Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water on Wii U has been available in Japan for a while now, but it finally showed up for everyone else on Thursday. It’s the ghost hunting game everyone already expected, but with one catch: the scantily clad bonus costumes has been removed. This oversight has pissed some people off.
Unlocking alternate costumes is one of the most common ways to encourage players to make their way through a game multiple times. This new Fatal Frame is no exception, though the rewards felt more in line with Tecmo’s Dead or Alive:
To be clear, Tecmo Koei technically own the rights to the Fatal Frame franchise, but Nintendo locked up sequels for their platforms, starting with Fatal Frame IV, which is why they’re publishing the game.
These costumes feels slightly more uncomfortable when paired with one scene in particular, where the player can“film” characters sleeping with them on.
Those costumes were removed from the game and replaced with ones inspired by Zelda and Samus, as revealed a few days back. The Wii’s Fatal Frame game also had a Samus suit, so this isn’t the first time the franchises have crossed.
Nintendo didn’t announce the costumes had been removed, and when I contacted the company, the only response I got was confirmation of the change.
It’s also not the first time Nintendo’s been involved in modifying such content. When the company picked up the publishing rights to Bravely Default outside of Japan, the company quietly changed the ages of certain characters from 15 to 18 and modified their costumes, covering up some of the more revealing outfits:
Per an IGN story from January 2014:
In both cases, it ignited a conversation about censorship and cultural norms, as evidenced by this exchange from Fahey’s piece about Bravely Default’s changes:
Such costumes aren’t new to the series, though. Take Fatal Frame II, for example:
Still, the move has gotten under some people’s skin, as this lengthy “How much does censorship bother you?” thread on NeoGAF illustrates:
The game changed, yes, but is it censorship? In a sense, but it’s not so simple. Games are a business, and Nintendo wants to make money. Nintendo wanted to bring Fatal Frame to territories where the mood and attitudes towards sex are different than the country it was developed in. The mere presence of bikini costumes may have resulted in some players getting turned off from a game primarily about trying to kill ghosts with a camera. They made a calculated decision—whatever sales they lost from removing the costumes was a better gamble than losing sales over headlines and forum posts about the costumes.
To some players, they say it’s a matter of principle, not a preference for bikini costumes. Per a reddit thread, in which both sides of the argument show up:
You might want to pump the breaks a bit there, DJ_IllI_Ill, given that Nintendo helped make the game. The company also funded and published Bayonetta 2. The difference between the games and their approach to sexiness is vast, however.
That said, the conversations I’ve seen about this have surprisingly reasonable:
Nintendo might have avoided some trouble by being up front, even if that’s not their style. When Atlus announced it was making four content changes to Dungeon Travelers 2, it was clear with its fans about why it was happening:
Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & the Monster Seal presented some challenges during the localization process — specifically, adapting some of the fan service content to western sensibilities. Localization by nature requires some changes to be made for content to be understood en masse, which is why ATLUS worked closely with developer AquaPlus to preserve the game’s themes and content to its fullest.
In order to comply with restrictions set forth by rating boards, ATLUS made concessions on just four in-game images. On these images, some minor edits were made (and approved by the developer) to adjust the overt graphics to within acceptable ranges for the game’s M-rating.
In any case, the real horror might be the fact that, based on what I’ve played, the new Fatal Frame isn’t very good. That’s just my brief take, though, and you can read Richard Eisenbeis’ full review of the Japanese version from last year.