Is difficulty change considered part of localization process?

Discussion in 'General Gaming Discussion' started by Sonic Angel Knight, Feb 11, 2018.

  1. Sonic Angel Knight
    OP

    Sonic Angel Knight GBAtemp Legend

    Member
    15
    May 27, 2016
    United States
    New York
    I'm just curious on your opinion. Lately I been finding some articles of classic games that have varying degrees of difficulty between the regions. Some of them are either unintended bugs by accident or intentional to the localizer. There is more than I dare try to name, but some of may be well known by now or even more scarce.

    • Mega man 2 = Title screen provides Normal or Hard mode, normal mode is easy mode. Hard mode is default in Japan.
    • Contra Hard Corps = International versions have 5 continues, Japanese version has a live bar that can take three hits before losing a life and unlimited continues. (Also has cheat codes not accessible internationally)
    • Battletoads = The Japanese version is made easier by increasing the starting lives to 5 by default and stages made easier by reducing number of enemies, slowing down speed stages like turbo tunnel and surf city.
    • Super Mario Bros.3 = Japanese version is slightly more difficult than international versions, one big difference is that internationally if you had a second stage power up from Super mushroom, you return to the previous Super Mushroom form, in Japan, you turn small instead
    • Streets of Rage 3 = International versions are much more difficult than the Japanese version
    • Metal Gear Solid 2 = European Extreme (Need i say more?)
    Question here is if this is part of localization process?
     
  2. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    20
    Nov 21, 2005
    United Kingdom
    If localisation = adapting a work to the intended region then I don't see why not. It need not only be language -- English US to English UK might change those silly imperial units to something more comprehensible and otherwise leave the words alone. If it need not only be language then surely some measure of difficulty adjustment is not off the cards as part of it all.

    On the flip side it might be a chance for a dev to have a bit of a do over, with the localisation then being a chance to do that within the framework of a game made for profit.
     
  3. B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N

    B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N can't think of anything creative to put here

    Member
    8
    Jun 7, 2016
    Antarctica
    Hell
    The examples you just listed are all from around the 8-/16-bit era. Back in those days, Japanese game devs believed, for whatever reason, that people overseas wouldn't be able to handle the stiff difficulty in their games (it's part of the reason why games such as the original Super Mario Bros. 2 and Fire Emblem series, for a while, didn't even get US releases).

    I honestly can't think of any modern examples of this trope, and, given how people have easy access to the internet, international gamers would probably find out very quickly if their versions of the game were getting toned down or not, which might result in more than a few complaints from overseas players. If there are modern examples of this, though, I'd love to hear them.
     
  4. Sonic Angel Knight
    OP

    Sonic Angel Knight GBAtemp Legend

    Member
    15
    May 27, 2016
    United States
    New York
    Also to add, fire emblem wasn't released internationally until late cause the type of game wasn't of consumer demand or popularity anywhere but Japan, and Super mario bros 2 was too much like the first one which was kinda not appealing after a 3 year gap of the first game.
     
    Last edited by Sonic Angel Knight, Feb 12, 2018
  5. B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N

    B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N can't think of anything creative to put here

    Member
    8
    Jun 7, 2016
    Antarctica
    Hell
    ...oh. I should've read more carefully :P

    But yeah, it honestly seems weird that they'd ramp up the difficulty for the international releases instead of vice versa. However, again, I can't think of any modern examples of this practice.
     
  6. Sonic Angel Knight
    OP

    Sonic Angel Knight GBAtemp Legend

    Member
    15
    May 27, 2016
    United States
    New York
     
  7. B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N

    B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N can't think of anything creative to put here

    Member
    8
    Jun 7, 2016
    Antarctica
    Hell
    Modern examples. As in, anything later than the Xbox 360.
     
  8. Hells Malice

    Hells Malice Are you a bully?

    pip Contributor
    15
    GBAtemp Patron
    Hells Malice is a Patron of GBAtemp and is helping us stay independent!

    Our Patreon
    Apr 9, 2009
    Canada
    The markets in each region tend to be different, so some localization companies will do things to compensate for that to bring a better experience to the players. It's most common in MMOs, where they get changed pretty significantly sometimes to suit less grind-friendly western gamers.

    It doesn't seem to happen as often anymore though outside of that, unless it's optional. Some RPGs will give players more healing items to start and stuff. It definitely does still happen, but it's a lot more subtle if it does.

    Back in the day it definitely happened a lot more because the western market was seen as a lot more casual and we couldn't handle harder games.
     
    Chary and B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N like this.
  9. Taleweaver

    Taleweaver Storywriter

    Member
    11
    Dec 23, 2009
    Belgium
    Belgium
    Well...considering the given evidence, I think the question is more one of "is difficulty change still part of localization process?". @B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N has a good point on the era, but I think it's more because cartridges were sold 'as is'. A company would build a game on software, test it, then distribute a bunch of physical copies. If the game turned out to still have bugs or be too easy or too hard, there wasn't much the company could do. As such, the first chance they had to correct it was releasing another serie of cartridges (I guess in the similar ways as books getting reprints). I can't think of any right now, but I'm certain that there ware version differences on cartridges within the same region as well (they're certainly there in arcades). But yeah...since the shipment overseas was also after the feedback on the initial game was received, this put developers in the spot where they either used the feedback to increase the quality of the game (even though it would mean the regions would be different gameplay-wise), or just let everything as it was.

    In answer to my own variant of the question: I don't think it's still a part of the localization process anymore. Nowadays developers can just release patches to tweak the initial batch of games, and (public) beta versions give the same amount of feedback before the initial batch is released. So there's no real reason anymore. And I don't think there are much (or any) examples of recent games with significant region difficulty changes.
     
    B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N likes this.
  10. tbb043

    tbb043 Member

    Member
    6
    Jan 30, 2008
    United States

    US customary units. Imperial is what UK/commonwealth countries used prior to the silly metric slave race taking over, similar unit names, but not always the same measurement.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice