when the script was retranslated for Super Star Ultra (besides "Prepare to die!", which became "Come meet your doom!"; ironic, since Nintendo's content policies had become looser by the Nintendo DS era).
  • Kirby's Block Ball plays this straight with the international version's intro and title screen, but inverts it with the advertising; it's the Japanese commercial that has Kirby tearing down buildings. The American commercial has an adorable animated Kirby that strangely has teeth.
  • While Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards averted it on the cover, the marketing of the game actually parodied it with an ad depicting Kirby as "the face of terror". A commercial for said game had a similar theme.
  • Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble, released just before the trend really came into full force, has a downplayed variation; both use similar official art of Kirby, with the Japanese version having a cute smiling Kirby and the American version having a more confused, upside-down one. However, the American boxart arguably conveys the theme of the game better than the Japanese artwork by actually showing a Kirby that had been tumbled.
  • Nintendo Power lampshaded this phenomenon in the May 2011 issue's highlight on Kirby, saying he puts on his "angry eyes" for the boxart. As did IGN, when they launched a new feature comparing different box arts. Kirby went first specifically thanks to the series' use of the trope.
  • Even the title of 2011's DS game seems to carry on in this tradition; known as Gather! Kirby in Japanese, its English title is Kirby Mass Attack. Zig-zagged in that half of the Kirbys are angry, the other half are doing other expressions.
  • Kirby's Return to Dream Land swings the pendulum back around and gives him angry eyes again. Contrast box art.
  • As mentioned above, later games use the same box art across all regions, so it actually hasn't been played straight in a while:
  • All games in the Super Smash Bros. series completely avert this. Most of the time, Kirby is the only one who isn't determined to beat some fool down.
  • In the Kirby of the Stars anime or in English, Kirby: Right Back at Ya!:
    • The original Japanese theme song is a children's march set to the main characters in a parade, though it does feature some shots of angry Kirby getting into fights, it's still very much a children's song. The second one is similar, being a cheery pop song prominently featuring Kirby's smiling face. On the other hand, the English opening is a big band song with a bombastic beat that focuses on the monster battles. Even the title is clearly aimed at an older audience.
    • The memetic "Handsome Dedede" scene also changes context between original and dub. The original text has him and Escargoon endlessly complimenting each other ("His Majesty looks so cool!" "You are just beautiful!"), as if he was a dashing Bishōnen. While the English dub does have this exchange, it was moved to earlier in the scene and the "Handsome Dedede" sequence instead makes him out to be a heroic champion ("Have you seen Kirby today, Majesty?" "He don't scare me none!").
  • Series director Shinya Kumazaki explains the phenomenon.
    Kumazaki: "What we have heard is that strong, tough Kirby that's really battling hard is a more appealing sign of Kirby, so that's what we feature in the U.S."
  • On the (unofficial) extreme end of the scale, there are There Will Be Brawl's and Sonic for Hire's versions of Kirby... And it's Up to Eleven in the parodies by Davuu Wart: Spanish Kirby is a Motherfucker, with huge eyebrows and an aggressive personality to fit.

    Action-Adventure Games 

    Action Games 
  • There is a variant cover for Gunstar Heroes that is pretty much the same as the original release (right down to the poses), only all the characters are more realistically drawn, rather than the same style as the game itself.
  • Game Freak's action puzzle game Quinty was released in America as Mendel Palace and... well, just look.
  • The cover artwork of Demon Sword (the U.S. version of Fudō Myō-ō Den, a Famicom spinoff to Legend of Kage) depicts the protagonist as a long-haired Barbarian Hero instead of the Japanese swordsman actually featured in the game.
  • Mass Destruction is a game where you drive a tank and blow things up. The Japanese cover depicts a tree in a park. Compare the original American cover with the Japanese release.
  • The Japanese box cover art for Jack Bros. for Virtual Boy shows cutesy little Jack Bros. and fairies in a maze. The U.S. box cover art, on the other hand... is kinda scarier and just... plain... freaky.
  • Brain Dead 13's original box cover art shows Fritz unloading a wide range of weapons under his trenchcoat, just like in all other console versions. When the game became localized for Japanese releases in October 1996, it is averted when the box art for the PlayStation version remains the same as in the American release, but inverted when the Japanese Sega Saturn version box art is very different, in that it adds Idiot Hero Lance Galahad right next to Fritz, who looks ready to slice him with a chainsaw while our hero is struggling to stay alive, indicating that Japanese Fritz is hardcore!
  • As a Japanese game in the early '90s, Time Gal had to have this happen to it. While the Japanese cover depicts the titular character more or less how she appears in the game, the European/American cover... well, doesn't. The EU/NA cover is also a lot more comic book-y in art style than the Japanese cover's Animesque art style.
  • Inverted with Asura's Wrath, surprisingly. True, the American cover has Asura trying to smash your face in, but the Japanese version has six-armed Vajra Asura screaming in rage at you with his arms raised instead.
  • Robot Alchemic Drive features a giant robot curb-stomping another giant robot on it's North American cover. The Japanese cover (used for the NA manual as well) simply features the protagonists and one of the robots against a blue sky.
  • The Japanese box art for Bayonetta is merely a shot of her from the back, holding one of her guns. The American box art, on the other hand, shows her in a badass fighting pose. This even occurred for the advertising. Japanese advertising showed a hot Asian woman cosplaying as Bayonetta, combined with gameplay footage, all of which was set to the happy and cutesy-sounding "Something Missing" by MiChi. The American commercials showed gameplay footage accompanied by "In For the Kill" by La Roux. Then, the European advertising (which was just a magazine ad) is just a close-up of her leg, with a caption reading, "Being bad never felt so good". In 2017, the trailer for the PC version tries very hard to make it seem like a gritty badass game, complete with Inception blaster beam musical hits.
  • The Japanese box art for Lollipop Chainsaw depicts Juliet and Nick laying down on a bed, with lollipops scattered all around them. The American/European box art depicts Juliet standing in front of a dark background, holding a lollipop in one hand and her chainsaw in the other hand, and looking all badass, while a zombie can be faintly seen coming out of a locker in the background. This also extends to the logo on the title screen: the International logo has a skull over a bloody chainsaw and a Gothic-inspired font, while the Japanese logo has a rainbow title and a skill-and-crossbones symbol with lollipops as crossbones.
  • Metal Slug Anthology for the PSP is quite a weird aversion of this trope. The Japanese cover and Korean cover are indeed more character driven than both the American cover and the European cover, but it is still not the cutest version. That one was the cover that was released in the rest of Asia.

    Adventure Games 
  • Heavy Rain's European and American box art. The European version simply shows the origami bird figure, while the American box art shows the main cast standing behind the origami bird, with Madison Paige standing in the foreground (wearing a revealing tank top that she wore in only one part of the game) and Scott Shelby wielding a pistol. The Japanese box art was simply an ominous sighting of a seemingly drowned man. The Japanese version isn't as mysterious as the European version, but it is significantly more solemn than the American one and more effectively conveys the seriousness of the game's subject matter than it.
  • Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders: In America, Zak and Annie are Atop a Mountain of Corpses in some ancient ruins, smiling. In Japan, Zak is scowling while holding a gemstone in his hand dramatically; Annie is clinging to Zak, scared; Melissa is investigating a broomstick; Leslie is staring into the distance; and there's a baddie knocked out.

    Beat 'em Ups 
  • River City Ransom is a textbook example. Contrast the Japanese box art, in which everyone looks more or less like they do in the actual game, with the American box art. Of course, even in the Japanese version, the heroes of that game, as well as every other game in the Kunio-kun series, are indisputably hardcore. For the Japanese, "cute" and "hardcore" are not mutually exclusive.
  • The American cover of Robo Army is, ahem, more "hardcore" than the Japanese original.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
    • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. The Japanese version used stock promotional art from the '80s cartoon. The American version? As per Konami of America's standards at the time, incredibly hardcore and more like the original comic. (See also: Sunset Riders, most of the Contra games, and Castlevania III and IV.)
    • The American (at least) boxart for the NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles platformer also follows this trope, giving all four turtles red masks a la the comic book series. This is because the American and European box art is actually lifted directly from the cover of TMNT #4 (2nd printing), which can be seen in its full version here. The original cover features the Turtles fighting the alien Utroms on top of a teleporter and has nothing to do with the plot of the game.
    • While the Game Boy game Radical Rescue seems to play this trope to the hilt, with the Japanese box art featuring the Turtles as they appear in the '80s cartoon and the international box art depicting a realistically-designed Leonardo bursting through a wall in an action pose, it's actually the international artwork that's more accurate to the actual game, which uses an art style inspired by the Mirage comics of the time.
    • Inverted with The Hyperstone Heist, where in the Japanese cover, the Turtles are on a tussle with the Foot clan, while in the american cover, The Turtles (who are still looking realistic) are only looking at the shrunken New York City. The European cover is only the Japanese cover of Turtles in Time.
  • The American cover art of Guardian Heroes replaced the original anime-style depictions of the six main characters with a fantasy novel-like illustration of Han fighting against the Undead Knight, even though he was one of the heroes in the game. The European version used the original Japanese art, but replaced the two heroines, Serena and Nicole, with Zur the magician and Macho the bodybuilder, who aren't even main characters, turning the European cover into a complete sausage fest for no reason (see for yourself).
  • In God Hand, the Japanese box art is quite simple; a flaming fist striking down from the top left over a white background. The European version is slightly more hardcore, featuring a fist punching a guy in the face. The American cover is the same, except the fist is punching the guy THROUGH the face.
  • The Rushing Beat, Rushing Beat Ran and Rushing Beat Shura Japanese covers present a hardcore anime style, while the US localizations, Rival Turf!, Brawl Brothers, and The Peace Keepers attempt to be Totally Radical.
  • For all the censorship done to the North American version of Streets of Rage 3, it does feature an odd moment of this in its "time out the Final Boss" bad ending. In the Japanese version, all that's mentioned is that a war was prevented and that the nuke "left terrible scars in its wake". In the North American version, it's only convention bombs that damage the city, yet the game emphasizes that a lot of people died, that the city will take a very long time to get repaired, and that the citizens' trust in the heroes has been severed as a result of the latter's failure.

    Driving Games 
  • The Shutokou Battle series zig-zags this trope as a whole, but it depends on individual games.
    • Compare Japanese, American and European boxarts of PS Shutokou Battle. The European one is the most hardcore, as the American one is drawn in a silly caricature style, while the Japanese one features a photo of a vehicle wheel rim.
    • Compare Japanese boxart and the North American boxart of Zero, which is a minimal inversion. Note the North American boxart has copied the older Dreamcast TXR2 game, although the white NSX's front fascia was redrawn from the original to avoid legal issues with Honda. Oddly, Zero's game disc retained the authentic NSX front fascia as in TXR2.
    • The first Kaido Battle game, Nikko, Haruna, Rokko, Hakone, has Japanese boxart featuring the generic Scenery Porn background, while the North American TXR Drift features racing scenes instead.
    • The Japanese cover of Shutokou Battle 01 inverts this by featuring a car doing burnout, while North American TXR3 boxart features two cars in front of flashy neon city backgrounds.
    • The second Kaido Battle, Chain Reaction, aka Kaido Racer, played straight a bit. Both feature generic backgrounds, though European boxart looks more aggressive compared to Japanese one.
    • The third Kaido Battle, KAIDO: Touge no Densetsu (aka Kaido Racer 2 and Tokyo Xtreme Racer: Drift 2), zig-zags this again. Both the Japanese and North American boxarts feature cars perform drifting, while European boxart features generic background again.
    • The final game in the series, Import Tuner Challenge, inverts this again. The Japanese boxart looks more aggressive compared to the overseas boxart.
  • The Ridge Racer series routinely averts this trope, but there are several instances in which the trope is in play:

    Fighting Games 
  • Compared to whatever North Americans got, the box art of the European BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger seems to suggest a Noel Third-Person Shooter spin-off rather than a Fighting Game, among things. The fact that the iconic title is merely featured as a background element with more emphasis put on a title written in a generic font doesn't help.
  • Guilty Gear Isuka had 2 different covers for all their installments which got ported over the Pacific, most notably the Isuka installment: The Japanese version has a visibly flushed A.B.A between Ky Kiske (behind) and Sol Badguy (front), who are meanwhile completely ignoring her as they are engaged in a staring contest with each other (homoerotically charged full of Foe Romance Subtext). The American version on the other hand, was a rather generic image of Sol wielding his Fireseal sword in the style of a bazooka with the hilt pointed at you.
  • Pit's (from Kid Icarus) English voice in Super Smash Bros. Brawl sounds noticeably older then his original Japanese voice. Video comparison. As for the actual cover art for the game, Kirby's facial expression was left alone in the U.S. version (contrary to the name of the trope) — the bright, partly cloudy blue skies were removed, on the other hand.
  • Exaggerated with the Sega CD game Revengers of Vengeance. The Japanese version is merely called "Battle Fantasy" and has a serene picture of a warrior elf on the cover. The American version, well, looks like the poster of a cheesy, gimmicky B-movie. See for yourself.
  • Power Quest, an obscure RPG-fighting game hybrid for the Game Boy, zig-zags this. On the one hand, the Japanese box art features two of the game's characters fighting each other, while the western box art doesn't. On the other hand, the western box art features the game's playable cast standing around looking badass. Furthermore, the Japanese version's robot designs are cartoony, while the western version looked more humanoid.

    First-Person Shooter 

  • The Japanese Super Famicom and European Super Nintendo Entertainment System had bright and colorful promotion, with a four-color logo derived from the four colors of the buttons on the controller. However, Nintendo of America, dogged by Sega's aggressive advertising that tried to paint Nintendo as "kiddie", decided to eliminate the colors from both the hardware design and the logo, changing the colors of the buttons to two tones of purple, and making the logo suitably monochrome.
  • In general, if it's not Nintendo since the Nintendo Gamecube and Gameboy Advance era, Japan is more likely to see consoles released in a variety of bright colors, while Europe and especially America typically get more muted colors, if they get any color variations at all.

    Maze Games 
  • The Japanese cover of Bomberman '94 just shows Bomberman riding a Louie. The European cover of Mega Bomberman adds a bunch of bombs and explosions to the same image. The American cover shows only Kamikaze Bomber (a member of the Bomber Family, sporting a Mohawk and wearing shades) making a V-Sign, though for once this wasn't something the American box artists thought up just to make a Japanese game look cool.

    Pinball Games 
  • Revenge of the Gator for the Game Boy. In Japan, the 'gators in the cover are happy and smiling, and look a bit cartoony. The ones in the Western releases are gruffy, serious and drawn more realistically. Coincidentally, it's made by HAL Laboratory, like Kirby.

    Platform Games 
  • Asterix and the Great Rescue: The boxart for European countries shows Asterix and Obelix walking with Dogmatix and Panoramix watching them in the village, while the American box art shows the duo beating up Romans in an arena.
  • Avenging Spirit is a Gameboy platformer where you take the role of a cartoony looking ghost possessing various characters throughout its levels in order to rescue the daughter of the man that summoned you. Japanese box art. The US boxart however makes it look like you're in for a hardcore Mafia themed revenge story.
  • Ristar originally only had angry eyebrows for boss fights; in the American version, they're present all the time. The enemies, too, look mean instead of neutral in the American release. Ristar's European/American release contains a downright inversion. While the Japanese version closed with a fairly cool scene of the villain, Greedy, and his henchmen picking themselves up on some barren world after their defeat, the English versions close with 'DAD!' and an image of Ristar throwing himself into the arms of his rescued father.
  • Blinx. Japanese Blinx looks like a sweet little anthro kitty cat; American Blinx looks downright mean. To the point where he looks like he's about to rip you limb from limb when he's trying to look helpful and friendly.
  • Inverted with the Super Mario Bros. 2 box art. In Japan, known as Super Mario USA, Mario and Luigi are scowling and engaged in some act of violence, Peach is shocked and only Toad is smiling. America gets a picture of Mario clutching a vegetable, with a big old smile on his face. The reason for this is that Super Mario Bros. 2 is based on Doki Doki Panic, and they share a boxart theme.
  • Also inverted with Super Mario Bros. 3: In Japan there's Raccoon Mario flying with a smile on his face, plus various enemies chasing Luigi, Peach and Toad, while Bowser stands behind the whole thing with an evil look on his face. The American version has a yellow cover with the title and Mario.
  • The Japanese commercial for Super Princess Peach is a short and sweet montage that shows Princess Peach's emotion-based powers to a catchy song. The American one shows a group of princess soldiers going through boot camp while heavy military fanfare plays in the background, and the emotions are instead touted as being "elements" that must be mastered. Of course, the only one they actually show is the one that involves anger and fire. This game's western-region boxart is a mild example, in which the only part that differs from the Japanese cover (aside from the logo, and Peach's face taking up three-fourths of the box for some reason) is what's in the bubbles surrounding Peach. America and Europe gets a bubble featuring Mario all tied up, staring angrily at the Hammer Bro. leader, while Japan gets four bubbles featuring each of Peach's emotion-based abilities.
  • Super Mario Land 2: Compare the bright and colorful map from the Japanese manual, to the darker and grittier-looking black and red map from the English manual.
  • Klonoa has a history of this.
    • While the games never got much advertising at all in the US, one of the few known American ads for the first game is oddly suggestive, with a man impressing a woman by telling her he has "Klonoa" (presumably referring to the game.) The game itself is totally kid-friendly, so this was definitely an attempt at appealing to adults.
    • Namco briefly considered giving the title character a rather drastic makeover for the U.S. release of the Wii remake of his first game. While not exactly "hard", the new look was significantly less cute, looking like a generic anthropomorphic cat, or like a wingless bat. Most bizarrely, however, they gave him "normal" anthro cat ears, despite Klonoa's droopy, almost hand-like ears having an actual gameplay role. And they took away his Pac-Man cap. Fortunately, the game was released with Klonoa's original look intact- surprisingly enough, because the U.S. fanbase demanded he remain cute.
    • While Klonoa's appearance in the Wii game remained cutesy, the English dub still changed his voice. In Japan, Kumiko Watanabe always gave Klonoa a childish, high-pitched voice, which is fitting because he's a Kid Hero. But the Wii game was the first to have the characters speak English, and the voice actor chosen for Klonoa, Eric Stitt, was given very little information about the character. Because Stitt didn't know that Klonoa was supposed to be a child, he wound up giving Klonoa a deeper, teenaged-sounding, Sonic the Hedgehog-esque voice.
    • The Japanese box art for Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil had Klonoa smiling and relaxed, while the US version had him scowling in a tensed-up Ass-Kicking Pose.
  • For an example of becoming cuter in Japan, look no further than Ratchet & Clank.
    • He isn't known as "Groucho" Ratchet for nothing. The Big Ol' Eyebrows in his Japanese incarnation supposedly came about because initial market research showed the Japanese kids loved 'em.
    • The first game had American cover intact when localized for Japan. From Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando on, however, the American cover has remained stereotypically tough, while the Japanese version has gotten absurdly happy.
    • Ratchet could in fact be seen as an inversion of this trope: his depiction on Japanese covers often have him and Clank much more in character, while the American and European covers would make him appear rather angry. This is especially true of Clank, who appears rather devious in art for the original game when his character was anything but.
  • Crash Bandicoot is another American game where the main character was "cutened" up for the Japanese release. He even got a funky dance created by the Japanese that was carried back into the American versions. Some have speculated that this design change combined with Radical Entertainment's major character redesigns that would make such things look awkward is what made Radical's Crash games a no-go for the Japanese.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man (Classic):
    • Mega Man X:
    • In Mega Man ZX Advent, the Mega Man cover noted above is actually poked fun at. One of the missions in the game involves getting a data disk for a kid who wants one that has something with "a hero" on it. In the end of this "talk to the people who SHOULD have one" quest, you find out that the said kid has the only data disk with anything close to "a hero" on it, which is the American box art of the original Mega Man. The kid openly calls it weird, and not very heroic at all. You then get the disk yourself, and the in-game description says that the character depicted on it "resembles a colorful coal miner instead of a hero." If that wasn't enough, "Bad Box Art Mega Man" is so (in)famous that this was the version Capcom chose to cameo in Street Fighter X Tekken.
  • An old NES game, Power Blade (originally Power Blazer in Japan) is an interesting early example. The player character in Power Blazer is a short little Super-Deformed guy with a helmet on. In Power Blade, he's a much more realistically-proportioned Action Genre Hero Guy who bears an uncanny resemblance to Arnold Schwarzenegger on the game's cover. Read the article about it here.
  • Alisia Dragoon features a pretty cover in Japan, while the Western boxart is... well, cool-looking but rather contemptible.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • Tempo was a game about an adorable cartoon cricket that makes music. The US box art tried to make the main character look like a photo-realistic mutant cricket man in the vein of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, rippling with muscles and using kung fu.
  • Rocket Knight Adventures, released by Konami for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. Similar to the Kirby examples, the American box art gives Sparkster a look of grim determination, in contrast to the smiling Funny Animal knight the other regions got. It's interesting that the front artwork is almost identical on all other aspects, and that the EU version used the Japanese and not the American art.
    • This change is in fact a rare example that became the definitive characterization, as even the Japanese promotional artwork (and even the in game sprite art) for the sequel Sparkster depicts the title character with a serious scowl (even if his original wackier demeanor blatantly reappears from time to time in game).
    • Then came the PSN/XBLA reboot, developed in the UK. In this one, Sparkster fights wolves instead of pigs, in order to make him feel more badass.
  • The American version of Castlevania: Bloodlines redrew Eric Lecarde's face to look manlier and less pretty boy-like (see for yourself). The European version, Castlevania: The New Generation, reverted Eric back to his original design, reusing the artwork of the Japanese box. The weirdest part of all this? Eric's American redesign was made canon! Look at the supplemental artwork for Portrait Of Ruin.
    • Strangely inverted in Lament of Innocence's cover. The US cover shows Leon Belmont looking upward, probably in prayer, while the Japanese and European covers show him in an action pose (And note how the European cover's done in CG, while the other two retain Ayami Kojima's famed artwork)
  • Comparing Panic Restaurant's box art Japan, Europe and United States pretty much defines this trope, too. The in-game graphics were also altered in a comparatively minor way. The Japanese version of the game had a cute young brown-haired chef in the title role. For the international release, he was switched out for a different, older, white-haired character resembling Chef Boyardee.
  • We all know Donkey Kong, right? Well, we bet you've never seen him like this. The Colecovision cover on the other hand was looking fairly decent.
  • The NES version of A Boy and His Blob and its Game Boy sequel had a small overhaul with the Boy's design, title screen and box art in Japan to make it look cuter.
  • Chameleon Twist was a charming, adorable game starring Davy, a chameleon transformed into a bubble-headed long-tongued chibi alien, and his friends. Its boxart is an interesting variation on this trope: (The American boxart shows Davy gobbling up foes with a cheery grin, while the PAL version shows him gobbling up foes with a look of death in his eyes. Chameleon Twist 2, of course, played this trope straight for America and Europe— while Japanese buyers got the same adorable bubble-headed aliens as before, the American and European versions swapped the colors of Davy and his friend Jack (the localizers might have thought green was a better "default color" for a lizard) and turned all four characters into grotesque anthropomorphized lizards with semi-realistic heads. Also compare the US and EU boxart to see yet another cheerful-wrathful dichotomy.
  • The box art for Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 seems to be a deliberate aversion of this trope, as the image of Spencer (with goofy smile and Porn Stache looking like he's about to give the viewer a hug) on the game's front cover can only be described as jarringly happy-go-lucky. Especially funny (until you beat the game) when you compare it to the cover art to the 2009 game which Rearmed 2 is a direct prequel to, which featured a goth-ified Spencer smouldering with generic rage.
  • The Japanese version of Cave Story 3D's artwork is a lot less "hardcore" and more cutsey than the North American version. (Unusually for this trope, the North American version came first, and is far more accurate to the content of the game).
  • The Japanese and European cover art of Captain Silver for the Sega Master System shows rather cartoon-like renditions of the game's protagonist and a few of the villains fighting on a pirate ship. The American cover art shows a similar scene, only the protagonist is drawn more realistically and he's fighting the final boss (the titular Captain Silver) one-on-one.
  • Not even Disney games were immune to this:
  • In some of the Bonk games, Bonk's second powerup form was changed. In the Japanese version he showed his love of meat by turning into a doe-eyed version of himself who attacked with hearts. In the U.S. version he was changed into a scowling form with a scar (recycled from the first two games) rather similar to the page image. Though his third form was hardcore in both versions.
  • Data East USA gave Kaiketsu Yanchamaru a Totally Radical makeover, turning it into Kid Niki Radical Ninja. Kid Niki was given spiky hair in-game, and the NES version got a totally hardcore cover (by contrast, the Famicom cover is downright cartoonish).
  • An example that seemingly has nothing to do with America: Namco's Legend of Valkyrie series is rarely seen outside of Japan, but one of the side games, Sandra's Great Adventure, was released in Europe under the name Whirlo. As part of the localization, the main character's in-game sprite was changed to give him angry eyes.
  • Kabuki Quantum Fighter is an odd example: while the American cover is indeed a bit darker than the Japanese one, it's the Japanese version of the game that has more realistic-looking character portraits, perhaps because it was released in Japan as a Distant Sequel to the Jidaigeki film Zipang.
  • A rare case of European hardcore is M.C. Kids (Wikipedia article), whose European box art turned the kids into cool teens.
  • The arcade platformer Athena. On the Japanese cover, Athena is a cute anime chick with a sword wearing just a bikini. On the American cover, she was turned into a She-Hulk-esque (and possibly elven) muscular woman with a sword. Wearing just a bikini. This depiction of Athena was apparently traced off bodybuilder Lisa Lyon by notable 80s cover artist Bob Wakelin. Artistic liberties aside, the cover does rather accurately portray the setting (inspired by Greek myths); the evil tree and minotaur shown doing battle with Athena are, in fact, actual enemies encountered in-game.
  • Likewise, the loose sequel/Spiritual Successor Psycho Soldier is about a cute Japanese schoolgirl with psychic powers, which the original cover accurately reflects. The cover art for the American and European releases is a different story... Interestingly, this cover was also drawn by Bob Wakelin, with Athena's pose once again traced from a reference photo of Lisa Lyon. To quote Hardcore Gaming 101: "By now that should probably make her the definitive Western Athena..." A possible example of Author Appeal, perhaps?
  • Inverted with Astyanax. The muscle dude brandishing a torch and shield in the Japanese cover for the Famicom version was replaced on the American NES cover with a pretty boy warrior, albeit trying to stab a dragon. On that note, one of Nintendo Power's in-house artists did a much better job on making an accurate illustration based on the game while still producing a quality piece.
  • Both U.S. localizations of Valis III got rather creepy-looking covers instead of the original Japanese art. The TurboGrafx-CD cover had a frowning, too old-looking model posing as Yuko in front of a generic spooky landscape. The Sega Genesis cover instead drew a ridiculously punk-looking Yuko on the cover trying to stab you.
  • The North American NES version of The New Zealand Story, retitled Kiwi Kraze: A Bird-Brained Adventure, had a creature on the cover looking more like a real bird than the Waddling Head seen in the game, with a bear wearing Cool Shades aiming an arrow straight at it.
  • Keith Courage in Alpha Zones: Keith Courage on the American cover looks much manlier than Wataru on the Japanese cover. At least both are wearing the same costume.
  • European example: The European box art for Kao the Kangaroo Round 2 shows Kao jumping along, raising his boxing glove high in the air while avoiding a fish. For the U.S. release, however, the game developers made him into a scary-looking kangaroo wearing an army hat and a dog tag on his neck and aiming a bullet cannon with giant monster bullets flying around, as if to show his foes that Kao means business!
  • The Super Cassette Vision version of Miner 2049er, while released in Japan with the U.S. cover art, redrew Bounty Bob's sprite as a cuter-looking blue-haired kid.
  • The Nintendo DS game Mister Slime has the protagonist look cute on the Australian and European box art, but the American box art gives Slimey an angry face.
  • The Japanese box art for Rayman Legends involves Rayman and co. in their usual happy-go-lucky stance a la Origins, bar monster fighting. Compare with the original box art (used in both North America and Europe, the series itself being French), with Rayman ready to punch a monster directly in the mouth, with the help of Murfy.
  • For the American version of Jerry Boy, retitled SmartBall, the cutesy blob still featured in-game was retooled for the cover art and the title screen by popping his eyes out and giving him a mile-wide grin, trying a bit too hard to pass him as "one of the most devilish creatures you'll ever meet." The American cover art also includes a freaky-looking bird and inexplicable flaming meteors raining down on a cityscape.
  • Inverted for Shantae and the Pirate's Curse. While American promo art features Shantae (and the other female characters) smiling rather cutely, the Japanese 3DS cover art features Shantae with a much more serious and angry expression. Risky Boots and Rottytops are still smiling, though while Rottytops retains her cuteness, Risky is posing with her gun.
  • Apparently, Hanafram misunderstood this trope while localizing Snow Bros. 2 for North America and Europe (the game has the data for all regions built into the same ROM). While the game's character select screen contains cutesy characters with the country switch set to Asia, Korea or Japan, when the switch is set to U.S. or Europe, the cutesy characters are replaced with horribly deformed photoshopped images of babies.
  • Spyro the Dragon:
  • The box art for Super Ghouls n' Ghosts greatly differs between the Japanese version and the localized one. The Japanese boxart shows running with the game's enemies and bosses glaring down at him from the background with the art design looking, while a bit scary, pretty cartoony. The localized boxart shows Arthur in a full suit of armor with a slick looking cape and has his sword and shield ready while the undead are shown off in the background. The art style in the localized boxart is drawn in a more realistic tone with a darker color palette.
  • Inverted with the cover of the SNES port of Prince of Persia. The Japanese cover portrays the sword-wielding protagonist with the scared princess and villains behind on a darkly-colored background of the castle while North America gets a brightly-colored patterned cover with the leaping protagonist and logo.
  • Magical Doropie underwent this treatment in its localization as The Krion Conquest, with the cover's depiction of Doropie/Francesca resembling a busty brunette version of Glinda from The Wizard of Oz rather than the in-game Cute Witch.
  • The American and European covers of Lilo & Stitch 2: Hämsterviel Havoc show a slightly vicious Stitch in his Experiment 626 form and spacesuit (which he doesn't wear in the game) firing three plasma blasters towards something off-screen with Richter (X-513) and Spooky (X-300, who does not appear in the game) in the shadowy background, with a crosshair around the 2 on the American cover. The Japanese cover shows a more neutral "dog form" Stitch just pointing a plasma blaster at the viewer with five of the game's experimentsnote  scattered across the light floral pattern background, with stylized flowers and palm fronds around the logo.

    Puzzle Games 
  • Puzzle Bobble / Bust-a-Move series:
    • The Super Bust-A-Move (PS2) cover shows a baby blowing blood-red bubbles.
    • The Sega Saturn boxart of Bust-A-Move 2 decided to treat us to the creepy image of a disembodied head of a bald guy trapped in a bubble, with matchsticks shoved into his eyelids. Both things have absolutely nothing to do with the theme of the game (cutesy dragons solving puzzles).
    • This happened with a good few covers in the series until later games, which omitted the cute little dinosaur/dragon mascots in favor of dynamically angled shots of detonating bubbles in a space age style background.
    • Bust-a-Move Again, a North American arcade version of Puzzle Bobble 2, replaced the cute bubble dragons with sentient hands.
  • Baku Baku Animal is a falling blocks puzzler game starring cutesy animals. Nothing could possibly makes it looks hardcore but that didn't stop whoever did the American cover from trying.
  • This happened to the rather obscure NES puzzle game Palamedes. The game is basically a Match-Three Game with dice. The music is cheery, the graphics are cutesy; all player sprites are tiny, sugary little SD characters. There's absolutely nothing weird or bizarre or Gonk in this game. That is, except for this.
  • Godzilla for the Game Boy came out in the U.S. with this cover, showing Godzilla like he looks in the movies and, with the intro screens, misleading people into expecting it to be a thrilling action game. Actually, the game, known as Gojira-kun in Japan, is a Puzzle Platformer with cutesy Super-Deformed kaiju, looking more like the picture on the Japanese cartridge. The Angry Video Game Nerd lampshaded this during his review of this and other Godzilla games.
  • Puzzle Boy was the first game published by Atlus in Japan, where it had a perfectly sensible cover. Acclaim released it internationally as Kwirk, and slapped something frighteningly Totally Radical on the cover instead. Averted with the sequel, released in the U.S. by Atlus as Amazing Tater.
  • Not exactly "hardcore", but Professor Layton and the Curious Village suffered a case of "European Layton is Noir". While the Japanese and American covers of the game call attention to both the puzzle-solving aspect of it and its colorful characters, the European cover is completely dedicated to puzzle-solving and mystery, with the characters pretty much completely absent. This was allegedly a decision by Nintendo of Europe, who believed that emphasizing those aspects of the game would boost sales. Later covers still follow a similar "model", but are just edited versions of the original covers instead of radical redesigns.
  • Interestingly, while most of Yoshi's dialogue in Tetris Attack is a fairly straight translation of Lip's dialogue in Panel de Pon, his attitude in one area of the game was changed. Yoshi gets impatient and yells at you if you stick around for too long at the "Congratulations!" screen you get at the end of Easy mode, while Lip is friendly and polite the entire time. Even more extreme is Nintendo of America's original plan for the series—they wanted to turn it into a Killer Instinct spinoff!
  • A less severe example from the NES release of Dr. Mario. Mario himself looks fine, but the viruses are drawn much more grotesquely than their in-game sprites. (The Japanese box art, for comparison.)
  • The Japanese Super Famicom puzzle game Keeper featured Cartoon Creatures in a fantasy world. The unreleased American version CyberSlider would have had them replaced by robots in a factory.
  • Inverted by the Game Boy version of Adventures of Lolo. The European box art shows a smiling Lolo, Lala, and Lulu leaping into the air, but in the Japanese box art, Lolo has angry eyebrows and a scowl on his face.
  • Puyo Puyo:
    • The English translation of the Puyo Puyo arcade game has a bit of this (of course, it was the early '90s...). Arle/Silvana has a noticeably more aggressive and occasionally snarky attitude in the English translation, often making Badass Boasts along the lines of "I fear no one!" Although not all comedy was removed from the game's story mode, the final confrontation with Satan/the Dark Prince is played entirely seriously, removing the comedic bit where Arle gets his name wrong.
    • Puyo Pop on the GBA changed several pieces of dialogue when it was localized, mainly to emphasis Arle's Deadpan Snarker characteristics. This is especially noticeable when you compare it to the hidden English translation in the Japanese version.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Pikmin has two covers. The Japanese image contains Pikmin just hanging out on a branch. The North-American and European cover image contains a battle. The same thing happened with Pikmin 2, though Canada and Europe had a different, also peaceful cover. (unless you count the Bulborb looming behind them). Pikmin 3 averts it and has the same peaceful nature-themed box art in all regions.
  • The Settlers European cover shows a cartoonish RTS city builder while the American Cover shows a rather stern looking lord in managing his kingdom/army Comparisons here. Upon further inspection, the American cover of the settler usually just features the armor clad knight on the cover while the other shows the other professions being as prominent. The subsequent one features a slightly more colorful box art seen here
  • The PSP version of Lemmings exhibits this trope. The Japanese box art depicts a bunch of happy Lemmings in a happy, bright environment. The European box art shows a crowd of Lemmings smiling at you. The American box art depicts a more active scene, and has a slightly duller color scheme compared to the other boxes.

  • The Nintendo DS version of Shiren the Wanderer. The original Japanese cover art (by former Capcom illustrator Akiman) is very nice, the Western one, well... Shiren looks like he's going to slit your throat or something. And what they did to poor Koppa and Oryu is just wrong.
  • Azure Dreams for the PlayStation had 2 different covers: The Japanese version was cute and emphasized the dating-sim/harem-romance aspects of the game (featuring all the girls in the game you can eventually get, plus your kid sister and your sidekick), while the American version was scenic and emphasized the treasure-hunting/dungeon-crawling aspects of the game (the hero gazing at his hometown from a mountain cliff).
    • The European version's manual has the Japanese cover though.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Breath of Fire is a major example of this. Compare the Japanese box art with the American version, featuring Jim Lee-esque cover art in which Ryu became a Conan impersonator even though he is clearly depicted as a pretty-average built teenager in-game and Nina looked like a man.
  • Working Designs was known for averting this, always keeping the Japanese box art during a time when this trope was at its strongest. With one bizarre exception... Cosmic Fantasy 2. Compare the Japanese box art with the very much played straight North American box art.
  • On the Chrono Trigger packaging in Japan, there were images of all the playable characters in the game. In the US version, it had Frog, Crono, and Marle fighting Heckran, the scene captured while the party was using the Arc Impulse/Frost Arc Triple Tech. (The Nintendo DS Updated Re-release gave a Shout-Out to this artwork by allowing players to replicate this in the form of having battles with Heckran-like enemies on a snowy mountain in a bonus dungeon.)
  • Dragon Quest:
    • The early boxart differed greatly between regions. The boxart for Dragon Quest I shows the same scene in both Japan and America, but the Japanese version features Akira Toriyama's signature art style while the American version has a more generic and realistic art style.
    • The art style for the Game Boy Color remakes of Dragon Quest I, II, and III also differ. In Japan, both games feature cutesy artwork. In America, the box art for I & II has a bizarre, stiff-looking CGI look. The box art for III retains Toriyama's style, but features realistically proportioned characters with stern looking expressions.
    • Dragon Quest IX: In the Japanese box art, there's a group of four happy-go-lucky children in a market. The North American box art contains four older-looking warriors, three sporting Angry Eyebrows, ready for battle.
  • Guardian's Crusade. The Japanese box art is more colorful and rather whimsical in looks: showing Knight and Baby doing various activities you can do in the game, all the while looking dang adorable. The back cover is even more cuter. The American version is more generic in comparison. The game came out about a year and a half after Final Fantasy VII, during that dark period when American game companies thought that RPGs that weren't dark and existential wouldn't sell.
  • Pokémon:
    • When Pokémon Red and Blue were being localized for America, a significant portion of people at Nintendo thought that the characters were too cute to sell well, and tried to get all of the Pokémon redone for the states as muscle-bound humanoid Pro-Wrestling monsters. In other words, they wanted to turn Pikachu into Kinnikuman.
    • Compare the American box art for Pokémon Yellow to the Japanese box art for Pocket Monsters Pikachu. It is remarkably similar to the depiction of Kirby from Japan to America.
    • Some of the move names were made hardcore, though. "Tail Wag" was translated to the more badass sounding "Tail Whip" and "Cry" to "Growl", which confused many when in later generations those two moves were classified as "cute" moves and were described as endearing. "Smack Down" would sound more appropriate for a Fighting move than a Rock move (it's known in Japan as "Knock Down", as in knocking something down from above with a stone).
    • Despite being based on frogs, the localization team saw it fit to attach -saur at the end of the English names for the Bulbasaur family, presumably because— it being the 1990s, with the Jurassic Park fad in full force— American audiences were predisposed to think Everything's Better with Dinosaurs.
  • Inverted with Secret of Mana. The US commercial made Randi look even cuter.
  • The Last Remnant's Xbox 360 artwork depicted the young, typical Final Fantasy-style androgynous male protagonist. The PC version, marketed to Western gamers, had a picture of an older, more badass antagonist, and a more energetic color scheme.
  • Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner arguably benefited from this phenomenon. The original box art for the two games depicted Serph/Varna and Sera/Varnani in static poses more reminiscent of action figures in a blister pack; the U.S. versions depict the exact same characters, but in more active poses. (Assuming, of course, you reverse the cover insert for the second game; the display box art depicts the entire cast in a battle scene, arguably embracing this trope in its entirety.) Though it's not like the game needed to be made any more hardcore, seeing as how it has plenty of demonic cannibalization anyway.
  • Hardly uncommon in Tales localizations:
  • Resonance of Fate has peaceful box art with the three protagonists looking upon a tower in its original Japanese release End of Eternity. The US box art is shown to have them on various action poses with their guns to the viewer.
  • In Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon for the Wii, the English voices are closer to the age of the characters, around 14/15, while the Japanese voices make the characters sound younger. In addition, the box art, which was reversible in the American version, showed a vicious looking Seto holding a golf club on the American side, while the Japanese box art shows Seto and Ren holding hands over a watery background.
  • NieR is quite possibly the ultimate logical conclusion of this trope, to where it not only deals with cover art but the actual game. To explain: NieR is the name of two parallel-developed, Square Enix-published games, NieR Gestalt (Xbox 360) and NieR Replicant (PlayStation 3). In Gestalt, the eponymous protagonist is a hulking, white-haired middle-aged man searching for a cure to the Black Scrawl virus, which is ailing his daughter, Yonah. In Replicant, the eponymous protagonist is a young boy who is searching for a cure to the Black Scrawl virus, which is ailing his little sister, Yonah. In case you haven't caught on yet, this is literally the only difference between the two versions. The American branch of Square Enix actually paid to develop an entirely separate version of the game where the only difference is the design of the protagonist. The official reason behind the two versions is that they believed the game would not sell well in the west if the protagonist was young and pretty, rather than grizzled and muscle-bound. While Replicant was the original idea, in Japan both versions of the game are available, and overseas only Gestalt was released (entitled simply NIER). The even bigger shocker is that, ultimately, it seems as if this decision paid off; when polled, American fans almost always say they prefer "Gestalt Nier" to "Replicant Nier".
  • The Wild ARMs series usually either retains the original cover art or replaces it by something that, while different, keeps the tone. Exceptions can be found in the first title (J; U) and Wild ARMs 5 (J; U).
  • The indie/doujin game Protect Me Knight does this on their web page. The Japanese page depicts a bunch of cute characters in a more Puni Plush/Bishōnen style while the English page depicts something more muscular, epic, and violent. This may have been intentional Lampshade Hanging on the dev team's part.
  • Shadow Hearts: From the New World's Japanese cover is actually pretty happy, which actually matches the Lighter and Softer nature of the game when compared to its predecessors (it's also the only of the game's covers that goes for a hand-drawn illustration instead of CGI). The American cover chose instead to showcase a much more tragic/aggressive scene, complete with strong red background to emphasize edginess. The European cover is a middle ground — more hardcore than the Japanese cover, but quite less than the American one.
  • The original Japanese box art for Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana features Klein, Lita, and Popo sitting down near a crate and smiling. The western box art instead features Klein doing a dramatic pose with a serious expression in front of ruins, with a vision of Iris praying the background.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy III had an intricate design in the Japanese and European versions while in the US release, everything was removed except for the logo. Interestingly, this is a reversal of the usual trend for new entries. Typically, the Japanese and European cover art for any one main installment will consist almost entirely of the logo against a clean white background, while the American cover art will move the logo to a corner to focus on a rendering of one or more of the central cast.
    • Final Fantasy IV character art in an old edition of Nintendo Power. Compare Amano's original Cecil design with the Nintendo Power artwork. Strangely enough, the Nintendo Power artwork was drawn by a Japanese artist.
  • Final Fantasy XIII actually has a few subtle instances of this trope. The western localization team apparently felt the need to turn Lightning into more of a recluse or possibly just less sensitive than in Japanese. Case in point—English players will not see her smile even slightly until chapter 7, and then not even until the ending cinematic. Japanese players first saw her smile while spending some time with Hope in chapter 3.
  • Final Fantasy XV's Japanese box art features the main party going down a street together, while the North American boxart features the party ready for battle while three large figures loom above. Taken further with the cover for the PC version's cover which features a weary looking older and bearded Noctis sitting on a throne clutching a sword, with none of his friends in the shot. Playing on PC is almost nonexistent in Japan, so clearly it was made with a Western audience in mind.
  • Final Fantasy Mystic Quest provides an inversion (released in the US first). The American and European box arts depict a knight, presumably the main character, standing on a rock while holding his sword aloft in a dramatic pose. The Japanese box has the same scene, except the knight is now Super-Deformed.
  • Eternal Eyes is a powerful contender for the most misleading use of this trope ever. Japanese cover screams "a JRPG", and an Eastern RPG it is. The US cover... what the...
  • Anyone seen the Suikoden boxart? Yeesh, there are still debates over who is supposed to be depicted on that cover, because it's clearly not anyone present in the game. The only part of that cover that's in the game is the 3 headed skull monster in the bottom right corner! The icing on the cake? The image on the Japanese cover is used on the US version's instruction manual, so gamers got a nice moment of surprise before they even started up the game for the first time. Future installments in the series thankfully ditched this artwork in favor of the Japanese art.
  • Agarest: Generations of War, The European release of Agarest Senki narrowly avoided this trope due to fan backlash against the Uncanny Valley redesign.
  • Blue Dragon has this. The Japanese box art (available on the manual) makes Shu & the titular dragon look silly. The American box art, on the other hand, makes both look positively badass.
  • EarthBound has a minor example: the Japanese boxart was just blank red with the logo, whereas the English boxart instead depicts a Final Starman towering imposingly over Ness on a psychedelic background. Also, the English release material made and used modified versions of Ness and Paula's clay-model artwork to make them look more realistically proportioned, less cutesy, and in Ness's case more Totally Radical (strangely, neither Jeff nor Poo were modified the same way).
  • Monster Rancher:
    • Monster Rancher plays this straight for almost every one of its games. Compare the artwork for original game, where the Japanese artwork just has several monsters posing while the American one has a fight going on. Compare the idealistic Japanese fourth game cover to the intense American version.
    • In Monster Rancher 3, it's done IN GAME. In the Japanese version, the assistant, Fleria, is a little girl. Western fans complained about the design making the game look "kiddie", so in response, Fleria was turned into an adult in the American version, complete with new portraits.
  • Robotrek is a textbook example. The U.S. cover art depicts a Death Star-like station ominously floating in space, while the Japanese original (titled Slapstick) depicts several characters in cheerful anime style which more closely reflects what's actually in the game.
  • Dark Souls (yes, even fucking Dark Souls is subject to this trope) has a calmer scene in the Japanese art, with a character resting at a bonfire, while the American art is a silhouette of a man walking, with blue fire effects and hostile looking knights all around.
  • The Phantasy Star series has always had awful, awful box art for the western releases, but they went all out for Phantasy Star IV. They hired renowned fantasy artist Boris Vallejo to re-do the cover for the European and American editions of the game, which turned Rune into a 40-something kung-fu movie villain, Rika into a brunette elf with an 80's secretary haircut, and Chaz into Hans from Die Hard.
  • While still decent representations of the game's plot, the box covers of the first two Mario & Luigi games are much busier in their international releases than their Japanese counterparts, which take the minimalistic route. Interestingly, Bowser's Inside Story and Dream Team use the Japanese boxart for all regions.
  • Inverted with Dungeon Maker 2 in which the American Cover emphasizes the dungeon creation aspect, and the Japanese cover shows a dynamic battle with the first boss.
  • Paper Mario: Sticker Star got hit with it too. To wit: the Japanese cover featuring a happy Mario and the more... proactive Mario in the American one. The European/Australian boxarts have the same one as Japan, so America gets an exclusive boxart of Mario bashing a Goomba with his hammer.
  • Digimon: Digimon games in Japan tend to have two flavors of covers: cute ones and badass ones. Naturally, Bandai tends to keep the latter in North American and European releases, but as for the former...well, they get badassified, with stronger Digimon, strikier color choices, etc. The Digimon World series is a good example: The Japanese cover has a nice handdrawn illustration of the main character happily hanging around the many Digimon (some of their creepiness notwithstanding), while the American cover depicts a defiant MetalGreymon. The second game is an even better example: while definitely a little edgier, it still has a very smily human in the center. For the US version, they got VeeDramon, the big beast stationed at the corner of the Japanese cover and gave him the entire cover. And finally, for Digimon World DS: a very cute group shot in the Japanese cover, replaced by a still-cute but more battle inclined group shot in the US cover.
  • For A Witch's Tale, the Japanese box art has Liddell looking mischievous and more on the adorable side of her Badass Adorable persona while the American art leans more towards the badass side.
  • Sands of Destruction's Japanese cover features the six major characters lined up with neutral facial expressions. The American box art features only the two leads, and makes it seem like Kyrie is the one out to destroy the world and Morte is some sort of pensive Living MacGuffin or Apocalypse Maiden. The reality is quite the opposite: Kyrie is a Nice Guy with Power Incontinence that turns everything to sand, and Morte is your rather energetic Token Evil Teammate who wants to use his powers to cause The End of the World as We Know It (ostensibly because the world is full of Fantastic Racism and already well on its way to ending itself, but she's also a bit of an Omnicidal Maniac).
  • White Lion Densetsu: Pyramid no Kanata ni featured this on its Japanese cover, which accurately reflects characters in the game, namely the protagonist Maria, a blonde woman in a short pink dress holding a spear. When released in the US as Ghost Lion it received this, showing a totally unrelated hero character in a mix between a medieval fantasy outfit and aerobics clothing complete with puffy 80s hair and an ornate sword, a weapon not used in the game. The only common feature is their hair color. And that white lion sitting beside her? That's actually the main villain of the game. The artist clearly had no familiarity with the game itself, and that's assuming they didn't just use artwork that was already lying around.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles X, the giant robots were changed from "Dolls" to "Skells" in the English translation for this reason.
  • The Japanese box art for Great Greed is full of cute anime-style characters, while the American box art is a grim fantasy with a guy fighting a monster.
  • Knights of Xentar: The only difference between the American cover and the original Japanese cover is that the American cover has the illustration mirrored and the colors altered to make it more convincing.
  • This is the American box art for Ys III for the Sega Genesis. Just compare Adol with the picture above. The SNES version and the TurboGrafx-CD version (the latter of which depicts Genos instead of Adol) aren't quite as bad, especially since the SNES version doesn't end up making Adol look like some sort of barbarian, though they still ditch the anime look the series is known for.

    Shoot 'em Ups 
  • Castle of Shikigami, a bullet-hell game for the PS2 in Japan, is a game about various people teaming up to defeat the villain and save the day by flying through the air and shooting things with various types of laser-like projectiles, and featured cute anime characters on the box art. In America, the game is called Mobile Light Force and the cover features three leather-clad, gun-toting, large-breasted Charlie's-Angels-esque babes running around and outright lying about the content of the game. Castle of Shikigami 2 did not suffer this treatment, however, it DID suffer from being completely un-localized despite being translated and voice-acted, with some scenes not being translated or voice-acted in English at all and left with Japanese text and/or dialogue. Despite this, they're not bad games.
  • Insector X is normally a Cute 'em Up where you play as a boy or girl killing giant cartoonish bugs. The American and European versions of the Genesis port have a more realistic style and made the cyborg bugs even more mechanical..
  • Contra:
    • The Japanese boxart of Contra 4 has Bill and Lance preparing for the fights when the American boxart shows them firing their guns instead.
    • Inverted by Neo Contra, surprisingly. The American boxart has Bill and Jaguar deploying for the missions, in a style drawn by Jim Lee. The Japanese boxart instead shows Bill aiming his gun, and Jaguar crossing his arms, in an explosive background done in CGI.

    Simulation Games 

    Sports Games 
  • Baseball games in general. While the most notable Western ones are realistic simulators, the most traditional Japanese Baseball video game franchises such as Famista and Power Pros go for an arcade angle and have a cartoony aesthetic, going as far as to disregard having characters look like their real-life counterparts for much of their history. It took 20 years since Pawapuro '94 for Konami to start a realistic Baseball series, Professional Baseball Spirits.
    • An interesting subversion is Super Mega Baseball, a Western release with a more cartoony look. The most recent release, 3, is a major graphic upgrade, but still retains the basic cartoon look.
  • The original RBI Baseball game was a localization of Namco's Pro Yakyuu Family Stadium (aka Famista) franchise of Baseball games. When RBI sequels with their own engines started being developed for 16-bit consoles, they acquired realistic-oriented graphics, with the Sega 32X entry having large digitized sprites as tall as the screen. Famista, however, never stopped being cartoony even when giving their stickmen ballplayers more detail in the 3D installments.
  • Downplayed by MLB Bobblehead Pros. While still cartoony, instead of the chibi Power Pro-kun Baseball puppets it uses bobblehead toy-like characters whose faces are modeled after the ballplayers they represent. They still have no legs, though.

    Stealth-Based Games 
  • Two sets of promo character renders were made for Metal Gear Solid 3D—one for Japan, and one for America. The Japanese renders show Big Boss and The Boss standing unarmed, with Big Boss looking a little naive but also tough and sexy, and The Boss looking noble and idealistic but also muscular and strong. The American renders show them both scowling and in Ass Kicking Poses, brandishing knives. They are both dressed in less revealing clothes, and The Boss has her Absolute Cleavage done up.
  • Compare the US/UK cover of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker to the Japanese one. The Japanese cover has a yellow background and depicts Big Boss and other soldiers in battle stances, with tanks and choppers faintly seen in the background. The US/UK cover on the other hand, is in black-and-white, Big Boss has a more mean and tough facial expression, and an explosion can be seen in the background.
  • Tenchu: The Japanese covers of the series tend to favor dynamic renderings (and even illustrations, as in the first game) of the main characters "posing". That contrasts with the American covers' preference for threatening close-ups of (usually) one character, alongside the series' trademark (and very hardcore) tagline.

    Survival Horror 

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Devil's Third. Compare the European and Japanese cover, which has lead character Ivan holding a katana and a gun on a bluish background with several SOD agents and broken glass around him, with the American cover, which has a close up of Ivan holding his katana on a background of fire, in a design very reminiscent of '80s movie posters, making Ivan fit the Hollywood Action Hero stereotype in a more overt fashion.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising:
    • In the first English trailer for Kid Icarus: Uprising, Pit's voice gets even deeper than the English Brawl voice variant, mainly because his voice has changed.
    • While both the Japanese and North American box art show Pit with a furrowed brow, the NA version removed all traces of pink and gave him an angry frown instead of the open mouth smile.
  • In Omega Boost, the Japanese cover shows a closeup of the mecha, while the Western cover makes sure an enormous weapon points towards the audience.
  • Splatoon is hardcore in an American Kirby fashion worldwide with adorable squid-people decked out in Angry Eyebrows and armed to the teeth with ink-weapons, but this trope is still noticeable in the way it was advertised. Japan and Europe got an ad that communicated the gist of the game, but without showing any actual gameplay or fighting. America got a series of ads that consist entirely of in-game combat footage, each accompanied by some of the most '90s songs you'll ever hear. The American advertising also places slightly more focus on the male Inklings than the female ones, which is noticeable because the females are otherwise much more prominent in promotional materials (and are still front-and-center on the box art).
  • The box art for Uncharted 2: Among Thieves shows Nate hanging from a cliff and losing his gun in the struggle. The Japanese version resembles an Indiana Jones movie poster.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Advance Wars: Dual Strike's cover is a strange example of the trope, as the overseas cover has a foreboding shot drawn exactly to the in-game artwork while the Japanese cover shows toy soldiers.
  • The American versions of the main Disgaea games experience this, abandoning the colorful Super-Deformed Team Shot the JP boxarts use (Which also includes most of the generic character classes, and sometimes even The Cameo and/or Big Bad), in favor of an image that makes the game seem darker and more serious than it really is (Most of the time, at least).
  • Something akin to this trope occurred in Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, where Barrington's dialogue with Rafa on the Rooftop of Riovanes Castle was "punched up" to make it even more creepy and blatantly sexual. The original PSX version's translation instead very slightly downplayed that aspect.
  • Warsong, the American version of Langrisser, besides renaming the characters, retouched their portraits to make them look a bit fiercer.

    Visual Novels 

Non-Video Game Examples:

  • Astro Boy is known to be very cute and innocent. But when the 2003 anime was brought to America, most of the advertisement focused on the action scenes and his super hero side. The dubbing gave him a harsher and more snarky attitude as well. It also cut out most of Astro's cute child-like moments. To say nothing of the DVD boxset cover which is just his face looking absurdly angry.
  • Dragon Ball:
  • When CNX (Cartoon Network UK's short-lived attempt at attracting the 15-35 male demographic) got the rights to show the original Dragon Ball, the Canadian-dubbed episodes they acquired featured a cheerful kid-focused opening theme. Fearing ridicule from their target audience, a new opening with more action-packed scenes from the show was thrown together, complete with Kung-Foley and a remixed theme. (Though the Canadian themes were accidentally shown on occasion.)
    • The French dub (And the many other dubs that translated from it) inverted this trope by giving Z a happier OP about Gohan. Also a case of Mood Whiplash.
    • In a variation, the European Spanish dub of Cha-La Head-Cha-La keeps the music but changes the comedy "We'll teach a dinosaur to ride a ball" lyrics to standard "We'll beat up the villains" fare, which is more this trope.
    • Dragon Ball Super is clearly, and officially, aimed at children in Japan. However, because of Values Dissonance and a very strong Periphery Demographic for the Dragon Ball franchise, the show airs on [adult swim] in the US and is marketed towards teenagers and adults, with the show's unfiltered mild swearing and adult humor (a holdover from said Values Dissonance) only enhancing its image as such. This doesn't stop children from watching the show not only because it's Dragon Ball, but because they're outright attracted by the "grown-up" content.
  • Nelvana's infamous Macekre English dub of Cardcaptor Sakura, while not exactly "hardcore," considerably downplayed the Shōjo Demographic cuteness of the original, essentially trying to change it into Shōnen (even changing the show's name to just Cardcaptors, presumably to downplay the fact that the main character is a girl, and cutting out the first seven episodes, which take place before Sakura's male rival Syaoran is introduced). The original opening theme was replaced with a more histrionic rock song, Sakura and her friends sounded more like teenagers than elementary schoolers, and perhaps most egregiously of all, Kero was given a Totally Radical dudebro voice and his characterization was changed to be more like a comedic foil sidekick akin to Mushu from Mulan. As a result, the English dub had a completely different feel from the Japanese original, and anyone who's seen the latter would be able to spot the dub's attempts to turn the show into something quite different from what it was originally.
  • A similar thing was done for the American Fox Kids edit of the Ocean dub of The Vision of Escaflowne: the entire first episode was removed (and then reedited as flashbacks in later episodes, abridged) since it was deemed "too romantic" and unfitting for an action anime block. The soundtrack was also edited to become more hardcore: some pieces were replaced by others, and original music was composed to fill in the silence (this was seriously striking, as Fox/Saban's orchestral pieces were very stylistically different from Yoko Kanno's). This version only lasted ten(ish) episodes — some claim that it was due to plot content that could not be edited out without extensive redubbing (illegitimate children, for example), others say the ratings were simply bad. Canada simply aired the dub unedited.
  • Some of the dub voices in Hetalia: Axis Powers. Most notably is Russia, who had a higher-pitched, cuter, somewhat happier voice in the Japanese version, and a deeper, gruffer voice in the English dub. It's left up to the watchers to determine whether this was done to better fit the stereotype or to defuse some of the horror.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • The series was released as 6 two-episode boxsets in Japan, with different boxarts for each. Three of the boxarts show characters looking happy and/or cute, two are relatively neutral, and one has a very dark and angsty mood to it. The U.S. release was 3 four-episode boxsets, and used three of the existing boxart pictures. To the surprise of no one, they chose the two neutral ones (the first and last) and the angsty one (number four). This may be somewhat justified given the nature of the series, but still...
    • This also extends to the merchandise, with the Japanese mostly depicting the cast Moe situations sometimes with light fanservice, America focuses more on the more action-packed and angsty parts or at least somewhat neutral. Essentially lessening the Schmuck Bait.
  • Koneko's portrayal in the High School D×D anime. In the original Japanese dialogue, she's very matter-of-fact in her attitude. Contrast with her portrayal in the dub, where she delivers blistering rebukes to Issei's perverted antics in the same monotone, emotionless deadpan.
  • The DVD cover art for Princess Tutu is very much pink and fluffy in Japan; the American DVDs feature much darker, ominously-edited images. ADV admitted that it was a marketing strategy — maybe some buyers would be too embarrassed to take a pink-and-happy anime called "Princess Tutu" off a store shelf, thus the covers. And, of course, it's not completely unfitting for the series.
  • Here's the Japanese trailer for Rinne No Lagrange, which is reasonably close to the sorta-serious but mostly lighthearted tone of the show. The English dub trailer replaces the cheery music with dark instrumental rock, mostly removes the female voices (you know, the protagonists?) in favor of a Don LaFontaine-style narrator, and generally makes the whole show look serious enough to induce loads of narm.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • The first Japanese intro of Sailor Moon is a love song. In contrast, the English dub version focuses on the Sailor Scouts fighting and saving the day.
    • The original Sailor Moon English dub focused on Sailor Jupiter's tomboy aspects rather than her domestic side. Many people thought this was an improvement- even those who thought most other senshi (other than Mercury and Saturn, who were not altered at all) were changed for the worse. This led to Sailor Jupiter becoming a favorite among American fans.
    • Inverted with Sailor Moon's transformation theme. The original Japanese theme is a bombastic Sentai tune, while the theme for the DiC dub actually sounds more feminine, including plenty of sparkly sound effects.
  • Sankarea. Japanese Cover: Cute, smiling teenage girl with long, dark hair, wearing a blue sundress. American Cover: Teenage girl wearing a tattered school uniform, still smiling (but it's more of a Psychotic Smirk), not to mention It Was a Dark and Stormy Night and the girl happens to have a bloody, gaping wound where her stomach should be. Judging by what Sankarea is actually about, the Japanese cover could be accused of Covers Always Lie. Rea (the girl on the cover) is indeed cute, but she's also undead. Watch.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie zig-zags this. The "movie" was originally sold as a two-episode miniseries in Japan, with the first episode's boxart featuring Sonic, Tails, Sara, and Metal Robotnik/Black Eggman striking poses while the second episode's boxart prominently features Sonic and Metal Sonic duking it out. The VHS release of "The Movie" in the west featured Sonic with a stern-looking Tails and Knuckles behind him against a dark background (along with the laughable Tag Line: "Scrape your Knuckles, Catch some Tails"), but the DVD release in the west only has Sonic against a much brighter and more colorful background.
  • Suzy's Zoo: Daisuki! Witzy has it's saccharine level toned down when being localized for release outside Japan as Suzy's Zoo: A Day With Witzy. Aside from the subtitle being changed to something less sweet, a lot of the voice actors have lower voice pitches and the narrator doesn't talk as sweetly as the Japanese version.
  • While the Japanese Kirby of the Stars (the anime based on the Trope Namer) intro was pretty much a cutesy parade, the American intro dubbed as "Kirby: Right Back At Ya!" focused mostly on fight scenes and Kirby (of course) looking angry.
  • While not hardcore per se, Studio Ghibli's The Tale of the Princess Kaguya's DVD cover in Japan shows the title character amongst a white background smiling and playing among cherry blossom petals. The American DVD cover, on the other hand, has a purple border, and it has an image of her face through the folding screen with a somber look on her face.
  • The American dub of the 2005 anime of Doraemon is like this. The dub emphasizes more on the episodes that are action-oriented and mostly lacks the episodes that focus on heartwarming relationships. Even the background music in the dub is much more upbeat and action-oriented compared to the calm and lighthearted background music in the Japanese version. Not surprisingly, the season 2 promo heavily emphasizes on the action aspect of the dub.
  • The American dub of Hamtaro throws out the epic orchestrated Tottoko Hamutaro no Uta for a electronica-techno theme for the first season, although they replaced it with a very hyper rock number for the second season's theme. However, the second season's theme was never normally shown in the US- Toonami usually cuts it off and replaces it with the first opening theme. Meanwhile, general consensus among viewers in Asia who get the show in English is that the second theme far more palatable and finds the first theme too noisy and chaotic.
  • The 21st Pokémon movie embedded this trope right into the title, changing it from Everyone's Story (Minna no Monogatari) to something more dramatic: The Power of Us. Oddly enough, though, the promo poster art was left unchanged. This isn't the first time localization has shoehorned in the word "power," either; Pokémon: The Movie 2000: The Power of One was originally called Pocket Monsters Revelation - Lugia. The former title-adjustment is partly a Call-Back to Pokemon 2000, since both of them feature Lugia.
  • Glitter Force, the English dub of Smile! Pretty Cure, removed scenes of characters crying. Emotional music and dialogue were also tweaked to be more comedic or optimistic.

    Comic Books 

  • Kinda over-the-top with Dog of Flanders, a 2000 Korean comedy-drama film. The original cover/poster has the two main leads sitting on a staircase seeming they lost a dog, but in the west, it has a cover of a dog and a hand in a super dark backgroundnote  and is called Barking Dogs Never Bite and it makes the film itself look like a dark film. But in Japan it has the female lead with a bunch of dogs in a colorful and bright background but still have female making a serious expression. Averted in China with the cover being the same with Korea. But the color tone differs.
  • Wreck-It Ralph gets slapped with this for its Japanese release. Its title in the U.S. and most other markets refers to the Villain Protagonist, a burly pseudo-animalistic guy. Its Japanese title? "Sugar Rush", named for one of the Fictional Video Games visited in the film—which happens to Tastes Like Diabetes In-Universe.
  • Inverted with Frozen: It's the international marketing that portrays the movie as hardcore, while the domestic marketing made it look like a lighthearted romp in the vein of Shrek.
  • Inverted with Big Hero 6: the American trailer focuses more on action and comedy, while the Japanese trailer delves more into the drama of the story. This has the resulting effect of Japanese filmgoers being unprepared for the amount of action found within the movie.
  • Inverted with Zootopia: The Japanese trailers play up the action and drama; the US trailers play up the comedy. The Japanese poster focuses more on Judy's goal to becoming a cop while other posters for the film focuses on the comedic elements or mostly filled with various mammals of Zootopia.
  • The French publicity posters for The Secret of Kells is much more action-oriented (having the main characters in dynamic poses with Brendan looking determined) than the subtle, reserved posters the rest of the world got (Aisling's face gently smiling, mostly hidden by leaves).
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The Chinese poster is far different from the American poster. For example, baby Groot is naked and snarling in the American poster, while he's waving happily in a jumpsuit in the Chinese version. America eventually saw a tweaked version of the Chinese poster as the cover for the Ultra HD "Cinematic Universe Edition".
  • Inverted with the Japanese The Fox and the Hound poster compare with the American poster.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2020):
    • Promotional media for international markets focus on Sonic as a teenager (as he appears for most of the franchise) and primarily center on the action scenes and comedy bits. Japanese promos for the film (including promotional posters, meanwhile, focus on the younger "baby" version of Sonic who appears at the start of the movie, and play up his moe appeal for all it's worth. In fact, baby Sonic's first appearance anywhere was in a Japanese TV spot for the movie.
    • Inverted with one American movie poster showing Sonic smiling at the camera, with Robotnik's face in the background. The Japanese movie poster has Sonic looking determined at the camera, with Robotnik's ship looming behind him. The Japanese poster also has more missiles firing at Sonic than the American poster.
  • The original American marketing for Mothra vs. Godzilla renamed the movie to Godzilla vs. The Thing, teased on posters as a tentacled monstrosity so horrifically obscene it had to be censored for the sake of the faint-hearted. But more likely, the distributors didn't want to admit Godzilla's opponents were a bunch of giant moths (which are actually peaceful and not even slightly scary) in the actual film. Later home video releases re-instated the original title.

  • The first Horatio Hornblower novel was titled The Happy Return in most markets. In the United States, it was titled Beat to Quarters, the order to prepare for action.
  • The Redwall series has produced a lot of covers over the years, ranging from cartoonish to realistic, from gritty and abstract to epic and clear-drawn. Although every country's publications had their own different variations of all ends of the scale, there are some pretty standard levels for their home country (which may not least be due to the artists themselves):
    • Original British covers are realistic and colourfully traditional. Here and here.
    • American Covers are similarly colourful but almost always more epic, playing this trope completely straight (here and here). But their chapter illustrations are either rather humorous, cartoonish and abstract (here) or beautifully copperplated faux-medieval illustration(here).
    • French covers are sometimes kept in pseudo-3d-rendering, both gritty and abstract (perhaps even downright disturbing). Just look at those rotoscopes of humans with animal heads (here and here).
    • Russian Covers are traditional, epically detailed in both physique and attire. (here and (here)
    • Israeli Covers are... interestingly cartoonish, but certainly light-hearted (here and here).
    • German covers stay usually on par with the British ones (like here), but have quite some... unnerving exceptions (here and here) that can head both into lighthearted crayon and gritty absurd territory. Uncanny Valley ahead.
  • Peter Grant is way macho in the US cover of Rivers of London (retitled to Midnight Riot) compared to the restrained "arty" look of the British cover. Also note that Peter Grant, who in the books is described as a slender mixed race young man who by his own admission looks more North African, has metamorphosed into a Scary Black Man. And as a British Copper, he'd better have signed for that gun. The publisher would later revert to a version of the British cover.
  • To ensure that it sells with the mainstream crowd, Yen Press was told by distributors that (the first volume of) American Spice and Wolf is Trashy and Realistic. It didn't go well, so the original art was used from the second volume onwards.
  • Tortall Universe: The Protector of the Small quartet has different covers in the US and the UK from book 2 on. American Squire has Keladry of Mindelan holding a baby griffin and looking at the viewer with a faint smile; in the UK she's looking at it and smiling more broadly. US Lady Knight has her staring at us with a hostile expression; in the UK she looks to the side and seems more hopeful. Notably, although three books out of the quartet have different artwork, they all feature the same subject, just interpreted differently.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • The Russian translations make the covers more hardcore. Compare this to this. There's a lot more where that came from: The title translation is also subject to this having been translated as Raging Storm rather than Rising Storm. Also, the French title for Fire and Ice roughly means In Fire and In Blood.
    • The Japanese cover for The Darkest Hour, which is probably the most carnage-tastic book in the series, is of two fluffy kitties smiling.

  • The original cover art for Japanese Doom Metal band Boris' album Smile is cute. The American release's cover is edgy.
  • An inversion occurred when Within Temptation's album The Unforgiving made it to Japan...and the gothed-up Sharon DenAdel cover was replaced by one with a busty, Moe Meganekko schoolgirl waggling her finger at the buyer.
  • A non-Japanese example. British star Billy Idol 's self-titled album cover originally had him looking like a suggestive, but harmless idol for teens. When the album was released in the US however, they wanted to market Billy as a rebel, so gave it this much cooler cover with him wearing a leather jacket and frowning instead. This cover has since become the canon cover having appeared on CD releases worldwide, and is probably the defining image of Idol.
  • The Final Fantasy VI soundtrack in Japan features the FFVI logo, and Amano artwork. The US version is titled Kefka's Domain, and features the SNES cover art, with Mog leaning on a dagger while facing a threatening monster.

  • For the international release of Indianapolis 500, some European games had the playfield and cabinet colors changed to use more primary colors to make the game more manly and appealing in certain distributors' countries.

  • Brawl in the Family spoofs the box art of Kirby himself here.
  • The Breath of Fire example mentioned above also happens in Manly Guys Doing Manly Things as the result of a curse. Commander Badass (himself forcibly bishified by the Nomura Syndrome) asks why people can't be content to like people how they are.
  • Consolers likes making fun of this—one comic features the "angry American Kirby", where Ameritendo decides Kirby is "too cutesy" and changes him by just drawing on two angry eyebrows. Another comic shows when Nintendo was suggested to make Pikachu more muscular to appeal to American audiences—she's not convinced.
  • Critical Miss spoofed the American ICO cover here.

    Web Original 
  • Most paintings by the infamous Handre de Jager from Something Awful mercilessly parody this trope. The artist himself stated that his initial inspiration was the aforementioned original American boxart for Mega Man. Handre's works can be found on his website (Not safe for work). Be warned, they're disgusting and scary.
  • The Game Grumps fan animation SUPER GREP SIMULATOR has a slightly NSFW take on this trope (at 0:53) with the fictional AO-Rated video game Kirby's Fucking Pissed.
  • The first English-speaking generation of hololive's v-tubers got an Eldritch Abomination motif. By contrast, the first Japanese generation was mostly a bunch of cute girls.

    Western Animation 
  • The English opening theme for Donkey Kong Country cartoon is a bombastic Bragging Theme Tune for the Kong of the Jungle. The Japanese opening theme, Ashita ni Nattara, is a gentler Green Aesop song about the Kongs wanting to live in peace away from the humans and city life, subjects which are never brought up in the cartoon proper.
  • The Mega Man cartoon had Mega Man, Roll and Proto Man look more like teenagers and gave the Robot Masters a more muscular look. This also had an unusual effect on X, who looked like an adult and acted much more violently than he did in the games.
  • Ōban Star-Racers had a mixed French/Japanese J-pop opening theme in France, Great Britain & Japan. The US got a generic rock song called "Never say Never" (No, not that one)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants DVDs in Japan tend to play up SpongeBob's cuteness by making his eyes huge and sparkly in every image. Here is the American cover for comparison.
  • Steven Universe's merchandise items of Lapis Lazuli all have her smiling, something that she rarely does in the actual show.
  • The Sylvanian Families animated series was clearly made for a North American audience despite KK C&D Asia, Mook DLE and TMS Entertainment having a hand in it, since it was produced primarily by DIC Entertainment. To wit, the animated series has villains. In other markets, the toyline is marketed as pure moe appeal, and this is clearly reflected in the Japanese OVAs and the Japanese and British ads.
  • The Legend of Zelda cartoon famously gave Zelda the Xenafication treatment long before the games made her participate in combat, with her outfit changed to more closely resemble an American comic book superheroine instead of a Princess Classic. This also carried over to the CD-i games, which were based on the cartoon. This incarnation of Zelda left a lasting impression on Western fans, and bolstered the fandom's desire to see Zelda be a playable heroine in the main games.
  • Inverted for Transformers Animated's debut in Japan. In order to turn it into a prequel to the live-action movies (or so we thought), among other things, a new logo looking almost exactly like the film logos was commissioned, which practically clashes with the show's cartoony art style. And to think that Japan once played this straight with Transformers by gag dubbing the edgy Beast Wars.
  • Transformers: Prime's Japanese dub takes a page from their localization of the Beast shows by turning what was originally a mostly somber-toned, serious action show full of (at times needlessly) dark scenes into another quirky robot cartoon, with scary villains becoming comedic and the moody instrumental theme-music being replaced with an upbeat pop song.
  • The international intro to W.I.T.C.H. is a pop song. The American intro is a rock song with more emphasis on the fight scenes.

  • Back in the 80s, Japan got some special My Little Pony toys which were supposed to be even cuter than the normal ones, called Osharena Pony.
  • The artists who design Polish Film Posters are famous for adding a bit of edginess, even if the original poster was already a bit edgy. Check out the poster for Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo as as it appeared in Poland compared to the original.
  • This one is more of a coincidence, but notice back when there were two "Noah's Ark" amusement park attractions left (only the American one is still running), compare this (Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, Lancashire, England, UK) to this (Kennywood, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA). The 2016 revision of the Noah's Ark at Kennywood averts this trope except for the loud sounds it makes.
  • Even toddler toys are subjected to this. In mid-2012, VTech released a rocking horse toy in the UK. When the toy was finally released in the US a few months later, the horse was changed into a motorcycle! However, it was finally re-released in Horse form after the success of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.
  • In Europe, the LEGO Dino Attack toyline (called Dino 2010 in this market) focused on a specialized action team trying to contain mutant dinosaurs with all sorts of traps in a jungle setting. The sets' American versions replaced the capturing gear with ridiculous weaponry designed to kill and harm, and the setting was also changed to an apocalyptic, ruined city. This caused a great uproar within the LEGO community at the time, not only because the dual setline gave off the impression that the company thought the US is only interested in violence, but also because it went straight against their oft-praised (and nowadays much more loosened-up) anti-violence policy.
  • The TV commercials for the Disney attraction, Splash Mountain, when it first opened, are an interesting display of contrast. Check out the commercial for the ride at Tokyo Disneyland (opened in 1992), compared to the commercial for the same ride at Disneyland (opened in 1989). Both emphasize the huge climatic drop (and both play "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah"), but the Tokyo commercial just sounds and feels more happy, whereas the Anaheim commercial has, to quote another Disney attraction, an aura of foreboding. It also helps to have a LaFontaine-sounding announcer in the latter commercial.
  • Toronto's long-running Santa Claus Parade got hit with this when Soviet-era Russia decided to do a simulcast in 1990 (one of the first non-Russian productions to broadcast in that country). The official opening from Canada's Global TV is simpler, shorter and more naive, almost with a feeling of Tastes Like Diabetes, while Russia opened the parade with a long, drawn-out intro that feels more at home in a cheesy 80's cop shownote .
  • A device to stop bedwetting called the Wet Stop 3 is a very strange example of this. The version sold in most parts of the world comes plain without any decorations. However, in Japan, the device is sold with a sticker of the company's mascot Potty Monkey and a message saying "I'm Potty Monkey. Let's do this together!", capitalizing on Japan's love of cute and adorable mascots.
  • Inverted with the 2007–2017 Mitsubishi Lancer in Taiwan, where the derivative Lancer Fortis and iO models used a more sedate fascia in contrast to the aggressive "shark head" front end made infamous by the Lancer Evolution X.
  • Professional Wrestling in Japan; the fact that it's all staged makes no difference in public perception of it as a legitimate sport, and the workers as legitimate athletes. Wrestling training in the country (such as the infamous New Japan Dojo) emphasizes ring ability and the capacity to take punishment over marketability. It's no accident that many wrestling fans, including Dave Meltzer, regard Japanese wrestling as the best in the world.

Alternative Title(s): American Kirby Is Badass


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