The Expurgation of Maniac Mansion for the NES

It seems that the following article is well known among fans of “Maniac Mansion”, but since I don’t know the game very well nor I know how it was developed and marketed, I have found this reading extremely interesting.

The author, Douglas Crockford, explains which questionable changes had to be made to the NES version of the game in order to pass the scrutiny of the Nintendo censorship.

What I find particularly puzzling is the logic behind the Nintendo policy. They asked to remove suggestive contents but violence was somehow accepted and Nintendo had no issues at all with what happens to the hamster:

They didn’t object to the nasty stuff that happens to the hamster. Ron suggested that it was just violence.

It’s, of course, an article full of spoilers.

Enjoy it!

The Expurgation of Maniac Mansion for the Nintendo Entertainment System


My favorite sentence (cite):

Obviously, you can’t have a good time in a Nintendo cartridge.

Killing the hamster is an Easter egg and not required for completing the game. There is a chance they may have just overlooked it.

But nonetheless, most games on such consoles were about shooting enemies, so naturally violence was much less of an issue.
In retrospect I wonder why Maniac Mansion wasn’t banned in Germany…

Why should it?

They did, but later caught it and we had to remove it. I don’t know how many were sold before they caught it.


Interesting. So there are existing two versions for the NES? One with the hamster in the microwave and one without?

Correct. The way cart were made, you make a lot of them at once, so it’s possible that most of them have the hamster.

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Because of the violence of course, not the nudity. If you would have showed them at the Bundesprüfstelle killing the hamster like that… I don’t know if they would have liked it :slight_smile:

Btw. recently there were episodes on ZDF about Killerspiele (“killer games”), including @BorisFromGermany talking about censoring of games for instance, and old footage of women from the Bundesprüfstelle trying to figure out a game (spolier: they needed to get an expert/teenager).

Actually there is even another one: They also made a version for Famicom which looks completely different:

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I am skeptic that the hamster would have been enough to ban the game: You don’t need to kill the hamster to progress (it has even negative consequences if you show the “microwaved” hamster to Ed) and the game doesn’t show how the hamster is killed (you only see the abstract result of the explosion). There were other not banned games with more violence. :slight_smile:

You can also see it like that:
There is no gameplay/story reason to kill the hamster, it’s just “for fun”. Doesn’t this sound even worse?

You put it into a microwave, turn if on, the hamster explodes and leaves a bloody mess (which you can pick up).
There isn’t much more you can show? (At least with this graphics style)

Although this may not be enough to ban the game, what about mass murder? This is a topic the BPjM is particularly sensitive about.

She knows what´s good for you!

Ask the BPjM. :wink: I would say no, because MM is a comic game.

You …

… said it. With that logic you have to ban other games too - including several Infocom games.

(btw: For all non-germans: The BPjM doesn’t ban games. They were only classified as inappropriate for children with the consequences that no one is allowed to advertise the game and to sell it to kids under 18. But the games were still available - like VHS videos for adults.)

What? Mass murder in MM? Maybe I played a different game… :slight_smile: And please remember that the BPjM refused to ban Counterstrike… :slight_smile:

@milanfahrnholz: Yes, she is the one who appears in interviews. But the decision was (and is) made by a council.

And if you show the exploded hamster to his owner Weird Ed, you achieve your own grave in the mansion’s garden!

Ask @BigRedButton

This was much later, they are getting more and more tolerant with time.
Just look at Mortal Kombat X: As far as I know it’s not on the Index, just 18+!

Back then this wasn’t much of a difference, it effectively was a ban since without Internet or other means of getting information about such game to the masses they just didn’t sell.
So later many game developers started censoring their Germany versions just to be sure it’s rating will be fine (thanks again :frowning: but hey, sometimes it was quite funny, e.g. robots in Half-Life instead of human grunts).

Because they can’t: AFAIK if the USK has approved / labeled the game, they can’t ban it anymore.

Yes and no. In most cases the potential players knew the games because they were “banned” after their release (back then the BPjM was allowed to review a game only if someone told them to do so - for example parents). I bought Doom after the ban without problems at a local games shop.

Really? Strange. If I were them I’d especially review those games getting the highest USK rating (18+, adults only).

I’m not 100% sure with that because they changed the law several times (and I’m not up to date at the moment :slight_smile: ).

/edit: Seems that I’m right - have a look at Wikipedia (german article).

It´s true once it has been given a rating it cannot be put on the index anymore.

That however still doesn´t save it from the possibilty of being outright banned (and there the term “banned” actually applies) under §131.

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@Someone @Nor_Treblig

Just found this in regards to the whole index thing in germany particulary focusing on Commodore 64 Games.
In hindsight it´s a funny read. (german)