Japanese box art for Nier Replicant
Nier is an action role playing game developed by Cavia games (Who have since disbanded and were absorbed into AQ Interactive). Released for the PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2010. In Japan, there are two versions of the game, Nier Replicant and Nier Gestalt. Europe/Australia and the US received Nier Gestalt under the name “Nier”. Replicant was a PS3 exclusive in Japan, while Gestalt was Xbox 360 exclusive. However in the international release of Gestalt, it was made available for both PS3 and Xbox 360.
The ratings for each version are as follows:
Japan: CERO D (Age 17+)
- Japan: CERO D (Age 17+)
- Europe: PEGI 18 (Age 18+)
- US: ESRB M (Age 17+)
Now, what are the differences between both versions? Well, to put it quite simply:
In the Replicant version, the main protagonist is a young and slim man who is Yonah’s brother. In the Gestalt version, the main protagonist is an older and bulkier looking man. In an interview with inside-games.jp, developers Yosuke Saito and Yoko Taro commented on why they made two different protagonists saying: Full interview transcript here (Japanese)
Taro: The teenage version (The one that later became Replicant) was the only one that was being made but, there was a story from Saito that made me think about the overseas market. From there, there was a debate in the Square Enix localization studio, saying that there was no way we could have a slim young man. Therefore we made a decision to make a macho-like protagonist for the international version.
Saito: “With a new IP we had strong feelings that it had no choice but to sell, Yoko settled with a young teenage protagonist which he wanted to do. With this in mind we kept the teenage protagonist in the Japanese version while developing the two versions. Of course, not everyone shares the same tastes, for example in France, they understand multiple layers of Japanese culture and we’ve heard lots of people requesting for the Replicant version. Anyway, from the middle of development there was a bit of talk regarding the global release.
As you can see, the main reason for this huge change was to appeal to different markets. Despite the game being developed in Japan, the developers wanted global appeal. Many fans have said that they would be fine with the protagonist of Replicant and that they shouldn’t have made the two versions. However, people need to realize that Japan is a very different audience from the west.
Here’s a comparison:
Kratos, God of War III
Dante, Devil May Cry 3
The God of War series is developed by SCE: Santa Monica studio, an American developer while the Devil May Cry series is developed by Capcom a Japanese developer. Both games are of the 3D action genre. Similarities can even be seen with the protagonist of Nier Gestalt and Kratos as well (Yoko Taro has stated that Gestalt’s protagonist was inspired by Kratos as well).
Now, with difference in protagonists, does the plot stay the same? Yes, it does. For the most part, the core story is there in both versions. However, the mentality of Brother Nier and Father Nier are completely different, which is a given but this gives an interesting perspective on two completely different characters.
There’s a quest in the game where both Nier encounters two children without their mother in a dangerous area. The children ask Nier to find their mother, a very straightforward quest. The quest itself plays out the same in both games however, the mentality of Father and Brother Nier are vastly different.
Father Nier, the jaded adult he is, already has an idea of what happened and he thinks she’s most likely dead. Still, he goes along with the children’s request because he sees them as vulnerable. Think of when a child asks their father to look under the bed for monsters despite the father already knowing there will be no monsters he still plays along. It’s similar to this. To briefly summarize, he’s realistic.
Brother Nier has a different mentality. It should be noted that Nier was made as a deconstruction of the JRPG genre and Brother Nier is a spitting image of a typical JRPG protagonist both in appearance and personality. Instead of being realistic like Father Nier, he goes in with optimism, saying how he will definitely find the children’s mother. As Brother Nier delves deeper into the area, chances grow slim but he still refuses to take no as an answer.
One interesting thing to note about both versions of the game is Kaine. Kaine is a woman who is portrayed to be a very rude woman, constantly swearing and using foul language. The Replicant version uses Japanese voices while Gestalt uses English (in both JP and ENG versions of Gestalt). Kaine’s is constantly bleeped out and even the subtitle text is censored in Replicant. However in Gestalt there are no censors whatsoever.
Clip of Replicant where Kaine is censored:
Clip of Gestalt where Kaine isn’t censored (Clip starts at 8:42):
There was a reason this was done. Japanese itself doesn’t have words like “Fuck” or “Shit”. They have rude ways to refer to people but no outright swears like other languages. Yoko Taro really wanted to drive home how rude and vulgar Kaine is, so the censorship was added in Replicant to emphasize this part of her character.
Even though the core story and game is still intact even in the international version, these minor differences all add up to give a different experience in each version. The change in protagonists give different chemistry between characters which can make replaying the game exciting if you’ve already played the Gestalt version.
Japanese box art of Nier Gestalt.
Box art of the international version of Nier.