Theyre coming to America
The United States of America is a beautiful land full of opportunity, freedom, and other not-as-nice things that would spoil my patriotic mood were I to mention them. And if theres one thing US citizens like myself enjoy, its celebrating these 50 states of ours--something many American game publishers have doing for decades, in games like Homefront and Oregon Trail. At this point, I've come to expect some patriotic fervor in American-made games--but its a little more unexpected when a game that bleeds red, white, and blue hails from outside the US.
Yes, some of the most US-centric games of all time were developed and published by companies based in Japan, England, even *gasp* Canada. Youd think only Americans would know how to make games that star the President in a giant robot or uncover the deadly secrets of the Revolutionary War, but this list proves otherwise. Read on to see the most patriotic games that could never carry a Made in America label
Metal Wolf Chaos
This is the most (in)famous America-loving, Japan-developed title in gaming history, so it's a no-brainer that it's on this list. For those unfamiliar with Metal Wolf Chaos, this original Xbox creation is a wonderfully insane action game that features giant mechs blasting the crap out of each other. The major difference between this and the average Gundam game is that the lead mech is piloted by the fictional President of the United States, Michael Wilson--a man with a very hands-on approach to battling terrorists.
Pres. Wilson is forced to use a high-tech robo-suit once politics break down (as usual) after the Vice President stages a coup d'etat. Wilson blows up the forces of his one-time running mate in hotspots like Washington D.C. and Las Vegas, with all the brilliant absurdity that developer From Software is famous for. Yes, the Tokyo-based team that would go on to make hardcore hits like Dark Souls and Armored Core imagined a world where Presidents save the world via explosive robot battle--battles that are far more exciting than drone warfare. Why Metal Wolf Chaos never saw release in the US is a total mystery.
Assassin's Creed 3
Other games have tried to make the Revolutionary War exciting, but most were turn-based strategy titles that kept the colonial struggle at a distance. Good thing that Assassin's Creed specializes in making history feel as close as a wrist-mounted blade in your throat, because the series third entry made the American Revolution come alive. Who'd have thought such dedication to the US's founding fathers could come from a group of developers in Montreal, Quebec, Canada?
Like with many Ubisoft titles, Assassin's Creed 3's development was led by the Montreal team, and supported by studios in Singapore, Romania, and Kiev, all of whom worked to digitally recreate General George Washington's army. They also found a way to deal with the United State's complicated history with indigenous peoples, all while maximizing the fun of killing Redcoats. Perhaps the Montreal team chose to focus on this timeline because the quest for Quebec's independence is a lot less exciting--a constitutional vote for sovereignty doesn't seem to leave much room for assassination.
Code Name: STEAM
Nintendo's internal development team at Intelligent Systems is known for creating some very niche franchises, like Fire Emblem, with a few games that were never even released stateside. Intelligent Systems' looks to change that by fully embracing the United States in its next game, Code Name: STEAM. Despite its dev team being located in Kyoto, Japan, the cast looks proud to be American, with the Star Spangled Banner flying high in the upcoming strategy game.
The art design is clearly influenced by Silver Age comics of the 1960s, with STEAM's lead artist directly crediting the work of Jack Kirby as inspiration. Even more American is the plot, which sees a team of steampunk operatives saving the world from aliens. The elite crew of agents is led by the all-American man pictured above; the steampowered team of freedom fighters was even founded by Abraham Lincoln. Add all that to a gameplay style that learned a thing or two from the recent XCOM reboot, and you have what could very well be Nintendo's most American game ever made. All it needs is a playable Bill of Rights to be complete.
Yakuza: Dead Souls (God Bless America DLC)
While Sega has never had trouble selling Yakuza in Japan, the franchise hasn't ever been that big in the US. That lack of interest has led to multiple entries in the Ry ga Gotoku franchise not releasing outside of their home country, but you can't accuse Sega of not trying to sell US gamers on the series. Just look at Dead Souls: it has zombies, a boatload of different weapons, and a DLC pack covered in bald eagles. What more could they do?
Like so many apocalyptic American games, Yakuza: Dead Souls is an extra violent adventure where the criminal protagonists put their violent skills to good use by decapitating hordes of zombies. As if the undead weren't enough to entice US consumers, the game's God Bless America DLC pack added flag printed shirts, tri-corner hats, and a machine gun straight out of Predator. Yes, the download also came with a set of karaoke songs, but I know for a fact Americans love karaoke too.
The Grand Theft Auto franchise
If you live in the US long enough, you adapt to the country's many eccentricities that may seem crazy to 'outsiders'. That's why Grand Theft Auto's satire of US culture can be so biting. When playing up our issues with sex, violence, money, the media, and everything else, there's a hint of truth to its caustic social commentary, but there's also some love underneath it all.
The main developers on all the main GTA games, up to 2013's Grand Theft Auto 5, have been Rockstar North, and they all feel like a slice of Americana despite the offices being based in Edinburgh, Scotland. A good deal of the credit goes to studio co-founders and writers Sam and Dave Houser, London-born brothers with a real love of American culture even as they sit in their current offices in New York City. So the next time you see a horrible violent and offensive portrayal of a fat, stupid, American in a GTA game, just remind yourself that it comes from a place of admiration.
Occasionally, when talking with Europeans, I often trade thoughts on international sports, mainly how I don't get soccer and they don't get baseball. The American pastime is tough for some non-Americans to understand, but not in Japan, a country where the sport became a national institution decades ago. One of the longest-running baseball franchises that hails from Japan is Namco's Pro Yakyuu Family Stadium, which NES owners know as RBI Baseball.
Though not officially associated with MLB, the original RBI baseball games captured the feel of late '80s baseball well, teaching a generation of NES gamers the basics of the sport. And even without the official teams, it did have top players like Jose Canseco and Nolan Ryan--though they all looked basically like the same pixelated dude. Despite many more advanced baseball titles, this Japanese-made series still holds a special place in the hearts of many lovers of the baseball diamond.
Captain America and the Avengers
To paraphrase proud patriot Stephen Colbert, Captain America is basically the American flag with rock hard abs. The comic book character made his debut by punching Adolf Hitler in the the face, and has only gotten more red, white, and blue ever since. But he's also starred in a lot of mediocre games (opens in new tab), and that includes Captain American and the Avengers. Still, the Japanese developed game is easily one of the most US-loving to feature the characters from the comic.
Developed by Data East, this brawler starred The Avengers long before they became a global film franchise, though the colorful heroes would defend New York City all the same. And yes, Japanese made titles like Final Fight and Streets of Rage also had you punching your way through the Big Apple, but did those games literally shout at players to save America? Because that's what Captain America does as the continue screen counts down with him bellowing, "AMERICA STILL NEEDS YOUR HELP!" More titles could use that kind of guilt trip to keep players spending money.
From overseas to shining sea
Those are the most USA-loving games not made in America, but there have to be more out there. Alert me to any more lovely tributes in the comments!
If you need more America in your games, check out the gaming's greatest "America! F yeah!" moments and red, white, and blue characters - gaming's true patriots.