Greg Wilcox' "Did YOU Know?" will be your ticketto all that has been hidden from you in the vast universe of video gaming.Whether it be titles released in distant lands, gems that were snubbed byattempts to bring it to the public eye, or simply games your mother told you youcouldn't play, Greg is on the case to shine a big bright spotlight on all of thedark corners of gaming.
The (Re) Name Game
One of the more interesting and amusing aspects of import game collecting is keeping track of title changes from one region to the next. Many Japanese releases have their titles truncated or otherwise altered to make them more palatable to buyers here, and the same goes for US and European games sold in Japan. This month, I’ll drop a few names of games released on both sides of the ocean and hopefully you’ll get a laugh here and there in the process.
I’m sure most of you know Bio Hazard is Resident Evil here, but what about Body Hazard? That’s what Perfect Weapon was called in Japan. Gex is Gex on any system it was released on in Japan, but Gex 2: Enter The Gecko is Spin Tail on the PS One there- go figure. Septentrion, the name of a doomed ocean liner (and a challenging adventure game by Human) got shortened to S.O.S on the SNES. Oddly enough, it’s often confused with S.O.S, a puzzle game whose full title, Sink or Swim, actually describes the other S.O.S.’s plot in as few words as possible. Lennus sounds like either a foreign car, MTV VJ, or a new age crooner, but it’s known here as Paladin’s Quest for the SNES. There was a Lennus 2, but it was never translated into English (in case you were curious).
Here are a few more games sound like they’re something else entirely, and you’d be excused if you start to get confused, as the song goes. Time Dominator, for example, sounds like a fast-paced action game starring a square-jawed hero. Well, here it’s known as the Genesis game Socket, and it’s a fast-paced platformer starring a duck-jawed duck with an electric cord sticking out of his rear end. Plug him in, and he cooks himself instantly- Yum! All kidding aside, it’s a pretty good game worth tracking down if you don’t have it already. Henry Explorers and Kula Quest sound like role-playing or adventure games, but you’ll be playing Crypt Killer and Roll Away, respectively if you’re here in the states. Finalist could easily be confused with some sort of sports game, but it’s known here as Tunnel B1, a title that still doesn’t tell you what the game is about (it’s a 3D shooter).
More? OK. Blast Chamber was released in Japan as Cubacu, which sounds to me like what polygon cigarettes are made of. Puzz Loop is Ballistic here, and in a way both titles work just fine if you’ve played the game. Zeitgeist could be some sort of semi-spooky adventure game, but US gamers know it as Jupiter Strike (unless they only have the PC port, which is called Zeitgeist). The fun 3DO game Quarantine was released in Japan for the PS One as Hard Rock Cab, and Hard Edge is known here as T.R.A.G. (which I believe the Original Playstation Magazine translated in a review as “The Really Average Game”). The generic sounding Mega CD fighting/RPG hybrid Battle Fantasy got changed to Revengers of Vengeance here, possibly one of the worst renames to date (try looking up “revengers” in any dictionary).
The fast and fun driving game Runabout was retitled Felony 11-79 here, and as some sort of cosmic revenge, TNN Motorsports 4x4 Hardcore was called Deka Yonku- Tough the Truck in Japan on both the PS One and Saturn. Speaking of driving games, Smuggler’s Run was released as Crazy Bumps in Japan, and if you’re looking for WTC (World Touring Cars) on a search engine, do yourself a favor and type the full name in. You’ll get a few hundred thousand less pages to inspect. The game got saddled with the unwieldy moniker Jarrett & Labonte Stock Car Racing when it came out here on the PS One. If you haven’t read my second column on import racing games, then you’ll want to know that The Need for Speed series based on the Road & Track license is called Overdrivin’ in Japan, and they got a few nice games that didn’t show up here.
The two PS One Oddworld games were changed to Abe a Go Go and Abe ’99 in Japan, which make them sound somewhat like dancing games if you think about it. Klaymen Klaymen is a Japanese PS One port of the PC game The Neverhood, which never came out here for the console. Klaymen Klaymen 2 is Skullmonkeys, and Klaymen Gun-Hockey is a Japan only PS One release, last I heard. The quirky airship strategy game Heir of Zendor is the quirky airship strategy game Gotha II in Japan. Gotha and Gothaworld are the bookends, if you want to complete the set. Enix’ Super Famicom RPG Slapstick I makes more sense as Robotrek here, but Elnard‘s title probably confused as many Japanese gamers as the US version called The 7th Saga.
Switch! got switched to Panic! For the Sega CD, and the game recently got a PS2 remake, which no one seems to want to take a chance on localizing. Tatsujin is Truxton, and Tetsujin is Iron Angel of the Apocalypse. One is a classic arcade and Genesis shooter and the other is a slow moving first-person mech game from hell. See what one little letter can do? Then again, the first Tomb Raider was called Tomb Raiders in Japan, but when the rest of the games came out, they dropped that extra s. Then again, oddball spellings are common in Japan, partly because abbreviating is cool. Snowbow Kids, for example, which is cuter than Snowboard Kids, and Ex-Ranza, which sounds a lot more hip than Ranger-X. Then again, Wild 9 was renamed Wildroid 9 in Japan, and whoever thought Star Fighter would sound more futuristic there as Star Fighter 3000 probably knows something I don’t. Are you still with me? Good- it gets stranger.
Some games have their titles AND content changed, which makes for a bit of fun if you’re a perfectionist. Bandai released Pandemonium! in Japan for the Sega Saturn with major art changes on the main characters, a new anime intro and game story as Magical Hoppers. When Crystal Dynamics changed the characters for the sequel, Pandemonium 2, the only changes for the Japanese release were the title, Miracle Jumpers, and the cover art, which is a model of simplicity over the US version. Imperial no Taka: Fighter of Zero for the Dreamcast was more or less an enhanced version of Zero Pilot: Fighter of Silver Wing for the PS One, and both games you played as a Japanese WW II pilot attacking Allied forces. A couple of bottles of White-Out later and Iron Aces was released here, focusing on an American WWII pilot defending against Axis forces. Speaking of flying games, Bogey Dead 6 is better known as Sidewinder in Japan, and we missed out on the sequel, Sidewinder 2. We did get Sidewinder F here on the PS2 as Lethal Skies: Team SW, but missed out on Sidewinder Max with its anime-syled character art and story. Oh, befor I forget: Battletech on the Super Famicom is Mechwarrior 3050 with new mech art, and shouldn’t be confused with Battletech on the Genesis, which is called Battletech 3050 overseas!
Sometimes what’s a harmless gag in one culture can be considered controversial here, like in the case of the RPG Boku to Maoh (I and Satan King ) for the PS2. The game’s quirky, Tim Burton inspired visuals and amusing plot made it a shoe-in for a US release, but as you’d imagine, the original Japanese title wouldn’t actually sit well with the Wal-mart crowd. So, we got Okage: Shadow King, and the Evil King Satan was shortened to Evil King Stan. If you’re clever and open-minded enough, it’s quite obvious as you play through the game just what the hell is going down (little joke there). Speak of the devil, XI (sai) is Devil Dice, a game that many find more addictive than Tetris. Since I’m on a roll here (ba dum bum), we missed out on the PS One sequel, XI Jumbo, but Capcom snagged the rights to the recent PS2 update and released it here as Bombastic (which has the original Devil Dice on the disc as a hidden bonus).
Some games have different titles in different parts of the world. Powerslave is Exhumed in the UK, and A.D. 1999 in Japan. Apparently, the further east the game went, the stronger the alcohol got that was served in the marketing division. Then again, Riglord Saga got two titles in one market when it was released in the US. If you’ve copies of Blazing Heroes and Mystaria: Realms of Lore sitting in your collection, well, other than the logo and title screens, it’s the same game. Back to the UK for a second- say what you want about PAL format games, but at least they got to play Keio Yugekitai on their Saturns there (as Keio Flying Squadron 2), and a small load of other Japanese games that didn’t make it out here.
Here’s a list of Alestes I’ve Compile-d for you. We got Aleste on the Master System as Power Strike, but missed out on Aleste 2, which was released in Europe as Power Strike 2. The sequel Musha Aleste, is well known as M.U.S.H.A. here, and we all know what those letters stand for, right? There was a Super Famicom version, Super Aleste, which was put out here as Space Megaforce, and some swear it’s the best shooter on the system. Then there’s Dennin Aleste- Nobunaga and his Ninja Force, which was released here as Robo Aleste on the Mega CD. There are a couple of Game Gear Aleste titles, but I believe we never got any of them in the US. One more reason to collect imports: it’s sometimes a lot easier to follow the titles. Speaking of shooters, Darius II was released here as Sagaia on the Genesis, and I believe Darius Twin is more or less the same game for the Super Famicom (Super Nova on the SNES, by the way). Of course, Darius Gaiden is called Darius Gaiden on Saturns all over the world.
Numbering seems to be another source of confusion. I won’t rehash the whole Final Fantasy numbering system, as that’s pretty much been discussed to death. But Clock Tower, on the other hand… Get this- the first game was a Super Famicom title that didn’t come out here at all. It was ported over to the Playstation in Japan with enhancements as Clock Tower: The First Fear. Next came Clock Tower 2: The Explanatory Note, which made it out here as Clock Tower. The storylines of the first two games are connected, which is why the bizarre CG intro to the US version of CT makes no sense to some people who’ve never seen the end of the first game! Clock Tower: Ghost Head was the next game in the series, and that came out here as Clock Tower 2. This game has no connection to the other two other than some gameplay elements, so it’s not a true sequel. At least the numbering system evened itself out worldwide with the release of Clock Tower 3, but that game also has a totally new storyline that has nothing to do with any of the previous games. So I guess it’s a horror anthology series now.
Finally, Target Earth for the Genesis was originally called Assault Suit Leynos in Japan, and shouldn’t be confused with Assault Suit Valken for the Super Famicom, which is Cybernator here. Both games play almost exactly the same, and both games got sequels on different systems. Here’s the goofy part- Assault Suit Leynos 2 is like the first game, a tough side scrolling action game, but Assault Suits Valken 2 is a strategy game similar to the Front Mission series. I’ll end this here, but there are hundreds, if not thousands of other examples that I’m sure most of you will think of. See you all next month- I’m going to go try and get all these games back on my wall now!
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