Censorship in Localized Games and Why Nintendo is a Target
Fire Emblem Fates

Nintendo has recently revealed that Fire Emblem Conquest and Birthright will not contain a "face-touching" mini-game that was included in the original release of the games in Japan. This announcement comes soon after Nintendo's decision to change or remove certain skits dealing with semi-incestuous relationships and what some netizens claim is reminiscent of "gay conversion therapy."

These decisions are not surprising for Nintendo, who in recent months have censored games during the localization process, such as Xenoblade Chronicles X, Bravely Default, and Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water. Is Nintendo's recent track record a big deal, or is it being blown out of proportion?

Bravely Default Censorship
Bravely Default's outfit censorship. US Release on the left, Japanese release on the right. In addition to outfit changes, both characters are aged 3 years in the NA/EU releases (18 and 20 instead of 15 and 17).

Recent Censorship in Video Games

Censorship has always been a hot topic, and is generally frowned upon in most situations. In recent years, video game publishers have been more progressive with what games are localized in the West and what content is allowed in those releases. Sony's PlayStation Vita has been a safe haven for games that, 5 years ago, would never have had a chance of localization like Monster Monpiece or Gal Gun: Double Piece. Steam has been a growing platform for localized visual novels and eroge, which I would never have expected a few years ago.

Even though there have been massive strides made towards localizing more risque and niche games, many of these games have received some amount of censorship. For instance, Idea Factory's Mugen Souls Z had a majority of its nude scenes blurred out with fog or removed altogether. Monster Monpiece, another Idea Factory release, had some of its card images changed because they were deemed to be to sexual for Western audiences.

Monster Monpiece Gameplay
An aspect of *Monster Monpiece's* gameplay. Cards from the JP release that were censored were too NSFW to post.

Trends in Censorship

To understand what's happening with censorship in recent titles, I believe it's important to look at censorship trends in both America and Japan. When looking at Western titles that received notable censorship in Japan, we can see that blood and violence are toned down for Japanese audiences. Blood is removed or heavily toned down in these games, but what is important to note is that these games are censoring blood in content containing 2 or more parties fighting each other. In the West, Japanese games that are localized for American audiences can be sorted into 2 distinct censorship categories: criminal violence and sexual content. The Japanese games I mentioned earlier feature the censorship of sexually charged scenes featuring questionably aged characters. What I found interesting is that there has been a trend in localization where brutal murder and suicide are both censored in games that come over from Japan.

Siren: Blood Curse
Seigo Saiga from Siren: Blood Curse. In the JP version he commits suicide, but in the NA release the scene is removed.

To find the reason for these differences, look no further than the rating systems in both countries. Japan's rating system, CERO, appears to come down hard on violence towards humans when it is shown in a positive light. The ESRB, on the other hand, has become increasingly lenient towards violence but ever vigilant about sexual content (especially when it contains children and young adults). When you step back and look at the cultures of both countries, it becomes even more apparent. To drive the point home, here's an excerpt from a great response given by Idea Factory regarding the localization of Monster Monpiece:

This was a very difficult decision since we work very hard to satisfy our fans and want to bring the same content being offered in Japan. However, Western society is not as lenient as that of Japan when sexual images are involved—especially images of humanoids that appear to be younger than a socially acceptable age. The borderline of what is “acceptable” will always be extremely gray and vary from person to person, but as a responsible company working in the U.S., we had to make the difficult decision that we did. We sincerely apologize for those who do not agree with any level of censorship, but we greatly appreciate your understanding with the decision we have made.

Why is Nintendo Censoring Games?

Now that we've looked into censorship trends, we can discuss Nintendo's recent censorship and why it is (or isn't) a big deal.

Nintendo's recent actions have received more media buzz due to their popularity. The censorship in, say, Xenoblade Chronicles X or Bravely Default, is less intrusive than blurring out scenes or removing artwork in other titles. In these games, censorship comes in the form of giving underage characters outfits that are less revealing than the ones they originally wore. In both instances, these outfits are optional and the changes do not affect gameplay.

Xenoblade
Lin from Xenoblade Chronicles X. The blue-background images are US release versions of the outfits to their right. Since Lin is only 13 years old, is this acceptable?

This is where Fire Emblem's censorship is drastically different. The removal of the "face-touching" mini-game and editing of text both change the content of the game. Skits that are changed will undoubtedly have an impact on how players view the relationships between characters when compared to the Japanese release, but more notable is the removal of content.

By removing content from Fire Emblem Conquest & Birthright, Nintendo takes away content from the consumer without adding content in its place or lowering the price. Does the removal of the mini-game justify a price drop? I don't think so, but there are those on the internet who are cancelling pre-orders due to the removal of this content.

Is Nintendo's current trend in censorship too harsh? To answer that, we have to think about Nintendo's brand image. Nintendo is known for being a family-friendly company who generally releases "E" rated titles. Their consoles are marketed towards children and families. Releasing games containing sexual content could really damage their image in those demographics, causing them to lose future customers. Imagine a parent seeing their 10 year old petting an almost nude women on their 3DS - would they want to let their child continue playing?

Bravely Default Censorship
*Fire Emblem Conquest/Birthright's* accessory shop, where you can strip characters.

As of now, censorship is still a necessary evil when it comes to localizing games in the West. It is up to each individual to decide whether or not they support the practice and will purchase games featuring censorship. While I am not a fan of censorship in any medium, I want to leave everyone with one final thought: without censorship in some titles, we would not be able to play them in our native language or at all depending on region locking. Is the price of censorship too high when you think of it in that context? Comment below with your thoughts on censorship in video games!

Written by Thorrash on February 01, 2016 @ 11:24 am

Comments


February 01, 2016 @ 12:05 pm Shinkirou
To be honest, I don't see the point of having half-naked characters, either they're underage or not. "Drawing proper costume/clothes is too complicated, let them naked" is sometimes the impression I have.

February 01, 2016 @ 12:06 pm Shinkirou
*sorry for the double post, made a mistake*

February 01, 2016 @ 12:06 pm Shinkirou
*sorry for the double post, made a mistake*

February 01, 2016 @ 12:06 pm Shinkirou
*sorry for the double post, made a mistake*

February 01, 2016 @ 12:17 pm Shinkirou
*sorry for the multiple posts, my pc hates me* I mean, is it really what people want ? Overwhelming fan-serv? I prefer nice armors over exposed breasts. Moreover I always fell lolis (underaged girls) are almost sacred in otaku community (every badass needs a loli ^^), so I really don't get why developpers (and some players) prefer them stripped. Looks like Compil Hearts wants to be the lead in this category. Too bad 'cause their games aren't crappy. Is it really culture differences when globalization let everyone choose the one he likes? I'm not sure.

February 01, 2016 @ 12:25 pm Ruggarell
Nintendo is for children.

February 01, 2016 @ 3:19 pm GGL0L
Censorship is bad, and nothing can justify it. If authors put some content in the game, than that means they find it appropriate and it must be in the game. As a player I'm really offended by any kind of censorship. Fortunately, many gaming platforms can be modded(hacked), and so are games, so enthusiasts can (and they do) return games to their original state. Recent example - eu/us XenoX was uncensored and undubbed.

February 01, 2016 @ 4:12 pm Eilert
I think the censorship issue in FE:If it's being too exagerated. As Shinkirou said, the nudism is very questionable?even for me, it's hard to find a reason for 'I'll save this apocalyptic world by wearing bikinis'. I'm not a fan of censorship either, even less for unnecessary nudism just for the sake of fan-service. Though, FE:If's censorship is acceptable, because it's just a system to give your affection to the characters only by petting their faces with a stylus and honestly that can be interpreted subjectively. People show their affection and concern for others with hugs, pats and stuff. Even moms pet their children. Players can see it like that. (I can't stress enough the reason for this censorship is: to give your affection. Plus: https://twitter.com/Sentsuizan93/status/692055413492191233) I don't think it's Nintendo to blame or FE:If's developers by adding such thing. It's just people spent far too long watching porn and now everything is sexualism in their eyes.

February 01, 2016 @ 7:55 pm ketchupt100
I don't agree with censorship, especially in this day and age where people pretty much know what to expect from what they're getting. I know it's resorted to so that the product can reach wider audience but I find it abhoring especially where there's a lot of other "clean" products for those audiences.

February 01, 2016 @ 10:11 pm Eilert
Sorry. 'Though, FE:If's censorship is acceptable' I actually meant 'FE:If's face-touching feature' being acceptable.

February 02, 2016 @ 2:25 pm Mazingerdestro
I am gonna be honest.

February 02, 2016 @ 2:26 pm Mazingerdestro
I am gonna be honest.After the wii U I stopped supporting Nintendo. Clearly that company doesn't know how to operate in the modern world. Maybe the CEOs think that they live in 1800 or something.

February 02, 2016 @ 2:26 pm Mazingerdestro
I am gonna be honest.After the wii U I stopped supporting Nintendo. Clearly that company doesn't know how to operate in the modern world. Maybe the CEOs think that they live in 1800 or something.

February 03, 2016 @ 7:58 pm CoraCoraNekaku
If the fact you can't pet girls in a Fire Emblem upsets anyone they are not a real FE fan

February 09, 2016 @ 5:46 pm Despo
In my opinion censorship is fine if the original could get in a conflict of different values. The Japanese treat "sexual" things different than we do in the West! I wouldn't mind owning an uncensored game, but the core of the game remains the same: I couldn't care less about the Bravo Bikini in BD, unless it's not a reaaally important part of the story (which it isn't). I'm fine with things being censored, but just if I still get the enjoyment I would've gotten from the original. The newest censoring activity aka FE:Fates doesn't really offend me - I've always been into the FE series for its fun chapters and characters, not because I want to pet person XY, because she's cute. I could play a dating sim, if I want that kind of entertainment. However: everyone treats things like these differently, so no hate please haha. I hope some of you can agree with me on that! Despo, out! :D

March 28, 2016 @ 12:05 pm FZee
I know I'm kinda late to this, but I just got into FE recently. My stance is: if I want to pet my waifus, I should be able to pet my waifus.

July 09, 2016 @ 1:23 am amitgupta10294
http://www.sendeliterakhitoindia.com/send-rakhi-to-delhi.php http://www.sendeliterakhitoindia.com/

Recent Gamer Updates
Navigate-Me's User Picture
Navigate-Me
February 28, 2017 @ 5:58 am
I started playing Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX on Nintendo 3DS.
Navigate-Me's User Picture
Navigate-Me
February 28, 2017 @ 5:57 am
I started playing Pokémon Sun on Nintendo 3DS.
Navigate-Me's User Picture
Navigate-Me
February 28, 2017 @ 5:56 am
I will be continuously playing Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX on Nintendo 3DS.
Navigate-Me's User Picture
Navigate-Me
February 28, 2017 @ 5:53 am
I completed playing Rayman Origins on Xbox 360.
vixtori's User Picture
vixtori
February 28, 2017 @ 5:52 am
I will be continuously playing League of Legends on PC.
Neroi11's User Picture
Neroi11
February 28, 2017 @ 5:47 am
I started playing Final Fantasy Type-0 HD on Playstation 4.
vixtori's User Picture
vixtori
February 28, 2017 @ 5:41 am
I completed playing Spyro: Year of the Dragon on Playstation 1.
vixtori's User Picture
vixtori
February 28, 2017 @ 5:41 am
I started playing Spyro: Year of the Dragon on Playstation 1.
vixtori's User Picture
vixtori
February 28, 2017 @ 5:35 am
vixtori just joined the site!
Shiruz's User Picture
Shiruz
February 28, 2017 @ 5:05 am
I completed playing For Honor on Playstation 4.
Connect With Us!