Published on August 1st, 2012 | by Sgt. Mettool0
Mugen Souls and Censorship
I think Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime may be onto something when he said gamers are insatiable. Indeed, we’re always finding something to complain about, because we just can’t leave well enough alone, can we? How dare companies capitalize on DLC or not release a game globally simultaneously! Of all the nerve! And it seems like we’re always picking on the big companies like EA and Nintendo for their silly antics.
Recently, however, localization company NIS America has come under a small, but focused amount of fire surrounding some proposed edits to upcoming JRPG Mugen Souls. Said edits will remove a small portion of the game for the sake of decency, and to ensure that the game will not receive an AO rating from the ESRB. Some may call them edits, others are calling it blatant censorship.
And I’m here to tell you that censorship in gaming is more common than you may think.
Those in the know are most likely aware of the controversy: Mugen Souls features a minigame that involves bathing girls in a hot springs to increase their stats and abilities. The problem, of course, is that these girls are not only scantily clad, but visibly underage and in suggestive poses. I’m not going to link anything of the sort here; if you want to see what I’m talking about, a quick google search should do the trick.
The North American and European releases of Mugen Souls will omit this minigame, as well as several cutscenes that pertain to it. Needless to say, a rather vocal playerbase has come to defend the original product, citing that they won’t buy the game because they “don’t support censorship” and that they won’t buy a censored game.
I find those claims hard to believe. Hell, I guarantee you that any numbnut on GameFAQs who makes such a claim owns at least one censored game.
Editting content for localization purposes covers a wide range of topics and for many different reasons. Some are for good taste, such as covering up a sprite’s cleavage a la Final Fantasy VI. Others are for cultural differences, like changing a takoyaki stand to a hotdog stand, like in Phoenix Wright. Even games as recent as the Paper Mario series featured version differences to ensure appropriate ratings and cultural adaption (if left intact, The Thousand Year Door would have garnered a T rating. Higher ratings equals less sales in this instance).
Censorship is rather common in text localization, yet few people notice because few gamers understand Japanese. many Japanese curse words have much less offensive value than their English counterparts. Some are even deemed appropriate for children. Did you know that Kefka’s famous “HATE HATE HATE” speech was originally a series of F-bombs? I bet you didn’t. And if you did, you’re probably not complaining about it. Yet, you’re complaining about Mugen Souls. Why?
Because NIS America is a proud company. So proud, in fact, that they went ahead and admitted that they will be censoring the game even before it was released. I commend them for that, and I’d rather find out beforehand than learn about it later and feel shortchanged. Really, it’s a chivalrous act of honesty. But of course ,it opened up a can of worms and hundreds of forsaken drama llamas came to defend the good name of lolicon.
I think what we need to realize is that this kind of shit isn’t the end of the world. I mean, yes, it’s unfortunate that they had to cut out a part of the game to make it acceptable for overseas audiences. But really, it’s a first world problem more than anything. Just take the god damn game and shut up.
Do I support censorship? I suppose I do on some level, and that’s because I think NIS America is going this for their own good. They’re a small enough company that they can’t be taking any risks. Can you imagine the media outcry that would occour if they left borderline child pornography in their localized games? Do you think America could handle that? It would ruin them, and we’d have even less JRPGs to enjoy overseas. Editting this game is just a flat-out smart move.
And my bit about insatiable gamers? Look at it this way: We could not be getting the game at all. For NIS America to ensure we are able to experience this game in some form is a noble effort indeed. And I will gladly take the 98% of the game that was left intact. Especially when the other 2% has no bearing on the main game in any way, shape or form. I’m still getting a 50-hour RPG out of this aren’t I? You’ve earned my sixty bucks, good sir.