It’s often been the case throughout gaming history that certain releases have been altered for specific regions. These days, it mostly comes down to making certain cosmetic changes for local tastes or censoring things that may be seen as taboo. In the past, it was also quite common to make extensive changes to the fundamental gameplay. Renting games is illegal in Japan, but outside of Japan, any kid could drop a few bucks and take home the latest game for the weekend. In an effort to keep said kids from beating the games in a single rental, the difficulty was often jacked up for Western releases.
That means that if you want to play the game at the difficulty it was designed for, you’ll often have to track down the Japanese version. Now, I should stress that not all of these changes were for the worse, but in this digital age, why not have the option? SEGA and Treasure’s Dynamite Headdy (Free) was one game that was significantly changed when it came to the West, and as I pointed out in my review, it makes a reasonably challenging game into a very frustrating one. Well, I must not have been the only one who complained, because this week SEGA updated Dynamite Headdy to allow players to choose which version of the game they’d like to play.
So just what are the differences? Here’s a handy list of some changes:
- The Japanese version starts the player with two continues instead of zero.
- Additional continues are earned by collecting 10 tokens in the JP version compared to 13 in the Western version.
- The JP version includes more dialogue (but it’s in Japanese, so…).
- Stage names were changed in the international version to add pop culture references.
- Certain graphics containing Japanese characters were changed.
- Trademark symbols were added to signboards.
- Some boss colors were changed.
- Some boss sprites were redrawn into robots.
- Bosses have more dangerous attacks, less predictable patterns, and more hit points (sometimes double!) in the Western version.
- At least one boss was given a smaller hit box in the Western version.
- Certain stages have more enemies in them in the Western version.
- The endings are quite different.
Now, you may well enjoy the more difficult Western version of the game. If that’s the case, you’re still covered. The game defaults to the International version when you start, so if you want to play the Japanese version, you need to go into the settings screen and switch to it. One heads-up: the International and Japanese versions can’t share a save file, so you’ll have to start from scratch if you want to play the latter. Still, it’s a great option, and one I’d like to see become a regular part of SEGA Forever releases where possible. Make sure to check it out.