-by Dylan DiBona
In attempts to keep my Wii U alive I’ve been doing a little hunting for another game to play on it. I came across a little game I had heard of around release, but didn’t know much about; Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. I remember hearing of some controversy over Fire Emblem Fates censorship and even some for Tokyo Mirage, so I decided to investigate the latter for more information.Now I’m not one to really care about censorship in my games as long as the pure experience is available to the player; and I’m certainly not one to be begging for more virtual sexuality, there’s an endless supply of that already. What bugs me in this case is not only the sheer quality of censorship, but rather how the removed sexually explicit material genuinely related to the story of Tokyo Mirage Sessions. Tokyo Mirage is not about saving the world, it’s about your best friend rising to the top of the pop-star culture that is so prevalent in Japan. In Japan it’s very common for these idols to be scantily clad in bikinis and posing, so by taking away those elements the story is getting watered down.
One of the characters is supposed to have a history of gravure modeling (gravure modeling in Japan is when a model poses or acts in a specific to way elicit a sexual response). Would it not seem like a reasonable argument to make, that by taking this part of a characters history away, you upset their chances at development? To be fair, Tokyo Mirage didn’t seem like it was trying to be one of the greatest JRPGs of all time, but everyone takes their own separate experiences and attributes away from game; perhaps somebody could have enjoyed the ex-gravure model character a lot more if she was uncensored.
What makes this even more confusing is the lack of English voice acting. Nintendo stated that to keep the feeling of Japan alive within the game, only Japanese voices would be heard alongside English subtitles. If “keeping the feeling of Japan alive” was their true goal, why censor so many elements that are true to Japan?
Let’s be honest, if one of the major companies was going to censor a game, it’d probably be Nintendo and for a good reason. Nintendo prides themselves on their games for everybody, being a family company is important to their image; maybe having a game with a bunch of bikini clad teenagers scared them. But you have to wonder what the point of ESRB ratings even are because Tokyo Mirage wasn’t rated E for everybody, it was T for teens. When I take this into account I’m actually against Nintendo on this decision of censorship. It’s not Fire Emblem Fates where they took out an awkward face petting minigame because that has nothing to do with the story; the censorship of Tokyo Mirage does indeed change the games image.
I read a lot of mind-degrading YouTube comments, but in-between those some good ones. A lot of people say “I’m an adult, I should be able to choose what I want to see or not” and that makes a lot of sense. It begs the question: is there a place for an adult in the family oriented world of Nintendo? I’m getting off track, let’s go back to censorship.
Censorship exists in all media and it’s fair; you never know when a kid will be around, and in our hyper-sensitive culture anything can upset anybody. What bothers is me the lack of options. When you get a game, nine times out of ten it doesn’t start off with subtitles, but by going into the options you can turn subtitles on. Why can’t it be like that with censorship? Why can’t we get the option to play the true version of these games? We’re paying the same price as anybody else arguably for less content, it’s absurd.
So I’ll loop back to my original question: when is censorship in video games okay?
When it’s an option
The Gears of War series has always had a Content Filter Feature. By using this a player can turn off explicit language and gore. That’s perfect; now a teenager can play Gears of War in front of their younger siblings. Nintendo has always been light on the amount of options given to players, but it’s time for that to change.
I’m not trying to pin all censorship hatred towards Nintendo, tons of companies do it, but the case of Tokyo Mirage Sessions is what came up in my life most recently. If a recent survey by the Entertainment Software Association is to be believed, then 47% of gamers are above 18 years old, and I’m sure the 16-17 year old gamers are fine with blood and bikinis- so give us options.
So what do you think about this whole censorship nonsense? Are there any games you love that have changed because of censorship? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply. As always, thanks for reading.