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Classic Games (Games) NES (Games)

Censoring Maniac Mansion for the NES 82

Posted by Zonk
from the hard-hitting-realism dept.
Via Destructoid, an article at the personal site of Douglas Crockford, a gent who worked with LucasArts during the NES days. He takes a look at the silly amount of content censored to get the game Maniac Mansion acceptable for Nintendo and the Nintendo Entertainment System. "'Well, Mommy, I'm worried! He hasn't eaten in 5 years. / YEAH, SO!!! / and he's been bringing those bodies, and he carries those bodies to the basement at night.' [sic] This was from Weird Ed's dialogue with his mother, Nurse Edna, in which Ed tries to get his mother to recognize the terrible things that have happened to his father over the past 20 years. What was Nintendo's problem with the dialogue? ... In fact, Nintendo's interpretation of the speech was that Dr. Fred was a cannibal, that he was eating the bodies. That was never our intention, so we changed Ed's speech to 'He hasn't slept in 5 years,' which helps to explain why Dr. Fred is never seen in his bedroom. But even if we had intended that Dr. Fred was a cannibal, what's the harm? He would have been one under the influence of the evil purple meteor. The game recognizes that it is bad, and your mission is to rescue him from this unhappy state. Who would be offended?"
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Censoring Maniac Mansion for the NES

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    • by Backward Z (52442)
      Did you try tossing it in the clothes dryer?
      • That doesn't seem to work.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Fool! You have to have Bernard get the keys from the inside of the door of the fat guy's room, give the keys to the guy in the ski mask, use the crowbar you get from the guy with the ski mask to get the quarter stuck in the gum, get another quarter from the pay phone, use both quarters in the magic fingers bed to shake the fat guy off of it, get the sweater he was sleeping on, hit the vending machine with the crowbar and take all the quarters, then take the sweater and put it in the dryer using all of the
    • by damaki (997243) *
      I am pretty sure that a radioactive swimming pool would heat it.
      • by Lachryma (949694)
        Microwaving the pool water is another way to die.
        • by damaki (997243) *
          I really like this nethackish feeling in Maniac Mansion. If a thing is stupid enough for you to try, the devs have probably already thought about it. I did not know about that one.
    • A personal favorite of mine is to use the microwave.
      • Just make sure it's not one of those primitive 21st century microwaves ;-)
      • A personal favorite of mine is to use the microwave.

        Kids who put hamsters in microwaves back in my century get taken away from their parents and put into care. So DON'T DO IT.

  • Uh, yeah! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday November 05, 2007 @12:11PM (#21241965)

    But even if we had intended that Dr. Fred was a cannibal, what's the harm? He would have been one under the influence of the evil purple meteor. The game recognizes that it is bad, and your mission is to rescue him from this unhappy state. Who would be offended?
    Cannibals.
  • Great read. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cromar (1103585) on Monday November 05, 2007 @12:13PM (#21242005)
    I read this a year or two ago - it's really funny and nostalgic. OTOH, it shows to what length Nintendo of America would go to back then to project the image of the "Family Computer." Way farther than taking blood sprites out of Mortal Kombat.
    • by cromar (1103585)
      P.S. There is a NES ROM of a Maniac Mansion prototype floating around in thar tubes. It's mostly uncensored, but aside from that I don't recall it being much different from the original.
  • Prime example (Score:3, Insightful)

    by techpawn (969834) on Monday November 05, 2007 @12:14PM (#21242035) Journal
    Of a game ahead of it's time. Now we're accepting of sleeping with hookers, running them over, and taking our money back in games. But in the early days of Nintendo they seem to of had pretty tight Standards & Practices to get a cartridge licensed.

    But times have changed and now you can strangle people with a choking acting thanks to them!
  • Old news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zdude255 (1013257)
    Well in that day and age video games were a new and much smaller market. The NES came out and saved us from the video game crash. As a new product in a market that had just crashed, they had a lot more to lose. Video games were getting enough flak from politicians as it was, they didn't even want to risk something like cannibalism being inferred. (This predates the ESRB and whatnot) Nowadays the market is much more mature and more graphic things are being tolerated.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday November 05, 2007 @12:20PM (#21242113) Journal

    This isn't Nintendo Japan, this is Nintendo United States of America. The article briefly mentions it, Nintendo of America NOA.

    This is an important difference, this story is nothing new, and if you are willing too google a bit you can easily find other examples of NOA censoring games. INCLUDING N games, Nintendo of America EVEN censored Nintendo games from japan. http://www.filibustercartoons.com/Nintendo.php [filibustercartoons.com] (google NOA censoring) for instance shows several games in their original japanese release and the censored US release.

    It is a US thing. Although the rest of the world seems eager to catch up. Remember kids, nudity is bad, violence against those who are different is good, as long as you don't say it out loud.

    • by damaki (997243) *
      And don't forget: european games are mostly localized from the US versions because it's cheaper to translate or adapt from english. Whenever US censors games, Europe gets the same treatment.
      I had the censored Maniac Mansion and the censored Castlevania.
      • You mean Castlevania is censored!
        Except for the physical lack of blood it is pretty violent.
        I play the first few and now I am a mass murderer.
        What is the non-censored version like?
    • by Ravenger (715905) on Monday November 05, 2007 @01:59PM (#21243671)
      I worked on SNES games back in the 90's and had to abide by NOA's restrictions. I wish I'd kept the document they gave us, because it was hilarious.

      You couldn't have characters drinking alcohol. If a character went into a bar, they weren't allowed to drink alcohol or order alcoholic drinks.

      Characters couldn't pray. They had to 'meditate'. Churches weren't allowed, but 'Temples' were.

      You couldn't tell a player to 'kill' anything. Assassinate, terminate, destroy, and defeat were all ok, but not 'kill'.

      You couldn't show blood splats. One game I worked on had tiny characters that when they fought had little tiny red clouds near them to show them fighting. We had to change it to yellow dust clouds. Of course when Street Fighter came out that had blood splats, but they were allowed to, while we weren't.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Creepy (93888)
      remember, Japan and Europe are much more liberal than America in some respects. Both find topless women non-offensive (at least non-sexually), and some things that are abhorrent in the US are perfectly acceptable in Japan - take, for instance, the children's cartoon with 'possum that blows up his testicles and whack baddies with them. Disney woulda been crucified, beaten, stoned, burned at the stake and sexually mutilated by the President himself if he tried to make children's TV or movies with material l
    • This reminds me of my favourite game, A Link to the Past. From the wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org]:

      The English language localization included a number of changes to the original Japanese game. The most common change was the removal of religious references to conform with Nintendo of America's content guidelines. The most obvious change was made to the subtitle of the game, which was changed from Triforce of the Gods to A Link to the Past. The font used to represent an unreadable language, Hylian, originally had designs of

  • by BattleApple (956701) on Monday November 05, 2007 @12:39PM (#21242429)
    So they chose to imply he was sleeping with the bodies? Sickos.
  • Never played MM, so I don't know about the context, but the uncensored dialog seem to be more blunt and to the point while the censored stuff leaves more room for the imagination.
    • by SQLGuru (980662)
      Point 1: You're missing out. Look for MM and DOTT (Day of the Tentacle - the sequel to MM) both.....or for that matter, MM is embedded in DOTT, so you can play it there, but only later in the game, so if you want continuity, go MM then DOTT.

      Point 2: A lot of the humor was about inuendo and ambiguity. So, dialog that promoted that fits quite well with the game.

      Layne
  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Monday November 05, 2007 @02:54PM (#21244445)
    Nintendo has gone to absurd lengths to clean up their games, but honestly I think they're free to do as they please. Nintendo is a private company and if they decide they don't want offensive content available on their console its their prerogative. If, as a consumer, I have a problem with that practice, I'll buy a system from a company that doesn't put such restrictions on games. It's not like Nintendo was engaging in thought control or propaganda.

    What I do have a problem with, however, is when the government starts deciding what should be censored. It's like the Fairness Doctrine. A lot of people are pushing it in an attempt to control conservative talk radio. That's all well and good, but the irony is that the doctrine came about originally during the anti-communist movement and then actually used against liberal talk shows. So this cuts both ways. You can't say you're for free speech provided it only suits your own opinions and desires. The last thing we need is more government control.

    I have the right to dictate what I'm exposed to in my own house in the same way Nintendo can dictate the content for their consoles. Even if I agree that the extent to which Nintendo of America went to clean up their games was absolutely ridiculous. Although, I can't really say it business.
    • by tepples (727027)

      Nintendo has gone to absurd lengths to clean up their games, but honestly I think they're free to do as they please. Nintendo is a private company and if they decide they don't want offensive content available on their console its their prerogative.
      Then which TV-connected video gaming system does allow for developers' freedom of speech? Sony: no AO. Microsoft: no AO.
      • by MaWeiTao (908546)

        Then which TV-connected video gaming system does allow for developers' freedom of speech? Sony: no AO. Microsoft: no AO.

        PC's do. Unfortunately, the PC games are now experiencing the same scrutiny console games have traditionally faced. Nevertheless, the last time I checked you can do or say anything you want with your PC. You can even find something to suit any gaming need if you dig enough. So I don't really see where freedom of speech is being hindered.

        Now, if you want to make money exercising freedom of

        • Then which TV-connected video gaming system does allow for developers' freedom of speech?
          PC's do.
          Are PCs TV-connected? How many players can play simultaneously on one PC? Or should I buy one machine for in-person multiplayer games and a separate machine for free speech games, and just suffer for the fact that there artificially can't be an in-person multiplayer free speech game?

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