Author Topic: Too Hard for 'Murica  (Read 4375 times)


  • Tortuga
« on: October 09, 2013, 11:45:31 AM »
So doing an assignment for a New Media course I'm taking right now, on difficulty in video games as it relates to Japan's game industry.  I could hardly do this topic without covering how Super Mario Bros. 2 (the original one that used the first game's engine) was not initially localized due to the huge difficulty spike.  We got a rebrand of Doki Doki Panic, etc. etc.  Initiate-level trivia for a Mario fan.  But I can't seem to find, whether on this site or others, anything concrete saying that the difficulty was a large factor.

This is bad news for me if I want to cite a source as to why SMB2J didn't hit stateside.

Has this actually been examined on a level deeper than hearsay?  Do we know of anyone on the development team or other staff who have said "it was too hard so we didn't localize it"?  Or is a passing mention of "due to the increased difficulty" based on [not much in particular] all that we've got on the subject?  In short, how do we know the higher difficulty prompted the... ahem, Panic?

Help!  My grade depends on y'all!  I might be doomed.
"It'll say life is sacred and so is death
but death is life and so we move on"

« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2013, 05:08:07 PM »
Wasn't that also the case with early Final Fantasy games?
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« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2013, 06:23:36 PM »
Somes sites credit the book Game Over (for example) for that bit of trivia, but I've got a copy of the 1999 edition and it doesn't actually have anything about SMB 2.


  • Quadruped
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2013, 08:01:56 PM »
There are also instances where Japanese games were localized in the US and made more difficult.  Working Designs for one like to tinker with a games difficulty as they'd see fit.  Popful Mail (Sega CD) was made drastically harder, with enemies dealing so much more damage that you'd have to fight bosses almost flawlessly.  And with Alundra (PS1) they made it so bosses both dealt more damage and took more damage, but that was more to deal with overly-long bosses.

Then there's also Dynamite Headdy (Sega Genesis).  The original Japanese version was relatively easy, but in the US release bosses were given several times more health, and the player took more damage from everything.  The game got crazy-hard in a lot of parts because of this.
Go Moon!

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  • Paid by the word
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2013, 08:21:26 PM »
Wasn't that also the case with early Final Fantasy games?
I know Final Fantasy IV, at least, was made easier for the US release...and then made even easier than that for a later Japanese rerelease.

I can't speak for other developers, but in my experience, a decent number of Square Enix games, not just Final Fantasy, have been made easier for their international releases. For a somewhat recent example, when I played through my US copy of The 3rd Birthday after completing several playthroughs of the Japanese version, I noticed a lot of enemies had their health and damage tweaked for the US version. For an example that isn't out yet, we're getting the rebalanced version of Bravely Default from the start.

As far as what Fifth is talking about with games being made harder for the west, the Japanese versions of Contra games have almost always been easier than their US counterparts, because of (EDIT: to use Hard Corps, often seen as one of the hardest in the series but seemingly not representative in this regard, as an example) using lifebars instead of one-hit kills.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 08:55:11 PM by WarpRattler »


  • Invincible
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2013, 08:25:22 PM »
I remember reading the classic "too hard" explanation in a Nintendo publication, but I can't track it down right now. Possibly the Mario Mania SMW guide, but I didn't see it while skimming earlier. I'll keep looking.

There is this, though: Howard Philiips, who playtested games for NOA, mentioned things that "might irritate American consumers" in the book The Ultimate History of Video Games: Google Books link

And he also talked about it in in this article:

(Phillips) found himself disconcerted with how the game tampered with the simple straightforward fun of the original, citing both the poison mushroom and seemingly random gusts of wind as deal breakers: "Suddenly, now you have to slow down and be more methodical; so that, and the unpredictable nature of the wind, to me, were just show-stoppers."

« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2013, 09:01:51 PM »
I can't believe you didn't even mention the TvTropes article, TK.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2013, 09:08:08 PM by Weegee »
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  • Tortuga
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2013, 12:26:27 AM »
TV Tropes isn't quite scholarly enough for the purposes of this assignment or I'd be a lot more reliant on it.

Interesting link, Deezer, much obliged.

Re:FFIV: Easy Type actually came out a month before the US version.  I was surprised to learn that while writing this assignment.
"It'll say life is sacred and so is death
but death is life and so we move on"