The American release was at one time slated for a 1997 release, but was inevitably delayed three years after the original Japanese release date.
This was the last official game released for the Sega Saturn in the United States on November 30, 1998.
Magic Knight Rayearth was first announced at the Tokyo Toy Show in 1994, and was one of 12 games presented when the Saturn was first revealed.
The opening animation in the American version was intended to mimic the original Japanese opening, even going as far as using the original Japanese logo. The opening introduction was changed to incorporate a new logo made by the company Media Blasters.
Much of the game's original source code of the Japanese version was lost due to a hard drive crash. The missing code was completely rebuilt for the US version, a possible explanation for the delayed release in the United States.
The US version uses a different opening anime theme with newly written English lyrics. This is one of three songs recorded for the game's opening sequence, two of which are accessible on the CD. The third song which also uses English lyrics was hosted on Working Designs' website and used different instrumentals and a different singer. The localization team was unable to acquire the original Japanese theme.
The American version has three different artwork pictures for the game disc, one for each of the game's heroines.
This is the only Magic Knight Rayearth game that is not a turn-based RPG, and is the only one to be released outside of Japan.
At the May, 1998 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), president of Working Deisgns Victor Ireland was supposed to showcase Magic Knight Rayearth but was unable to as their Sega Saturn unit was left back at the company's office. Ireland was absent from E3 for a long period of this time as according to his accounts, he was frantically driving around Atlanta, Georgia looking to purchase a Sega Saturn to showcase the game, but could not find one for sale.
Due to the late release of the game at the end of the Sega Saturn market, only 15,000 copies of Magic Knight Rayearth were shipped to the United States.
While the English localization of this game was being done, it was announced that the Sega Saturn was being discontinued in the North American market. When Working Designs president Victor Ireland got windfall of this, he was undeterred. Rather he was determined to get the game released in the United States because he was very loyal to his fans and did not want to cancel the project, even if doing so resulted in a financial loss.
The enemies' attack power and speed were dramatically increased for the US version.
The ending cutscene was re-encoded in the US version of the game, resulting in video quality significantly degraded from the Japanese version. The visual content doesn't appear to be different, so it's not clear why this was done.
In the original Japanese version, almost all dialogue by characters that have a portrait are voiced. The US version cuts out all of it except for the intro, FMVs, and a handful of lines from the villains. The manual argues in the Translation Notes that this slowed down the flow of the game. The US version however contains voice acting for the diary entries written by the main characters, with the manual claiming that this was done after extra empty space was reclaimed on the disc, but the original Japanese voices are still on the disc of the US version, unaltered.
The translation notes in the manual briefly describe "sprite consolidation and reduction" that was apparently performed in the US version to reduce game lag. It is not clear what the exact changes are.
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