While doing some research for a recent review of Cruis’n USA, I came across something that I hadn’t noticed at the time but as soon as I read it, I knew it to be true. You see, Cruis’n USA was an arcade port to the N64 and during the porting process, the game was censored. The arcade version let you hit and destroy animals, which in the arcade style of the game was hilarious. The animals were removed entirely from the N64 game. That lead me to wonder what other N64 games felt the cold hand of the Nintendo censors. Here are a few notable instances.
Duke Nukem 64
I can’t say this one is overly surprising but there were a ton of changes made to this game from the PC version Duke Nukem 3D. There was a good amount of female nudity throughout in the PC version that Nintendo removed. There were also a lot of different posters and signs full of innuendo-laced humor that were removed from the N64 version. Also, the use of steroids was replaced with “Vitamin X,” which I move that we just start calling steroids that from now on. Also removed was exploding babes. They just disappear on the N64. The folks over at movie-censorship.com did an extensive piece on every difference between the two versions that you can read here.
It’s hard to tell if the edits to Shadow Man were made for the sake of censorship or for the sake of the technical limitation of the N64. Nonetheless, there were definite differences between the N64, PC, Dreamcast, and PS1 versions. The censors nabbed several places in the game where dead bodies are visible in the PC and Dreamcast versions. In the N64 version, all that can be seen is what the dead bodies rested upon; like chairs, for instance. Just as an aside, if you never played Shadow Man, do it. Go on. I’ll wait here.
Some games actually were censored from the NTSC version when the PAL version got released. Forsaken one such game. The North American version actually had an advertisement for the strategy guide in the intro. Because yay capitalism! It also featured a different game logo. The most notable difference though is the blood and guts factor. The NTSC version had severed body parts, gushing blood, and really nasty squishing noises. Our PAL pals (sorry, I had to do it at least once) got none of that. On the bright side, at least they didn’t replace it with say children’s laughter, ice cream cones, and teddy bears.
Most of you probably didn’t play Daikatana. You have saved yourself a lot of misery and heartache in so doing. Yuck. That not withstanding, Daikatna was a censorship triple threat match. The NTSC console version was cut down from the PC version and the PAL console version was cut down from the NTSC console version. In both cases, it was a case of the blood and gore (i.e. the fun) being cut out or dulled down. The PAL version may as well have replaced your weapons with pool noodles and featured a tickle fight mode. At least in the NTSC release, you could kill innocents if you wanted to. They are just there on the PAL version, taking up precious processing power.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Time winding down, he needs a miracle now. Hall drops back. Looking, looking… OH MY GOD! The end around! He got us all with a trick play! Yep, even my favorite game of all time, my online namesake, is not safe from being censored. This story is a tick different though. This game has been censored since its original N64 release. The virtual console and 3DS versions have a few changes from the N64 game we know and love. First is the mirror shield. Originally, it had a symbol on it that bore a striking resemblance to a traditional Islamic symbol. Umm. Whoops? Maybe not. This was changed in future releases and in Majora’s Mask. Also, there was a chant in the Fire Temple that turned out to be a traditional Muslim chant. This was also removed from future releases. While those censors make total sense, the next one does not. I hope I don’t actually have to do this for a 15 year old game but *SPOILER ALERT*. At the end when you finally defeat Ganon in the original release, he coughs up blood. As he should, the evil bastard. Yep, good old-fashioned red blood. The way it should be. Future releases, though, change the blood to green. Why that is, I couldn’t possibly tell you. Perhaps Ganon got a hold of some bad pea soup between versions.
This is by no means complete list. I want to know what is missing from the list though. If you have another case of censorship on the N64, leave it in the comments. Join me back here in two weeks when I [CENSORED].