Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sidenote: The two Threes and the Four that never was..

This post is the continuation of the series "The Influence lives on: A Yuzo Koshiro Music spotlight" for parts 1, 2-1, 2-2,  and 3-1 click on the links provided 

In my last post I talked about the music of SOR 3, but I didn't get a chance to actually discuss the fact that the third game in the series was in fact two different games entirely.

Developers have been known to change certain games to become more difficult than their Japanese counterparts.Games like Ninja Gaiden III had lost it's intial password save feature, the number of checkpoints were reduced, the amount of damage given by enemies were increased and the game was given limited continues. In quite a few cases the US version of games were given higher difficulty - maybe we needed the challenge?.   Some say this had to do with the issues going .on with Americans being called out by Japan ( The prime minister of Japan in the early 90s made a remark about how Americans lacked a strong work effort, which went over quite well with the US.), while companies like Working Designs felt that by upping the difficulty it would give gamers more time to spend playing the game instead of returning the game to retailers (at the cost of pretty much breaking Treasure's gameplay mechanics in Silhouette Mirage ).

We still love ya, Vic 

Of course Streets of Rage 3 was no different in the regional changes for betterment (or worsement?) of gamer interests. The following is wikipedia's explaination of the region differences between the Japanese and US versions of the game. (Spoilers ahead)

"When the game was adapted from Bare Knuckle 3, the original Japanese version, to Streets of Rage 3, significant changes were made. The clothing of the three returning heroes (Axel, Blaze, and Sammy) were altered from their original colors seen in previous Streets of Rage games, the female enemy characters wore less-revealing outfits, and a sub-boss named "Ash", a gay stereotype was removed from the English version (though he is still accessible in Streets of Rage 3 as a playable character via cheat code). The voice-effects were also changed, with most noticeably Axel's catchphrase of "Grand Upper" for his semi-special move being replaced with "Bare Knuckle".Another notable difference between the two games is the plot: The Japanese version of the story opens with a new explosive substance called "Laxine", discovered by a character named Dr. Gilbert (who is revealed to be the true identity of Dr. Zan), which explodes in the city and kills thousands of people. At the same time, a military general named Ivan Petrov vanishes. It is later discovered that Mr. X orchestrated the general's disappearance and plans to use Laxine to start a global war. 
In the English version, all references to Laxine were removed, General Petrov was replaced by the city's Chief of Police, and the plot now involves a scheme to switch major city officials with robot clones in order to take control of the city. Another difference was if the player failed to save the general, the player has to head to what appears to be the White House. This too was changed in the English adaptation, where instead if the player failed save the Chief, then the player has to head to City Hall, although the building depicting the City Hall is still clearly based on the White House. The bad ending sequence of Bare Knuckle 3 features a photo of a devastated city as text narrates the player's failure; this was removed in Streets of Rage 3 and text scrolls upward on a black background. The credits were removed from the bad ending of Streets of Rage 3, whereas in Bare Knuckle 3 they still play. 
The game's overall difficulty was also altered for the English version, with the game's Normal setting being significantly more difficult than even the Japanese version's Hard setting. Also, the English version of the game cannot be completed on the Easy setting (it will end after Stage 5). 
Axel and Skate are noticeably absent from the European box art, while the new character Zan appears alongside Blaze."
Of course there's no explanation as to why the entire storyline had been changed around like it has. The original story sounds far more intriguing than the "replicant-esque" story of SOR 3. Perhaps the terrorist attack  story was just too depressing and Tom Clancy-ish for a video game plot (which is ironic for  pre-9/11 America  )? Changes in difficulty made the enemy AI faster, and stronger than the player characters often leading to even the special attacks being too slow. This is what lead to certain fans to proclaim that the US version of SOR3 to be completely unbalanced and frustrating compared to the prequels. These reasons could explain why the third game is treated as the "red headed stepchild" of the series.

Now often we hear about how SOR 3 is the final chapter for the series - and it was - however did you know that there were plans for a fourth game? Wikipedia states that fresh off the heels of Die Hard Arcade, Sega wanted to bring another SOR game to the Saturn console. Talks were made between Sega and Developer Core and publisher Eidos about possibly working out a licensing deal that would turn their 3D brawler into the fourth game in the series. The game would have taken the main characters of the SoR games and placed them into 3D urban and fantasy environments fighting all kinds of thugs and various enemies. Alas, it not meant to be. Eidos had plans to port the game to the Playstation and the Nintendo 64, and Sega wasn't having that, so the deal fell through. You may remember the game by it's other name - Fighting Force. Yes, that Fighting Force.

I guess had the deal gone through, Skate would of undergone a sex change

To top it off Saturn never even got a release of the game. In fact it was plagued with publishing issues and delays of the European version which lead to the port being scrapped entirely.

Flash forward to 1999 during the year of the Dreamcast. Yuzo and his family's company, Ancient, had tried to revive the SoR series with a small number of demos featuring new music and a 3D centric design similar to Fighting Force. Below are a few of the demo videos.

The game features some interesting ideas, like First person mode, and reusing the team up attacks from pervious installments, but in the end the game was scrapped. Apparently, the executives of Sega of America were unaware of the series history and turned down the game on the basis that no one would buy a brawler type game.

Oh silly executives....

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