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Back in the day...when Nintendo censored everything

Remember back in the day when Nintendo was absolutely insane with their censorship and guidelines for third parties?

Nintendo of America’s priority is to deliver high quality video game entertainment for our customers. When those customers are children, parental involvement in their game playing is recommended. Nintendo is concerned that our products do not contain material that society as a whole deems unacceptable.

Consequently, since 1988 we have consistently tested the content of all games developed for Nintendo systems against our evolving game standards. As our business has matured, we have adapted our guidelines to meet the concerns of the members of our target age group and their parents. Although we realize that definitions of social, cultural and political views are highly subjective, we will continue to provide consumers with entertainment that reflects the acceptable norms of society.

The following Game Content Guidelines are presented for assistance in the development of authorized game paks (i.e., both Nintendo and licensee game paks) by defining the type of content and themes inconsistent with Nintendo’s corporate and marketing philosophy. Although exceptions may be made to preserve the content of a game, Nintendo will not approve games for the NES, Game Boy or Super NES systems (i.e., audio-visual work, packaging, and instruction manuals) which:

- include sexually suggestive or explicit content including rape and/or nudity; (1)
- contain language or depiction which specifically denigrates members of either sex; (2)
- depict random, gratuitous, and/or excessive violence; (3)
- depict graphic illustration of death; (4)
- depict domestic violence and/or abuse; (5)
- depict excessive force in a sports game beyond what is inherent in actual contact sports; (6)
- reflect ethnic, religious, nationalistic, or sexual stereotypes of language; this includes symbols that are related to any type of racial, religious, nationalistic, or ethnic group, such as crosses, pentagrams, God, Gods (Roman mythological gods are acceptable), Satan, hell, Buddha (7)
- use profanity or obscenity in any form or incorporate language or gestures that could be offensive by prevailing public standards and tastes; (8)
- incorporate or encourage the use of illegal drugs, smoking materials, and/or alcohol (Nintendo does not allow a beer or cigarette ad to be placed on an arena, stadium or playing field wall, or fence in a sports game); (9)
- include subliminal political messages or overt political statements (10)

Yes, that really used to be the guideline that every third party had to follow when publishing a game on a Nintendo platform. Obviously, Nintendo has loosened up in some big ways since those early days. If they didn’t pull back on some of these issues, they probably would have had to bow out of the market early!

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