News Article

Subtle Character Design Changes Spotted for North American Version of Azure Striker Gunvolt

Posted by Jake Shapiro

Ponytail and midriff mysteriously removed

Keiji Inafune and Inti Creates must think North Americans don't appreciate masculine heroes with luscious locks and bellies showing. NeoGAF user Rockman ZX noticed a subtle difference between the Japanese and North American artwork for Inafune-san's upcoming Mega Man X-style action platformer Azure Striker Gunvolt: protagonist Gunvolt sports a shorter hair style and a more conservative outfit for his outing outside of Japan.

Azure Striker Gunvolt is slated for a 3DS eShop summer release in Japan and North America, with no word yet on release in other parts of the world. Is this the only change we'll see from the original Japanese version of the game, or is it only the first of many?

This localisation debate evokes the controversy surrounding the changes in the Western release of Square Enix's Bravely Default a few months ago, among other examples. Do you think changes to appeal to different cultures are positive, or do they hurt the artistic integrity of the creators' vision?

[via tinycartridge.com, neogaf.com]

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User Comments (67)

WiiULoveSquid

#1

WiiULoveSquid said:

Yes I was put off by the midriff and rat tail as I stated in the first news piece of this game so good to see lol

Zyph

#2

Zyph said:

I know theres a need for some changes when considering localization but personally I don't approve of this. I liked the original design. If that was the designer's original vision for the character's looks and a whole lot of people likes it then I'll gladly choose the original.

Emblem

#3

Emblem said:

That midriff had to go for sure, the other changes are debatable. In any case the gameplay will be the determining factor for me.

Jarod

#4

Jarod said:

only thing I didn't love about how the game looked was the main characters design this looks a lot better to me lol no problems here

MAN1AC

#5

MAN1AC said:

I actually like the changes in the design but hopefully they don't go overboard and take a lot of stuff out of the localized version of the game.

Squid

#7

Squid said:

I'm so glad they did this. How dare they show a belly button in mah games! What ever happened to modesty? Also, you gotta get rid of that long ponytail. Ponytails are for girls, and this is a manly game!!

SheldonRandoms

#8

SheldonRandoms said:

I hope the ponytail and midriff aren't important to the story and gameplay, because if they are, then we we'll cry tears of ponytails and midriffs, and that's only if we have the Japanese version of our tears, but since our tears our region locked, then I guess we gotta cry the american version, of course, that's only if we get less if the ponytail and mandriff are important to the story and gameplay.

Action51

#9

Action51 said:

Westerners still seem to be a little more squeamish regarding depictions of masculinity it seems.

Big boobs, skin tight outfits, cleavage, chainmail bikini? CHECK!...as long as it's a female character!

Actually, it's funny...because western audiences don't seem to mind musclebound, shirtless, stubble faced, square jawed heroes in their games...

Ralek85

#10

Ralek85 said:

This kinda self-censorship, if I may call it thus, is curious at best. But is so minimal that it barely worth mentioning. which in turn makes it even more curious. Really wondering what the tought of train behind these changes was ...

ekreig

#13

ekreig said:

Doesn't matter to me as long as his sprite is also changed to be consistent with it.

@Squid
Your comment and avatar go perfectly together. Just had to say that.

Lavita

#15

Lavita said:

Left: Unique and interesting. Right: Generic and boring... Okay it's somewhat minor details and I might be exaggurating a bit, but personally I think this is the worst idea ever. There's a reason we love japanese art like anime and manga in the west, you know. Obviously it doesn't affect gameplay so you can argue that this isn't a major issue, but I still think it is, especially if other companies get the same idea. Trying to appeal to a broader audience doesn't make sense, because the people they're trying to appeal to still won't care for anything other than their Call of Duties. If in doubt ask Square Enix.

Kaze_Memaryu

#16

Kaze_Memaryu said:

Aww, come on! The original design was much more interesting! It had that additional slice of personality, which goes down without the ponytail (especially the ponytail!), and the missing midriff, while not being everyone's taste, also made him look a bit sleeker (which makes sense considering he's a psychic and not a regular soldier).

I just hope this change doesn't reach all the way to europe.

ollietaro

#17

ollietaro said:

I guess the Japanese image doesn't look typically male but it's up to the gamers how open they are to this sort of thing. I think they are trying to be clear which sex it is for the USA audience. The logic probably being that less gamers would buy a shooter with a female protagonist. Remember Zero had long hair AND wore pink so it might have read as female to some gamers.

ollietaro

#18

ollietaro said:

@Lavita Appealing to a broader audience doesn't make sense? It does if the game is expensive to make. This is no indie game. Core gamers will buy, but the publisher is probably thinking, "How can we squeeze out some extra sales from general consumers?"

Starwolf_UK

#19

Starwolf_UK said:

Personally I'm more concerned with the game coming out in Europe. That aside, given this change is noticed I think the best way to celebrate it is to have the other version kept available as an unlockable (think Expert mode in Star Fox 64 or Ultimate Difficulty in PSO kind of graphic changes).

ollietaro

#20

ollietaro said:

@Lavita I can also agree with you that appealing to the Call of Duty crowd is silly because they resist 3DS games anyway save for some who prefer both. In any case, we would like the game to do well so that we may get sequels. Gunvolt 4? That would be sick! It's practically a Mega Man 3DS game, Gunvolt is wearing blue for gosh sakes! :D

Splashman

#21

Splashman said:

I wasn't too sold on the midriff, but the braid was a distinctive call back to Zero's long hair. Now it's gone, wtf?
Self-censorship is stupid...

B3ND3R

#22

B3ND3R said:

I kinda prefer the US version of Gunvolt... Really reminds me of the male protagonist in Mega Man ZX..

Tlink7

#23

Tlink7 said:

Thank God, I personally didn't really care about the midriff being there, but the hair was very ugly in my opinion, glad they removed it (hopefully Europe will get the USA version of the character). Much more interested in the game now.

BF-Medic

#24

BF-Medic said:

Bad decision in my opinion. We are all better of with more diversity and less generic, people are narrow-minded enough as it is.

NImH

#26

NImH said:

The American on the dev team reminded the Japanese designers that cosplay had gotten huge here in the West... they didn't wanna subject the world to that. You can't bank on common sense here in America. It would've been "lightsaber kid" all over again.

MrKenta

#27

MrKenta said:

Covering up his midriff was a good idea, but I liked the blond ponytail, it reminded me of Zero.

Kroisos

#28

Kroisos said:

It just looks like the character designer felt like switching things up, or alternating between two essentially equivalent designs. I don't see enough room to read something into, nor any indication of what that something would be.

Hamguar

#29

Hamguar said:

Eh, it's a non-essential change; nothing to fuss about. Personally, I like the newer one. Undo the braid and basically the guy's got a mullet, nature's most hated hair styles. Guy looks looks a futuristic Joe Dirt.

EpicMegaman64

#30

EpicMegaman64 said:

The shirt thing won't bother me, but the hair should have stayed the same. That was one of the cool similarities with Zero.

noctowl

#31

noctowl said:

@BF-Medic why is that? People are narrow minded because they disagree with you? Because they like what they like? I only like chocolate ice cream, I guess I'm narrow minded too.

Jampie

#32

Jampie said:

I actually liked his original/Japan's design more, but whatever, as long as the game is fun. Lol.

BF-Medic

#34

BF-Medic said:

@noctowl No. But I see that my comment can seem a little hostile, sorry if anyone got offended by that, cause it was not meant directly to anyone here.
I'm really glad that people have different tastes, that sometimes give me a fresh experience, even if I don't like it.
And regarding the stereotypes in games, I welcome all that is fresh ;)

Lavita

#35

Lavita said:

@ollietaro: Trying to appeal to an audience that wouldn't play a MegaMan game in the first place is pointless. MegaMan fans (or gamers that are into platformers in general) would buy this game, ponytail or not. (Granted it's well received.)

Einherjar

#38

Einherjar said:

So, i guess rattails arent "manly" enough for the west ? Avoiding future gender confusion dilemmas arent we ?
Oh well, as stupid and unnecessary it is, it also doesnt hurt the overall design too much.

Melkac

#40

Melkac said:

@Lavita There's nothing unique about the design on the left. It looks like the main character of a generic japanese RPG (yes, I know Gunvolt isn't an RPG)

Lavita

#41

Lavita said:

@Melkac: Are you trying to say that the ponytail + midriff is stereotypic? I don't agree but let's say you're right isn't it better that it's "typical" japanese art instead of being typical american / anime knock off art? We have to appreciate the original character design, features like the ponytail and midriff is part of what makes japanese art unique as a whole. I hope you understand what I mean I find it quite hard to put into words (English is not my native language, but you probably guessed that.)

Assassinated

#46

Assassinated said:

Looking at the two side by side I was unable to notice any difference at all, until I scroled down and read the ponytail and midriff line.

JFpaes15

#48

JFpaes15 said:

The midriff is kind of understandable, maybe it shouldn't be censored, but it would look a little awkward, but that's just me. However, I see no reason to remove the braids. If men with long hair in the US so polemic, then I want to know why Zero and Alucard didn't receive this treatment back when their games were released, especially when society was less tolerable back then.

Dark-Link73

#49

Dark-Link73 said:

When it comes to breaking the sexual stereotypes of gender roles, the American people are the quintessential example of hypocrisy. On the one hand, a lot of Americans tend to critic others for being open minded, outspoken, and show comfort in practicing sexual roles pertinent to the opposite gender; but on the other hand, those same people that critic and chastise such behaviors, have some of the craziest sexual behaviors behind doors.

ecco6t9

#50

ecco6t9 said:

The target audience for this would not have cared about the "bizarre" original style.

Capt_N

#51

Capt_N said:

@Dark-Link73: That's not all Americans. Not all Americans are into the same stuff, especially when it comes to sexual orientation, or the sexual behaviors they practice. Sexually, some Americans are conservative, some are liberal. Others might be a little of both.

@EveryoneElse: I think ponytails on guys look odd, but I don't think if the character had one, that it would prevent this game from any sales, or popularity. Maybe it would have, or the people behind this thought it would have? Perhaps it's would have? Don't know. Also, there is the distinct possibility that someone at Inti Creates told Inafune to have the character not have any similarities to Zero, on grounds of consumers either calling Inafune lazy, or, & this is a stretch - legal reasons. I really doubt, though, that it was for legal issues. It probably was for being gender-relatable, although American guys do wear ponytails.

SecondServing

#52

SecondServing said:

Wow, what a relief. I thought the belly button thingy looked lame! The pony tail could've stayed, it reminded me of Zero.

Dark-Link73

#54

Dark-Link73 said:

@Capt_N I know it's not all Americans, that's why I said "a lot". I've worked on retail, grocery, restaurant, office; studied at community college level, private university level, undergrad, postgraduate; and mingled in other social circles. It has been my experience over the years that, again, a lot of Americans are not as receptive to open sexual behaviors and expressions unless they conform, and fit, their societal expectations.

But I've known some of the same people commit the same actions they renounced when they thought they were in complete anonymity.

JaxonH

#55

JaxonH said:

This is why people should not knock localization. Cultures differ. And so should games.

Retro_on_theGo

#58

Retro_on_theGo said:

I thought the Midriff was incredibly random and didn't flow well with his outfit so I'm actually glad that's gone. But taking away the ponytail is a horrible decision. WHY!? It looked good, better than the midriff, and was a callback to zero.

Darkness3131

#59

Darkness3131 said:

Were the changes all that necessary? I mean it's so minimal. I thought the original looked fine.

RaylaxStaff

#60

Raylax said:

As someone who's never heard of this game before seeing this article, and looked at the pictures before reading the text:

I assumed he was a girl in the left picture.

He still looks like a girl in the right picture.

Good job, localisation team. You've squashed that bit of gender ambiguity Untitled

Mr_Video

#61

Mr_Video said:

I can't say I was fond of the mid-riff, but I actually liked the pony-tail, it made him a little bit more recognizable in a sea of blonde-spiky haired heroes. But I don't really see why a design modification was necessary, there really wasn't anything wrong with it.

Millenia

#63

Millenia said:

I like the removal of the pony tail. However, it is a shame that they covered the midriff there. Gah! What's wrong with a little skin? Guys get all the freaking eye candy... JEEZ.

BulbasaurusRex

#65

BulbasaurusRex said:

The midriff is kind of weird, but did they really have to cut his hair? Having long hair doesn't keep animé action guys like Kenshin Himura and Inuyasha from becoming popular in the West. Heck, Ranma Saotome even has a braided pigtail like Gunvolt, although admittedly his hairstyle is partly because of his whole changing-into-a-girl-with-cold-water problem.

NodesforNoids

#66

NodesforNoids said:

I don't think this is a censorship thing. I think it's more like Earthbound in that it's easier to appeal to the tastes of the gaming audience with this look than the ponytails / midriff of the former. Face it, if men are showing midriff in the west, they're topless. But it's accepted and almost expected when concerning women.
Were the character female, there would have been no changes to the outfit.

Skullcruncher

#67

Skullcruncher said:

I honestly think the Japan version looks more badass. The ponytail really helps differentiate him. Oh well. The US version still looks pretty badass though.

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