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Marth Debuted in "Smash Bros."

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"Remember Reiji Arisu and Xiaomu from Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier? These characters are actually guests from an earlier Monolith Soft game, Namco × Capcom."
Spencer, Siliconera

So a series doesn't quite manage to make the jump into other countries. It happens. Sometimes this work may cross over with another series, and characters from it may appear in something else, typically in a non-starring role. Official crossovers, extended company in-jokes, whatever, Product B has characters and whatnot from Product A...


...and then, for whatever reason, Product B manages to come out in a new market before Product A does. Meaning that the characters of Product A get their debut... in a product that isn't theirs at all. This causes people to assume that an Easter Egg character from Product B got their own spinoff in the form of Product A.

That's how Marth debuted in Super Smash Bros. (in the West, anyway). A fairly peculiar subtrope of No Export for You that applies often to video games but can happen in any medium where a product is blocked or delayed at length from reaching other countries and then gets referenced in another work. Distinct from Sequel First in that this often involves characters debuting in crossover works that are often nothing like their "core" franchises or are at best tangentially connected (the trope namer is a character from a Strategy RPG series, with Smash Bros. being a Platform Fighter series). This happens to Japanese products fairly often as companies, especially fan-oriented ones, like to have cameos and such as a nod to their fans. But at the same could present a Late-Arrival Spoiler for events that occurred in past products, note that the "source" products for the characters may eventually come out in other countries, but the fact remains that they debuted in other markets in other, often decidedly odd ways. It's also worth noting that if this happens multiple times to a single franchise, it can agitate the fans, who may begin to (understandably) wonder why Product A doesn't just come out in the first place instead of appearing minorly in Products B, C, D, and so on. Of course, if Product A comes out because of its appearances in Products B, C, etc..., that's one explanation right there.


Sometimes an example of Tropes Are Not Bad, since this can drum up interest in the game or series in question, causing it to be localized. The Trope Namer is one of these positive examples.

In the cases where Marth actually does debut in Smash Bros (which was the case for fellow Fire Emblem character, Roy) see Early-Bird Cameo.

See also Sequel First, Adaptation First, and Sir Cameos-a-Lot. May lead to Remade for the Export.


Examples in Super Smash Bros:

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     Fire Emblem 
  • The Trope Namer is the star of the first Fire Emblem game (Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light), Marth. Marth made his and his series' Western gaming debutnote  in Super Smash Bros. Melee: over a decade after the first Fire Emblem game was released in Japan. His presence and popularity motivated Nintendo to release all future games in the franchise internationally. However, it wasn't until the Nintendo DS remake of his game in 2009 that Marth himself would finally appear outside the Super Smash Bros. series in the West.
  • In comparison, Roy actually did debut in Meleehis own game hadn't come out yet in Japan when the game was released, and his inclusion was meant to promote the upcoming game. Oddly enough, his game never even made it internationally, which instead got the next game in the series: a prequel starring his father, Eliwood, in which Roy only makes a cameo in the epilogue as a child. For Europe and Australia however, this is a straight example, as Melee was delayed in those regions and came out after Roy's game had already been released in Japan. As with Marth, Roy continues to speak Japanese regardless of language and region, following his return in 3DS/Wii U as a downloadable fighter (though both Marth and Roy would finally get English voices in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate).
  • When Corrin, the protagonist of Fire Emblem Fates, was announced as a DLC character for 3DS/Wii U, Fates had already been released in Japan a few months prior, but not internationally. Word of God says this was an Invoked Trope, similar to Roy's situation. The character became available to play as only weeks before the international release of Fates.
  • In a hilarious bout of self-awareness, this trope was lampshaded in the announcement trailer for the localized version of the Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light 30th anniversary release, which involves a kid trying to explain Fire Emblem to his friend who has only heard of the characters from Melee.

     Adventure Game 

     Fighting Game 
  • Sukapon, the main character of Nintendo's Japanese-only NES fighting game Joy Mech Fight, was first seen in the West as a sticker in Brawl, before becoming an assist trophy in Ultimate.

     Maze Game 
  • Devil World is the only game by Shigeru Miyamoto that has been released in Europe but not in North America. Despite that fact, Tamagon has made cameos in four games available worldwide - Tetris DS, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Art Style: PiCOPiCT (known as PiCTOBiTS in North America) and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Brawl, 3DS/Wii U and Ultimate also have the Devil as an Assist Trophy; Tamagon was a trophy in Melee but was removed from the international release (along with a few others).
  • Kuru Kuru Kururin is a Nintendo series that focuses on a duck-like character who must pilot a spinning stick-shaped vehicle through mazes. Because the series never got a North American release until 2016 (with the Virtual Console release of the first game), Kururin's vehicle appearing as an assist trophy in Brawl led to a lot of confusion from American gamers.

     Mecha Game 
  • In Super Smash Bros. Melee, there were several trophies that came from Custom Robo. The series eventually made it to North America in 2004 and PAL regions in 2007.
  • The first robots from Warrior Mech Gauss shown to international audiences were trophies in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

     Platform Game 

     Puzzle Game 
  • When Panel de Pon was localized as Tetris Attack for American and European audiences, the original characters got switched out in favor of Yoshi and friends — however, several characters' appearances as stickers in Super Smash Bros. Brawl were not changed during the localization process (and Lip's Stick has been an item since Melee). The protagonist of the first game, Lip, went on to appear as both a Mii costume and a spirit in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The original game wouldn't see a release outside of Japan for nearly 25 years, until it was added to the Nintendo Switch Online lineup in May 2020.

     Role-Playing Games (other than Fire Emblem
  • Mother:
    • Ness from EarthBound appeared in the first three Smash Bros. games before his own game eventually got released in PAL regions through the Virtual Console. Mr. Saturn made an even earlier cameo appearance in Kirby Super Star (as a treasure in The Great Cave Offensive), which had a PAL release under the title Kirby's Fun Pak long before EarthBound.
    • Lucas in Brawl. Fans had been hollering for a Mother 3 release ever since it came out in Japan and Nintendo has been evasive about it for just as long... and then Lucas was put into Brawl, and some of his Subspace Emissary missions were spoilers for the final sections of his game. This remains a sore spot with a lot of Mother fans.
    • Elements from MOTHER/EarthBound Beginnings (songs, the Devil Car enemy in Smash Run, and the Magicant stage in the 3DS version of Smash 4) were this, with that game only seeing international release through the Virtual Console in 2015, twenty-six years after its initial Japan-only release.
  • The DQ Hero's Final Smash in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the first international cameo of the Dragon Quest X main character, as that game had not been translated for most of the world as of 2019.

     Shoot 'em Up 
  • Averted with Assist Trophy Saki Amamiya. His game Sin and Punishment was made available to Americans on the Virtual Console mere months before Brawl's release, more than seven years after its initial Japanese release.

  • Though previously released for the Nintendo 64 in Japan, Melee's trophy list included characters from Doshin the Giant (Doshin and Jashin), Cubivore (Alpha), and Animal Crossing (Tom Nook, Mr. Resetti and K.K. Slider/Totakeke), the latter two of which had the words "Future Release" in their descriptions in the Western release of Melee. While Animal Crossing did gain an international release, Cubivore was only released in the US (and only thanks to Atlus wanting to localize it after Nintendo cancelled the North American release), and Doshin the Giant only came out in Europe.
  • Yet another Smash example, though it's so strange and unexpected that it's almost funny. A song from the game Shaberu! DS Cooking Navi (which, as the name implies, is a talking cookbook; the song contains voice clips from the cookbook) appeared in Super Smash Bros. Brawl a few months before the sequel was localized.
  • Seven of the stickers in Brawl are of the icons for the seven games in the bit Generations series, a series of seven Game Boy Advance games with very simplistic graphics and gameplay that only came out in Japan. A few of these games got remakes via WiiWare and DSiWare under the Art Style banner, but the original games have never seen a release outside Japan.

Examples from Other Video Games

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     Action Adventure 
  • One of the alternate character skins becomes this in the Japanese version of Prince of Persia (2008). After beating the game, you unlock an alternate skin for the Prince's sidekick, Elika, which makes her look like Jade from Beyond Good & Evil. But that game was never released in Japan. (The other cameo skins—Altair for the Prince, and characters from the previous Prince of Persia trilogy on the previous generation of systems—do feature games released in Japan.)

     Action Game 
  • Samurai Warriors 3 features "Murasamame Castle Mode" accompanied by none other than Takamaru from the Famicom Disk System game The Mysterious Murasame Castle, who is appearing as a Guest Fighter. He also was considered as a potential fighter in Melee, though was scrapped for lack of familiarity to overseas audiences. He does appear as a sticker and a song in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and went on to become an assist trophy in later entries. Even earlier, a Nazo no Murasamejo disk made a cameo appearance in Pikmin 2. The Mysterious Murasame Castle eventually was released internationally in 2014.
  • In Warriors All-Stars, two members of the playable roster are Hajime Arima and Darius, both of whom hail from the Japan-exclusive visual novel series Harukanaru Tokino Nakade. Seeing as how Hajime and Darius are appearing in a crossover game that's being localized, even before their own series has seen a western release, they are a perfect example of this trope.
  • Nazo No Murasamejo was the basis for the "Takamaru's Ninja Castle" game in Nintendo Land. It was finally released in America on the 3DS Virtual Console in 2014, nearly 30 years after its original release.
  • Super Godzilla featured several monsters from movies that had yet to be released outside of Japan such as Battra and Mecha King Ghidorah. However, the American version did replace the 90's Mechagodzilla with the 70's one.

     Adventure Game 
  • Metal Gear:
    • This could've easily been called "Meryl Silverburgh debuted in Metal Gear Solid". Originally a character from Hideo Kojima's previous Adventure Game Policenauts, the game was officially slated for a North American release at one point, but apparently cancelled when Konami couldn't properly lip-sync the English dialogue with the game's FMV cutscenes. The bottom line of this is that the Shout-Out in the scene where Snake tells her his real name is lost (it's the same name as her best friend in Policenauts, who is otherwise the complete opposite of Snake).
    • To a lesser extent, many of the tropes that Metal Gear Solid is credited for creating were actually featured in some form or another in the original MSX2 games, especially in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. Remember the part where you have to look at the back of the game's packaging to obtain Meryl's frequency? Or where you had to follow her to the women's bathroom? Or where Snake's mysterious informant tells him to watch out for mines? Metal Gear 2 did all of that first.
  • The motive for Chapter 2 of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is the "Twilight Syndrome Murder Case" arcade game, which is a homage to the Twilight Syndrome mystery/horror series, none of which have been released outside of Japan (there aren't even any Fan Translations).
  • In the early 1990s, a few Sierra games were ported to Japanese computers, which caused this trope to happen in the event of a few crossovers or Easter eggs. One such example is Police Quest II, where Leisure Suit Larry (from his series started in 1987) "debuted" in.
  • Donbe and Hikari have a fairly long lineage in Japanese releases and cameos, but have only been seen outside Japan four times: a cameo in Kirby's Dream Land 3, a trophy in Melee, in Super Mario Maker as Mystery Mushroom costumes and ultimately in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as a spirit (which can also be evolved into a spirit of their older designs from the Super Famicom sequel, Heisei Shin Onigashima). They originated in the Famicom Disk System adventure game Famicom Mukashibanashi: Shin Onigashima, a title most often recognized by Western audiences as "that awesome speed metal song in Super Smash Bros. Brawl". Goku and Chao, from the other Famicom Mukashibanashi game, Yuuyuuki, also make cameo appearances in Kirby's Dream Land 3 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

     Fighting Game 
  • Guilty Gear XX Accent Core featured an alternate version of Sol Badguy called Order Sol. Except his first appearance in the series as a playable character (outside of cameos in gallery art) was Guilty Gear XX Slash, which was Japan-only. A.B.A, however, averts this as she first appeared in Isuka, which did get an overseas release.
  • Rent A Hero has never been released outside Japan (and its Fan Translation didn't appear until 2015), but its title character was unlockable in the internationally released Fighters Megamix.
  • The King of Fighters:
    • XI added Gai Tendo and Silber to the KOF cast, but they originated in Buriki One: World Grapple Tournament '99, which was exclusive to Japanese arcades.
    • The King of Fighters XIV has added Alice, Love Heart, and Mui Mui, with all three of them previously being exclusive to pachislot games note  which were only released in Japan.
  • For many Western gamers, Project Justice, the sequel to Rival Schools, is the debut game for Ran Hibiki and Nagare Namikawa. In actuality, both characters made their debut in the Japan-only Updated Re-release of the first Rival Schools.
  • Capcom vs.:
    • Saki Omokane debuted in Quiz Nanairo DREAMS, an obscure quiz game/dating sim hybrid that was only ever released in Japan. Global audiences are more likely to recognize her from her appearances in Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom.
    • Similarly, as Cyberbots remains largely obscure in the West, Western fans are far more likely to know Jin Saotome and Devilotte from their appearances in the Marvel vs. Capcom series than the game they actually originated in.
    • While the Darkstalkers games did get released overseas, they were never as popular as Street Fighter, and the series hasn't had a new installment since the 90s. Because of this, a large number of modern gamers are able to recognize Morrigan from her many appearances in the Capcom Vs. games, even without having ever actually played Darkstalkers.
    • In Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, we have Nova's DLC costume. The preview of this costume took place on November 16, 2011. Both Marvel and Capcom executives weren't allowed to tell the public were it originated from, as it was from a new project that Marvel wanted to keep under wraps at the time. On February 21, 2012, the costume was finally made downloadable to the public, but there was still no word about its origin. Then, on March 2, 2012, Marvel gives us a preview of Sam Alexander, the new Nova as seen in Ultimate Spider-Man (which later aired on April 1, 2012). Sam's costume is the DLC costume of Nova in UMvC3.
    • Another example is Shuma-Gorath. Most people know him more from the Marvel vs. Capcom games than they do from the comics, though he only actually counts as an example in territories where the comics didn't get published.
    • In Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars, surprisingly, Ippatsuman (and his Humongous Mecha Gyakuten-Oh) is the only one who strictly fits in this trope. All the other Tatsunoko (and Capcom) characters had their licenses applied in many ways. However, while many of those series may have been licensed overseas, many of them were still obscure to Western audiences (the most notable exception probably being the cast of Gatchaman, as that seriously was previously adapted for American TV as Battle of the Planets).
  • None of the Dead Space games were released in Japan, but Isaac Clarke is available as a DLC character on PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale including the Japanese version.
  • Super Robot Spirits barely sold 10,000 units in Japan and it never got exported, so a lot of Super Robot Wars fans never knew that Levi Torah and her unit Judecca came from this game, rather than debuting in Alpha.
  • Though there were English localizationsnote  of his mangas, Gon was incredibly obscure outside Japan, which meant that his appearance in Tekken 3 led people to believe he'd been invented for the game. Also, Tekken 3 was not Gon's video game debut. There was a SNES game released in 1994, Gon.
  • Many gamers are far more likely to recognize Tessa from Super Gem Fighter or SVC Chaos than from her home game, Red Earth, which never got a console release.
  • Labrys was on a drama CD for Persona 3. These were not released outside of Japan, so many Western gamers thought she debuted in Persona 4: Arena.
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse marks the first international appearance of Mira and Towa, the leaders of the villainous Time Breakers, and the Time Patrol version of Trunks, all of whom debuted in Dragon Ball Online, a now-defunct MMO that never saw release outside of Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The Supreme Kai of Time was also mentioned in Dragon Ball online, and Jaco the Galactic Patrolman debuted in the West in Xenoverse.
  • Celica A. Mercury and Naoto Kurogane from BlazBlue both debuted in a series of light novels that never got an overeases release, Blazblue Phase Shift for Celica and Bloodedge Experience for Naoto. As a result, most western fans were initially exposed to them through their playable appearances in the main series and scratching their heads at just who the hell they were. It's especially jarring because both seem to play very important roles in the plot and some have prior relationships with the already established cast, so it comes off as Remember the New Guy? if you didn't do your research beforehand.
  • The Japanese version of Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee replaced the Heisei Mechagodzilla (simply known in the game as "Mechagodzilla") with its then-recent Millennium counterpart, Kiryu. Okay, no problem. But when the game was ported over to the Xbox in North America in 2003, Kiryu was included as a playable character (here named "Mechagodzilla 3") alongside its Heisei incarnation (now named "Mechagodzilla 2"). Kiryu's film debut wouldn't see a US release until the next year.

     Mecha Game 

  • In 3D Dot Game Heroes, the loading screens are parodies of the artwork to various classic games in the "3D pixel" style of DGH. However, many of the games that were never released outside of Japan are currently being having their remade forms released. It's surprisingly hard to be nostalgic for something that isn't due out until later this year. Compounding the problem is that these are (with a few exceptions) parodies of the Japanese artwork which in many cases is completely different from the artwork in other territories. Sure, you got Tetris, but not with the box art being parodied.
  • Though Konami has refused to release Tokimeki Memorial in Western countries, a few references to the series in other Konami games released internationally got through, such as Yae's "Kirameki Uniform" (aka the Summer version of the iconic Sailor Fuku of the first Tokimemo game) in Goemon's Great Adventure, or the Kaori Yae (the Ensemble Dark Horse of Tokimeki Memorial 2) Dog Tag in Metal Gear Solid 2. Shiori Fujisaki makes her first international appearance as a boss in Otomedius Excellent.
  • Sanrio's Jewelpet franchise never got exported to American shores because of its similarities with Webkinz and the resulting fear of getting sued by the company that owns it. Along with the fact that Magical Girl shows are a hard sell in the American market these days. However, the main characters Ruby, Garnet and Sapphie showed up in a 2011 Hello Kitty Nintendo DS game called "Loving Life with Hello Kitty & Friends", making it the first and only appearance of the franchise in anglophone countries.
  • Misato Hayakawa of Countdown Vampires first appeared in the Japan-exclusive R?MJ: The Mystery Hospital, a D-like first-person Adventure Game from the same developer and publisher.
  • Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F, a Rhythm Game, featured a music video for "The MMORPG Addict's Anthem" showing Miku playing the MMORPG Phantasy Star Online 2. Project Diva F was the first game in its series to be released internationally in 2013, while the North American version of PSO2 languished in Development Hell until finally being put back on track for a 2020 release.
    • Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise has a tape that players can listen to while driving through the wastes containing the opening theme song for PSO2. It would be almost another year before word of a Western release was uttered.

     Platform Game 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Many fans of Sonic the Hedgehog widely believe that certain details about the characters, such as Tails' Gadgeteer Genius skills and Eggman's goofiness (and his nickname being Eggman) first appeared in Sonic Adventure. In reality, this was actually a case of All There in the Manual mixed with No Export for You, as the Japanese manuals and supplemental material revealed these facts from the start. There were hints in-game, however, such as Tails' mechanical know-how in Sonic Triple Trouble or Tails Adventure (he has a personal submarine, for one thing). Even more notably, in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Tails fixed Sonic's plane, the Tornado, by affixing a jet beneath it when it was shot down at the start of Wing Fortress Zone, and in such a short amount of time as to be ready to pick Sonic up at the end of the stage no more than ten minutes later.
    • In the games, Amy Rose and Charmy Bee first appeared in Sonic the Hedgehog CD and Knuckles' Chaotix, respectively; however, they instead debuted in Shogakukan manga much earlier, with some notable differences.note 
    • There are some fans who believe that Sonic Adventure was the first Sonic game that takes place on Earth, and that the classic series instead took place on the planet Mobius. In reality, Mobius was a foreign concept in the cartoons and comics, although it was mentioned as the setting of Sonic Spinball (which is more based on the cartoons rhan game canon). Sonic the Animation is also blatantly on Earth and it was made in 1994.
    • Mobius itself was a concept taken from an early, quickly-dropped American backstory, but was considered canon in the UK until 2000, where it's use appears to have predated the cartoons.
    • Sonic Adventure wasn't even the first game in English-speaking markets to use the name Eggman - it appears on the side of the Wing Fortress in Sonic 2, is used as Robotnik's racing moniker ("The Eggman") in Sonic Drift 2, and is again used in Sonic the Fighters.
      • On the other hand, the Robotnik name was used in the Japanese release of Sonic Spinball ("Robotnik is getting away! Go get him!"), and Sonic & Tails 2, the Japanese release of Triple Trouble ("Robotnik Winter Zone"), both before it was used in Sonic Adventure 2.
    • On the opposite side of things, several characters from Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) and Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) made their only (to date) Japanese appearance in Sonic Spinball.
    • Mighty the Armadillo, a Sonic-like character in Knuckles' Chaotix, made his first actual appearance in SegaSonic the Hedgehog, whose Japan-only release predates even Sonic 3, let alone Chaotix. Mighty was allegedly based on one of the original designs for Sonic. The same applies for Ray the Flying Squirrel, who appeared in some of the Sonic Archie Comics in the US and the internationally-released Sonic Mania Plus, but also first appeared in the Japan-only SegaSonic game.
  • Castlevania:
    • Shaft was cut from the only port of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood that the US or Europe got prior to 2007. This led to him mind-controlling Richter in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night with pretty much no introduction.
    • Maria Renard debuted in Rondo of Blood as a 12-year old vampire slayer, and returns as a 17 year old adult in Symphony of the Night. All cameos of Maria use her as a 12 year old since that's how she debuted first. Many western fans are confused why they don't show her as an adult, since that's the first time they saw her.
    • Getsu Fuuma, from Getsu Fuma Den, first appeared outside Japan in video game form in Castlevania: Harmony of Despair. However, his first international appearance was actually as a Yu-Gi-Oh! card.
  • Sayo, the main protagonist of Kiki Kai Kai (later known to Western gamers as Pocky when the series was released Sequel First), first appeared outside Japan as the World 6 boss in the NES version of Rainbow Islands. This was averted in Europe, which ended up getting a completely different port of that game.
  • Spike in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is based on his appearance in Million Monkeys, which was released only in Japan.
  • When Hebereke was localized as U-four-ia: The Saga, the character design was changed. Because of this (and U-four-ia only getting a limited release in Scandinavia), they ended up debuting in the Mega Drive port of Lemmings.
  • Runbow has guest characters from indie games with several of those still having yet to be released in Japan, so Runbow's Japanese release was the debut of some of the guest characters in Japan unlike outside of Japan where all of the guest characters debuted in their own games first.

     Puzzle Game 
  • The characters from Jewelry Master Twinkle, a Falling Blocks Puzzle Game with Dating Sim elements that somehow got an international release, actually come from an older Japan-only Mahjong game called Taikyoku Mahjong: Net de Ron!.
  • Toro Inoue, mascot of SCE Japan, is the star of the Doko Demo Issho series and the spinoff Mainichi Issho. None of these games made it out of Japan, and even his cameos in other games tended not to be exported. His first international appearance in a video game was as a playable character in the PlayStation 3 version of Street Fighter X Tekken, along with his neighbor Kuro, followed by his appearance in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.
  • In a cross media example, Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva introduced some new characters from the not-yet-released-outside-of-Japan prequel trilogy to the western world. (Mainly in Europe - in the US the movie was delayed just long enough for the first game to be released first.)

     Rail Shooter 
  • Mighty Gunvolt, as its name implies, features characters from Azure Striker Gunvolt and Mighty No. 9. What the title doesn't suggest, however, is that the game also features characters from a shooter called Gal*Gun,note  which is about a boy who accidentally gets shot by too many love arrows and is forced to spend a day at school courting one of four girls while fending off an Unwanted Harem. Ekoro, an apprentice angel who debuted in Gal*Gun: Double Peace, is a playable character alongside Gunvolt and Beck. Since Bishoujo games are hard to come by outside of Japan, Mighty Gunvolt serves as the international debut of the Gal*Gun cast. Additionally, Shinobu and Maya, the heroines of Double Peace, have a cameo in the school stage, though Maya only appears in Ekoro's route. Most of the games were eventually released just in time for Mighty Gunvolt Burst to feature Kurona without any recognition problems, though those curious about Tenzou (protagonist of the very first game) would have to wait three years for Gal*Gun Returns.

     Real Time Strategy 
  • Alabama "Bama the Hammer" Kowalski, a.k.a. Sgt. Hammer, makes her StarCraft debut in StarCraft II Legacy of the Void, but originally appeared in Heroes of the Storm... though she was based off of a generic unit that was given a name (and more of a personality) that existed since the original, making this a case where it overlaps with Ascended Extra.
    • The characters Lt. Rosa Morales and Cpl. Miles "Blaze" Lewis went through the same treatment.

     Rhythm Game 
  • Barbara the Bat is quite an odd case. While her first game, Daigasso! Band Brothers, debuted in Japan, she only made her first appearance overseas in Master of Illusion, which is a completely different game. Later, she was brought back as an unlockable Assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, with a callback to Band Brothers to boot. To add insult to injury, there were scrapped plans to bring Band Brothers overseas under the title Jam with the Band. Band Brothers DX wasn't released in Europe until May 2010.
  • Basically every Bemani crossovers in Dance Dance Revolution have been mistaken to be new content for the games by Western fans, instead of, well, crossovers from other entries in the BEMANI line of rhythm video games, which DDR is just one of many. This is because DDR is the only Bemani series that gained as much popularity inside Japan as it did outside, causing it to be the only one that Konami marketed overseas with any semblance of seriousness (they did try to release a Western port of beatmania IIDX once, but it flopped). In Japan, DDR is not actually the most popular of the bunch (beatmania IIDX is), though it is the oldest one still active.

     Role-Playing Game 
  • Atelier:
    • Some of the cast of the first and second games finally appeared in the US... in the Gust game Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia, in a bonus level of the dream states for the heroines. This happened nearly ten years after the debut of the first Atelier game. The characters finally made their solo debut in the Western market in manga form, but the Atelier games that Ar Tonelico referenced still aren't out in the States.
    • X Edge (pronounced "Cross Edge") was released by NIS America in late May 2009. It's the full-on console debut for Marie, the first Atelier heroine, in a SSB-style crossover game that wasn't produced by, and isn't distributed by, her own home company.
    • With Trinity Universe, it's happening again, with Violet Platane of Atelier ViorateViolet making her American debut in that game. Potentially rabid gamers wielding carrots have, in fact, been spotted outside the NISA offices.
    • Also in X Edge, 4 characters from it, Lily, Whim, Raze, and Rewrich are from Mana Khemia 2, a game that was planned to be brought over by NISA months after X Edge in spite of MK2 far preceding it in Japan in both system and release dates.
    • Relatedly, the Atelier series first came to the US via the Iris subseries, which was an attempt to use some of the Atelier concepts in a more standard RPG — namely, one with a male lead and a Defeat The Big Bad main plot. The fact that these were the ones that finally managed to get companies interested in a US release is irksome to some fans, as well.
    • In a franchise sense, the newest Atelier games are now coming over, Rorona and Annie respectively... which means that this trope has happened again. Liese Randel in Atelier Annie shows up in the second year of gameplay to help out our heroine and seemingly has a bit of history... history which is covered in her own game, Atelier Liese, which didn't make it out of Japannote  meaning English gamers only know her from Annie.
    • Finally, there's Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists: Ateliers of the New World, whose status as a Massive Multiplayer Crossover means that multiple secondary characters from previous generations, such as Enderk Jad and Bartholomaus Platane, at last make an appearance in an internationally-sold title.
  • The Witcher is a case of this as well. The first game was released in the US in 2007, the same year that the first English edition of the first book was released in the UK and a year before it first hit US bookshelves. This continued on, with Season of Storms being adapted into comic form by Dark Horse three years before the English translation was released.
  • Kasumi Yoshizawa from Persona 5 Royal appeared in the Sword Art Online mobile game Memory Defrag more than a month before Royal was released in the North America. She was not even a gacha character, she was just given to anyone who logged in during the collaboration period.
  • Tales of... Series:
    • Cress Albane and Arche Klein, of Tales of Phantasia fame (released in 1995), made their Western debut in 1998... in a cameo in Tales of Destiny. And then they appeared in Tales of Eternia (known in the West as Tales of Destiny II) as a Bonus Boss fight. Phantasia didn't cross the Pacific until 2006, over a decade after its debut in Japan and eight years after the characters showed up in ToD.
    • Eugene and Annie from Tales of Rebirth. Their American debut was in 2007 in Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology, three years after ToR came out in Japan.
    • Tales of the Abyss has Cameo fights too. Granted, all three of the cameos in Tales of Symphonia were from games that were released in America before (Garr was from Tales of Destiny, Farah and Meredy were from Tales of Eternia), but not in Europenote . However, in Tales of the Abyss, there's Mint (from Tales of Phantasia, which was finally released in the US the same year as Abyss), Philia (from Tales of Destiny, released years ago), and Reid from Tales of Eternia. However, who's this "Nanaly" girl in there? She is not Chelsea from Tales of Destiny. Ironically she's from the real Tales of Destiny 2 (note the Arabic numeral; Eternia used a Roman one) and is in no way related to Chelsea unless you WMG her to be a descendant of Chelsea (or Mary). Not to mention, two of Anise's Tokunaga accessories that reference Reala and Harold also first appeared in the west through Tales of the Abyss.
    • Tales of Vesperia also had Barbatos appear as a cameo boss - and neither the Destiny remake nor the real ToD2 ever was released outside of Japan!
    • Tales of Graces f had three of these upon its western release in the forms of Veigue Lungberg (Tales of Rebirth), Reala (Tales of Destiny 2), and Kohaku Hearts (Tales of Hearts). The PS Vita version of Tales of Hearts is the only one that's getting a western release.
    • One of the save data unlockables in Tales of Symphonia Chronicles is an alternate costume for Kratos based on Ludger from Tales of Xillia 2. While Xillia 2 was released a year before the compilation in Japan, Symphonia Chronicles came out first in the US.
    • Speaking of Ludger, one of the DLC costumes he can get in Xillia 2 is on based on Luca Milda (localized as Ruca) from Tales of Innocence, which neither the original Nintendo DS version nor the PS Vita remake ever left Japan.
  • A peculiar intra-series instance of this involves the Final Fantasy series. The games tend to reuse themes, but Western audiences were denied several of the original games for quite a while. So, for example, while practically every game has "Gysahl Greens", the place it's named after wasn't seen until Final Fantasy III was finally released for the Nintendo DS in 2006, a full sixteen years after its 1990 release in Japan and nine years after Gysahl Greens first were seen in the West under that name.)
    • Final Fantasy III is especially prone to this as it wasn't released outside of Japan until the DS remake. This led to many elements first introduced here being assumed to have debuted in later games, such as Summon Magic, Moogles and the Job Change system. Moogles are particularly notable, as due to lack of releases of 3 or 5 at the time, the first game released in America to feature them was part of a spinoff series: Final Fantasy Adventure.
    • Gilgamesh first appeared in North America in Final Fantasy VIII. This was a few weeks before Final Fantasy Anthology containing Final Fantasy V came out.
    • Lone Wolf and Gogo both first appeared in Japan and Europe in Final Fantasy V (the European appearance was in the remake), but the US in Final Fantasy VI. Unusually for this trope, both characters have larger roles in VI than V.
    • Mid and the heroes of Final Fantasy V were introduced to the US in the OAV Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals.
    • Cissnei's appearance in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII was the first time Western audiences met her, but she was actually featured in Before Crisis which came out three or four years prior and was never released outside Japan.
    • Another example is the recurring Job Class of Dragoons, which originally came out in Final Fantasy II with the character Ricard Highwind. It would also appear again in Final Fantasy III as a Class that the player could pick for the main characters. Since neither of those games were ported outside of Japan originally, the first time westerners would see that Class would be with Kain Highwind in Final Fantasy IV. References to the class as a whole are sometimes erroneously attributed to the popular Kain character in specific. The remakes of II and IV make a Mythology Gag out of it, naming Richard's son Kain in II, and Kain's father Richard in IV.
    • When Secret of Evermore was released in Europe, years before Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI reached the region, several characters returning from the latter series in cameos appeared there first.
    • A few Final Fantasy I characters such as Astos debuted in Europe, believe it or not, in Captain N: The Game Master. Really.
  • Terra from Ys: The Ark of Napishtim originally debuted in Ys V, which was never exported.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest IX has its own spin on this phenomenon. With downloadable character and cameos from the entire series becoming slowly available over the course of a year (July 2010 - July 2011), it's a fun look back at the history of the series as a whole - wait, Dragon Quest VI? That hadn't been released outside of Japan yet, and "Ashlynn of Sorceria" was the third one up. Hence, she came over before her game did. (Another character from VI, Carver, averted this by making his cameo after VI's US release...unless you hacked the game to unlock all the DLC at once.)
    • The first three games weren't released in PAL regions, making their characters examples.
    • Dragon Quest Monsters. The first game had enemies from Dragon Quest V and Dragon Quest VI plus Milly and Terry from VI, well before either game was released in the US. Milly and VI's bosses Murdaw, Mortamor, and Nokturnus would go on to make further cameos in IX before their own game got released in the US.
    • While Yangus, the cockney thief from Dragon Quest VIII, is familiar to non-Japanese audiences, he also appeared in a Japan-only Fushigi no Dungeon Gaiden Game on the PS2, in which he is a young boy who is still in training. This version of him was reused in the Itadaki Street series, from which Fortune Street was released to Western audiences. Naturally, they were confused why he was suddenly a kid in that game.
  • Fire Emblem has plenty of examples even outside the Super Smash Bros. series:
    • With many past characters appearing in Fire Emblem Awakening as DLC, this trope was inevitable for the international releases. For every game not released overseas at the timenote , ten more characters made their international debuts this way.note 
    • Of those who debuted in Awakening as DLC, Alm, Celica, and the Fire Emblem Gaiden cast star in the 3DS remake entitled Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. This is 25 years after the original Famicom release, much longer than the 19 years it took Marth to appear as a main character, but only 4 years after appearing in Awakening.
    • The mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes features characters throughout the entire history of the series, making it the debut for many of the characters who had been Japan-only prior to it.
    • Faye from Echoes makes her debut in Heroes one week prior to Echoes' Japanese release and a month prior to its international release.
    • Original characters Emma, Shade, Yuzu, and Lando, from the Japan-only Fire Emblem Cipher make their international debut outside their card game as DLC characters for Echoes.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories featured the Diamond Dust and One-Winged Angel Keyblades as attack cards. Those weapons were only added to the original Kingdom Hearts in its Final Mix, which did not see an English release until a near decade later.
  • Live A Live has never had an export outside of Japan, and even in its native country, it is at best a Cult Classic and at worst a flop. This did not stop them from releasing Megalomania as a DLC song in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, or for the mobile game Final Fantasy Legends: The Space-time Crystal as an optional boss and a summon.
  • Labrys, from Persona 4: Arena. Or rather, from a Japan-exclusive drama CD released for Persona 3, released 5-6 years previously. That said, she was little more than a passing mention.
  • Yo-Kai Watch:
    • The mobile phone puzzle game spinoff of Yo-Kai Watch, Yo-kai Watch Wibble Wobble, (Puni Puni) came out after the second game in Japan and thus featured many Yo-kai from the sequel. However, Wibble Wobble came out in English before the second Yo-kai Watch game was localized, meaning many of the sequel's Yo-kai debuted there first in English.
    • Wibble Wobble has also included Yo-kai that appeared in the third game and the Busters spin-off before either came out in the West.
    • In a non-Wibble Wobble example, the localization of Yo-kai Watch 3 introduced six "Commander" Yo-kai that were originally featured in Yo-kai Sangokushi, a spin-off crossover with Koei-Tecmo's Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Sangokushi never got localized.
  • The Legend of Heroes - Trails: The series' second storyline, Trails from Zero was never localized outside of Japan and China, while Trails In The Sky and Trails of Cold Steel came stateside. As a result, several characters from the Crossbell arc made their worldwide debut in Cold Steel II, III and IV, including primary characters such as Lloyd Bannings, Rixia Mao, Elie MacDowell and Mariabell Crois, as well as side characters like Cao Lee and Grace Lynn.

     Shoot 'em Up 
  • The Shoot 'em-up game Einhänder was never released in PAL territories. So for some players who have never heard of it, Kingdom Hearts III''s Gummi-Ship sections (very much a Shoot-em-up) was their first introduction to the game via the secret boss of "Schwarzgeist", same with the ship "Endymion".
  • In the Sega Superstars game, Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing, the two protagonists of "HOTD EX" Zobio and Zobiko, appear as fully playable racers, despite their game not leaving Japan (and for a short while, China) and All-Stars Racing not leaving Western countries.
  • Reimu Hakurei, protagonist of Touhou, appears as a Bonus Boss in Magic Pengel and a playable character in its sequel Graffiti Kingdom (as "Flying Maiden"), despite her own games never being released in English. The Touhou situation became particularly strange in 2015, when some Doujin fangames received a commercial PS4 release under the Play, Doujin! programme. These were then localized into English and received a misleading advertising campaign which implied them to be an official release of the original Touhou games.
  • Orange_Juice examples:
    • Acceleration of SUGURI has Sora, protagonist of her own game, who appears as a Bonus Boss and unlockable character. Her game was still in development when Acceleration Of SUGURI was released. However, a teaser of her game can be unlocked by fighting Sora and unlocking her extra story.
    • QP is actually a Guest Fighter from another Orange_Juice game, QP Shooting. Said game did not see a release in the west (although its sequel, Dangerous!!, did), thus making Acceleration of SUGURI her debut game to westerners.
    • And for many of the characters from QP Shooting and Xmas Shooting, their first appearance for Western audiences was 100% Orange Juice!.
    • Kyousuke from QP Shooting - Dangerous!! originated in QP Kiss, an untranslated April Fools release that resembles a Dating Sim with gender-swapped Orange_Juice characters and Acceleration-like gameplay. In addition, the 100% Orange Juice! card "President's Privilege" features some scrapped character designs from the project. His long-absent fellow cast member Kyupita was added to 100% Orange Juice! in late 2020.
  • Gradius:
    • Venom, one of the series' villains, made his North American debut in Gradius V in 2005, 18 years after he debuted in the Japan- and Europe-exclusive Nemesis 2 in 1987. Just to add insult to injury, his massive-brain form in this game looks nothing like how he does in the MSX games or in Gradius ReBirth (2009) where he's a comparatively normal green humanoid alien.
    • James Burton, one of the series' few named heroes, also debuted in Nemesis 2 in Japan and Europe, yet he did not appear in any game released for the North American market until Gradius ReBirth in 2009, 22 years later.
    • Gofer of Gradius II (1988) had to wait 10 years to appear in a game released in North America, namely Gradius IV.

     Simulation Game 

     Survival Horror 
  • In the Clock Tower games, the original game released for the SNES was Japan-only. The sequel Clock Tower 2 on the PlayStation was received in North America, introducing Jennifer and the ScissorMan.

     Turn-Based Strategy 
  • La Pucelle didn't receive an English localization until the American success of Disgaea. This resulted in Prier first appearing as a Bonus Boss cameo in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, before appearing in her own game. Worse, her appearance in Disgaea spoils a plot point of La Pucelle.
  • Disgaea 3 introduces a little known character in the West named Souichirou Kogure. The reason why he is little known is because the visual novel in which he originated from, Hayarigami, has not been released outside of Japan and, considering NISA's general aversion to visual novels outside of Disgaea Infinite, probably never will.

  • Due to the Development Hell Pokémon Red and Blue went through during localization, several iconic Pokémon characters made their first appearance outside Japan as stamps in the Game Boy Camera, of all places.
  • The second game in the WarioWare series, Twisted!, was released in the US only after the third game, Touched!, was already out in stores, while in Europe it was never released. As a result, Wario-Man and 18-Volt appeared first in Touched! for Western players.
  • Splatoon's Inklings underwent this in South Korea. The Wii U, and by extention the first game, was never released in the country, but two games where they made cameos—as Mii costumes and a trophy in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, and as actual guest characters in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe—were. The squid kids made their proper Korean debut in Splatoon 2.

Non-Video Game Examples

     Comic Books 

  • Chitti from the famous Bollywood movie Robot had his first appearance in Germany with a cameo in the movie Ra.One.
  • Wreck-It Ralph appearing in the British-developed Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (released on November 18, 2012; around two weeks after the film's US premiere) qualifies as this in the developers' home country, where the film was released in February 2013.
  • Godzilla gets hit with this a lot, many viewers nowadays don't realize that such famous Godzilla foes as Mothra and Rodan were actually the stars of their own successful films before making the jump.
  • In Japan, Gnomeo and Juliet was never released, but Sherlock Gnomes was, leading the appearance of the characters from the previous film to be the first time they showed up in Japan. What’s even more confusing is that the reference to the former movie in the opening scene was kept in the Japanese dub despite the film in question not being dubbed.

     Live-Action TV 
  • Kamen Rider:
  • In Germany, Pro7 got the rights to only the first two seasons of the Doctor Who revival. Rival TV station RTL 2 had more luck with spin-off Torchwood which led to the Doctor's companion Martha Jones first appearing in Torchwood and not Series 3 of Doctor Who.
  • Super Sentai:
  • Power Rangers:
    • Power Rangers Super Megaforce features the first appearances of the five core Gosei Sentai Dairanger suits, Hikari Sentai Maskman, Choushinsei Flashman, Dengeki Sentai Changeman, and Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman as "new powers". Uniquely, the presence of this trope was actually handwaved... poorly,note  single-handely leading the Power Rangers fandom into a meltdown and causing a new fandom meme to spawn.
    • Power Rangers Ninja Steel featured the US debut of Metal Heroes character Jiraiya who was adapted as a character named "Space Sheriff Skyfire", who is recruited by Big Bad Madame Odius to fight the Power Rangers.
    • Power Rangers: Beast Morphers also featured the US debut of a Metal Heroes character. In this case, it was Gavan Type-G from Space Sheriff Gavan: The Movie, who was adapted as Captain Chaku.
    • The Italian dub of the franchise initially skipped Power Rangers RPM, which was dubbed only after Power Rangers Samurai. As a result, the RPM Red Ranger was first seen in the Samurai special episode "Clash of the Red Rangers".
    • Monster of the Week examples appear all the time - some sentai monsters don't get adapted, or are used in a different order than the original series. This means a gathering of past monsters might contain monsters who have never appeared, or who haven't appeared yet, leaving fans to say "when did they ever fight that guy?" or "wait, didn't we see that one in monster hell? What's he doing alive to be this week's MOTW?"
  • Big Bad Beetleborgs had an episode which featured the debut of some Metal Heroes characters whose series were never aired in the US. Among them was Janperson, who was explained to be another comic book character named "Karato", who had been made by the artist who later created the Beetleborgs comic. Not only did Gun Gibson and Bill Goldy also appear (as "Silver Ray" and "Goldex"), Mademoiselle Q from Blue SWAT appeared too, as "Wingar". (The Blue SWAT team themselves were cut completely, likely because of their exposed Japanese faces.)

  • Since not all Tamagotchi devices are released outside of Japan, some characters appeared on devices years after their Japanese debut. The most notable example was the V3, which used many characters that were originally from the Osutchi and Mesutchi, which came out nine years earlier.

     Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Debut Displacement, Marth Debuted In Super Smash Brothers


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