It’s not every day that one can disembowel a man through his mouth, slowly tugging away at his innards as if making reverse sausage, until everything from the esophagus to the liver is in a neat pile on the floor beside him. Then again, it’s not every day that a game like Mortal Kombat X hits the shelves, and we ask ourselves, “Gee, could this be any tamer?”
Apparently, and correct me if I’m wrong, the Mortal Kombat series has the anything-goes card, able to decapitate, mutilate, eviscerate and probably masticate any and all characters in the lineup without much repercussion stateside. Stateside, anything goes — as long as it’s violence. Show a nipple, however, and the red card comes out (to borrow from European football terminology). Australia has given the game an R18+ rating, which means that no one under the age of 18 can purchase it.
In the States, Mortal Kombat X has received an M rating, which means it’s suitable for those 17 years and older, putting it in the same company as Call of Duty, Titanfall and Elder Scrolls Online, none of which features the aforementioned disemboweling.
Before you call me a prude, I must say that I’m not against violence in video games. In fact, nothing pleased me more than to perform a fatality as my mom watched in horror when I was yet a wee boy. Why she’d let me play that game in the first place, well, that’s a conversation I’ve yet to have with her. On the other hand, we never once had the conversation about the depiction of the nude human form in entertainment, either.
This question came roaring back to me when ATLUS, the popular importer and publisher of such games as Etrian Mystery Dungeon and Shin Megami Tensei, released a statement in regard to an upcoming import of Dungeon Travelers 2: The Royal Library & the Monster Seal for the Playstation Vita.
“In order to comply with restrictions set forth by rating boards, ATLUS made concessions on just four in-game images,” wrote ATLUS in a newsletter. “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.”
The images are mildly pornographic in the same sense that the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is. Suggestive, certainly, but worse than watching Johnny Cage re-enact The Shining’s “Here’s Johnny!” with a human torso rather than a door?
ATLUS does a lot of good, and it’s sad that it’s been put in this situation, where it must remove the mild nudity or receive an Adults Only rating, a death sentence for a video game sold in the States as most large retailers won’t put it on their shelves.
As it is, Dungeon Traveler 2 will get an M rating for “fantasy violence” and “partial nudity” among other things.
Thank you, American video game censors, for protecting us from the Lovecraftian madness that seeing a nipple would compel. I wouldn’t want that to spoil my attempt at a back-alley operation using only fists, a rusty knife and teeth. I mean, what are we, savages?
Chris O’Neal can only handle so much gore before he gets hungry. Follow him on Instagram @agentoneal.