Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is out for the Nintendo Switch, and it's extremely popular. But Nintendo's latest #Switch hit was originally released with a somewhat embarrassing gesture in place for insulting other drivers.
As our own Marcus O'Shea wrote, Nintendo pulled one of Inkling Girl's taunts after the company realized her gesture -- raising her arm and smacking the inside of her elbow -- essentially translated to "up yours" or "f*** you" in many European countries. Yikes, that's not the sort of friendly competition we know and love in Mario Kart.
Inkling Girl's slip-up comes down to cultural miscommunication. But she isn't the only example of strange censorship in games. Quite a number of games have been edited over the years for particularly obscene regional reasons.
You Can't Show That In Germany!
Germany has traditionally implemented harsh censorship laws due to the rise of the Nazi government back in the 1930s and '40s. To prevent media from espousing any sort of Nazi apologism, the German government strictly outlaws Nazi imagery in all forms of media. That means no swastikas in German video games, no Nazi salutes, and no direct mentions of a Nazi dystopian government bent on conquering the world.
Of course, this causes a ton of problems for video games looking to depict the era, Nazi military units, or just neo-Nazi enemies in general. For instance, South Park: The Stick of Truth was censored in Germany. In order to be released, all Nazi Zombies found within the game had to have their Nazi imagery blacked out. And when Wolfenstein: The New Order was brought over to Germany, the game was highly edited: everything from Nazi Party symbols to Nazi salutes were taken out, and the Nazis in the game are simply called "the Regime."
Censorship was so bad for Wolfenstein that it arguably damaged some of the game's immersion, taking away the horror and disgust that landed quite well with American audiences. And while Wolfentein: The New Order still plays quite well in Germany, the censorship just makes the game feel really different.
A Killer Impacts Crash Bandicoot
Did you know Crash 2: Cortex Strikes Back was censored in Japan? It's true, and for a very strange reason.
Back in 1995, Sony's Japanese executives struggled to accept Crash Bandicoot as a mascot for Japan. The company looked at Sonic and Mario and saw strictly "Japanese" icons that would land well with Japanese viewers. Meanwhile, Crash looked bulky, aggressive, and, well, strictly American. Eventually, Naughty Dog was able to soften Crash's image for the Japanese audience, but the developers would work tirelessly to make sure Crash performed well in Japan.
What was one change? Well, according to Crash director Jason Rubin, one of Crash's "smashing deaths" looked like a head and shoes squashed together. The look was eerie for a Japanese audience; at the time, a serial killer was running around Japan, killing people and leaving their severed head and shoes as remains. In order to gain acceptance in Japan, Naughty Dog cut the death from the game at Sony Japan's request.
A snapshot from DidYouKnowGaming? provides an image of what Crash's death looks like in the uncensored versions.
Fire Emblem Fates Had Teammate Head Pats?
One of the most infamous controversies in recent years, the North American version of Fire Emblem Fates originally allowed the player to invite their teammates into their private quarters and give them head pats, pets, and rubs. Doing so improves relationship status between the player and their character, building their bond. But that interaction was later removed, instead simply allowing the player to bond with their character privately and grab the stat boost.
Why cut the petting? Perhaps because the inclusion felt inappropriate to localizers; they might have feared that the petting scenes would give the wrong impression, as if the player was, erm, engaging with teammates in a much more intimate manner.
Of course, this isn't the case at all to players familiar with Japanese manga and anime. Petting and patting has a long history in the medium. Doing so implies that a character is building a close bond with another person through close, but friendly, contact.
There is a silver lining though for North American fans eager for head pats. S-Level characters can wake up their spouses by tapping them across the face, shoulder, or hair. They can also blow on them with the microphone. So there's some intimate interaction left. Just, oddly enough, not the petting that so many people hoped to engage in.
Those are our weird censorship examples. Got one of your own? Share yours in the comments below.