The Tale Of Two Niers

By Spencer . March 26, 2010 . 3:10pm


In North America, Nier, the protagonist of Nier, has a barbarian-esque physique and is on a quest to find a cure for his daughter. In Japan, there are two Niers: the burly warrior in Nier Gestalt and a typical young hero in Nier Replicant. Why did Square Enix make two heroes and was the Nier in Nier Gestalt made for the West?


I brought those questions to the Nier development team at Square Enix and they got back to me with answers.


“In some ways, yes.  Certainly an older, more gruff hero character fits in with the Western archetype for a hero, both in action games and in RPGs.  A father saving his daughter is a very compelling story that will draw in gamers, no matter where they are from and how old they are.  I think in terms of gameplay, as well, there are a lot of things in there that will make Western gamers say, ‘This isn’t what I expected from an RPG developed in Japan… this reminds me of Fable or Oblivion…’  Appealing to a wider audience is always a good decision.”




“Our NIER in North America for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is exactly the same game as Nier Gestalt for Xbox 360 in Japan.  The only other version of the game is Nier Replicant only for PlayStation 3 and ONLY in Japan.  The only difference between these two versions is the main character.  In NIER and Nier Gestalt Nier is a father saving his daughter while in Nier Replicant a much younger Nier is a brother saving his sister.”


Next week, we’ll have more on Nier where the team talks about the ambiguous story and Kaine’s character development.

Read more stories about & & & & on Siliconera.

  • I’d rather get a typical young hero than a burly-manly guy :/.

    • doubleO7

      Same here. I like the younger guy in Nier Replicant WAY better than the super-macho caveman in Gestalt.

      This is just another example of how video game companies keep deciding for us what we do and dont want in our games.

      Im still hoping that SE will change its ways and eventually decide to release Replicant in the US. Maybe they would consider it if Gestalt sells well over here? …then again, if it does sell well SE might just assume that were happy with the ripped caveman, and not even consider Gestalt.

      • StealthKnight

        Triple agreement. The older Nier looks like a cave man and I always think he is going to speak in a cave man voice. Can you imagine him fishing under a sunset. He would probably say; ” I. Got. FISH!”.

        Then again, Why did they chose Gestalt for his name? I hope there is some significant meaning to his name or this will be a really stupid name.

        • I also agree with all you folks. The younger hero is much more visually appealing. I don’t wanna play as an ugly shirtless dude.

    • Kris

      I’m with you! I like the outfit of the young Nier better, too.

  • Artavasdus

    I have no problems with either version, but I would like to choose which one to play freely, regardless of Cavia or Square Enix’s ideas about western gamers’tastes. That said I have a soft spot for Cavia (I really liked the first Drakengard) and I will probably end up picking the game.

    • doubleO7

      I agree. I would also like the choice to play one or the other. Since both version are about 99% identical, I wonder if they could give us the option of which guy to play as through DLC. The only things that would need to be changed are the character model, and references to Niers “daughter” to “sister”. But of course, its probably way more complicated than that…

      • Aoshi00

        I really like the monsters, kind of Folklore, Ico, & Tim Burton-ish (the talking book is very cool)… if the difference is really as simple as they say, then shame on them for putting out 2 versions. The trailers for Gestalt and Replicant give out a totally different vibe though…

        Personally I prefer the dad being a hero more, like a hardened solider/mercenary Kaim in Lost Odyssey, but he just looks too weird and curses too much..

        When I was young, my heroes were indeed Conan the Barbarian, Rambo, Arnold in Predator/Terminator, space marines in Aliens, etc.. that is kind of the US culture right?

  • nyobzoo

    there’s no reason to “target the western audience” with a different look for the main character. seriously, if they want sales, all they have to do is make a good game

    • Ereek

      Not even making a good game guarantees sales.

      Look at Little King’s Story. Metroid Wii, too.

    • epy

      If only that was true, I wouldn’t watch in horror the charts each week where games like Resonance of Fate debut in 20 something place and Wii Fit stays forever in the top ten.

  • I know I have no urge to buy this, due to the big burly manly man type. It’s an unappealing character design and it kinda turns me off to the game.

    • Hraesvelgr

      Personally, I have no urge to buy this regardless of the main character. I think both the old and young Nier have pretty bad character designs, though I will admit the face/head shape of the younger one is less ugly, and the game doesn’t really seem to be terribly interesting outside of this issue, anyway.

  • Hraesvelgr

    So, basically… this is another one of Square Enix’s “we, who have yet to make a really ‘Western’ game despite trying to several times, know exactly how to appeal to Western gamers!”? Great… Personally, I liked Last Remnant, but that was very much a Japanese RPG, despite what they claimed to be going for with it.

    Here’s a hint, guys: You aren’t playing enough Western games, especially RPGs, if you think we all like burly older guys. However, this does pretty much tell us that both games are the same, outside of the main character, so if anyone says they think Replicant looks better based on anything outside of that, they’re crazy.

    • Ereek

      Actually, I would really like to see SE’s (Well, in this case it’s Cavia’s) own take on Bethesda. They specifically mention Oblivion, so they know the games are rather popular over here. As far as I’m aware, Oblivion did very well in Japan for a western-developed game, too. This is one of those times when they are trying but not going far enough.

      I think the same thing can be said of FFXIII as well, where SE tried to change everything up, but still felt like they had to limit themselves. They ended up not going far enough, leaving the game somewhere uncomfortably “in-between.”

    • Justinzero

      Just once I’d like to see a SquareEnix title get news here without the Uber-Nerd class over-criticizing it with delusions of self-importance.

      At least the game is coming out. If it didn’t “we’d”, and I use the term loosely here, be crying “Oh man, they never bring stuff out here, boo hoooo hooooo”. If you don’t like the burly guy, then don’t buy it. SquareEnix, like every other video game company, makes games to make MONEY. Changing the lead roll will probably bring in more cash here, which means more development money for titles with lanky, skinny, feminine rolls (Cough FF XIII) – Something most of the Okaku-TO-THE-MAX crowd here can appreciate, I’m sure.

      • Who said anyone here is a Uber-Nerd?
        And if they are what is the problem with them expressing their content or disgust with something?
        And what’s wrong with feminine casts?
        You said “If you don’t like the burly guy, then don’t buy it”, so I take it you haven’t purchased Final Fantasy XIII, after all, if you don’t like titles titles with lanky, skinny, feminine rolls so why buy it, right?
        OH, and look who’s talking, someone with a Lunar avatar and a zero on his name, to be honest I don’t know how you don’t consider YOURSELF an uber-nerd.

        • Aoshi00

          The FFXIII females do look a little anorexic though.. though it’s mostly due to the polygonal arms and blocky fingers.. for a game striving for really good graphics, I thought that was quite sloppy and distracting.. the muscles were done nicely though like Snow, almost FMV quality, and HD man-nipples..

        • Justinzero

          Yay, you just stated the obvious! Pat yourself on the back. Unfortunately, you missed the part when I included myself under the Uber-Nerd umbrella. I used the term “We”, which is a combination of those I’m referring to, and myself. So yeah, I am an uber-nerd, and I’m glad you can spell the last part of my username properly. You still missed my point entirely, which is a odd considering your reading skills are in top form. The point is everyone always seems to have complaint after complaint whenever a SquareEnix title pops up, with this topic fitting the bill. I own Final Fantasy XIII, and I don’t have a problem with lanky, skinny, feminine (a trait which can be applied to male heroes) characteristics. No one in this topic has a problem with that ether, which is why they are complaining about Mr. Hunko taking the lead, thus leading to the whole entire reason behind my comment. Remember, the world “We” is inclusive, while “You” is not. Hopefully that clears things up Cristobal. Have a swell day :P

          • “Just once I’d like to see a SquareEnix title get news here without the Uber-Nerd class over-criticizing it with delusions of self-importance. ”
            I don’t see the part where you include yourself in that sentence, you only do here “[…]If it didn’t “we’d”, and I use the term loosely here, be crying “Oh man, they never bring stuff out here, boo hoooo hooooo”.”
            There’s a period so it ends there, right?
            And then:
            “Changing the lead roll will probably bring in more cash here, which means more development money for titles with lanky, skinny, feminine rolls (Cough FF XIII) – Something most of the Okaku-TO-THE-MAX crowd here can appreciate, I’m sure.”
            I don’t see the part where you include yourself into the Otaku-TO-THE-MAX crowd, instead it sounds like you hate that people and the games with casts like those.
            Or maybe I misunderstood everything, which I don’t believe is the case but… oh well.

          • Justinzero

            You did, but that’s ok. I came off pretty harsh, which was intended. There is a giant game underneath the cosmetic exterior of the main character, which I think most people here would enjoy.


          • If your paragraph is poorly constructed, you can’t really blame people for not getting what your point is. The way you’ve written it certainly comes off as though you consider yourself above the, as you call them, Otaku-to-the-max crowd.

          • Justinzero

            It’s heavily suggestive, not poorly constructed. No, I do not consider myself above anyone, but find it annoying when 90% of the comments involve writing a game off because the hero’s character design changed. While it is a valid point to say it isn’t fair that SE isn’t giving us the choice, I still feel it is pretty stupid to overlook an entire game over a highly cosmetic cultural change.

            Comments like this (Aoshi00) do well to bring the issue here to light:

            “I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s really not wrong for S-E to think that Westerners are less likely to like androgynous anime-ish chars because frankly other than the anime crowd, most regular joes here really are adverse to anime-styled chars, let’s be honest, more people like the looks of Mass Effect here rather than Star Ocean 4 right? Regular folks here like Dragon Age, the Lord of the Ring-ish fantasy RPGs, or Sci-fi stuff.”

            BINGO! It seems that the general consensus here is to shake a fist at SE in protest, when the reality is we’re just crying over spilled milk.

      • I can’t speak for the rest of the people complaining about the “manly-man” main character; but I have an issue being told what I, as a western gamer, like in my games. Personally, I’d like the choice of main character, just like Japan is getting.

        No I won’t be buying the game, but I just might have, if I had the choice for the more younger looking character, and me voicing this opinion here is my way of letting square enix know that.

  • I’m not sure why Square insists on the bizarre titles — gestalt? What do they presume most Americans associate that term with? Psychology, perhaps, or just… I dunno. They need to integrate better with their Western marketing arm.

    • Hraesvelgr

      Actually, the game is just called NIER in North America. Nier Gestalt and Nier Replicant are Japan-exclusive titles.

  • I would prefer Japan’s design if just for the fact that their Nier is “different”. However, I like the idea of a father trying to save his daughter and it sounds interesting enough that I’d pick it up (once the price drops) in hopes we do get both. I don’t see why they should decide for the fans, what they want.

    • Aoshi00

      I was really intrigued by a father saving his daughter as well, since brother saving sister has been done in Drakengard. Muscle-man doesn’t bother me, but the face of that guy really isn’t too appealing..

  • hyuver

    Square-Enix try to hard to appeal both western and east.

    What they need to do is just create a character design that look realistic and liked by both Japanese and Western like Solid Snake and Nathan Drake, not creating androgynous for japanese and cavemen for westerner.

    • Kris

      I think you’re onto something there. Sadly, this game seems indicative of the divide between East and West in terms of gaming and what players respond to.

    • Aoshi00

      I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s really not wrong for S-E to think that Westerners are less likely to like androgynous anime-ish chars because frankly other than the anime crowd, most regular joes here really are adverse to anime-styled chars, let’s be honest, more people like the looks of Mass Effect here rather than Star Ocean 4 right? Regular folks here like Dragon Age, the Lord of the Ring-ish fantasy RPGs, or Sci-fi stuff.

      As it is now, S-E trying to westernize the games is even worse because their games lost the Jpn appeal and at the same time would never be as western as western developed games.

      I could see the appeal in both, but most people only like one style and hate the other style. Those who like JRPGs hate the so called bald space marines, and those who like WRPGs hate homo looking teenage boys..

      Since I liked Drakengard by Cavia, I am looking forward to this (cautiously optimistic), both version are appealing to me stylistically, but the old man probably curses too much in the Eng. version and destroy the atmosphere of this game.. I’ll have to say I’m probably importing Replicant.

      FFXIII don’t get dissed as much this time since Lightning is indeed a girl.. and Snow is kind of gruffy looking, Sazh certainly looks like a guy, and that leaves people bashing Hope, the poor boy who lost his mom :(…

      Like you said, if the games are good, people really wouldn’t care about the specfic design, the Jpn audience do enjoy Uncharted and Heavy Rain, like a blockbuster hollywood action movie and a thriller respectively. of course the shooter genre is not the most mainstream in Jpn.

      • cowcow

        They’re just idiots because look at some of the most popular manga in Japan: Fist of the North Star and Beserk…..both protagonists in those series are some of the most manliest non girly men EVER.

        • Ereek

          For every fist of the North Star and Berserk there are three Kaori Yuukis that are just as popular, if not moreso.

          • cowcow

            Yeah?? Well where are their games then cause I ain’t never heard of em

          • Ereek

            Continuing the Kaori Yuuki example, there have actually been some 5 Fushigi Yuugi games in the last ~4 years. You’re limiting yourself to shounen, but shoujo is just as popular. Consider, though, that many games are targeted to young males. Shounen is also targeted to young males. It makes sense that there are less games based on shoujo, though they most certainly do exist.

            That’s why there are DBZ, Bleach and Naruto games every year but something like Vampire Knight doesn’t get nearly as much attention by the males, despite still being popular.

        • Aoshi00

          Subtle diff. is Ken and Guts don’t look too ugly :)… I like pops here, but his face is just messed up..

    • Mazen

      Solid Snake Resident evil characters Yes! but Nathan Drake many people hate him here and even the game didn’t sell in japan! hell the most girlish looking anime games sold here more than Uncharted 2 in Japan.

      • hyuver

        120k(according to vgchartz) is quite a good number for west game in Japan.

    • cowcow

      Whats with the adoration for androgynous character in Japan anyway?? And assuming the West only likes caveman grunts? Is it to say the Japanese are closet homosexuals and the Westerners are loudmouth homophobes? Really shame on you S-E….

    • Joanna

      I like my bishounen leads, but it’s getting pretty ridiculous now to the point where I think the guy characters are actually women. (ex: I thought Yuri from Infinite Space was a girl for the longest time, and the hero from the new Yggdra game looks like a girl as well).

      I’ve got nothing against bishounen, but is it that hard to make them look like guys! I do applaud games that do try to break the mold by actually making interesting characters or characters that aren’t the usual pretty boy saving the world, but you don’t need to go to the extreme of Nier’s ugly hero to do that. If a company wants to try and be different why not give us a protagonist that’s a women, or not white/Japanese, or both? I haven’t seen that done a lot. =P

      In the end, I find customization is the way to go, therefore everyone is happy with their hero/heroine.

    • thebanditking

      LOL you called Western Nier a caveman, now thats all Im going to think when I see him.

  • Tokyo Guy

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but shortly after the games were announced, wasn’t SE claiming that both games would be different? Now they are basically saying they are the same game with character swaps.

  • speedstersonic

    Wow, thanks for stereotyping the whole western gaming population Square Enix. Yes we all like to play with ridiculously oversized and ugly dudes like the ones in Gears of War.

  • Vino21

    Isn’t the big guy voiced by the dude who did Diethard Ried/Tager?

    :D That already gives him points ahead of AndroNier.

  • Jirin

    Yay for stereotyping western audiences I guess? Yeah, those gruff barbarian type heroes are more popular here, but shouldn’t we be given the choice for ourselves?

    PS3 is region-free, right?

  • idofgrahf

    Am i the only one who thinks Square Enix’s has lost its mind? 2 versions of the same game, on two consoles, but one game in America, on both consoles. The other game is PS3 only and japan only. WTF? is it really necessary to make it that complicated for one game? Appealing to the large crowd is fine and all but stereotyping the entire West as liking their main character looking like a copy of the governor of California is a bit much. I mean Drake from Uncharted wasn’t so muscular but that game sold well. Maybe square is forgetting that game play, story, character personality etc are more important than the main characters physical appearance.

  • I thought the western RPG market liked JRPGs because they had a Japanese influence in them. This sort of decision kinda-sorta might alienate some current userbase and maybe-perhaps attract a small new userbase in a karmic cancellation of any sort of growth.

    Are there any Western studios trying to make their games more “Eastern?” Well, the guys who made Black Sigil, perhaps, but that buggy mess isn’t very promising…

    I just don’t understand this mentality at all. Aside from the chance to gobble up more money, as businesses should, I suppose.

  • BobTheCat

    I think both versions of the main character look terrible imho.

    Square Enix doesn’t understand you can have a rugged character without it looking out of place.

    Either way this isn’t going to make more people in the West pick it up. You either like these type of games or you don’t.

    • cowcow

      They could learn a thing or two from their recent company they took over Eidos, in which they created a video for their own game: Deux EX Machina

  • 9inchsamurai

    If something as simple as swapping the main character model and his relationship with the girl yields EXACTLY the same game, I’m not sure how much effort went into writing the story for this. If these are indeed the “same” game, that kinda makes me a little nervous. Maybe they should think about that before trying to appeal to some stereotype demographic of both countries.

  • badmoogle

    I miss Squaresoft.

  • rinshu

    Let it be known Square I canceled my preorder for the PS3 version when I learned that I couldn’t buy the version I wanted, Replicant. Keep up this crap and YOU WILL lose sales. DO NOT decide which version is best for me. Let the consumer decide or we WILL speak with our wallets.

  • Aoshi00

    It’s really sad to see S-E’s decision dividing so many fans.. understandable looking at the following comparison… I just want to enjoy this Cavia game though, the art direction and music intrigue me (refresh the site and listen to the music), I hope the two versions have enough story difference instead of a diff. skin.

    The Jpn cover is pretty stylish too, as always..

  • It’s a freaking BLU RAY DISC. Can’t you put both “games” on the same disc? God damn this.

    • Slashlen

      But then how would they piss off fans? :)

      Don’t forget the 360 version, though. They may not want to shortchange the 360 side in the US if both couldn’t fit on a DVD.

  • Why not just make a normal character? I don’t like no neck meatheads or shrimpy girly men…

  • Icon

    Nier Replicant’s main character looks like Chloe Sevigny. I’d rather destroy stuff using “caveman.”

    And for the record, Square-Enix is not telling you what you like. The company made a business decision. So it doesn’t appeal to a couple people on Siliconera. I think they can take that hit. However, as denpanosekai wrote, it is a blu-ray disc. I would have liked to see both characters on the disc so no one has to fight over which character is better (caveman is better anyway.)

    • badmoogle

      “So it doesn’t appeal to a couple people on Siliconera. I think they can take that hit.”

      Siliconera represents a micrography of SquareEnix’s western fanbase.
      If they don’t even manage to appeal to their own core fanbase here then rest assured that the “hit” is going to be felt.

    • Aoshi00
      • Icon

        You’ve got it Aoshi. I’d rather kill enemies with a hulking mass of insanity instead of a frail boy who looks like Chloe Sevigny (although she is pretty). Besides, the idea of a father saving a daughter is more interesting to me, which is what happens in the Western release. I was indifferent to this game until this article… now I want it!

  • idofgrahf

    You know what would be the perfect catch line for Neir in the US?

    A supporting character explaining a game mechanic to the main character and ending the explanation with “It’s so easy, a Caveman could do it”.

  • geez SE what the hell are you doing «« ………….. well you sure hiitted the spot cause the first nier im gonna buy is tadaaaaaaa THE NON WESTERNIZED ONE!
    Thank you PS3 for being region Free ^^ !

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