Indie Game Blocked By Nintendo Over "Questionable Religious Content"

One of 2011's more pleasant surprises was The Binding of Isaac, a game Totilo described as "a wonderfully warped Old Testament take on The Legend of Zelda".

It's been out on Steam for months now, but was also slated to appear on the 3DS eShop as a downloadable purchase. That was until Nintendo took a look at the game and decided against releasing it.

Isaac's creator, Edmund McMillen, took to Twitter earlier tonight and wrote "After a long internal debate Nintendo has decided NOT to allow the Binding of Isaac on the 3ds. :("

Why?

"As many assumed the reasons were due to the games 'questionable religious content'", McMillen elaborates. "Thank GOD Steam exists!"

Wow. Nintendo's eShop, much like its retail offerings, is easily able to accommodate mature content. That's what game ratings and parental locks are for. For the platform holder to step in and block a game's release directly harks back to the dark days of the early 1990s, when Nintendo didn't allow things like blood or Nazis on its consoles.

The Binding of Isaac is based loosely on the biblical tale of the same name. Only, instead of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac, in the game you play as Isaac and try to escape your fate by trawling though a ton of randomly-generated dungeons.

Edmund McMillen [Twitter]


Comments

    You are a bad journalist, Luke.

      Where did that even come from? Care to at least give some feedback, you know, explain why you think he is a bad journalist?

      How about Luke watches you work and just says you're bad at what you do for no apparent reason.

      Would you like to support your argument at all Bear of the boy? You're reasons aren't really self evident from the article.

        I think it's basically become fashionable among a certain segment of Kotaku's readership to just bash Plunkett at every opportunity. Even when he posts a fairly straightforward, reasonable sort of article, some people just do it because they think it makes them look cool to other Plunkett-bashers.

          Every night it's this same shit from a tonne of readers. They insult every writer because they know the authors won't comment back.

          Grow up, and go do something else. Bunch of trolls.

        This isn't particularly evident from this article, but many of Plunkett's other articles are either sensationalist claptrap or content reposted from somewhere else without any additional commentary.

    Certainly not the worst Luke article here. Seems alright.

    Back on topic. To be fair, The Binding of Isaac is pretty crude and in-your-face. I loved the game, clocked up 44 hours on steam, but I can see why it would be rejected.

      I don't - it has a rating. It really isn't for the platform holder to make that call. It wasn't even MA+ here.

        It's a shame, to be sure, but you've got to think about it from Nintendo's perspective as well. Even if Nintendo has a large mature following, there is still a very large group of younger 3DS owners. To put a game like The Binding of Isaac on the 3DS opens up the Fox News floodgates. I can see it now: "Baby-killing abortion antichrist blood gore game, on YOUR child's 3DS"

        As for the rating, it's really not that bad of a game, visually, but it's some of the images and suggestions that would set off an alarm among conservatives. Even if things like that killing-the-foetus final boss is extremely tame on visual merits, the idea behind it would make some conservative parents (that shamefully don't understand what ratings are) throw a shitfit. Then you've got the whole Satan thing, the player character making deals with the devil, the player character donning an upside-down cross and all sorts of things, etc.

        Once more, I really do believe that it's a shame, and I don't think that Nintendo would have reached such a decision lightly. But if you combine conservative (mostly American, so doubly conservative) parents with a game on the e-shop with this much potentially volatile darker religious symbolism, then there's a pretty decent risk that the result will include a lot of backlash. Even if the game is pretty comically presented and more or less just a cartoon.

          And yet they allowed SMTII a game where you can team up with Satan to go kill god.

    I didn't like it. It's not *bad*, I just didn't go for the whole grossed up baby in a randomly generated zelda dungeon thing, though it is a well made bit of kit, and I recommend people give it a shot.

    That said, I can't believe they even bothered trying for Nintendo. This is the company that isn't making a pokemon mmo because people might say rude words on the internet. They are hardcore about this stuff. Of course, they are also completely loopy, so you could probably get it in under the guise of "Post modern interpretation of a biblical classic that attempts to illustrate the alternate point of view of Issac by way of visual aides" or something, they'll put it in the homework section.

    That's okay, I'll just continue using Nintendo platforms for Nintendo exclusives.

    It does seem religious folk get mighty upset when anyone shines a light on the more amoral, indecent and irrational parts of the Bible.

    Wasn't a bad game. It wore thin with me pretty quickly, though.

      Well, to be honest, it's taken horribly out of context. It's a bit like saying "America armed the Taliban! Stupid America!." While being in a way true, it's also ignoring the fact that they essentially wanted to stop the USSR, and that meant "aiding" the natives. From that standpoint, it kind of makes sense. In the same way, it's not as if, following the general morality of that context (only son, given in great age, descendants as many as stars or something, been a while since I saw it), he was actually expected to go ahead and kill his son. It just wouldn't have made any sense, and certainly wouldn't have been demanded. Of course, people will never be swayed once their minds are set, and so I'll just end this here and put on my flame suit. However, do keep in mind that context means everything.

      Actually its not one of the darker parts of the bible... Abraham didn't actually kill Isaac, it was just God testing his faith. Though I do agree 'religious folk' would lose it over something like this.

        Hey! looks like someone actually read the story! You, sir, deserve a hearty hand-shake.

        He only didn't do it because god told him not to at the last minute. Christians see devotion, I see psychopathy. Pretty dark stuff.

          Sure is dark, however:

          God never had any intention of allowing Abraham to kill Issac. God had promised that Issac would be the foundation of a covanent that leads up to Christ and our day. (Gen 17:19).

          Abraham knew this, not sure how much comfort that would have given him though. . .

            The idea the supreme creator of the universe would need to encourage a mere mortal to butcher his son should be distressing to any decent human. Honestly consider why that is even necessary. Why the religious see this as some kind of wonderful statement about Abraham's faith is beyond me. If someone today said god told them to kill their child, as many nuts do, we throw them in a rubber room, we don't write heroic stories about them.

            Why people think the Bible is the ultimate How-To guide for morality and ethical teaching is beyond me. The truly scary thing is that the Abraham and Isaac story isn't the most revolting thing in that book.

            Ninty has a right to block whatever they want, but this is obviously pandering to religious zealots.

    Funny that they won't let this game out but there are three Shin Megami Tensei games on the DS, I mean, they are very religious and have you summoning, killing and negotiating with demons, angels and gods from various religions and mythology.

    I find it strange, but could also see this working well on a Vita with the dual sticks if McMillen would release it on there.

    As a Christian (not just a church-goer) I really enjoyed the Binding of Issac. It was dark, cynical and sometimes offensive, but I thought it treated the subject matter with respect. . . The Binding of Issac is a dark story, I feel that McMilliam just added a further gothic and ironic element to it. Perhaps I am reading to far into it.

Join the discussion!