Top 10 Games That Had to Censor Themselves



Top 10 Games That Had to Censor Themselves

VOICE OVER: Tom Aglio WRITTEN BY: Ty Richardson
Sometimes, games have to censor themsevles in order to reach wider audiences. For this list, we're observing games that had to alter their content in order to meet ratings board guidelines or avoid as much controversy as possible. Our countdown includes "Street Fighter V" (2016), “Fallout 3” (2008), the “Wolfenstein” series (1981-2019), “Overwatch” (2016), and more!
Script written by Ty Richardson

Sometimes, games have to censor themsevles in order to reach wider audiences. For this list, we’re observing games that had to alter their content in order to meet ratings board guidelines or avoid as much controversy as possible. Our countdown includes "Street Fighter V" (2016), “Fallout 3” (2008), the “Wolfenstein” series (1981-2019), “Overwatch” (2016), and more! Which of these moments of censorship surprise you the most? Let us know down in the comments.

#10: “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” (2018)

Japanese ratings board CERO was very particular about the outfits of certain characters, earning them some criticism by series creator and director Masahiro Sakurai. “Ultimate” would see a hefty amount of censorship in Japan, and it was sometimes inconsistent. For example, the Spirit image for Tharja from the “Fire Emblem” games had her legs completely removed due to her revealing outfit, yet other female characters went unfiltered. Then, there was the glaring omission of Mai Shiranui from the “King of Fighters” DLC, whom, according to Sakurai, would have gone through such a monumental redesign that it wouldn’t have done the character justice. And do we even need to mention Pyrra and Mythra’s famous “physics” that were quickly nerfed? Or Snake’s debuffed keister?

#9: “Street Fighter V” (2016)

Poor Rainbow Mika has a wild and charming personality that would infect every wrestling fan, but it was a little too wild for certain media outlets and personalities. One such outlet was Disney-owned sports network ESPN, who got squeamish over the character while broadcasting a “Street Fighter V” tournament at EVO 2016. According to commentator Ryan Harvey, R. Mika player Fuudo was required to use a different outfit for the character because her default was “too revealing”. Capcom would later censor R. Mika’s special move by not showing her famous butt slap and removing the leg split at the end.

#8: “Ice Climber” (1987)

Hunting and animal testing have long been contentious topics in the West, and Nintendo took note of this during development of NES title “Ice Climber”. In the original version of the game, players could use their mallets to fend off enemies like polar bears, condors, and…seals. In the West, seal clubbing has been viewed as a vicious act of animal cruelty regardless of purpose. So, for “Ice Climber’s” North American release, seals were removed altogether and replaced with Topies, Yeti-like creatures that have become much more synonymous with the NES classic.

#7: “Overwatch” (2016)

Yet another great booty in gaming was nerfed just weeks prior to launch. Tracer has long been considered to be the face of “Overwatch” as well as one of the franchise’s sexiest characters, and some of that spunk and sexiness was shown in her victory poses during “Overwatch’s” closed beta, specifically in her “Over the Shoulder” victory pose. However, one player named “Fipps” complained about her daughter possibly seeing Tracer’s pose with her butt displayed and claimed the pose reduced Tracer to “sex symbol” status. Blizzard would adhere to this complaint by putting in a replacement pose, which still did not satisfy those wanting a completely pure and clean game… that was rated T for Teen, featuring blood, tobacco use, and constant violence.

#6: “Doki Doki Literature Club Plus!” (2021)

If you’ve heard of “Doki Doki Literature Club”, then you most likely know about the facade it puts out during the first hour or so of the story. When the curtain lifts, the game takes a disturbingly dark turn, and it’s what allowed it to make such an impact in the gaming community. Unfortunately, those experiencing it for the first time on a PlayStation console aren’t getting the full ride. During development of the expanded “Plus” version, Team Salvato was forced by Sony to tone down the intensity, reducing the amount of blood on display and changing the color of the blood from red to black. The M-rated dating sim horror is available in its full intended form on Xbox, Switch, and PC.

#5: “Wolfenstein” series (1981-2019)

For a period of time, “Wolfenstein” was banned from sale in Germany. So imagine everyone’s shock when the first game to launch in the country was 2014’s reboot “Wolfenstein: The New Order”. However, publisher Bethesda had to comply with German law and change all references and imagery of the Nazi regime. This was enforced because the German government does not view video games as works of art, but simply toys. The Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons forbids such imagery to be associated with toys, and manufacturing such a product is punishable by three years of jail time.

#4: “Martha Is Dead” (2022)

Sony has forced several developers to censor their M-rated games while continuing to put out their own hyper-violent titles like “The Last of Us - Part II”. This fact was reiterated by many when the studio behind “Martha Is Dead” had to delay their game just to fit Sony’s demands. Prior to launch, it was reported that “Martha Is Dead” featured several segments where the player was forced to take part in brutal and grotesque acts, an aspect some would expect from a horror title rated M for Mature. But Sony didn’t like that. Like “Doki Doki Literature Club”, Sony’s competitors’ would allow the game to launch in its intended form while PlayStation 5 owners got a hold of some core values.

#3: “Fallout 3” (2008)

For those who haven’t played this classic title, “Fallout 3” features a town with an atomic bomb sitting right in the middle of it. You eventually find out it’s possible to set it off and have to make the decision whether or not to do so. This entire portion of the game was rewritten in the Japanese version, turning the bomb into a permanent dud. The change was made as it was closely parallel to the events in Nagasaki and Hiroshima in World War II. CERO would enforce more changes, such as renaming the Fat Man and Little Boy launchers and certain animations of the human and Ghoul NPCs.

#2: “Manhunt 2” (2007)

“Manhunt 2” has become both famous and infamous for its violence, which, let’s be honest, looks comical compared to the gore featured in today’s games. Still, at the time, many ratings boards were alarmed and demanded a ton of changes be made. Interactivity, visuals, animations - they all went through several revisions, and that was just to get the game rated! Further removals and edits had to be made to get the game an “M” rating; had it stuck with the Adults Only rating it initially received, most retailers would have refused to sell the game in their stores. And that goes without mentioning the Wii port where players could mimic the motions of its psychopathic protagonist.

#1: “Mortal Kombat” (1992)

This is perhaps the most famously infamous case of video games being forced to censor themselves. See, back in the early 90’s, Nintendo was adamant about maintaining a family-friendly image for their brand, making games that kids could play without their parents worrying about the game “influencing” their children. So, when “Mortal Kombat” was gearing up for launch on SNES and SEGA Genesis, Nintendo had Midway make some changes. Blood was grayed out to be “sweat”, and Fatalities were now less graphic “finishing moves”. SEGA kids got the blood and everything albeit in a version of the game with worse audio. At last SNES owners could access the blood and gore with a Game Genie. (Yeah, remember those?)