Region-Lock: Nintendo

Editing things in games to fit a specific target market’s tastes is normal practice and it isn’t wrong by default. It’s standard practice within not just the video game industry but the film and book industry as well. Nintendo is no stranger to changing games for other countries. However, this practice was quite common in the 90’s to late 2005. It wasn’t until the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii that developers started translating games as they were and in rare cases added more to the international version. Although many can argue that the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii era still had many Japanese-exclusive games.

With the release of the PS4, Xbox One and Wii U, localization teams stopped giving games specific changes for different regions. Heck, PS4 and Xbox One dropped region-locking all together so even if they did make changes, it was still possible to experience and see what another version was like. This wasn’t the case with the Nintendo Wii U/3DS. The Wii U/3DS still has it’s region-lock feature still intact. In fact, quite a few of games on the consoles received a bit of backlash because of it. Quite a few of the Wii U’s library was censored which took away features from games. This is quite different from cases like Dragon Quest VIII or Nier. Yes, those games were edited for their international release, however, they didn’t take away from the game. Some notable games that were hit by this censorship was:

  • Xenoblade Chronicles X
  • Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
  • Fire Emblem Fates
  • Bravely Second
  • Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

With the exception of Bravely Second and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, all games’ localization was handled by Nintendo Treehouse, a localization team at Nintendo. I’ll go over some changes made in said games briefly.

Xenoblade Chronicles X:

  • Breast slider removed from female character customization
  • Robot names changed from “Dolls” to Skells
  • BLADE acronym changed from “Beyond the Logos Artificial Destiny Emancipator” to “Builders of the Legacy After the Destruction of Earth”
  • Some costumes were edited to show less skin

Example of some costume differences between Japanese and North American version

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water:

Fire Emblem Fates:

  • Removal of petting feature
  • Multiple names were changed from the Japanese version
  • Many conversations between characters have been altered
  • For an in-depth look at what changed click here for my article on it

Bravely Second:

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

In summary, the following image summarizes the topic well:


The point of this post is to say that it’s okay to leave games as they are. Yes, it’s important for a game to have worldwide appeal. However, a lot of these changes are just outright questionable. It wouldn’t be the case if most of them were done well. The Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE localization, there is no consistency to it. One second a boss’ chest is covered with smoke yet when the battle starts the chest is uncensored.

There’s also the point of that quite a lot of these games are aimed at older teenagers and adults. Majority of these games aren’t made for children to play. Many people argue that Nintendo is aiming for a wider audience that includes children. That’s perfectly fine, yet when it came to Bayonetta 2, Nintendo let Platinum games have free reign with Bayonetta 2. So much to the point where when Platinum sent design concepts to Nintendo, Nintendo suggested the Link costume show more cleavage. Nintendo even partnered up with Playboy to promote Bayonetta 2.


Playboy model Pamela Horton cosplaying as Bayonetta 2

With efforts like these to retain the image of Bayonetta 2, why did Nintendo edit games such as Fatal Frame and Fire Emblem Fates? It’s alright to edit games for a different audience. Some changes made for the games on Nintendo consoles are minor and some quite major, but the lack of effort put into the edits such as Tokyo Mirage Sessions makes it seem like they edited it just for the sake of editing. Nintendo has it’s fair share of child friendly games so why can’t they leave games made for older audiences alone?


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