4 Ways American Video Games Retconned Japanese Culture

Categories: Gaming
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Ness Gets Naked: Earthbound has a level where the lead character Ness goes into his own subconscious called Magicant. It's a dream world, if you will, and that was explained to us here in America by putting Ness into a pair of cute striped pajamas. In Japan, however, Ness does the level wearing nothing but his trademark red baseball cap.

While it's tempting to label Japan perverts here you have to remember that non-sexual nudity is much more acceptable there than over here. Women even used to walk around topless like it wasn't a thing. It's only when they started trying to sell Japan to the West that things got more covered up, but even now nudity is often used in art to denote purity. Since Magicant is pretty much all about Ness defeating his own nightmares, this makes it understandable.

Trading Offensive World War II Tropes: I'm not a big Pokemon fan, truth be told, but I will give Nintendo credit for something. Lots of RPGs have self-destruct moves that do damage to the enemy at the cost of the life of the character, but since it's basically trading an active party member for one dead enemy it is almost always completely pointless. In Pokemon, the move "selfdestruct" puts your Pokemon into a faint, but since another can just be thrown out for the one on one duel it is actually pretty effective.

In Japan they don't call it "selfdestruct." They call it "suicide bombing," a phrase that wasn't funny to Americans in World War II and gets less funny every year. We got to reciprocate, though, in Fallout 3 when we changed the name of the gun "Fat Man," named after the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, to Nuka Launcher.

Speaking of Pokemon...

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Pokemon Use a Brutal Execution Technique: Pokemon has its fair share of creepy stuff... and several other games' shares as well as I've pointed out in the past. One of the worst is a move that we know of as "night slash," but the Japanese call "blade testing." Seems like kind of an odd name, and it would have probably confused Americans who would be unaware of exactly what the name means.

Swords were a big deal in Japan, even after guns arrived. Just as you don't want a shoddy handgun prone to jamming when you find yourself in need of one, you don't want a crappy sword that breaks when it comes time for The Bride to take out The Crazy 88. That means you have to test the blade, a process called tameshigiri.

Though blades were tested against everything from bamboo to steel, they were also set against cadavers or even living convicted criminals. Some masterless samurai would go so far as to try them out by hiding along a road at night and going slash happy on random people. Not that such things would offend us over here where we snipe from the shadows and teabag the corpse as often as we say howdy. It's more likely the game makers knew we would be clueless about proper sword regulatory practices.

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