Nine for mortal men doomed to die

Reading through R. Scott Campbell’s three part article over at No Mutants Allowed. Campbell was the lead designer for the original Fallout from Interplay and his “tell all” reveals a lot of answers that have plagued fans since it came out, from why we use bottle caps to where the Deathclaw really came from. It’s a fascinating piece of history that he has thankfully put together for everyone to scan over, especially if you’re a big fan of Interplay’s Fallout or of the iconic Wasteland.

Bionic Commando

Bionic Commando was very different in Japan

One interesting tidbit to emerge is the topic of Nintendo’s censorship. Back in those days of the NES and SNES, Nintendo was notoriously anal on everything that would come out for their console for North America. Did you know that Bionic Commando would’ve pit you against Hitler and a Fourth Reich? It did in Japan. We’d still get to blow up Hitler’s face, but for us North Americans, he’s Master D. Strange how swastikas and any mention of Nazis was censored, yet a head turning into pulp with teeth and an eyeball going wild were allowed.

id Software’s Castle Wolfenstein was another notable example with green blood substituted for red, one change among many that made id swear off from working with Nintendo again. And now Campbell recalls a situation with Interplay’s release of their Lord of the Rings game:

“Speaking of funny language restrictions, while the Super Nintendo version of Lord of the Rings was submitted to Nintendo for approval, it was rejected. Why? “Nine for mortal men doomed to die.” Nintendo would not allow us to use the term “die” in a SNES game. Seriously. We told them that we were quoting from a piece of great literature, but still they denied our submission. In anger, the game’s producer changed it to “Nine mortal men doomed to cry.” (And I can still hear the screams of horror from the Tolkien fans in the office.) Finally, Interplay’s lawyers stepped in. It seems that there were a great number of Japanese published SNES games that had used the English translation “die”… and they all passed submission… so why not us Gaijin, hmmm? Nintendo backed down, and the Mortal Men were again doomed to die.”

Of course, Nintendo has considerably loosened up since then.

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