Not every video game character is an unchanging monolith either. Sometimes characters need to change beyond their original vision. With so many characters hailing from countries around the world, the characters will be changed for different audiences. It’s just the nature of the industry.
However, not all voice acting or localization adjustments are minor. Characters sometimes change in major ways in the new translated version, either due to actor inflection or script changes. Sometimes these changes are unpopular and are changed in a re-release or remake. But sometimes fans will prefer the new direction, and it creates some of the most iconic characters in gaming.
Sonic – Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic’s appearance on this list may surprise some players. Her personality is so well defined for just about everyone that she is wise. But it’s a well-known fact that the original game scripts and the localized scripts for the Genesis classics were different. This extended to Sonic himself, who was actually portrayed as a laid-back islander rather than a mascot with an attitude.
That’s why one of Sonic’s most iconic images is of him chilling out; be it on a tree or even on Tails’ plane. But when the show started to focus more on the plot, the two scripts started to collide. The voice acting attempted to merge the two characterizations. It failed, and these days it’s easy to tell whether a Japanese or American studio has developed a new Sonic depending on his personality.
Blue – Pokemon Red And Blue
Numerous Pokemon fans agree and do not like the rivals in Pokemon the games are fine now. Some believe the characters were much more compelling when they were rude to the player and dreamed of the Blue and Silver era. They don’t realize that the Rivals were never so rude in the original storyline.
While the rivals’ rudeness (especially in Silver’s case) wasn’t entirely invented by the locators, it was greatly exaggerated. The iconic “Feel up later!” was a simple statement that Blue was originally leaving. This even extended to the anime’s Gary Oak, who got rougher in the voice acting. This makes the crude rival nostalgia somewhat out of place.
Marina – Splatoon 2
In Splaton 1, Callie and Marie were big hits. Fans loved their banter and the odd couple duo they ended up with, with one sassy and one goofy. This was imitated in the English version of Splaton 2but Pearl and Marina weren’t exactly like that originally.
Splatoon Game enthusiasts know that Marina only recently entered the Inkling society and she is still locked out. Thus, in her original dialogue, she is more shy and considers Pearl a superior. This is in great contrast to the English script, which gave it the sass of Mary. the Octo Extension DLC even gives them a scene where they are finally equal, which is not present in English.
2B – NieR: Automata
In NieR: Automata, 2B stands out. She is a tough and brave heroine who takes her role as leader of her missions seriously. His banter with his automated pod unit and fellow 9S establish him as someone who doesn’t scoff. She was still aloof in Japanese writing but in a completely different way.
Rather than being harsh and rude, Japanese 2B was completely monotonous and robotic. It makes sense given her android nature, but she’s even like that in the game’s most emotional scenes. This is clearly done to develop the reveal of feelings in robots, but given that 9S has obvious emotions, seems strange. This and Kira Buckland’s expressive voice acting make her a favorite version of the character.
Childe – Genshin Impact
With Genshin Impact having so many characters and being such a big hit, there are a lot of voice acting changes there. Childe is probably the greatest example, however. While the original Chinese script makes it playful, the Japanese and Korean dubs play it very seriously. The English dub also has Childe as more playful, but he’s also shown to be selfish and arrogant.
This is underlined by certain lines like its introduction. In English he flirts, when not in other languages. Being inappropriately arrogant or serious in situations where he was supposed to be playful is a problem. Childe is a major character in the game, so it’s shocking that the character is so inconsistent across regions.
Phoenix Wright – Ace Lawyer
As you would expect from a Japanese visual novel, there are a lot of untranslatable elements in the original. ace lawyer Games. This resulted in several characters being changed because their gadgets simply couldn’t be translated. Most notably, Trucy Wright and Susato Mikotoba, who had untranslatable pronouns. But the most striking difference between the versions is actually Ace lawyer ‘the memorable character of the protagonist, Phoenix Wright, himself.
Phoenix Wright in the Japanese version is in fact mainly characterized by the fact that it is a bit empty. He is aggressively generic compared to the other characters. The first game’s translation gave it more deadpan and sarcastic dialogue, making it more sarcastic. This makes the moments when his original personality resurfaces unpleasant for Western fans.
Samus Aran – Metroid: Other M
Not all personality changes in location are intentional. This was the case in the infamous depiction of Samus in Metroid: Other M. Fans despised this version of Samus for her lack of willpower and swooning in front of her commander. These elements were present in the Japanese script but aggravated by the localization of the game including numerous translation errors.
Because this game explained Samus’ origins, series director Yoshio Sakamoto stepped in to handle the English localization. Based on a YouTube video by Lookout Glossary, many ideas were completely twisted due to his lack of understanding of English. Most infamously, this was seen in Adam’s nickname for Samus: “Lady”. It went from something she didn’t like as a veiled insult to something she liked as an acknowledgment of her femininity.
Solid Snake – Metal Gear Solid Franchise
Solid Snake from the metal gear series is described by creator, Hideo Kojima, as a prankster character according to 1Up.com. It makes sense, as Snake certainly says and does ridiculous things. But the way Kojima means that is different than the tough but sometimes distracted badass might think. The original Solid Snake was supposed to look much more like the beloved manga character, Lupine III.
While the famous American snake voiced by David Hayter was often bizarre, he was never silly, at least not in the same way as the Japanese version of the character. This version frequently looked at attractive women as a cartoon character, and its non-sequence hit harder. The lack of Bathos in the American version may be why Hayter was ultimately written out of the franchise.
Fawful – Mario & Luigi Series
Despite their prevalence, all Super Mario the game is a platform game. There are plenty of great RPGs in franchise history, full of beloved characters. But the most beloved character of mario and louis games was originally much duller. Although he is known for his weird speech in English games, Fawful’s speech was not like that in Japanese.
In the Japanese versions, Fawful simply ends all of his sentences with a laugh. In the English version, his dialogue is a complete parody of old video game translations and he speaks with broken syntax and bizarre metaphors. This change ended up making him one of the franchise’s most popular characters.
Cloud Strife – Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII might be one of the most notoriously modified games when it comes to localization. Many dialogues have been changed in localization, either removing subtext or adding a new cheesy edge. But the character that has changed the most is Cloud Strife.
In the original game, Cloud’s dialogue was peppered with cliches and cringe-worthy dialogue. It was actually intentional, to make him look like a poser who didn’t really belong. But the English localization made it more likable and removed those cliches to make it more immediately likable. Both changes have been softened in the Final Fantasy VII Remakewhich is very faithful to the original text.
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