For those of you too young to remember the wild west days of video gaming, there was a time before video game ratings. These were, as Marv would say, the “good ol, all or nothin’ days” when game designers were just beginning to push the envelope in terms of what was and was not acceptable in video game format. The gentlemen at Midway were, arguably, those to push the hardest and fastest with a little Street Fighter clone called Mortal Kombat. As I recently mentioned, Mortal Kombat was the controversial game back in the day. So much so that Nintendo actually stepped in to demand changes to the game. Ed Boon recently told Eurogamer:
The controversy with the game originally was because there was no rating system in place, and people were objecting to the fact that a game that was as violent as it is, did not have a rating. I agree with that idea. The rating system is great. The censorship with the SNES version was a response to that. Nintendo felt like they had an obligation to not offer something like this to a system that’s played by many young players.
That’s right: Ed Boon actually agrees and supports the SNES censorship which has, for nearly 20 years, been the subject of gamer ire. In case you owned a Genesis, or weren’t around, Mortal Kombat for the SNES did not feature any blood shed, or violent fatalities. Rather than blood spurting from punches, a generic gray “sweat mist” appeared. Sub-Zero, rather than ripping the spine from his enemies, turned them to ice and shattered them. Check out the beginning of the video below for the complete showing of the censored fatalities.
For a long while, gamers have always looked back at this as a patronizing move on SNES’s behalf. After all, even in more recent years, the Nintendo has never been known for its M-rated games, or for its love of bloodshed. In the early ’90s, Sega was fast establishing itself as the “bad boy” game console, and the blood and spine rips helped confirm this image.
It is interesting to see Boon come back in support of the game changes, nearly 20 years later, when most gamers have either forgotten, or were too young to remember. I will fully admit to being part of the “Man, SNES are a bunch of jerks!” group of gamers who largely shunned Nintendo after the first gray puff appeared. In fact, to this day, I always keep this bit of information in the recesses of my mind when Nintendo is mentioned. Maybe video game journalists really are just like sports journalists.