Why Speedrunners Play on Japanese Releases – Version Differences
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Why Speedrunners Play on Japanese Releases – Version Differences


Hello ladies and gents, it’s EZScape, a
common question I get a lot on my videos is “EZScape why are speedrunners always playing
on Japanese releases? Oh nevermind, I see the waifu in the splits,
it all makes sense now.” Ok no this isn’t the real reason why, majority
of speedrunners can’t speak Japanese no matter how many times they watch subbed anime. The most common reason you’ll hear why speedrunners
use Japanese versions is because the text scrolls a lot faster. Since less characters need to be used on JP
it usually means less text needs to be mashed through, which can save quite a bit of time
over the span of an entire speedrun. This is the same case in a lot of RPGs where
setting the main characters name to one letter will save several seconds throughout the duration
of a speedrun. In present day you’re probably used to seeing
Australians getting ahold of games before everyone else, but this wasn’t always the
case. Back in my day most video games got released
in Japan first, and then a couple of months later the games would head to other regions. This gave developers time to receive feedback
for their games and patch any unnecessary glitches, sequence breaks, graphical errors,
whatever. But sometimes changes are made to games because
of localization. Obviously, there is a huge difference between
Japanese and Western culture, so sometimes entire scenes, characters, and areas may be
altered so a given audience can better understand and relate to the gameplay. Also, suggestive themes in video games intended
for all audiences are treated differently region to region. Such as turning a cigarette into a lollipop,
or maybe removing a gun altogether and seeing if anyone notices. And sometimes it really isn’t that deep,
the localization team might just notice a piece of content missing and make changes
accordingly. For example, over a year ago I was grinding
the absolute worst game that I’ve ever speedran, Dino Crisis 1. Back then I was a young inspired boy just
trying to beat the longstanding 18-year world record. So, the first thing I checked with a
lot of other games I speedrun was which console had the fastest load times, and which version
of the game was the fastest. I ended up finding an old Japanese segmented speedrun of
the game where not only the text was faster in a handful of areas, but for some reason
in a box sliding puzzle the Japanese version was missing a box that the NTSC version had. These boxes took 10 to 11 seconds to push,
so just by playing the Japanese version I’d be saving roughly 30 seconds in total. But why was the box not there? I still think this to this day… but again
it’s most likely that someone just forgot about it, then put it in by the time the NTSC
and PAL versions were released. So, in today’s video I want to go over some
prominent cases where Japanese version saves or loses time in a bunch of different games
and go over all of the subtle differences. I hope you all enjoy. So, to start this off I want to begin with this
obscure game that I’m not sure a lot of people have heard of before, it’s called
Super Mario 64. If you’ve ever watched a speedrun of this
game you’ve probably seen it played on both Japanese and NTSC versions depending on the
category. When I first noticed this, I thought that
some of the top runners in 70-star just didn’t mind the time loss, and the 0 and 120-star
runners were just tryhards running on their Japanese copies. But I later found that Japanese version was
indeed faster in the 0 and 120-star categories, but NTSC was faster for 70-star. This is specifically because the text boxes
in the 70-star route are actually faster on NTSC by roughly 3 seconds and the text boxes
in the 120-star route are faster on JP by 8 seconds. Also, for some reason in Jolly Roger Bay the
star “Blast to the Stone Pillar” is in a box in the NTSC version, but in JP the star is
out in the open which saves an additional 4 seconds. However, I think the most interesting thing
about the Super Mario 64 releases is the Shindou Version, an updated Japanese release of the
game that came out a year after the original. The selling point with this version was that
it was compatible with the N64 rumble pack, and while there were a few minor bug fixes
and changes, not many had any serious implications for speedrunning, except for one, which was
a cap added to Mario’s speed when moving backwards. This effectively made backwards longjumping
impossible to be performed as well as all of the other methods used for building up
negative speed. Another game which is drastically different
on the Japanese release is the original Spyro the Dragon. First of all, look at the box art, what the
hell is going on, why does he look like that? (Also, his name kinda looks like Ripto). But this isn’t even the worst part, for
some reason, in order to appeal to a broader Japanese audience, the camera is extremely
zoomed out and doesn’t follow Spyro around presumably to avoid motion sickness. Not only that but they severely lowered
his charging speed to the point it’s nearly as fast as the walking speed from the NTSC
release. Like I am all for accessibility in video games,
especially since in this era 3D platformers with active cameras were just becoming popular,
so it makes sense that people would be getting motion sickness if they weren’t used to
it. But why would you ever make an accessibility
option the default way to play the game while also making it impossible to be switched off
until after the player has, well in this case, completed 120% of the game. No wonder why this game sold terribly in Japan. So far during my research it seems the game
with the most differences between the Japanese and NTSC releases would have to be Paper Mario:
The Thousand Year Door. So far, the community has discovered 107 differences
between the releases and are still finding new ones to this day. If we look through the list some of the most
detrimental changes to speedrunning would have to be the platforms in the sewers which
don’t move as far to the left and right as the ones in the NTSC version making the
Goomba Trio Skip impossible to be peformed on JP. Also, a lot of the enemies in the game can’t
be superguarded on JP so a lot of fights have to be rerouted completely. On JP you can’t heal after completing chapters
except for chapter 1, whereas on NTSC you can heal after every chapter. Another difference is the Flurrie superslide
glitch which works differently on both versions allowing for different tricks. On JP Mario moves slightly up before going
fully downwards whereas on NTSC you either go left or right. This allows for a few Japanese exclusive skips
like Ultra Hammer Early and Teleporter Room Early. I’ve only mentioned 5 out of the 107 changes,
if you want to check out the full list it will be in the description, but still it’s
pretty crazy just how much a game can change with different releases. In The Thousand Year Door’s case it’s
almost like you’re not even playing the same game. But not all games have huge differences like
the Thousand Year Door. In Final Fantasy 9 there are some pretty minor
changes like damage values being different for certain moves, but the weirdest change
to me is that if you impress 100 nobles on NTSC during the swordfight minigame you get
10,000 gil for impressing the crowd, but on Japanese you only get 1000 meaning on JP there’s
basically no reason to stress trying to win the minigame perfectly. And then there’s Super Mario World which
barely has any differences between versions except that on the NTSC release you can’t
eat the dolphins, but on the Japanese version you can. okay Final Fantasy 7 was initially released in
Japan in January of 1997, and it wouldn’t be until September of that year that it would
get released to North America. In that time there were a lot of changes made
to the game. First of all, encounter rates were lowered
in most areas, and since the current speedrun depends on utilizing a step counter to manipulate
encounters this change would alter the speedrun route immensely. Also, this only really affects the 100% speedrun,
but the Diamond, Ruby and Emerald Weapon boss fights weren’t added until the international
release. Menu screens were also changed with the international
version so you could see your party’s status while filtering through items, and the exchange
option for materia was added. With the international version there were
also a myriad of bug fixes, added cutscenes, stat balancing, and new features. The original JP version of the game honestly
just seemed unfinished, but luckily the international version got rereleased in Japan in late 1997
which is the version every Japanese speedrunner plays on now with pretty much all of the same
changes as the NTSC release. For Kingdom Hearts 2 the Japanese and NTSC
speedruns are very different, but only because of one glitch which exists on JP which basically
takes over the whole speedrun. The Trinity Limit in Kingdom Hearts 2 was
not coded properly and for some reason at any point if you do a large number of hits
with the Trinity Limit the game will remember that hit counter for the rest of the playthrough
and the next time the move is used it will use that same number of hits you got previously. So, say if you build up a large number of
hits with Trinity Limit early in the speedrun, you can maintain that hit counter for the
rest of the run making it possible to defeat a lot of bosses in one shot. Due to accessibility reasons the Japanese
version isn’t nearly as commonly ran, but if it were it would most likely be the fastest
version for speedrunning the game. Despite Ape Escape 2 being released in Japan
nearly a full year before anywhere else, the Japanese version is by far the superior way
to play the game. It saves time in the All Monkeys category
since the Japanese version has 3 less monkeys, but the main difference between the versions
is quick item switching which is only possible on JP. In the top right of the game screen you can
see a quick-swap menu. In the Japanese release it’s possible to
open an additional menu while still playing to change which items are on the quick-swap
menu. For some reason on the international version
this isn’t possible and instead you have to stop playing and open up a popup menu to
change items on the quick swap menu. This both wastes time and kind of messes with
the flow of the speedrun. In Ape Escape 3 quick item switching was available
on all releases, so I’m not exactly sure why they removed it for specifically the international
version of Ape Escape 2. Much like Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door,
Bomberman Hero has a plethora of differences between the Japanese and NTSC versions. Some of the most notable differences include
resetting the console after defeating each boss to skip the bonus stages. In the JP version all of your powerups stay
after doing so, but on NTSC you lose them making skipping bonus stages waste time instead
of saving it. All of the bosses on NTSC take way more hits
to beat and, in some cases, can take up to twice the usual number of hits. On NTSC there are also way more hazards and
enemies, and health pickups are a lot more scarce making for a much more difficult speedrun. There are also quite a few version exclusive
skips like an autoscroller skip on Hard Coaster on NTSC and a way to skip the giant crab boss
fight on JP. If you want to check out the full list of
differences they’ll be linked in the description. In the Japanese version of Kirby Air Ride
all of the vehicles are slightly lighter. Not only this but they also move a little
bit faster and skid further when slowing down compared to the NTSC version. This alone doesn’t affect the speedrun all
too much, but it does allow for a momentum glitch exclusive to the Japanese version. On the course Checker Knights it’s possible
to maintain momentum gained with a boost pad after hitting a small root sticking out of
the ground to chain into several other boost pads. This trick saves 5 seconds each lap and 15
seconds in total, and with the rest of the timesave in the Japanese version, JP is roughly
30-40 seconds faster which is a lot of time to save in a racing game where most of the
time you’ll only be saving a handful of seconds each personal best. Alright everyone I hope you enjoyed this video,
if you did be sure to leave a like as it’s the best way to show support. I don’t know why but I think version differences
in video games are just really interesting especially with the speedrunning implications,
but in modern gaming this is probably something we are going to start seeing a lot less of. But I guess this does open the door for making
a part 2 covering the differences between NTSC and PAL which I’m looking forward to
making. Anyways guys that’s it for this video, go
follow me on Twitch and Twitter if you want and subscribe for more speedrunning related
content. I hope you all have a beautiful life!

48 Comments

  • EZScape

    *In hindsight I should have made the comparison be North America vs JP rather than NTSC vs JP since they are both technically NTSC (NTSC-U & NTSC-J). NTSC is usually NA by default, I just didn't want to say NTSC-J every single time so I switched it to JP. So it's still technically correct to say NTSC & JP, but is more confusing, and I'll just use NA/JP/PAL for next video.

  • Final Theory Games

    To compete on the USA and Japanese version of a game on the same speed run track is STUPID. Separate tracks for each particular version.

  • NagsterTheGangster

    Nice video! Subbed for more like this! I enjoy learning the underlying elements of game design! Especially breaking them XD

  • Richard Bright

    I beat Dino Crisis atleast 3 times , Or should I say Code input Crisis. It's not that bad aside from tedious door codes.

  • livardo

    I mean, does it really matter? The North American version will still be played and have its own speedrun record, no?

  • Conrado Javier

    Someone should make a Mod in Spyro's Reignited Trilogy to Resemble the Japanese Version of Spyro 1(or Ripto in the Text).

  • Tyler Bergen

    I'll go ahead and say it…speedrunning is stupid. I get you're trying to give yourself a challenge…but why not use that time/energy to put it towards something actually worthwhile? Go learn how to shred on guitar or how to pop wheelies on a motorcycle. Those are things I did instead of wasting my life "making games harder for myself". I played video games growing up, don't get me wrong; I just think it's stupid to try and make a game more challenging and then spending god know's how long playing. I am content beating a game normally and getting most of the extra stuff but as far as free time goes…got much more productive things to do. I also don't find it impressive at all when people beat games in "x" amount of time. Why not spend the time jamming with friends?

  • Johan Shiju

    The difference between NTSC and PAL is that SiIvaGunner only has access to the PAL version of the songs, and not NTSC.

  • FrostyBite

    I know why they made you able to eat a Dolphin. They still were fed up that Dolphin and Whale dropped bombs on Japan during WWII.

  • CarrowMind

    For the longest time I thought speedrunners were just being edgy by playing on Japanese versions. It's only much, much later when I happened to watch a GDQ segment when the runner explained why and I finally understood, and it does make perfect sense, Japanese characters load in much, much quicker and take up less time overall.

  • Harkon Takala

    What I don't get about Speed runs is why don't they make separate categories for different regions of games.

    Should say SM64 have it's JP and NA release in different categories since they have different star locations that effectively make it a slightly different game?

  • Father Fintan Stack

    Sometimes I run out of things to say on dates. When this happens, I run to the restroom and load up this video. Thanks EZ, your smooth facts have gotten me laid several dozen times now 👌

  • Sinmenon

    There is also the notorious case of Devil May Cry 3, in which the original PS2 version was harder (as in, the "normal" difficulty was actually the "hard" in JP releases) because of…rental! They pumped up the difficulty so the western audiences would buy the game instead of renting it until beating the game. They reverted the change in the re-releases.

  • FutureAllenNL

    I still don't get the point in speedrunning in the Japense version. Speedrunning should be compared on the same versions not different ones.

  • memetologist

    because japanese games are either earlier versions and contain bugs that can be abused or because japanese text can be displayed faster and therefore saves time. now you dont have to watch an 8 minute video

  • r0se

    smh cant believe you didnt mention that vivian is trans in the ntsc-j version of ttyd, truly the most crucial difference

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