While the gameplay is the same, there are two versions of Nier. A youthful looking protagonist saving his sister is the main character of Nier Replicant, a Japan only release on PlayStation 3. The rest of the world and Xbox 360 in Japan got a brawny hero on a quest to save his daughter.
Originally, the young Nier was the only main character. “I made the youthful version (the protagonist of Nier Replicant) first, during development Saito-san (producer) talked about considering overseas markets,” Taro Yokoo, Director at Cavia, explained in an interview with Inside Games. “At Square Enix’s Los Angeles studio we had a discussion, it was said having a fragile young character was not possible. So, I started preparing a macho protagonist for North America.”
European and American staff were brought in for a heated debate. The point in question was whether a delicate looking character can wield a giant sword without looking ridiculous. Because Nier is a new intellectual property and they wanted it to sell, Cavia and Square Enix moved forward with two versions.
Another interesting tidbit in the interview is about Nier’s target platform. Nier was being made for Xbox 360 first, but in the middle of development the team decided to make it a multiplatform game. At the beginning, there were some difficulties, but the team successfully brought Nier to PlayStation 3 too.