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Digital media aren't released at the same time across the world, or in the exact same format. Instead, they are released in separate regions, and occasionally by country. The PAL region is the digital media region that includes Europe, Australia and much of Africa. North America, for comparison example, is NTSC. Generally games are released in up to 3 main regions: NTSC-J[1], NTSC-U/C[2], and PAL[3]. PAL usually gets games last, but they sometimes get bug fixes (for a Game Breaking Bug and/or Good Bad Bugs) and sometimes bonus features. However, it's not the only region that receives region specific content; for example, the NTSC-U/C region is a fairly common target for such changes in Japanese games, and if an example of an NTSC-U/C bonus is released in PAL countries at a later date, the changes typically make it over there as well.

A regional bonus is any extra feature inserted into a version of a video game during the region conversion process. This doesn't happen very often, but is marvelous when it does. There are two possible reasons it may be done:

  1. The developers had content they wanted to include but could not due to time constraints. They decide to take advantage of the conversion time to allow at least some people to experience it.
  2. The extra content is present as a consolation for players in other territories having delayed exposure to the game.

In recent years, the conversion speed has increased dramatically, and so bonuses are becoming even rarer than they once were. If the bonus features are particularly popular or extensive, the later version may have an Updated Rerelease with a subtitle such as "European Edition" or "International Edition".

Please note that the trope is usually justified as Europe being Vindicated by History in terms of gaming, as the PAL region suffered massive amounts of No Export for You, with Final Fantasy VI, Super Mario RPG and Chrono Trigger being the biggest offenders, which finally got a European and Australian release in their original forms on the Wii's Virtual Console, albeit only in English since they're actually the NTSC-U/C versions (although games such as a number of PS One Classics and Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain Of Memories keep the tradition even today).

See also Import Gaming. Contrast No Export for You, though some examples of it are Remade for the Export. Contrast Bad Export for You even more.


NTSC-to-PAL Examples:

  • Soul Calibur II had extra costumes for the characters.
    • The overseas versions of the same game also have three charaters who were previously CPU-only as unlockables
  • Resident Evil 4 had some extra gun upgrade options. It also changed the balance between enemies dropping ammo and cash. The latter becoming far more frequent, and the former much rarer.
  • The original Mario Bros was re-released in 1993 as Mario Bros. Classic, with graphics much truer to the original 1983 arcade version, plus the original enemy introductory cut-scenes were restored.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 both had an extra difficulty level called European Extreme. MGS3 also had some extra stages for the Snake vs. Monkey levels, which were included in all versions of MGS3: Subsistence.
    • Additionally, Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance came bundled with The Document of Metal Gear Solid 2, which was sold separately in Japan and the US. Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence on the other hand came with a bonus disc that available in America only as a Preorder Bonus, which strung together all the game's cutscenes and codec sequences, with some gameplay mixed in, to create a full-length movie of the game.
    • Both versions also had Boss Rush modes in the original PAL releases (mind you, MGS2's boss rush mode wasn't as long as in Substance). MGS2 also had the Theater mode.
    • The UK version of Sons of Liberty also came with a making-of DVD.
    • The American and European versions of the very first Metal Gear Solid added adjustable difficulty settings, a demo theater mode, and the Tuxedo easter egg for Solid Snake.
    • The European version of Metal Gear Solid for the Game Boy Color (aka Ghost Babel) features the codec serial drama "Idea Spy 2.5". Technically, this was already in the Japanese version, but for some reason it was not included in the American version.
  • The PAL versions of Zone of the Enders 2: The Second Runner had so much extra stuff that it was re-released in Japan as a "Special Edition".
  • The German version of Left 4 Dead 2 included a few weapons from Counter-Strike: Source in exchange for the removed violent bits, though a bit of Developer Console or mod usage allows these weapons to be used outside of the German version.
  • In Metroid Prime, Samus' suit has a lot of additional dialog; in an inversion, since there were worries at the time about the series' reception the conversion was also forcibly de-canonised with references to Samus' previous life with the Chozo omitted. For some reason, so was any reference to the Space Pirates having entered Metroid Prime's lair and built its armour.
    • The pirates being responsible for Prime's armor was a gaping plot hole, since Prime's lair is in the Impact Crater - an area the pirates were still trying to find a way to enter throughout the whole game. Unfortunately, the new version just creates a different plot hole: Metroid Prime was supposed to have absorbed some weapons the Pirates were reverse-engineering from Samus's arsenal (explaining how the boss fight works), but that's impossible if Prime never encountered them.
    • The PAL version's largest change was a slower loader which solved issues with the NTSC version locking up. Flaahgra's theme was glitched in the NTSC version so the first part looped endlessly, which was corrected in the PAL version too. Alterations were also made to correct numerous issues with bosses, changing their vulnerabilities and in some cases removing glitchy behaviour like the Sheegoth attacking an invisible Samus during its introduction cutscene. The PAL version also has some sequence breaks prevented or at least made harder (for example they added many pieces of rubble that can only be destroyed by Power Bombs to prevent early access to some items). Plus, the PAL version added a narrator in the intro and ending cutscenes.
      • Some of the bugfixes and sequence break preventions were added to the North American Player's Choice version. You can see all of the version differences here.
    • All of these changes made it into all versions of Metroid Prime Trilogy, with the exception of the suit voice and narrator, which were still absent in the North American version.
  • The first Tenchu game got two extra missions in the PAL version.
  • Final Fantasy X gained an "Expert" mode for the Sphere Grid. Unlike the regular Sphere Grid, which pretty much locks every character (except for Kimahri) into a single character build until the mid/late game, the Expert Grid starts everyone at roughly the same point on the Sphere Grid and lets you customise their character builds from the very start.
    • The game also gained some extremely tough Bonus Bosses, such as the Dark Aeons. This proved to be a double-edged sword for all but the most dedicated level grinders, as the Dark Aeons prevent the player from re-entering several important locations. For example, if you don't grab one of the keys to Tidus' Infinity+1 Sword on your first trip to Zanarkand, then you'll find Dark Bahumut blocking your path later on.
  • PAL version of Luigis Mansion gets a harder version of the New Game+ with a reversed mansion and changes in Boss attacks.
    • It's also impossible to get an A rank in the PAL version of Luigi's Mansion without the extra money in The Hidden Mansion. You don't have to beat the game in The Hidden Mansion, just beat most of the Speedy Spirits and Golden Mice (money ghosts) in there.
  • We Love Katamari, the sequel to the wildly successful Katamari Damacy (which never came out in Europe, to many fans' dismay), had an expanded demo theatre mode where players could watch the first game's intro and some cutscenes, and the first game's theme song was added as a listenable song in-game.
  • Due to rating differences, the PAL version of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe will be uncensored, which might be counted as a PAL Bonus as far as the Kombat side of things is concerned.
    • In the end, the only uncensoring consists of the camera during the Joker and Deathstroke's gun fatalities.
  • Shadow Hearts: Covenant almost got one of these: hacking into the PAL version of the game reveals some items that were only present in the Japan-only Director's Cut version, with descriptions fully translated into English. Unfortunately, for one reason or another they decided not to implement them in the final released version.
    • The item in question is a bodybuilder card featuring Meiyuan, which upon obtaining it and having the other bodybuilder cards, would allow the Magimel brothers to make an "invisible dress" for Gepetto's doll. Apparently, Midway didn't want to promote Lolicon, even though said loli in question is a lifeless puppet with no primary sexual characteristics.
    • Don't forget about Veronica's and Lenny's equipment that could only be used in Director's Cut during a subquest starring them as playable characters. There is also a warp point to Sea of Woods, but apparently it's been Dummied Out.
  • The European version of Rock Band got nine additional songs by European artists that weren't on-disc in the American version. On the day of the European release, those same nine songs became available for download in the US version, but the fact still stands that they're paid downloads for the US version but included with the game in the European version. On the other hand, Tokio Hotel's Monsoon doesn't export (for whatever reason) to Rock Band 2. Since the bonus songs cannot be bought in Europe, that song is inaccessible for PAL users outside of the original game.
  • For Nintendo Wii users in the UK, with a Wii Shop Channel account AND Nintendo Club UK membership on the Nintendo Europe official website, you get to convert Star points (Gained by "registering" Wii, DS and Gamecube games) into Wii Points to get Virtual Console stuff. Recently North America had this feature added (albeit not with much variety), though Japan, shockingly enough, has no such pleasure.
  • European gamers got all the extra stuff that was in the Updated Rerelease of La Pucelle. The game was re-released in Japan some months after the NA release with a New Game+ feature, new bosses, as well as an option to Soft Reset within the game itself (which truly can be useful at some points in the game). The game had not been released in Europe yet, so naturally it would make sense to include these features.
  • Shadow of the Colossus came with nicer packaging for PAL regions, four artwork postcards, a making of documentary, Ico Trailer and a Concept Art Gallery.
    • Years earlier, Ico initially received a limited edition release, which also had postcards and nicer packaging (it also uses the Japanese version's better cover art, although this is also true of the standard edition). Depressingly, this trope became inverted soon afterwards - the game sold so badly in Europe that Sony stopped producing copies of it barely a month after it was released, meaning that it became scarce and regularly sold for crazy prices on Ebay until it was re-released years later. In fact, the initial print run was so short that there are less copies of the original standard edition in existence than the limited one...
  • The PAL version of Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World has two extras: a gallery mode that allows you to view character skits and concept art, and special head-slot equipment that changes the appearances of Emil and Marta (ala the "attachments" in Tales of Vesperia).
    • The American version of Tales of the Abyss was an upgrade from the original Japanese version, featuring several new Mystic Artes and tweaks to gameplay. The upcoming 3DS version is actually based on the American release.
  • The PAL Release of Budokai Tenkaichi 2 has extra characters and stages. In this case, these were bonuses being added to the Japanese Wii version, but PAL came late enough to scoop those up for both of their versions of the game.
  • Inverted for Pokémon Platinum (and likely all future Pokémon games too), the Slot Machine-esque mini-game was removed in order to comply with new EU laws, and still keep the age rating down. Coins are now just found randomly in the building, but respawn daily.
  • Also inverted for Pokémon Stadium: In North America, there was a Gallery feature where you could take pictures of your Pokémon, but neither Japan nor Europe got such a feature.
  • The PAL version of Pokémon Channel contained a quest which allowed players to download Jirachi, which was not available outside of an event.
  • Yakuza 3 has all the DLC bundled in the European and Australian versions, which was not the case for the US or Japanese release.
  • The PAL version of Blaz Blue was released several months late, but came with additional colour schemes for characters, and more importantly, all characters had Unlimited versions instead of just Ragna, Rachel, Hakumen and Nu. This is paid DLC in America and Japan.
    • All of this is sadly offset by the horrid boxart.
    • The sequel is also getting a Limited Edition (which the US version didn't) and an extremely limited (500 copies, all of which have already been preordered) of a "Fan edition" with even more goodies (including a voucher to get some of the DLC for free).
  • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, there are no unbreakable windows for challenges in the PAL version, meaning gamers there can use a Golden Hammer to completely skip the hardest Boss Battles challenges like beating it on Intense. Which is incredibly useful, since the challenge is Nintendo Hard.
  • The original (non-Player's Choice) European version of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker came with a second disc containing Ocarina of Time and Master Quest as standard. This was only available in America with pre-ordered copies.
    • It was still advertised as a limited edition for preorders in a few countries such as France.
  • The Japanese game Lolo no Daibouken for the Game Boy had only fifty levels. The European version, Adventures of Lolo, had one hundred forty-four . . . and it added Super Game Boy support, a tutorial, and a Variable Mix soundtrack.
  • Lego Rock Raiders gave the PAL edition not just three bonus missions, but 'eighteen completally different main levels.
  • The European version of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn removed several Game Breaking Bugs (most notably one that could prevent an Old Save Bonus) and fixed a couple of Blind Idiot Translations and name inconsistancies with the past game. (except for the Tower of Guidance, due to it being mentioned in voiced dialogue.)
  • Horrible inversion with Professor Layton and The Specters Flute, which completely cuts down the RPG Professor Layton's London Life. That amounts to over half the game. On the other hand, the North American version not only has it intact, but also has it available from the beginning -- Japanese players had to unlock it.
  • In the NTSC version of Spyro the Dragon, the background music of the High Caves level is a slow remix of another level's tune, but the PAL version gets a completely different song. In addition to this, the PAL version also receives a new song, one of the songs that does not play in one particular level, but occasionally plays in levels when the level's default song finishes.
  • The PAL version of Rhythm Heaven Fever, known as Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise, contains both Japanese and English soundtracks, much to the chagrin of people who wanted such an option in the North American release.

Non-PAL Examples:

  • As mentioned above, the American and European versions of the very first Metal Gear Solid added adjustable difficulty settings, a demo theater mode, and the Tuxedo easter egg for Solid Snake. The same extras were included in the Updated Rerelease Metal Gear Solid: Integral in Japan.
  • Many of Working Designs's localizations of Shoot Em Ups have less slowdown.
    • Thunder Force V's boss descriptions, which were already in English in the Japanese version, were rewritten in more gramatically correct English. The voice that reads out the description, however, still goes by the descriptions from the Japanese version.
  • The American Wii port of GHOST Squad adds a "Wii Remote and Nunchuk" control scheme (Z to fire and B for the contextual button, instead of the other way around in the "Wii Zapper" scheme), which is oddly missing in the Japanese version.
  • The Japanese version of Raiden Fighters Aces got an online update that correct some bugs and added new features. The American version includes all of these updates with the disc, with no need to update.
    • Prior to that, the American release of the original Raiden Fighters 2 has all of the ships, including the hidden ones, available immediately, without the need to keep the machine on for a while, and the American release of the original Raiden Fighters Jet offers two loops instead of the Japanese version's single loop.
  • The North American version of Ridge Racer on PSP (known as Ridge Racers in Japan) adds some bonus tours, called the MAX Tours. These tours are very, very Nintendo Hard (to the point where the game tauts that Namco's testers were only able to clear the last tour twice in 60 days), and offer no reward other than the satisfaction of clearing them. Ridge Racers 2, on the other hand...
  • The North American version of Jet Set Radio (called Jet Grind Radio) was given more songs, 2 new levels modeled after New York City, and internet connectivity via SegaNet to share and download user-created tags.
  • Square Enix are somewhat (in)famous for this: Many of its games get loads of extra content when they're localized to western audiences, so much so that they're frequently re-released in Japan with all the extra content, and sometimes with even more extras (which will never see the light of day overseas). For example,
    • Final Fantasy VII was their first game to be modified considerably for Western release; new scenes were added to the story, new Materia were added to the game, and the difficulty was rebalanced, with the random encounter rate decreased (to account for the lesser patience of Western gamers) and, a host of extra bosses added, some mandatory (the Materia Keeper and Schizo bosses), some optional (the now-legendary Ruby and Emerald WEAPONs).
    • The NA version of Chrono Cross contained additional dialogue to clarify background information and cover plot holes present in the Japanese version, as well as the addition of a trio of optional bosses from Chrono Trigger who can be fought in New Game+.
    • The North American and PAL versions of Dragon Quest VIII added symphonic soundtrack, voice actors, and modified the menu system.
    • The North American and PAL releases of The World Ends With You got extra pins, changed around some effects, added several tracks to the soundtrack and doubled the experience from "mingle" mode to compensate for lower population density/less public transport/less DS per person. Fans also argue that they have a much more fitting title as opposed to the Japanese title; since "The World Ends With You" acts as a metaphor for Neku's self-centered attitude, which means his world will end with him with no friends.
    • Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep tried to make up for the time it took to be released overseas with a limited special edition for Europe: a small artbook showing characters renders and world artwork, as well as two postcards. Woo-hoo. The in-game content for both EU and US, however, added Pete as a D-Link summon, stickers and an extra boss, nothing more. Cue the Final Mix adding extra stuff by the crapload.
    • The NA versions of the NES Dragon Quest games had several changes made, such as replacing the original game's password system with a battery-backed save.
  • Inverted in the case of a PS 1 game called by three different names by region: In Europe, "Kula World", in America, "Roll Away",in Japan, "Kula Quest". Kula Quest had the following changes, and was the last localization to be released:
    • A ball editor.
    • A "tutorial level" that took just about every concept in the game and threw it into one level(previously Dummied Out of earlier releases).
    • Fixed Hidden Exit 9 placement (in Roll Away and Kula World, this exit is in the wrong level and unreachable).
    • However, Kula Quest had buggy controls. Hidden Exit 9 and the tutorial level are coded into Kula World and Roll Away, but they can't be accessed without the use of a cheat device.
  • When Okami was ported to Wii, the credits were cut out due to copyright issues (such as Clover Studios being defunct) and space constraints. The Japanese version had the credits put back in.
  • The North American release of Record of Agarest War fixed the European version's Blind Idiot Translation and gave PlayStation 3 owners the extras from the Japanese Xbox 360 Updated Rerelease.
  • Normally, the overseas version of Street Fighter games during the arcade days usually had content cut compared to the Japanese originals (i.e. no ending for Akuma in Super Turbo, no endings for the characters in the Street Fighter EX games). However, an exception was made with Street Fighter Alpha 2, the overseas version of Street Fighter Zero 2, which added three extra characters: Evil Ryu and "classic"-style versions of Zangief and Dhalsim. These extra characters were exported back to the game's Updated Rerelease in Asia, Street Fighter Zero 2 Alpha, which added Classic versions of the remaining Street Fighter II characters and gave Evil Ryu his own ending (which unfortunately isn't included in any of the western releases of the game).
  • The US arcade version of Columns has an alternate gameplay track not found in the Japanese or international versions. It can be used by changing one of the DIP switches.
  • The background animation for the DJMAX song "Xlasher", which is sung in English Engrish, has Korean subtitles in Korean releases of the games. The overseas releases remove them, clearing up some room at the bottom of the screen. Though considering the So Bad It's Good properties of the song and BGA, Your Mileage May Vary.
  • Combined, strangely enough, with No Export for You in the case of Generation I. Sure, the Green version never made it out of Japan... But the internationally-released Blue version was Japan's Green in the engine of the Japanese Blue (and Red was the Japanese Red with Japanese Blue's engine). Why is this a bonus? Well, for one, Japanese Red and Green had significantly more Off-Model sprites of the Pokémon, even more glitches, and couldn't support names with more than five characters, which isn't quite so bad in Japanese but would be completely damning in languages using the Western alphabet.
  • The PAL version of Meteos changes a lot of names from the direct (well, as direct as possible) translation from Japanese to ones that make more sense. Starrii becomes Stellis, Lastar becomes Candelor, Hotted becomes Pyros...the list goes on.
  • The European version of the first Inazuma Eleven actually runs on the improved version of the engine used in the second game in Japan. Of course, this was because it was originally scheduled for a European release around the same time as the third game was released in Japan, and was delayed half a year on top of that.
  • Due to a hiatus / Schedule Slip with console ports of Beatmania IIDX, for a while, console ports would have features that didn't appear in arcades until 1-2 installments later. For example, the console version of IIDX 11: RED had the improved Hi-Speed settings from the arcade version of IIDX 13: DistorteD.
  • Subverted with Dance Dance Revolution Konamix - after a drought of DDR releases in the US, Konami promised the next US release that would be up to date with the latest Japanese release. What they delivered was based on the DDR 4th Mix engine - a couple weeks before the console port of DDRMAX: DDR 6th Mix was released in Japan and half a year after DDRMAX was released in Japanese arcades. Not only that, its Edit Data creator had more bugs than the original 4th Mix console port.
  • Donkey Kong Land III for the Game Boy was released as Donkey Kong GB: Dinky Kong & Dixie Kong for the Game Boy Color in Japan, with color graphics and reduced lag. Unfortunately, animated world map tiles and the Bear shopkeeper became static sprites, and your most recent time was no longer displayed at the bottom of the screen during Time Trials (and the Game Boy version had Super Game Boy support, so you could get color anyway, albeit inferior color).
  • The Japanese version of Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken (Sword of Flame) required you to beat Hector Hard Mode to see a secret epilogue linking the game to the previous one, of which this is a prequel. In the American version, you just have to beat the game on any difficulty. Inverted for Europeans (Of course), who got the Epilogue completely removed, even though North America didn't get the game it's a reference to either.
    • Almost every FE released in the west gets some small improvements, you can find a full list here.
  • The American release of Solatorobo is getting the bonus Soundtrack CD the Japanese got with pre-orders. Europe, of course, didn't get it, though at least the game came earlier there for once.
  • The American version of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon featured bonus content not included in the Japanese and European versions, such as five additional multiplayer maps, instead of just one, like in the other version. These extra maps were later included in the DS remake of Mystery of the Emblem.
  • The PlayStation 3 version of Mass Effect 2 (which came out a year later) contained the Lair of the Shadow Broker, Overlord and Stolen Memory DL Cs for free, as well as a comic that let the player set some broad-strokes story choices from Mass Effect 1 without actually playing through it before starting the sequel. The latter was later released as a download for other platforms as well.
  • The NES version of the jeep shoot-'em-up Jackal was originally released in Japan as a Disk System game titled Akai Yōsai ("The Red Fortress"). Unlike other disk-to-cartridge conversions such as Metroid and Castlevania, the change in format actually proved beneficial, as the shorter loading times of the cartridge media allowed for four-way scrolling (the disk version could only scroll vertically), resulting in wider stages than the Disk System version and a more accurate adaptation of the arcade original. The NES version even has an entire new stage not present in the Disk System version.
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle had several exclusives in Japan (where it was made, came out last, and with the smallest sales).
  • Flying Warriors, the NES sequel to Flying Dragon: The Secret Scrolls, rather than being a straight localization of the Famicom's Hiryu no Ken II, is instead a complete overhaul of Hiryu no Ken II developed on the Hiryu no Ken III engine, resulting in a complete different game than either of them.
  • The original, Japanese version of Rhythm Heaven Fever has an endless game called "Manzai Birds". When localizing it for release in North America and Europe, they realized that due to the game having heavy use of puns that would only work in Japanese, it'd be too much of a hassle to change them for every single language the game would be translated into. So instead of Manzai Birds, the international versions got a completely different minigame titled "Mr. Upbeat", taken from the first Rhythm Heaven game (which wasn't made available outside Japan, increasing the new game's value).

Notes

  1. for Japan
  2. named after the United States and Canada, but used across the Americas
  3. used in most places not using NTSC, such as the above-mentioned examples
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