Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Japanese Console Ports of Western Adventure Games

The history of LucasArts/Sierra-style graphic adventures in Japan has always kinda baffled me. Their releases overseas have been sporadic - I've seen that the SCI release of Quest for Glory was ported to the PC-88, as well as Space Quest IV, of all things, and it's kinda incredible that LucasArts made a version of Zak McKracken that has vastly improved graphics and released specifically for Japan. (Although I kinda assumed they intended to release it in the US at some point, it just never happened.) The differing computers standards is probably one of the reasons why the PC versions themselves were never releases, but as the 32-bit systems start taking off, there were a number of Western PC games that were ported to the Playstation and Saturn in Japan, but never released in their home territories. This is odd in itself, although it's fascinating to see how Western properties have been redubbed or reinterpreted into Japanese.

Below are some recordings I've made of these games. They are mostly just to demonstrate how the dubbing is different, or just to marvel how these games exist.

Beavis and Butthead in Virtual Stupidity:

Released only for the PSOne. It's more or less exactly the same as the PC version, except for the dubbing. The awful lip synching is present in the emulator, I'm not sure if it's part of the actual game. I'm curious to what Beavis says to Daria when he talks - in the English version, he's doing that whole "Diarreah chachacha" thing. The subtitle rendered in Japanese is Virtual Aho Shoukougun, which, super literally, means "Virtual Idiot Syndrome" although the English name Virtual Stupidity is still used in video sequences. I can't imagine that "Virtual Stif-" joke would make any sense.


Discworld was released in the US for the Playstation, so the only difference here is the dubbing. I guess the guy they got for Rincewind is maybe the Japanese equivalent to Eric Idle? I actually picked this one up at the NYC Book Off awhile back, since they added some dirt cheap PSOne imports to their stock. Most of it is trash, but this one looked interesting. The artwork have a slightly more super deformed version of Rincewind, although it's not a huge stretch since his design was already pretty cartoony.


Shortened and renamed to "Phantasm", this Sierra title was only released on the Saturn. Why there? The system's FMV capabilities were dreadful without the MPEG add-on that barely any games supported. Since Phantasmagoria is almost entirely FMV, it looks pretty bad. The only other real draw of the game was the SVGA computer rendered graphics, whose attractiveness are lost with the lowered resolution. Anyway, the game is once again dubbed into Japanese here, which is awkward given the live actors. I think it's one of the largest CD releases for the console, given that it came on 8 CDs, one more than the PC version, probably due to video compression issues. The tarot card save/load interface is kinda neat though.

Return to Zork:

I've already covered the PSOne version of Zork I earlier on, but this multimedia sequel also has lots of FMV. Again, it's dubbed into Japanese. This one got released on several platforms, including the PSOne and PC-FX. The PC-FX version has terrible, terrible sound. The PSOne version also comes on two CDs, as opposed to one for the CD release. The load times seem really sluggish on the emulator. I played up until the infamous "WANT SOME RYE COURSE YOU DO" part. I'm also PRETTY sure that there wasn't any narration voiceover in the intro movie, which parallels the opening moments of the original Zork.

Prisoner of Ice:

This is a rather obscure followup to Shadow of the Comet, a Call of Cthulhu game. I didn't grab any videos of it because the voices were left in English, with only the text being changed into Japanese. It was released by Xing for both the PSOne and Saturn.

I'm sure there are numerous other PC releases that were ported to the PSOne/Saturn in Japan but left unreleased in its home territory. Other than the numerous Wizardry spinoffs, I know Ultima Underworld hit the PSOne in Japan, though I haven't played it.


  1. B&B sound really weird(er). It's strange, since the show was subbed when they showed it in Japan (same with their commercial appearances).

    As far as what Beavis was saying, it's too bad there's no sounded like "DA RU YA Daria", although I can't find any words that match. Argh!

    Thanks for posting the videos!

  2. Wow! I didn't know that Prisoner of Ice was release for home consoles! I'll look for it now.
    I had the PC version, and it was dubbed in Brazilian Portuguese. :P

    I have Return to Zork for PC and PlayStation. Pretty cool game. The voices in Japanese in the PlayStation version are so funny sometimes...

  3. Jorge ChernicharoAugust 5, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    Mas dublagem japonesa (exceto dos animes japas) é sempre MT ruim...
    Eu tenho esse Phantasm, e é realmente hilário ver (ou ouvir) o quão ruim é a dublagem

  4. Well, my guess for what Beavis says to Daria is:
    1. He is trying to make her name sound like diarrhea. In "Janglish": Diarrhea = ダイヤリーアー (daiyarīā) or ダイアリア (daiaria).
    2. Maybe he is saying: 「怠いはダリア!」 (Darui wa Daria), meaning: "Daria is dull!"

    Let me know what you think.

    @Jorge Chernicharo
    Well Jorge, I have to agree with you. Probably this happens because the lip-synching is very hard to the Japanese, I don't know. What do you think?

    Ah, for those how didn't get what Jorge said, let me roughly translate it:
    "But the Japanese dubbing (except the Japanese animes) is always VERY bad...
    I have this Phantasm, and it is really hilarious to see (or listen) how bad is the dubbing XD"

  5. The Journeyman Project: Pegasus Prime got a release for the PS1 in Japan, but was a Mac exclusive in the US

  6. @Anonymous
    Yeah, I'm trying to track that down, actually. I'm not entirely sure it exists, although it was definitely planned at some point.

  7. I remember seeing on niconico douga while looking for cthulhu(wow, that's a genuinely really weird thing to do, now that I think about it) a recorded play through of darkseed( I noticed that in the (untranslated) opening credits they had a credit for "Macintosh Version". Wow, that brought me back. Does apple even still make desktop computers, even? Wow, I feel old.

  8. The Sega Saturn Version of Discworld was never released in USA. Only in Europe and Japan.
    I have the Jap version which it seems the same with the psx one :D