You're not logged in | Login / Register | News Filter | Submit News

Japanese censors demanded panty checks for female Super Smash Bros. characters during development; Masahiro Sakurai was none too impressed

Smash for Wii-U almost didn't make its release deadline due to forced revisions

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • November 29, 2019 at 2 p.m. PST • Comments: 39

When Super Smash Bros. Creator, Masahiro Sakurai, showcased Smash Ultimate's latest guest fighter, Terry Bogard, he brought up the fact that one of Fatal Fury's most popular characters, Mai Shiranui, would not be making an appearance in the game at all and alluded to her sexual nature as the main reason.

A big handful of other SNK characters show up in the background of Terry's King of Fighters-themed stage, but Mai was not included even as a background figure. Sakurai made a lighthearted comment during this portion of his presentation, noting that the game was "for good boys and girls of many different ages, so we decided not to feature her." This set the internet ablaze as enraged fans felt Sakurai and his team were doing a bit much in the way of censorship, but an older interview with Famitsu shows us that this almost certainly wasn't Sakurai's call.

The Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO) is a Japanese entertainment rating organization that scans video games for any content that might be too sensitive for younger viewers.

It turns out that Sakurai and his team had a bit of a back and forth with CERO during the development of Super Smash Bros. for Wii-U circa 2012 as the rating organization actually asked the Smash team to turn female characters upside down for panty shot angles.

We have an excerpt from the aforementioned Famitsu interview thanks to Source Gaming, and from it we can see that Sakurai was not at all a fan of having to jump through what he would deem as ridiculous hoops.

Sakurai: One of the first things they say in overseas ratings reviews is “no guns”—that I can understand. But in Japan, they immediately ask “could you show us all the female characters upside-down?”

Interviewer: Well, that’s, uh… Are they checking for panty shots?

Sakurai: Precisely. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U almost didn’t make its scheduled release date because of ratings issues. We had to revise Palutena and Wonder Pink’s models over and over again.

Interviewer: All because you might be able to see up their skirts? Seriously?

Sakurai: We had Palutena wearing shorts and made the inside of Wonder Pink’s skirt too dark to see anything. Nevertheless, CERO told us the designs were “sexually provocative.” They were being ridiculous and frankly quite juvenile.

The final designs for Paletuna wound up different in the Japanese version of the game, which saw darkened shorts and skirt to decrease visibility as well as a slight extension of the fabric. You can view the difference between the Japanese and other versions, thanks to Random Talking Bush, via this extremely NSFW (not) side by side:

Palutena naughty and nice image #1
Click images for larger versions

If there's any remaining wonder as to Sakurai's position on being able to see a bit of a character's undergarment in a video game intended for more than just a mature crowd, he shreds any mystery in a later comment.

"Underwear is just a piece of fabric. If you’re more worried about something trivial like whether you can see some cloth than whether a game includes firearms," he notes, "you clearly ought to get your priorities in order."

While we're still a little sad that we won't get to have Mai in Smash Ultimate, even as a background character, we're certainly not going to direct any shade at Sakurai about it. There's no denying that her visuals and animations have been pretty overtly sexual over the years, so it almost goes without saying that CERO would put the kibosh on any plans to include her.

We could easily describe Bayonetta, a character that made it into both Smash for Wii-U and Smash Ultimate, in the same manner as Mai, and so we can actually count it as fairly amazing that she's part of the franchise at all. Given this information, perhaps it's best to view the inclusion of Bayo as a lucky bonus as opposed to viewing the lack of Mai as a surprising restriction.

This sheds a good bit of light on the Mai situation but also brings up a new question at the same time: Was it CERO behind the decision to have Solid Snake's hindquarters be significantly reduced from Super Smash Bros. Brawl to Ultimate?

Load comments (39)