Japan, What The Hell Did You Do To This Classic PC Adventure Game?

There are few more storied franchises in adventure gaming than Sierra's Police Quest series, which in the late 80's and early 90's was home to some of the grittiest, most realistic and yet most rewarding games around.

Oh, I'm sorry, did I say gritty? Because that only applies to the Western version of the game.

The Police Quest series prided itself on attention to detail. Playing the role of police officer Sonny Bonds, you weren't just expected to be a cop, you were expected to act like one, series advisor (and former LA police chief) Daryl Gates ensuring that everything you did in the game had to be by the book.

This meant the games, even with their relatively primitive graphics, struck a very serious tone, one about death, betrayal, crime and the dangers of not processing speeding tickets correctly.

The one exception to this was the Japanese version of Police Quest 2. Which was so bonkers it's amazing.

While on a trip to Japan in the 80's to sort out a publishing deal for games like Silpheed, Sierra boss Ken Williams made a deal that would see some of his company's own games localised and released in Japan. While the Japanese localisation of classics like Space Quest and Quest for Glory simply translated the language, the work done on Police Quest 2 went above and beyond what's normally expected.

Perhaps fearing that the game's darker tone wouldn't sit well with the Japanese gaming public, several major aesthetic changes were made to the game. Mostly consisting of turning the game's American characters into batshit-crazy-looking anime characters.

Hero Sonny Bonds is given a ridiculous green pompadour. He also loses his jeans-and-jacket outfit in favour of an all-blue suit. Most other characters featured in close-ups have also been given the anime treatment, their outfits and hairstyles changed while everyone gets a new, rounder, bigger pair of eyes to match.

Even a bikini pin-up in your police locker has been edited to make it more "Japanese".

What's interesting is that this kind of extensive localisation is rare in most games, let alone relatively obscure (for the Japanese market) PC titles from the late 80's. It's common for localisers to edit the meaning of a few lines of text, or maybe alter an image or two (Bionic Commando's Hitler comes to mind). But going through an entire game and giving it an all-new coat of paint?

It's hilariously unique. Especially when, as you can see above, it gets a little racist.

You can read more on Police Quest, and see more screenshots of the Japanese "changes", over on HardcoreGaming101.

FUN FACT: Police Quest 2 is the best Lethal Weapon game ever made. Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.


    I remember Police Quest, it came with a book or newspaper with important information on it, like your locker combination. Unfortunately I lost the book, took me a while but I got into that locker, 3 digit code be damned.

    I only got up to the point where I arrested my first bad guy though, I had to key in a code related to his crime, which was unfortunately on the book I lost.

    This strikes me as fake.

    Daryl Gates??? Oh for crying out sideways... all good adventure nerds know that JIM WALLS was the man behind PQs 1-3. Gates came in for 4 and the SWAT games.

      Yes, I was just going to chime in with that. Gates ruined the series in my opinion; the first three are some of my favourite games ever.

    I stuck with pq up to the point I got gameovered for not checking all 4 tyres before driving. Faaaaaa....

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now