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Lost In Localization

The Real Ghostbusters Despite a history of poor critical results, video games based on licensed properties continue to be big business.  These days most titles based on, say, Iron Man or Wolverine are custom-made for the property in question, but back in the 1980s and 1990s the standard procedure was to drop a famous licensed character into any ol' game sitting around in the workshop and call it a day.  When these games were localized for other territories, the star character was often expendable.  1UP has a fascinating feature article written by Ryan Winterhalter detailing several video games that switched or dropped licenses when moving abroad.  My favorite entry on the list in terms of sheer bizarreness is the Crazy Castle franchise which has gone by many names and faces around the world.

In 1988 Disney released "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" under their Touchstone Pictures label. LJN Toys bought the video game rights to the film and produced an NES game based on it. At the same time, Disney sold the rights in Japan to Kemco, who produced the plainly titled "Roger Rabbit" in 1989. Kemco was unable to release its version of the game in America thanks to Disney's deal with LJN. However, the rights to make games based on Warner Brother's characters were available, and they could at least make a Bugs Bunny game. The Famicom Roger Rabbit became The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle on NES in America. This licence changing would become endemic to the series.

By late 1989, the Roger Rabbit licence was old news in Japan. Kemco used their pre-existing relationship with Disney to get the rights to Mickey Mouse, a character that has proven to be eternally popular in the country. Using that licence, Kemco produced a Game Boy sequel to Roger Rabbit/Bugs Bunny simply called "Mickey Mouse." Once again, Kemco found that Disney had already sold the rights to their game's IP in America, and in 1990 Mickey Mouse became the Game Boy version of The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle outside Japan.

That's not the end of it though.  By the time the series came to an end, characters such as Garfield, Hugo, and Peter Venkman of The Real Ghostbusters would grace the front of a Crazy Castle box.  Same game, but different protagonist.  That is crazy.  Actually, what's really crazy is expecting Crazy Castle fans to keep track of all of the changes across territories.  I enjoyed the first Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle title as much as one can enjoy a Crazy Castle adventure, but would never have guessed that it was related to any of the other iterations.