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The Real Reason These Game Characters Changed Their Names

Names in the gaming community are extremely important — characters like Mario or Sonic, for example, are recognizable to most people, even those that aren't avid gamers. Creating and naming characters can be a challenging task if you're thinking about creating a character the world will love.


When a game is being localized for a new region, there are often plenty of changes that have to happen. Some localization issues can cause confusion or fan backlash, such as the real reason why "Cozy Grove" was edited outside of the U.S. Some things just don't make sense or can come across wrong in different areas of the world. At times, character names have had to be changed during the localization process. Name changes happen for a plethora of different reasons, and sometimes names just have to change because of a character's problematic namesake or legal reasons.

Each of these iconic video game characters has gone through a name change for one reason or another, and some may just blow your mind.



For many people, Pac-Man is a gaming icon that represents arcade gaming at its finest. However, the character wasn't always named Pac-Man. In fact, the little yellow orb was originally known as Puck-Man. One little letter could change that name to be pretty inappropriate for English-speaking gamers, and game developers decided to change the name when bringing the game to the United States. In an archived interview from Wired, the game's creator, Toru Iwatani, said the team decided to stick with Pac-Man after it was localized. "Scott Pilgrim vs The World" fans might remember this story of Pac-Man's name from the film of the same name, because in one scene Scott explained Pac-Man's origins to Ramona.


That's not the only change Pac-Man went through either. Iwatani also pointed out that the game's difficulty was changed for Western audiences in comparison to the original Japanese machine. This is another practice that's fairly common — in fact, some games have entirely different endings across regions.

Overwatch's Cole Cassidy

"Overwatch" players have probably noticed a recent name change, but others may not know the story. The cowboy hero Cole Cassidy actually used to go by Jesse McCree up until October 2021. Unfortunately, the reasoning behind the cowboy's new name is not so simple as localization. Instead, it involves lawsuits and accountability.


"Overwatch" developers finally gave McCree a new name after a lawsuit was filed against Activision Blizzard accusing the namesake of the character, former employee Jesse McCree, of inappropriate conduct — among other allegations about the company at large. Players were outraged, and after months of searching for a solution, developers switched the character's name.

The changes took a while to implement into the game, but the game makers were able to change the cowboy's name while also creating new lore for the character that went along with the name change. McCree's name also appeared in Blizzard's "World of Warcraft," and PC Gamer was told by developers that all references to the name would be removed from the MMORPG.


Mega Man

That's right, the Mega Man we all know and love wasn't originally called Mega Man. The character's name was actually Rock Man, and there's a bit of a debate about the reasoning behind the change.

According to The MegaMaster fan page, Capcom has officially said that the reason behind the name change was because Rock Man sounded too weird for English speakers. However, that vague reasoning left the door open for a lot of different speculation as to the real reason — or a more specific reason — that Mega Man needed a new name.


Mega Man was released in the United States in 1987, and at the time, rock was a popular slang term for crack cocaine. According to some, as explained by Twitter account UberFacts, Capcom didn't want to be associated with drugs even mistakingly. However, there's no way to know for sure, as Capcom has never provided more clarity.

Another popular theory that The MegaMaster went into depth about was the appearance of an American rockstar named Rockman. However, as The MegaMaster pointed out, it's difficult to say whether or not this would've been an issue in terms of legality. It's possible that Capcom simply wanted to play it safe.

Sonic's Eggman

A particularly special type of name change involves the accidental alteration some characters go through over time. Long-time "Sonic" fans might remember when Eggman went by Dr. Robotnik — and hardcore fans might be aware that the villain goes by both names now.


A 2016 interview between Game Informer and the head of the "Sonic" team, Takashi Iizuka, shed some light onto the originally confusing names of the "Sonic" antagonist. According to him, the name for the character was always supposed to be Eggman. However, when the game was brought over to the United States for localization, translators changed his name to Robotnik with no confirmation from the developers.

This led to a lot of confusion, and eventually, developers were able to bring the two names together by creating the idea that Eggman is a nickname for the character. Considering the character is shaped just like an egg, it's easy to see where the original name came from. However, it's still unknown why the development team decided to change his name for localization.


Street Fighter's naming shuffle: Balrog, Vega, and M. Bison

"Street Fighter" may just take the cake for confusing name changes. Instead of changing just one character's name between the Japanese and American versions of the game, three characters had their names switched upon localization. The three characters Balrog, Vega, and M. Bison were mixed up. The Japanese character M. Bison became Balrog, Balrog became Vega, and Vega became M. Bison.


For starters, the original M. Bison was meant to represent Mike Tyson, the popular boxer, as the fan page Fighting Street pointed out. The website also pointed out that Capcom changed the names in order to avoid getting sued, although no one knows why the company switched the three names instead of just creating entirely new ones.

It is worth noting that Mike Tyson had a popular fighting game release in the same year that "Street Fighter" was brought to the United States, "Punch-Out!!," which is now a video game that's worth more than your car. The release of Mike Tyson's game could have factored into Capcom's decision and/or worry about being sued.