LA Under a Moon of Madness – Super Nintendo Entertainment System, 1992

The same localization team behind Merkatur’s unreleased translation of the second Tsukimeg game moved on to the third, producing a North American version for the 1992 holiday season under with the title LA Under a Moon of Madness. It was never released in Europe, though a Mega Drive port of dubious legality did eventually appear in Brazilian Portuguese.

Based on Tsukimeg III Easytype, this version removed the seven-day time limit, removed half of the building dungeons, and generally toned down enemy hit points and attack damage. The script was also drastically rewritten and condensed, a requirement for all text-heavy SNES games at the time. As a result of these changes, the number of endings was reduced from 26 to 18, with endings C, F, J, L, P, Q, R, and W being impossible to get (despite being fully translated in the ROM). Players in 1992 wrote in to Nintendo Power about the “missing endings” so often that a form letter was prepared for them, and the hotline played a short recording explaining the situation.

Obviously, given the title, the setting was moved from Tokyo to Los Angeles, although the city map is not changed; the Merkatur team apparently gambling that its low resolution would be enough to pass it off on the unsuspecting. Removing obviously Japanese elements, like pagodas and the Tokyo Tower, from the graphical elements was done as well. Inspector Takahasi was renamed Inspector Carothers, after a member of the localization team, while murder victim Yuki and Akima the Reluctant Oni were renamed Annie and Ronald the Reluctant Ghost, respectively.

Despite a major marketing push, the game sold quite poorly in North America. Nevertheless, it became a firm cult classic, often cited as one of the best games on the system, and even a loose cartridge of the North American version commands hundreds of dollars on the secondary market. Due to rights issues, it has never been re-released in any format, earning the rare boxed copies a place of honor in game collections.

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