When you hear the word 'censorship,' you probably assume someone is talking about an overly violent or sexual situation. In most cases you would be right. Except for this time, of course.
Where's the fun in just talking about things everybody already knows? Instead, we'll be talking about all of those crazy little things you wouldn't expect to see censored.
Once you finish this short list, you'll know that no game is safe from censorship, and no character is immune to changes. Even if those changes can totally change the look and feel of a game. Please feel free to read on and find out just what I'm talking about.
The Ice Climbers Are Branded As Seal Clubbers
When it comes to censorship in video games, the last company you would suspect to have the need to censor their games would be good ole' Nintendo. Over these last few decades, they've given the impression of being a family friendly brand, so you wouldn't expect them to ever need to censor one of their games for any reason.
"Seals? Birds? They're all dead either way."
While you might be thinking that the game I'm about to talk about would be one of their newer, more mature franchises, it's actually one of their oldest. If you read the title above, then you already know I'm about to talk about Ice Climbers. But still, try to at least act surprised. Back when Ice Climbers first released in North America, there was a big push going on to bring the practices of seal clubbing to light in the public eye.
One of the enemies the Ice Climbers faced in their game just happened to be a seal in the Japanese release. If the game was just about jumping on your enemies (like in Mario) or swinging a sword (in Zelda), then there probably wouldn't have been a problem. But in Ice Climbers, your attack was actually referred to as 'clubbing.' You were clubbing seals.
The censorship was rather simple and actually ended up making more sense than what they had originally planned for the game: Nintendo turned the seals into yetis. Honestly, that's what they should have been in the first place, though. Who's going to be afraid of a seal? Nintendo seemed to like the new idea and actually ended up changing the Japanese version to include the yeti as well. And there you have it - Nintendo saved virtual seals from being clubbed.
Mortal Kombat Gets Censored For Being Too Violent
The Mortal Kombat games are literally the grandparents of the video game ratings system. Without Mortal Kombat, there wouldn't be an ESRB. Well, there eventually would have been one. But Mortal Kombat was the first game that made the ESRB necessary. When it comes to a game series that prides itself on uber violence, though, what could possibly be censored?
This received a PG-13 rating. Mortal Kombat got an M.
The gun violence. Of all the things that go on in that Mortal Kombat series, they decided to draw the line at characters shooting guns. An example would be in Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe. Joker's fatality involved him pulling out a gun and pulling the trigger. A bang flag would come out, and then Joker would pull tout a second gun, actually shooting his opponent.
In the American version of the game, everything would play out exactly the same, but when the Joker pulled out his second gun the camera would zoom in and the other character would be shot offscreen. When you see the actual uncensored fatality, it really isn't all that violent. A small amount of blood sprays out and his opponent falls down. The end.
When you see people being torn in half and melted to death, a single gunshot seems kind of silly to censor. But it happened. And it wasn't that big of a deal.
Snake Drops A Nasty Habit Years Ahead Of Schedule
Spoiler: At the end of the Metal Gear Solid series, the main character, Solid Snake, gives up smoking his signature cigarettes. Before that ending scene, however, Snake chain smoked his way through every single game he was in. It was such a big part of his character that whole scenes and game mechanics played into his nicotine addiction.
The loading screen that cares
You would smoke cigarettes to see where lasers were positioned if you didn't have certain equipment to use, and you would have whole conversations about how you just got done coughing up a pack of cigarettes you ate before the mission so you could sneak them in with you. He had a serious addiction. But then again, where was this habit in the Game Boy version of Metal Gear Solid?
In the Game Boy version of MGS, all instances of Snake talking about his cigarettes had been removed from the game. You don't have them in your inventory and you obviously can't use them for any game related puzzles or obstacles. It was probably just because the Game Boy was more of a kid-friendly handheld, and Nintendo didn't want to look like it was promoting smoking to kids, but there's still the fact the smoking scenes returned in The Twin Snakes on the Gamecube.
Fallout Avoids Some Negative Press In Japan
As we're all generally aware, Japan suffered from two nuclear attacks during the second World War. Fallout 3 had a lot of references to nuclear devices, including some less than wise choices for some weapon names. Those two things don't really work out all that well together, so things had to be changed for the Japanese markets. What things, you ask?
A faint "awkward" was heard for miles around
Well, we'll start with the obvious. There's a weapon in the game called the "Fatman." The significance of this is the fact that one of the bombs dropped on Japan in the 1940's just happened to be code named "The Fat Man". Gee whiz, what a coincidence? The weapon's name was changed to Nuka-Launcher to avoid some rather awkward problems when it released in Japan.
But then there's the case of the town of "Megaton." One of the first major choices you have to make in the game is whether or not you should activate an old nuclear device positioned in the center of the town - the entire storyline from that area of the game has been completely removed, though. I can understand why, but it seems a bit excessive. The whole storyline of the game is based around a nuclear war. Shouldn't people have expected to see stuff like that when they bought the game?
These changes range from the mundane and crazy to absolutely game changing and story altering. But each one had a pretty good reason for their changes. Are there other strange acts of video game censorship that you might know about? Why not list them in the comments below? As always, thanks for reading.