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We have extensively covered Dragon Ball Fusions since its release on the Nintendo 3DS in Japan back in August; between the various patch updates and our multi-part reviews (both written and in podcast form!), it is fair to say that we know the game inside and out. Like many players coming into the international edition of the game last month, we were surprised to see a change to certain characters’ weapons: what were previously swords were now inexplicably sticks (or, at the very least, thin wooden swords).
Dragon Ball Fusions sports an enormous number of characters: beyond the expected heroes and villains from the series-proper, the game introduces hundreds of miscellaneous mook characters to recruit. These characters range from the expected Earthlings, Saiyans, and Namekians to “otherworldly” and general aliens. Each come with their own backstory (a few sentences describing their motivations and persona) and special attacks.
Take the alien Caluppa for example:
While a traditional sword is used in the original Japanese version of the game, Caluppa instead sports a thin wooden stick or rod in the international release. This is especially strange considering the attack is still called (and accurately translated as) “Slashing Sword Attack” in the localization:
Characters that use multiple swords also have each of their weapons replaced with sticks, such as original fusion character Kloachof with his “Masterwork Sword Slash”:
The change is not limited to new characters; old sword-wielding stalwarts from the original Dragon Ball series such as Trunks also have their weapons replaced with sticks:
Dragon Ball Fusions is rated “T” (for “Teen”) in America, and sports various other attacks and even weapons in-game that have been unchanged from the original Japanese release, including gun blasters, such as this attack from new character Chiwak:
We have reached out to Bandai Namco several times regarding this change. While they have acknowledged our request and have responded that they are looking into it, they have not provided a formal comment to share as-of-yet.
This is far from the first time Dragon Ball video games have seen changes in localization. Back in 1988, Dragon Power on the Nintendo Entertainment System — the American release of 1986’s Shenron no Nazo (“The Mystery of Shenlong”) — changed various character names (Bulma became Nora) and items (panties became a hamburger).
In 2009, the Australian version of Dragon Ball Origins on the Nintendo DS — the international localization of Dragon Ball DS in Japan — was pulled from shelves due to the game’s content not quite matching up with the original “PG” rating the game had been assigned.
In Europe, the original PlayStation 2 release of the first Dragon Ball Z: Budokai game featured censoring not found in the American release. Later in 2012, the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 “HD Collection” version of the game sported the European visual censoring in all territories:
The precedent for weapon changes in international localization dates back decades. Perhaps the most notable example is the change of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” to “Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles” in Europe (specifically the UK and Germany). While Michelangelo’s nunchaku were toned down or removed entirely in the cartoon, he somehow managed to keep them in various video games. On the flipside, Soul Blade character Li Long’s nunchaku were altered to a three-section staff.
It may be that, looking ahead to a wider international release, Bandai Namco made a blanket decision to alter the graphics in one base version moving forward to save development and testing time. We will update with a comment from the company if and when we receive an additional response, as well as an update when the European edition of the game launches in February 2017.