Censorship In Games And Sakurai’s Stance On Mai Shiranui’s Absence From Smash Ultimate

Censorship In Games And Sakurai’s Stance On Mai Shiranui’s Absence From Smash Ultimate
Credit: Nintendo by YouTube

Censorship in gaming becomes a bigger and bigger issue each year. The concepts and standards of what qualify as “inappropriate” differ from country to country, and the target of censorship can vary, whether it’s things like gore, weapons, or provocative content.

In this particular case, the latest hot-button issue is in regards to the third.

Those who tuned into the Terry Bogard Smash Ultimate Direct on November 6th, 2019 were able to see the latest member of the Smash roster in his glory. But despite Terry’s fighting game prowess smoothly transitioning to Smash Ultimate’s engine, the biggest upset (if it can be called that) came out of nowhere.

In the King of Fighters stage that comes with Terry, numerous supporting characters can appear in the background. Alums from the previous King of Fighters appear randomly, minus one in particular; Mai Shiranui.

The reasoning for this is pretty obvious. Mai isn’t exactly what you’d call an E for Everyone character, but the exclusion of such an iconic character from King of Fighters was a blow felt by many. The reasoning seems especially strange considering Bayonetta, a character well-known for being provocative, is in the game (though, her Wicked Weave and Infernal Demon Summoning have been heavily toned down in comparison to her home game).

Censorship, however, isn’t something so easily contested, as creator of Super Smash Bros. Masahiro Sakurai, states in the following tweet.

Originally, during the showcase, the line “…Smash is for good little boys and girls” was uttered by Sakurai, though it was later revealed that said line was altered slightly. Although, the light jab at the censorship policies was readily apparent.

As shown in the tweet, Sakurai mentions that Smash Bros. for the Wii U nearly missed the release date because of ratings issues, leading to the editing of characters such as Palutena to make them less “sexual”. His stance was made clear in his final message of his tweet, suggesting that people get their priorities in order in regards to things like firearms versus panties.

While censoring games is no doubt a vital process of ensuring they end up in the right hands, the discrepancies and double-standards involved can sometimes cause confusion. At the very least, Sakurai seems to be aware of the nature involved, making his line seem more tongue-in-cheek than one would expect.