Here’s a list of games that dealt with censorship and how they managed to rise above it.
Ah, free speech. The right that gives everyone say whatever they want. Well, most of the time. Even with all the amount of freedom we have, sometimes developers and publishers still have to make changes to make sure that they don’t offend anyone and edit them so they’re palatable for a wide audience.
Games have been censored for this particular reason, sometimes with head scratching results once we find out the reasons why they made those changes in the first place. At times, these changes don’t even make sense. So, here are seven games that have been censored for the strangest reasons and with the weirdest results.
By the way: SPOILER WARNING! I’ll have to discuss some gameplay and plot points for some of the games. You have been warned!
1) South Park: The Stick of Truth
The first thing to be cut out in the EU and Australian releases of South Park: The Stick of Truth was the anal probe cut scene. Here, your character gets abducted by aliens and forcibly probed in the anus, which does prove useful in the end since you earn a new ability in the process. The second thing to be removed are gameplay portions in the abortion clinic.
The game does play the censorship in a humorous manner (the elevator music is a nice touch). Of course, gamers in those regions can circumvent the censorship by just downloading the game through Steam. Except in Germany. They had to do a little more editing for that country’s release…
2) Wolfenstein: The New Order
In Germany, there is a law against “the use of symbols of unconstitutional organisations” on toys. What does this mean exactly? Simply put, the law means you can’t use any Nazi symbols in your games. And MachineGames and Bethedsa Softworks had to clean out a lot of imagery in Wolfenstein: The New Order. Even the dialogue had to be rewritten as, apparently, you can’t even say the word “Nazi” in Germany. Which makes me wonder if people in Germany can actually read this article now?
Considering this was the first Wolfenstein game released there, the effort was well worth it. Then again, Germany does seem to have a habit of censoring first person games…
The first Half-Life was a revolution in story telling in games. It didn’t rely on cutscenes that took you out of the action. Instead, the game had in-game scripted events which added to the immersion and realism. Too bad that realism was easily shattered in the German release of the game as none of the human die even if you shoot them.
You never see any of the NPCs die. If they do “get hurt,” they just slump to the floor and shake their head. It’s weird that they tried to make it look like shooting someone will just cause the victim to contemplate their choices in life.
Since I’ve been talking about all the censoring occuring outside the United States, you’d think the country is safe. Well, you’d be wrong!
4) Final Fight
While the game was edited heavily due to the limitations of the hardware, the Super Famicom version remained fairly faithful to the arcade game. However, when they were going to release it to the United States and Europe, Nintendo of Japan decided to make a few creative edits to make sure they don’t offend them. One change you can see right off the bat is the intro scene. In the Japanese version, Haggar’s daughter, Jessica, is clearly seen wearing only a bra. In other versions of the game, you don’t even see her.
There were other changes that were made, including changing the sprites for the transgendered Poison and female Roxy to generic baddies Billy and Sid, changing the names of Boss characters Sodom and Damnd to Katana and Thrasher respectively and alcohol was removed totally. This doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore. But then, it would’ve been scandalous to see the heroes beat up a woman! While we’re on the topic of violence…
5) Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat put the word “Fatality” in the lexicon of gamers the world over. These brutal finishers put the game on the map and gave the victors a way to rub their victory in the noses of the losers. Unfortunately, Nintendo didn’t want the blood and gore to mess up their image of being a clean and righteous game company. So they replaced the blood with sweat and watered down the Fatalities.
They were “creative,” to say the least but still lacked the punch that the Genesis version had. Even if the Nintendo version was graphically superior and controlled better than Sega’s version, the Genesis release of Mortal Kombat outsold the SNES port by a high margin. I can’t imagine what Nintendo would’ve done if the game actually had the rumored “Nude-dality” feature.
Speaking of violence and nudity…
Most are aware of the International version released on the Sega CD/PlayStation/Saturn of this Hideo Kojima game. And these same people are pretty jealous of the Japanese version that was released on the PC Engine. While the basic story doesn’t change that much in the International version, a lot of the more brutal imagery, such as a flayed dog with its innards spilling out was edited out. Snatcher also included some nudity; the game did show one exposed Snatcher breast (for no reason). The most infamous scene changed for the International version was Katrina Gibson’s shower scene.
While it may look like a humorous incident, the Japanese version specifically mentions that Katrina is only 14 years old! So, Gillian Seed, the hero of the game, is essentially peeping at an underage girl, you perv! While you still get the same cutscene, they had Gillian’s head block the player’s view… and made her 18 years old, making her “barely legal.” Anyway, Japan may get away with these kinds of shenanigans but there are some things they can’t show.
7) Fallout 3
I would guess a game about nuclear war would be a hard sell, especially in Japan. So it’s fairly amazing that Fallout 3 was actually released in the Land of the Rising Sun. However, Japanese gamers were unable to get some specific side quests such as arming the Megaton bomb as the character that gives it to you was taken out altogether.
And even if you wanted to launch a mini nuke yourself with the Fat Boy, you couldn’t as that specific armament was also edited out.
Honorable Mention: Punch-Out!
I just had to mention this one because what happened here isn’t a clear cut illustration of censorship of a game. During his heyday, Mike Tyson was the toughest and scariest boxer in the world. Nintendo scored big when they licensed his character and image and made him the final boss of Punch-Out! The game was a big hit. Then, at around the time the boxer was arrested for rape, Nintendo released a new version of the game but without Mike Tyson’s likeness and replaced him with Mr. Dream.
Most people assumed that, because of his arrest, Nintendo decided to remove Mike from the game. This is not the case. What really happened was Mike Tyson just suffered a crushing defeat to Buster Douglas and Nintendo simply didn’t renew his contract. It was pure serendipity that they got out before the scandal of the rape arrest.
Still, I had to mention this as the game was edited for a weird reason: licensing!