Saturday, May 16, 2009

East vs. West: The Psychotic and The Paranoid

When a videogame produced in one country is released in another territory, it almost always undergoes a process called "localization". This usually involves language translation and replacement of cultural references that may not make sense in the target market. There are also changes driven by cultural sensitivities, real or perceived, sometimes in the form of censorship and sometimes the opposite. And there are otherwise inexplicable changes driven by marketing.

Case in point: This odd PC Engine shooter set in the player's psyche, where the goal is to destroy weird creatures and save oneself from one's inner demons. I recently acquired the original Japanese version, and as far as I can see there are no differences aside from the title screen. Without skipping ahead to the answer, see if you can guess which is the US version and which is the Japanese version.

Okay, perhaps the "TM" trademark icon gives it away. But as you can see, there's no translation issue involved -- the Japanese game Paranoia's text is in English already, and the game is completely playable as-is by a US audience. But somebody somewhere in the decision-making process apparently decided that Psychosis sounded rad and cool and 90's extreeeeeeeme!!!, while Paranoia sounded like a downer, dude.

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