Censored! 5 inappropriate things that got removed from Nintendo games
8th November 2021
For years, Nintendo have carefully cultivated a family-friendly ethos with their products. Traditionally, they have always inclined away from adult themes, preferring to keep their wares clean and accessible for all.
To this end, they've had to enforce a no-tolerance policy for inappropriate material - systematically ensuring that each and every first-party game on their consoles must remove or mitigate all references to sex, violence, bad language, offensive stereotypes, and drugs before release.
From this we can only assume that there must be at least a certain amount of filth left over on the cutting room floor from some of our favourite squeaky-clean and kid-friendly releases... right?
In this post, we're going to take a look at some of the naughty bits that didn't make the cut. By the end of this, you'll no doubt have a clearer idea what a cesspool of vulgarity Nintendo really is behind-the-scenes (well, maybe).
Let's get started!
Bowser the Boozer
It's a little known fact that Bowser - the King of the Koopas himself - has long had a drinking problem. Rumours abound that Nintendo have endured endless problems getting their temperamental star sobered up for many of his on-screen appearances (have you ever wondered why they often don't give him many lines besides "Bwa ha ha ha"?).
Most of the time this rampant alcoholism isn't apparent on-screen, but in the early days of the Super NES, Bowser could be seen chugging a bottle of booze on the winner's podium for the Japanese version of Super Mario Kart. Peach, too!
Of course, the censors at Nintendo of America weren't having that, and saw to it that this behaviour was excised from the English-language versions of the game (such that in the American and European releases, Bowser and Peach merely hold and throw their champagne bottles respectively, without drinking from them).
This does rather raise the question of why you would even want to win a bottle of bubbly in a karting race, if you're not allowed to drink it?
Localisation's a bugger
A recurring pitfall for many American and other non-British writers is failing to realise that the word 'bugger' has a somewhat rude meaning in the United Kingdom. (Yes, this makes Ender's Game a very amusing read if you're from the land of baked beans and double decker buses...)
It does not, in fact, mean "a person who bugs somebody". This didn't stop the US localisation team using the word in their English translation of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars - which in all fairness wasn't strictly a problem for many years, as the game never actually saw a release on British shores.
Never, that is, until 2008, when it finally surfaced on the Wii Virtual Console for British gamers to play (not that anybody here had already checked it out with an emulator or anything, no sir! No such activity of that nature!).
So, did it get censored? You betcha - some eagle-eyed editor at Nintendo did indeed spot it, and ultimately replaced the offending word with the far more innocuous "pest".
And speaking of British English rudeness...
Turn the train what?
While "bugger" is arguably more 'funny-rude' to British ears than 'actually offensive' - and the Mario RPG snafu never officially saw a UK release, after all - Mario Party 8 had a more serious and cringeworthy case of word misuse.
There's no way to say this nicely, but "sp*stic" in Britain is a well-known derogatory term for a person with cerebral palsy - and the game actually hit UK shelves with this blunder intact. Yeah... that's a big oof for Nintendo.
When Ninty released what had happened, they immediately recalled every copy from store shelves and reissued an amended version, replacing the offensive term with the much more benign "erratic."
Preserving a mermaid's modesty
One lengthy segment in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on the Game Boy comprises a trading sequence that, when completed, furnishes the player with the Magnifying Lens and Boomerang.
Along the way, one of the items that Link is expected to recover as part of the sequence is a bikini top for a half-naked mermaid named Martha. Locating the item in question (the 'Pink Bra') and returning it to its topless owner prompts her to reward the player with one of her Scales.
That's if you're playing the Japanese, French, or German release, at least. Nintendo of America weren't too amused about the idea of Link devoting his time and resources to clothing an immodest mermaid, and decided to drop the Pink Bra from the game in favour of a more prim and acceptable replacement item (in this case, a necklace).
This hasn't stopped some determined gamers from modding the US version to put the Pink Bra back in, mind you. Somebody even managed to do it for the Switch remake, although I couldn't tell you why.
The whole Jynx thing
It didn't take long after the birth of the Pokémon franchise for somebody to point out that one of the original 151 monsters, Jynx, could be interpreted as embodying negative black stereotypes.
To this day, it's still not 100% clear what Game Freak were actually shooting for here. Some have hypothesised that the monster may have been a take on the Japanese fashion of ganguro, while others have suggested that Jynx could be an interpretation of a valkyrie archetype, or the Nordic goddess Hel.
Either way, you have to admit that Jynx could certainly be construed as an offensive stereotype, whether it was intentional or not. Of course, Game Freak leapt into action and quickly redesigned Jynx to be purple rather than black in every subsequent appearance across the Pokémon games, cartoons, and comics.
And when Nintendo got around to making the original Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow Game Boy titles available on the 3DS Virtual Console, they quietly redacted the original black-skinned Jynx sprites in favour of a less controversial design.
All in all, though, Nintendo's output has largely been squeaky-clean over the years, and has upheld their standards for family appropriateness in the vast majority of cases.
Other than when characters are getting pissed up and shouting British obscenities at Mario, the Nintendoverse is generally a wholesome and sunny place to inhabit. Who ever said video games were corrupting children, anyway...?