Lost In Translation
We analyse the localisations of King Of Fighters ’94, Kinnikuman: Muscle Tag Match and Ozaki Naomichi No Super Masters
Format Mega Drive
localised For Rest Of World
One of the initial marketing strategies for the Mega Drive outside of Japan was a simple and timeless one – make a bunch of sports games and secure endorsements and licensing deals from recognisable faces and brands. In the console’s early years, Sega released Joe Montana Football, David Robinson’s Supreme Court, James “Buster” Douglas Knockout Boxing, Tommy Lasorda Baseball and World Cup Italia 90. Most of these were developed in the US or were unbranded Japanese games that had licensing slapped on afterwards.
However, one game in particular already had a licence – Naomichi Ozaki had lent his likeness to a golf game. Sega Of America made the decision to replace him with someone more recognisable, and got bona-fide superstar Arnold Palmer. In order to properly represent the game’s new cover star, a number of the game’s graphics were replaced. The title screen was completely redrawn, and the ending portrait was redrawn to include Arnold Palmer instead of Ozaki (it was also slightly increased in size). Additionally, Ozaki plays the role of your caddie in the original, but his portrait is removed outside of Japan. Interestingly, when converted to home computers, the Arnold Palmer title screen was simply modified to remove the celebrity likeness.
Those changes all make sense, but there are some others which are slightly harder to explain. The first is the removal of the staff roll at the end of the game. This sequence had some neat cameo appearances by Opa Opa and Alex Kidd as well as a bunny girl we don’t recognise, so it’s something of a shame to lose them in the international releases. Some subtle in-game credits do remain, as the golfers in the demo sequences use the names of the main developers.
There’s also a relatively substantial addition for the Arnold Palmer version, in the form of a brand-new minigame. In the Japanese version, taking 100 shots without reaching the hole will trigger a screen with some crude drawings that basically tells you that it’s helping you quit while you’re ahead – in fact, you’ll need to reset the console to start playing again. The export release replaces this with a game over screen, but if you enter a code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, A) you will get to play a secret single-screen version of Fantasy Zone, in which the goal is to kill enemies without blowing up the bases.
[Mega Drive] This is your reward for being really bad at the game in Japan.
[Mega Drive] We got lucky here – the western Easter egg is way more fun than a rubbish drawing.