Launching a video game outside of its developer’s home region is actually quite a common occurrence. These Japanese games came first to the West.

Numerous games developed in Japan, for one reason or another, received an official release in the West before coming out in Japan. A game that is first released outside of its developer’s home region may seem like a mess or oversight; however, it is actually quite a common occurrence and has happened with many well known Japanese games.

Sega Genesis success Sonic the Hedgehog, for example, was released in North America in June 1991, then in Japan in July 1991. The decision to release Sonic the Hedgehog in the West appears to have been first made by Sega of America, which also requested a number of design changes for Sonic to better appeal to a Western audience. Sega of America wanted Sonic to be a direct competitor to Nintendo Super Mario Bros., so adapting the character for a Western audience and releasing the game first in a region with a larger consumer base made more sense.

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Sonic the Hedgehog It’s not the only famous Japanese video game mascot to have a title release in the West first. Due to the Japanese version of Super mario Bros. 2 being extremely difficult and very similar to the original, Nintendo decided to change the appearance of a Japanese game called Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic and launch it in the West under the title Super mario Bros. 2. Japan did not see the western version of Super mario Bros. 2 until four years later, when the game was finally released in the region as Super Mario USA.

Japanese video games released for the first time in the West

With Japan possibly being the world leader in video game development in the late 1980s and early 1990s, companies such as Konami were often the ones creating video game adaptations of Western media. Ninja Turtles 2, Although it was developed by Konami, it was first released in American arcades on November 15, 1989. In addition, Konami has released many games in the Metal Gear Solid franchise in the West ahead of Japan. Playstation 2 Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Released in North America on November 13, 2001 and in Japan on November 29, 2001. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater released in the United States first, on November 17, 2004, then in Japan on December 16, 2004.

Demonic resident Developer Capcom has also made several games in the survival horror series available in the United States earlier than in Japan. Resident Evil 4 was released for Nintendo’s GameCube in North America on January 11, 2005, nearly three weeks before its official release in Japan on January 27, 2005. Resident Evil 7 released on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One in numerous western regions on January 24, 2017, launching in Japan two days later.

While the reasons games are released outside of their developed regions are numerous, including licensing agreements and marketing strategies, the localization of video games has improved greatly over the years. With release schedules between regions ranging from months to weeks and in some cases only days apart, today’s gamers around the world can more easily enjoy playing new releases at the same time.

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