Two cliches, one game.

Cavia, the makers of the very underrated Drakengard games are getting their newest game released for the PS3 and 360 in the west. Going by the name of “NIER” this rpg-actioner has a very peculiar detail regarding it’s localization. You see, we are getting the exact same game as the japanese, but with one exception: the lead character. While japan is getting this guy:

While we are getting this dude:

The reason for this? According to Square Enix, the publishers, each character was made to appeal to each market. The androginous young boy for the japanese, the “angry roid-rage guy” for us gaikokujins. You know, because there’s barely any of those character featured in games in both the east and west. Well, the guy we are getting is surprisingly not bald.

Hey, two different characters, a different take in each story right? Not here, the story is exactly the same for both versions, with just some minor alterations. So the question here is, why not just having a single guy for both markets? A single, well written character, that can help make the story as engaging and appealing as it can. Sure, the game might play well, but seeing this much attention focused on the “looks” i have to wonder how the story flows. The premise is that the hero is trying to find a cure for a plague, in the japanese version affecting the sister, and in the american version the daughter. Here we arrive at one big problem: changing the age of the character right there means a lot more than just doing an asthetic change. A younger man is not going to approach a situation in the same way a more experienced man could do. That the producers are minimizing this aspect speaks greatly about how game companies still approach storytelling in video games, and yes, western companies are in a similar condition before you say it. Seriously, when was the last time you heard about a movie releasing two versions with different leads in the same date? Same story, same situations, just a different guy to “appeal” to different audiences?

Here’s the thing: you can’t please everyone all the time, sometimes the end result can end up being quite ugly that way. Japanese developers seem to be obsessed these days with pleasing way too much the audience, even forgetting about themselves in the process. Sure sure, a game is a product made for mass consumption, and people always want more of the same. The thing is, if you are never going to try something different might as well not bother doing a new franchise at all, just release another port or a redundant sequel to a well known franchise, and call it a day.

Now, if the story is actually good, well damn, sign me up. I still find the reasoning behind this “different lead for different demographic” quite silly, at the core japanese and western players are really not that different. They stick to what they know, but sometimes it’s good to rock their boat a bit.

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3 Responses to “Two cliches, one game.”

  1. ECM Says:

    Haha, clever 🙂

  2. Justinzero Says:

    I stand by my motto in this situation: I’d rather have beef than cheese. And Japanese cheese at that.

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