Ever wonder why there are two versions of role-playing game Nier?
In the West, "macho" means big and muscular. Beefcakes! Just look at the majority of Western games. In Japan, however, ideas of masculinity are different. Someone can still be manly and strong, but not necessarily shaped like a gorilla.
When development on RPG Nier began, the protagonist was young. But, the director of the game, Taro Yoko, explains that Square Enix began discussing international markets. "In fact, an argument erupted at Square Enix's Los Angeles studio, over whether a thin looking male character was possible for the game," says Yoko. "For the North American consumers, it was decided to provide a macho main."
The American and European staff gathered to discuss the issues, and it was said that a slender hero "could not possibly swing a huge sword" and that it was "ridiculous". Yoko concedes that it is always muscular characters in American games "who look like they play American football".
Thus, the developers decided to make two versions: one with the slender hero for Japan and another with the meaty, older character for international markets. Thus, the studio created Nier Replicant and Nier Gestalt. Of course, Yoko and his team know that not all Western gamers have the same tastes. "It was thought that Replicant [the slender version] might be suitable for the French," says Yoko, "as they have a greater appreciation of Japanese culture."
There was pushback on making two versions of the game, but the developers campaigned hard for the slender, younger hero, stating if they could not use him, they'd "lose heart" in the game.
PS3 version Nier Replicant has only been released in Japan. The PS3's international version features the older, macho hero of Nier Gestalt. The younger protagonist, however, does appear as part of downloadable content in the West.