Muzzling Mario: Why Nintendo’s Silent Approach To Controversy Can’t Continue In 2016

03.31.16 3 years ago 14 Comments

Nintendo has always been the strong, silent type. Since time immemorial, the company’s response to controversy or even just minor requests for information has been dead air, or a pat “no comment.” In 2016, the approach is no longer working. In fact, it’s having the exact opposite effect Nintendo would prefer, leaving the previously untouchable company vulnerable to stinging criticism.

In recent years, Nintendo has become more flexible about what they publish, attaching their names to M-rated series like Bayonetta and Fatal Frame, and games like Fire Emblem Fates and Xenoblade Chronicles X that push the T-rating to its limits with mature themes and occasionally risque outfits. Not every branch of Nintendo is as excited to push boundaries, though — Nintendo of America seems somewhat leery of the edgier approach being pursued by the company’s main Japanese branch, and many recent Nintendo games have arrived in North America with some content (usually sexual in nature) altered or outright removed.

Nintendo opted to remove skimpy alternate costumes from Fatal Frame despite an M-rating. 

Nintendo of America isn’t indiscriminately removing all the sexy bits from their games. The brazenly kinky Bayonetta 2 made it out here unaltered. Most of the edits are designed to smooth over cultural differences between Japan and Western countries. For instance, Xenoblade Chronicles X had a 13-year-old character’s revealing costumes toned down (adult characters’ costumes were untouched) and Fire Emblem Fates had a storyline some critics felt alluded to gay conversion therapy removed (the game still allows for same-sex relationships). The simple fact of the matter is some things considered acceptable in Japan would get Nintendo raked over the coals in America, and a good localization should make changes when these cultural conflicts arise. Still, it’s a complex situation, one fans have rightfully asked for clarification on.

Nintendo remained silent.

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