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.

  2. @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…

  3. 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.

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

Leave a Reply