Why would you censor an M‑rated game?

Amakura Twins, Best Characters

Image Cred­it: Hiten from Pixiv

Hap­py Hal­loween, every­body! Ever since I’ve out­grown the tra­di­tion of dress­ing up in a spooky cos­tume and going door­bell-to-door­bell ask­ing for can­dy, I’ve instead made a new tra­di­tion for myself where I marathon spooky video games; my favorite among them being Japan­ese hor­ror games such as Zero, bet­ter known as Fatal Frame in the west, designed by Koei Tec­mo (Tec­mo before the merge).

Last year’s (belat­ed) Hal­loween post was about my fond­ness for sur­vival hor­ror games like Zero, express­ing my wish for the newest install­ment of the series being local­ized after miss­ing out on two games on a region locked con­sole. To my excite­ment, it was due for local­iza­tion this Hal­loween sea­son! But unfor­tu­nate­ly, the west­ern pub­lish­ers, Nin­ten­do of Amer­i­ca and Nin­ten­do of Europe decid­ed it would be a good idea to cen­sor cer­tain cos­tumes in this M‑rated game for adults, treat­ing them like chil­dren who can’t han­dle such content.

Can't handle butts

Bing: Can’t han­dle butts

Here’s the back­ground: In the orig­i­nal Japan­ese ver­sion, after beat­ing the game a cer­tain num­ber of times and com­plet­ing a cer­tain num­ber of con­di­tions, you’ll unlock two biki­ni cos­tumes for two major female char­ac­ters, the pro­tag­o­nist Kozuka­ta Yuuri and the major sup­port­ing char­ac­ter Hin­sasa­ki Miu. After see­ing both of Yuuri’s end­ings, you would unlock a sexy biki­ni out­fit for her that you use as her out­fit for sub­se­quent playthroughs. For Miu, you unlock her gravure idol biki­ni cos­tume (in the sto­ry, she’s a gravure mod­el and an up-and-com­ing actress) after see­ing every end­ing except for one end­ing focused on the playable male char­ac­ter Ren Hojo. Jeez, that’s a lot of work. But the sexy cos­tumes are rewards for that effort.

Now, Nin­ten­do’s west­ern branch­es decid­ed to remove these cos­tumes in favor of (you guessed it) Nin­ten­do char­ac­ter cameo cos­tumes. Specif­i­cal­ly, Zero Suit Samus and Princess Zel­da. Along with remov­ing the biki­ni out­fits, there’s a flash­back cutscene with­in the game where Miu was wear­ing her gravure biki­ni while mod­el­ing… in the local­iza­tion, she’s wear­ing her casu­al clothes instead. Total­ly makes sense.

Okay…look. I have no prob­lems with the Samus or Zel­da cos­tumes, I think they look rather nice. I love Samus and Zel­da. But why remove the biki­ni out­fits as unlock­ables and in cutscenes? Why could­n’t the Nin­ten­do cos­tumes be addi­tions rather than replace­ment? With Nin­ten­do being Nin­ten­do (Xenoblade Chron­i­cles X cen­sor­ship, Brave­ly Default cen­sor­ship, Zero: Deep Crim­son But­ter­fly’s removal of biki­ni cos­tumes with no replace­ments, etc.), they clear­ly removed the biki­ni cos­tumes because they thought they were inappropriate.

Which is fuck­ing bull­shit, because the game is rat­ed M for Mature/PEGI 18, it’s for adults. What on Earth is the point of an Adult age rat­ing when show­ing attrac­tive women in biki­nis is blas­phe­mous to dis­play to the audi­ence? Our you try­ing to pro­tect our inno­cence now too?

The worse part is, the Nin­ten­drones and the usu­al apol­o­gists seem to be throw­ing every flim­sy argu­ment in order to defend this decision.

BECAUSE THIS TOTALLY FITS A HORROR SETTING

Bikinis in a survival horror game is dumb anyway

Okay, but so is dress­ing up as Princess fuck­ing Zel­da.

Wel­come to the world of bonus cos­tumes. They don’t have to make sense. If the devel­op­ers want­ed play­ers to have the choice to be Mr. Bean on their thou­sandth playthrough of the game, then it should be the play­er’s choice to do so.

Rated M for Manchild

Rat­ed M for Manchild

Just because it’s for adults means it shouldn’t be censored!

Alright, so why was it censored?

Sexy out­fits will cor­rupt the frag­ile adult mind?????

?????

TOTALLY IN KINDERGARTEN

Cuff me, officer

The characters are underaged!

Does this look like a child to you? The pro­tag­o­nist of the game is 19-years old. Unless you want to argue that the female has to be at the age where they can give out gumjobs in order to be con­sid­ered an adult…

I’ll con­cede to the fact that Miu, on the oth­er-hand, is 17. Where this local­iza­tion is being mar­ket­ed, 18 is indeed the most com­mon age of con­sent. While Amer­i­can super­morals can def­i­nite­ly be argued against since it varies from place-to-place, I cer­tain­ly don’t want to get into any of that bull­shit. How­ev­er, it does­n’t change the fact that oth­er fic­tion­al niche games have got­ten away with some­thing like this (Sen­ran Kagu­ra is one, though Nin­ten­do does its darn best to hide this shit — they took Sen­ran Kagu­ra off the best sell­er list after it auto­mat­i­cal­ly got up there for hav­ing a shit­ton of sales) and it also does­n’t change the fact that they cen­sored the “legal” char­ac­ter as well.

Plus if it was that bad, they could have eas­i­ly bumped for Miu’s age up one year. Bare­ly a dif­fer­ence and she’s a fic­tion­al char­ac­ter either way. Prob­lem solved.

Peo­ple are also for­get­ting that in Fatal Frame II: Crim­son But­ter­fly, Mio and Mayu were allowed to keep their biki­ni cos­tumes in the local­ized ver­sion and they were 15-years old. Then they got an age bump to 17 in the Wii remake, where the Wii’s biki­ni cos­tumes got removed in the Euro­pean ver­sion by Nin­ten­do. Is it me, or do I smell incon­sis­tent morals? So it’s okay to show­case a 15-year old girl wear­ing a biki­ni in an M‑rated game, but a 17-year old girl wear­ing a biki­ni isn’t? Dokay.

DOESN'T AFFECT THE GAMEPLAY

If it isn’t racist, it does­n’t matter”

It’s a minor change that doesn’t affect the gameplay!

On the con­trary, it’s unlock­able post-game con­tent that adds to replay val­ue. That’s usu­al­ly the point of unlock­ing cos­tumes to begin with, it’s a fun, or in this case, sexy visu­al extra. You can total­ly argue that the Samus and Zel­da cos­tumes make up for it, but why can’t we have both? On top of that, one is fanser­vice with a focus on the attrac­tive­ness of the char­ac­ter designs where­as one is cameo fanser­vice for anoth­er series. Com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent slice of experience.

I lit­er­al­ly would­n’t care if they added a speedo cos­tume or some­thing for Ren. I would give
z e r o shits. As long as they did­n’t mess with the con­tent that was already there. The point is that the biki­ni cos­tumes were orig­i­nal­ly an option, that they chose to remove most like­ly for prud­ish rea­sons, in an M rat­ed game. Let them step on you now and even­tu­al­ly they’re going to use your corpse as a doormat.

I mean, hon­est­ly, assert­ing that cen­sor­ship is okay as long as it does­n’t affect the game­play is the log­ic that jus­ti­fies bull­shit like Amer­i­can­iza­tion because Asia is evvvvi­i­i­i­i­il, or rewrit­ing the plot/swapping the char­ac­ters while keep­ing the core game­play intact — because those hon­est­ly don’t affect the game­play either, right? These are GAMES, not movies, right?

Life and hometown, and scariness

Bottom Line

Whether it’s Nin­ten­do play­ing nan­ny to adults or a response to some of kind of “tit­il­la­tion” pho­bia in-play here, it’s clear that ever since Zero switched to only Nin­ten­do sys­tems, the series has got­ten such shit local­iza­tion treat­ment. Either they don’t come over (Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse) or we get prud­ish changes (Spir­it Cam­era, the Euro­pean Project Zero 2: Wii Edi­tion, Fatal Frame V: Maid­en of the Black Water). The first three games on the PS2 and the orig­i­nal Xbox cer­tain­ly weren’t treat­ed this way (Miku got an updat­ed design on our end, which bled over to the Japan­ese releas­es of the first game on the Xbox, so what­ev­er) — we got every sin­gle bonus cos­tume that the Japan­ese play­ers got. Includ­ing the biki­nis, if they were there to begin with. It has to be cor­re­lat­ed to Nin­ten­do becom­ing the pub­lish­er for these games.

I mean, if it’s not NoA/NoE’s fault, then who’s is it? The rat­ing enforcers like the ESRB? Well fuck, if they think biki­nis would con­sti­tute an AO rat­ing then any dig­ni­ty we have as adults is fucked. We can total­ly han­dle all the blood and gore in a hor­ror game, but we’re not mature enough to han­dle a cute girl in a biki­ni? Oh lord, the west in a nut­shell. It’s a ter­ri­ble prospect either way. What­ev­er the case, it’s not ter­ri­bly sur­pris­ing — nowa­days there are many peo­ple who advo­cate this kind of back­wards man­child bull­shit, where even the slight­est show of skin is icky and gross. If it’s not Nin­ten­do play­ing nan­ny to adults, then it has to be some war on per­ver­sion or some crap. I guar­an­tee that a dis­cus­sion about this top­ic will even­tu­al­ly degen­er­ate into a moral pan­ic on whether or not peo­ple who want this video game uncen­sored are per­verts, just because some folks just get off of being an apol­o­gist and bash­ing on those who don’t share their imma­ture 5‑year old complexes.

That’s not the prob­lem. When peo­ple buy games aimed at adults, they *should not* expect to be treat­ed like chil­dren. Peri­od. When you have a game with an age rat­ing that’s as high as it could pos­si­bly be, but some­how souls being forced to suf­fer through an infi­nite loop of reliv­ing their grue­some deaths is A‑OK but an attrac­tive woman in a biki­ni is not, there is some­thing inher­ent­ly wrong with the path this gen­er­a­tion’s adults are tak­ing. I’m not going to prop­a­gate that mind­set. Snow­ball effect, any­one? It’s already in motion and I don’t want any part in it.

I real­ly want­ed to play Zero V. I haven’t played a new Zero game in for­ev­er. But as of now… I don’t feel like buy­ing it any­more. Not right now. The worst part is, I can’t even buy a used copy of the game because it’s dig­i­tal-only. That’s right, I have to pay full price for a cen­sored dig­i­tal release if I ever want to play the game… and the game does­n’t even fit the stan­dard stor­age space for the Wii U. Not only that, I can’t even pur­chase the Japan­ese ver­sion because the con­sole is region-locked… just like the last two games. Nin­ten­do, look. I love your orig­i­nal IPs. But you guys unde­ni­ably suck at times. Don’t get me start­ed on how their PR depart­ment added inter­net memes to the Fatal Frame V trail­er. Are you seri­ous?

For now, I’m instead play­ing the old Fatal Frame games for Hal­loween and hav­ing a spooky good time with my sis. I may have played these games already, but they’re still good enough to make me momen­tar­i­ly for­get how much of a dis­ap­point­ment this is. I’m just going to close it here and head off: I have the feel­ing that no mat­ter how many points I’ve laid down on the table, some­one’s going to use the “get a life nerd” card on me like a over­grown high school jock who can’t think of a bet­ter retort. 😛

7 thoughts on “Why would you censor an M‑rated game?

  1. This cen­sor­ship makes me face palm so much that I only buy Japan­ese ver­sions of video games nowa­days, espe­cial­ly since I know Japan­ese and now have a Japan­ese Nin­ten­do 3DS. Still, it bog­gles my mind they decide to cen­sor bikini’s for a M rat­ed game while games like Dead or Alive has them and it’s a M rat­ed game too. Does not make log­i­cal sense at all and it’s like Nin­ten­do point­ing a mid­dle fin­ger at west­ern Fatal Frame fans.

    1. @chikorita157: Japan­ese skills real­ly come in handy these days when it comes to Nin­ten­do games with meme-infest­ed trans­la­tions. Pret­ty much in-gen­er­al too with imports and games that lack dual audio in their local­iza­tion, and of course to side-step the prob­lem with censorship.
      With no phys­i­cal release pret­ty much say­ing “this game isn’t gonna sell” (a stan­dard Wii U requires anoth­er HDD to even down­load the damned game) and cen­sor­ing the game despite its M‑rating, Nin­ten­do pret­ty much is stick­ing the mid­dle fin­ger at Fatal Frame fans. Regard­less of who­ev­er was respon­si­ble for these deci­sions, they clear­ly need to get with the times and real­ize that not only chil­dren buy their con­soles and phys­i­cal games.
      The Zel­da and Samus cos­tumes would have been such cool bonus­es had they not idi­ot­i­cal­ly cen­sored the game in the process and removed the cos­tumes that were orig­i­nal­ly there…

  2. I believe that these more con­fus­ing moments of cen­sor­ship are for those par­ents out there who don’t both­er check­ing the rat­ings for games and/or under­stand­ing the rat­ing sys­tem at all. Unlike movies where the gen­er­al pop­u­lace under­stands, video game rat­ings, despite being clear, are not so com­mon­ly fol­lowed. Flip­pant par­ents will buy lit­tle Jim­my any video game and not care to sim­ply check the back for the rat­ing and not­ed mature mate­r­i­al because it’s a video game and ‘video games are for chil­dren’. Then when they see their sev­en year old play­ing a game with such con­tent, they flip out and rage at stores and dis­trib­u­tors for allow­ing kids to play such a thing instead of actu­al­ly par­ent­ing. The fact that this is a more com­mon occur­rence in the west cou­pled with the more accept­ing atti­tude towards this type of mate­r­i­al in Japan leads to these types of stu­pid changes. 

    Though, yes, the irony that intense vio­lence and gore is still seen as bet­ter than a cou­ple boobs or a biki­ni in Amer­i­ca is still 100% stupid.

    1. @Fid­dletwix: You are com­plete­ly cor­rect, par­ents do unfor­tu­nate­ly tend to scape­goat when they’re not will­ing to own up to their own responsibilities.

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