While the Nintendo certainly wasn’t the first video game system, during its run, video games were still a relatively new arrival to the arena of personal entertainment. The issue of media censorship as anything from necessary evil to patriotic duty still came up in the United States, and even with media-friendly video-game-loving Reagan in the White House, it was clear that combating any PR snafu would be an uphill battle.
Nintendo’s headquarters in Japan had already instituted strict guidelines for their video games prohibiting sexual imagery, but Nintendo of America took this all a step further and released strict overarching content guidelines that included things like prohibitions against depictions of domestic violence, drug or alcohol use and, most notably, religious imagery. Though exceptions were allowed for video games such as Castlevania (which has crosses), Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins and a few others that may have been intentional or may have simply slipped in under the radar, the general rule was obeyed to the extent that crosses were on some occasions removed from tombstones and other only vaguely religious depictions.
As such, a game in which you are a green monster using crosses and Bibles to combat a speedo-clad Satan would be a hard sell to say the least.
Year: 1985 Publisher: Nintendo Genre: Puzzle Action
Back in 1985, someone at Nintendo decided that it would be a great idea to have a Mario game wherein Mario cannot jump. Probably the sensible thing to do with someone who made that suggestion is to sit them down circle-time style and explain to them that when Mario was introduced, his name was actually “Jumpman,” and that if Nintendo hadn’t been late with the rent payments, they wouldn’t have ever thought to name him Mario. Then, in full sight of all the other employees, that employee should have been shot in the back of the head and left there as an example.
Year: 1985 Publisher: Nintendo Genre: Puzzle – Action
Over the years, video game design has changed. Back in the Nintendo games, game design was a crapshoot – if you had an original idea, you might be on to the next big thing, or you might be about to discover, to paraphrase Edison, one of the 10,000 ways it does not work. Point being that, in the Nintendo days, many games were released with game mechanics that, in the modern era, would immediately end up on the cutting room floor.
It is now generally understood, for example, that game controls have to be intuitive. This can be a game breaker for nearly any game, but if the controls are sufficiently counter-intuitive, it can contribute to fake difficulty. If it goes far enough, however, it can become the entire game.