Animal Abuse in NES Games, Part 2
In the original article, we looked at three 8-bit video games on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console that contained notable scenes of animal abuse: RoboCop, Metal Gear, and Maniac Mansion. While those three samples each came with a screenshot and some exposition, there were even a few honorable mentions: The Adventures of Bayou Billy, Jurassic Park, and Duck Hunt.
However, further thinking and research has uncovered the potentially disturbing evidence that the aforementioned cartridges were far from an exhaustive coverage of animal abuse in the NES library. In fact, below are four further noteworthy examples.
Sure, the eponymous shark is quite aggressive and poses a genuine threat, but the punishment he is dealt in this game is fairly brutal: Dozens upon dozens of shots from a harpoon gun, depth charges launched from a search-and-destroy boat, submarine strikes, strobe disorientation, and the prow of a ship being shoved into his body as a finishing blow. What would PETA think?
Krusty’s Fun House
This is one video game that may get lost in the shuffle of other Simpsons’ titles for the NES, but it is worth nothing for the purposes of this article because the entire premise revolves around rodent extermination. In fact, this is not just a case of simply finding a single specimen and humanely ending its life, no, this is practically mass murder, in the way that countless mice are forcibly funneled toward imminent death by bashing. How cruel, indeed.
This is a strange case. Rambo, famously, is an action movie character, memorably played by Sylvester Stallone back in the day. In his films he was known for heroic armed actions against forces both crooked and evil alike, although those forces primarily consisted of human beings and the occasional canine. In the NES iteration, however, much of the early gameplay is spent mindlessly slaughtering various forest creatures for no discernible reason. What gives?
You may have heard the old myth about lemmings being dumb little animals that are notorious for diving off cliffs toward their own certain doom, but in this case the generalization bears some examination. While the object of this puzzler is the keep the Lemmings alive, many will die, and in a variety of different ways.
Even the most optimistic of retro gaming historians would have to conclude that this is likely still not the complete coverage of 8-bit Nintendo games that happen to portray animal cruelty. Given the company’s early predilection toward rampant censorship, it may seem odd that, while they were so quick to edit out items such as religious references and minor swearing, apparently outright violence against nature’s denizens was thought to be perfectly permissible. What sort of ethical philosophy does this thinking reflect?