Add Sakura Samurai to the list of “games with weird name changes”

I’ve always wondered what goes into the localization and adaptation of game titles for different regions, and the recent news surrounding Sakura Samurai‘s European release has me scratching my head once again. The 3DS eShop title will not be coming to Europe under the name Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword, but Hana Samurai: Art of the Sword.

This leads to a number of questions. Is that why the game has taken so long to come out? (it’s been out since February in the US) The most logical conclusion is that “sakura samurai” has already been trademarked in Europe and it took a long time to negotiate a new name with the creators/publisher/etc. I can only imagine how that meeting went down.

“Hey guys, so “sakura samurai” is taken. We’ve gotta change it to something else.”

“How about another random Japanese word?”

“No, wait, I know! Sakura is a flower, right? So let’s just use the Japanese word for flower!”

Hands were shook, meeting adjourned. Okay, if it really went as well as the scenario in my head, then I wouldn’t expect it to have taken so long. By the way, sakura means “cherry blossom” and hana means “flower.” From what I’m aware, “sakura” is a much more recognizable word for English speakers, whereas I don’t think “hana”is anywhere near as commonly known. And why didn’t they go for another Japanese flower term, rather than the actual word for “flower”? The world probably will never know.

I always love an excuse to post a picture of a kappa!

Now, how about the game’s logo? The North American logo (at the top of the post) features the kanji for “sakura” and “samurai” above the corresponding English. Will they be changing it to the kanji for “hana” for the European release? I’ll be very disappointed if they don’t, though they may figure not that many people will notice.

Of course, I’ll admit I haven’t played the game, so there is the possibility that there is meaning behind the name “hana samurai” that I’m missing. Anyone who has played the title who thinks they have additional insight to add, feel free to post your thoughts in the comments!

Now’s a perfect opportunity to share your favorite game name changes, so have at it! My recent favorite is Fortune Street, which was changed to Boom Street in Europe and Australia. No, I have no idea, either.

About Anne Lee

Also known as apricotsushi. Anne can be written with the kanji for apricot (杏), and sushi was the most quintessentially Japanese thing I could think of when I was 13, resulting in my goofy, albeit memorable, nickname.