News: Nintendo Is a Dirty Big Isaac’s Mum

The Binding of Isaac Cover
The Binding of Isaac Cover

Isaac Creator Gets Bound by Nintendon’t

Ed McMillen, the creator of the critically acclaimed indy title: The Binding of Isaac, has this week revealed on Twitter that Nintendo has put the kibosh on plans to bring the nightmarish isometric dungeon shooter to the 3DS eShop. The game which enacts a modern day re-telling of the biblical episode of the same name, wherein Abraham (or Isaac’s Mum in the game) is commanded by God to kill his son, has been refused release due to censorship concerns – yet surprisingly it has nothing to do with the game’s depiction of a naked child being menaced in his Mother’s macabre basement, but instead is due in large part to what Nintendo calls “questionable religious content”.

It did not take the Tweeting of Ed McMillen to confirm what most gamers already knew: that despite protests to the contrary, Nintendo of America is still enforcing their legacy ban on any and all religious content in the titles available on their consoles. For reasons known only to Nintendo of America, the company has a long and checkered history of forcing developers to expunge even the most arbitrary of religious references from their games, which is why we have such stellar edits as the renaming of “Holy” to “Pearl” in Nintendo based Final Fantasy titles.

The Binding of Isaac is merely the latest casualty in a long list of Nintendo gaming contraband, but where some people might see defeat, others will surely find opportunity, with McMillen already looking into the possibility of bringing his celebrated title to the PS Vita. The situation has also caused McMillan to reiterate his praise and strong support for Valve’s Steam platform in his comment “Thank GOD Steam exists”. Indeed, the biggest loser in all of this appears to be Nintendo themselves, as they have once again shown that their consoles are for children.

2K Announcement Gives Rise to Bioshock Infinite Release Date

Irrational Games and parent company, 2K, have this week revealed that the highly anticipated Bioshock Infinite will be releasing on the 16th of October in the American region, and on the 19th of October for other territories. Maligned PC gamers are also in luck, with the PC version set to launch alongside its console counterparts, rather than several months later as has become the norm.

Ever since gamers first saw Booker DeWitt traversing the lofty Skylines of Columbia there has been a good deal of buzz surrounding the title, yet nothing makes a game feel so real and imminent as a release date – so with anticipation solidified, Irrational Games and Ken Levine are promising big things for the franchise this year. Chief among Levine’s claims is that DeWitt’s AI partner, Elizabeth, will help revolutionise action storytelling, as the player attempts to escort her from one end of Columbia to the other. Levine goes on to say “After Bioshock, we had a vision for a follow up that dwarfed the original in scope and ambition, Bioshock Infinite has been our sole focus for the last four years, and we can’t wait for fans to get their hands on it”.

Bioshock Infinite promises to be the definitive high point in a year that has already been incredibly generous in terms of quality gaming, one hopes that the vision of Irrational Games can be pulled off without a hitch so that gamers can finally forget about that regrettable Bioshock 2 situation.

Assassin's Creed 3 Boxart
Assassin's Creed 3 Boxart

Assassin’s Creed III Stakes Claim Over Its Own Slice of Americana

This week it was revealed through the leaking of game art that Ubisoft’s annual cash cow, the Assassin’s Creed franchise, would be receiving its first meaningful update since 2009 in the form of Assassin’s Creed III. The game art reveals a background populated with the British and Yankee soldiers of America’s colonial past, confirming that the game will indeed take place during the American revolution. The leaked art also reveals a protagonist who looks desperately out of place in his assassin’s robes, with an American Indian style bow and arrows being his ensemble’s only compromise to the new historical era in which the game is set.

No firm details have been revealed as of yet, though gamers can probably expect stealth kills, haystacks and a narrative which focuses on an ill-defined Dan Brownesque Templar conspiracy. Ubisoft are promising to furnish gamers with more precise information as early as Monday, though series fans will likely already know what to expect. Assassin’s Creed III will see release on the 30th of October for the PS3, 360 and PC, with a Wii U version allegedly in the works for release at a later date. While a series refresh is a much needed and highly desirable turn of events for the franchise, one is not even slightly tempted to pick it up unless it introduces an Indian scalping mechanic.

12 comments

  1. That bioshock “trailer” they put out a while ago still has me cautiously optimistic instead of genuinely optimistic. The whole thing looked like it was supposed to be gameplay, but it also looked really scripted. As if it were just a mock up of gameplay. It was rendered in-game, they weren’t FMVs, but what was shown didn’t look like what the game would (or could) be. Something about that struck me as…deceptive.

    Also, Nintendo has proven to be too sensitive, yet again. But they aren’t alone. Religious censorship isn’t excusable by any company that does it, but from their perspective they’re releasing a game about a topic this country (America) can only handle discussing with a fucking child-like level of maturity. And thence come the protesters and the lawyers, if it gets out of hand. Nintendo likes to preen its image as “family friendly”, and feels such ill will would damage its name in the eyes of parents buying for children. Nintendo has all but said outright that they’re a game company with children in mind. They might stray from that more than at other times, but I feel confident no one working upstairs at Nintendo thinks their image is anything BUT that of a children’s game company.

  2. Yeah, fair point – but I still have a lot of faith in Ken Levine and Irrational.

  3. It makes sense to me that one company (Nintendo) is for a younger, inoffensive audience (evidenced in the games that come out on its systems, not just the censorship) and one for the more mature, serious people (Sony). One company introduces people to video games, another is there for when people know what they like and want more from their games. So don’t expect a lot from Nintendo – they’re not in the business for you. It’s the same way they’ve always been and will be, why Zelda games will continue to be a formula catering to new players more than old fans, why any Pokemon can easily be picked up by a new player, etc. They didn’t grow up with us; we grew out of them.

  4. I think the thing to remember is that there’s potential for backlash no matter what Nintendo might have done with Binding of Isaac. Sure, I don’t necessarily approve of the company denying the game the ability to sell in their online store because of religious messages in it. The backlash here is coming from fans of the game who would like to play it on their 3DS, but if they’d allowed it to be released, there might have also been backlash from other sources: people who believe the game is mocking of religious values, and people who believe that Nintendo would be taking a firm religious stance if they allowed for the release of those games. Trying to think from the perspective of a corporate executive who wants to make money and avoid bad publicity, I’d much rather deal with some upset customers who can’t get the game they want than deal with a horrifically misguided section of the US population who can’t seem to comprehend that religiously charged or religiously inspired material doesn’t have to be viewed as offensive simply because it’s religion. Religion’s a touchy subject, and if Nintendo wants to stay the heck away from it, well, I can’t blame them. Knowing some of the people in my life, I don’t want to touch the subject with them, either.

    Also, in my experience, people who complain about religion publicly are usually far more vocal about it than people who complain about games not getting released are about the fact that they can’t get their games.

  5. No doubt that is precisely Nintendo’s thinking. However, the point at hand is the question of whether console manufacturers should have the right to refuse content on censorship grounds even if it is given a green light by the ESRB. Is it good and fair that a hardware manufacturer should have this power? Is the content being judged by people possessed of an adequate background in the ethics of content standards? Is the content being judged in an even handed fashion, with avenues of appeal for the developer? Is the console holder fulfilling their ethical and commercial duty to the developer who is supporting their console?

    I would wager that the answer to all these questions is a resounding NO. The decision making process surrounding The Binding of Isaac is the very picture of shambolic chaos. The decision kept being kicked around from department to department until a corporate suit killed it. Throughout the process the developer received very little information regarding the status of their submission. The entire affair was exceedingly muddled and confused.

    The decision reeks of the very poor business ethics of a bad-faith corporate partner.

    If a console holder wants to pull such stunts, then at the very least they need to draft a set of content submission standards, and hire people to objectively apply them. Anything else is a breach of their duty to developers. This is just another way in which NoA’s management is morbidly incompetent.

  6. While I agree that Nintendo’s content standards should exist and that they should be clearly defined, it’s not the ESRB’s job to tell companies which games to publish. The ESRB exists to rate game content to help people decide whether it’s appropriate for publication and which consumers it’s appropriate for. They can’t (and shouldn’t be able to) tell companies which games TO publish, only which games not to publish or not to market to younger demographics.

  7. I never said they should. Perhaps you should read my comment again?

    I asked whether it was right for Nintendo to deny content that had met with the approval of the ESRB; hardly the same thing. And at least the ESRB actually employ a set of consistent standards which are administered by people trained to do so.

  8. @ SN:
    “…console manufacturers should have the right to refuse content on censorship grounds even if it is given a green light by the ESRB?”
    Yes. They have that right. They are allowed to censor their products to different, and unspecified, criteria than that of any other agency or government. Obviously they can’t choose to censor LESS, but they certainly can choose to censor MORE. They can release ZERO games on censorship grounds if they choose, and make no money. It’s their company.

    “Is it good and fair that a hardware manufacturer should have this power?”
    No. It’s not good, nor is it fair. Increased censorship is almost always a bad thing and in this case is blatantly unfair. In this case, the developer should take their business elsewhere (and they are) and if Nintendo suffers for it, maybe they’ll change.

    “Is the content being judged by people possessed of an adequate background in the ethics of content standards?”
    Of course not. It’s not about ethics and standards. Nintendo isn’t actually religiously sensitive, they don’t genuinely find this morally objectionable. They find it potentially hazardous to their public image and to their bottom line in the future. It’s an unfortunate thought, but it’s how most businesses work. Adhering to “moral guidelines” is often what companies do when they just want to avoid bad press.

    “Is the content being judged in an even handed fashion, with avenues of appeal for the developer?”
    Probably not.

    “Is the console holder fulfilling their ethical and commercial duty to the developer who is supporting their console?”
    The publisher has no duty towards the developer before they’ve agreed to anything. They jerked them around before they gave them an answer, but that isn’t a violation of any duty.

  9. It is on the last point where you and I disagree the most, I think.

    IMO console holders have a duty to all would be developers who attempt to do business. Not an enforcible (?) duty certainly, but an ethical duty to establish channels of communication and to conduct their dealings in a professional manner. This is how you establish and maintain a healthy working relationship – Nintendo never would have treated EA the same way that they treated McMillan (even if it ultimately led to the same result), so to my mind that constitutes a clear breach of their duty to McMillan.

  10. Then you’ll be happy to know we don’t actually disagree. I was talking from the perspective of what they have to do, not what they should do, and certainly not what I think they should do. Devil’s advocate, and all that.

    But if we scrutinize Nintendo for this kind of shit then it’s only right that we recognize that, as a publisher, Nintendo has hardly set any low bars nor are they remotely alone in this kind of business practice. Publishers are generally pretty cold.

  11. I think that it would be fair to say that Nintendo are the worst offender among the console manufacturers in this regard, though they still are not as bad as Apple.

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