Problem of Faith

Today I’d like to talk about a story separate from the development status of La-Mulana.

One of the difficult things when Japanese make games for foreign countries is the problems with faith.

From the historical background of Japan the interest in faith has been weak.
It’s difficult to understand the feeling of things such as making vows with a hand over the Bible during the presidential inauguration; or how Islamic faith views the absolute moral.
This may be obvious when you look at how Japanese games borrows names for monsters and items from various beliefs, civilizations, and myths.

Still more, La-Mulana is further created with an absurd theme that its roots are from all ancient civilizations all around the world.

There are tons of India and Egypt gods in the background of the maps, as well as Sumer and Mexico’s folklore in ancient writings.

here, I’d like to briefly explain the view of faith in Japan.

Japan is a civilization separated from the continent and because the land is small and there are few open fields.
Japan’s people have prospered by efficiently obtaining food as farmers.
There are are many earthquakes and, because of few resources, there are only a few ruins created from large stones.
I believe that the sense of “not wasting” came from utilizing the limited resources.

In the faith born from within the continent’s culture exists a “God”.
Even though there is a difference between monotheism and polytheism, thinking about the many existing fears, living beyond a vast continent,  and harness of nature could have brought forth the “absolute existence”.

In Japan’s “MOTTAINAI (do not waste)”, this thought was never born, nothing can be wasted, a God dwells in everything, and everything living needs to be appreciated which is where the thought of “multitudinous gods” was born. In Western terms, it could be close to “spirits” dwelling in things.

Meaning, even if ancient writings in the game have “God” written in it, the way of thinking between Japan and the West are different.
That’s why it’s also difficult to translate.
Once, the priests of Christianity had come across to Japan but were having difficulty being unable to explain the concept of “God”.

Meaning, there is no harm meant when Japanese games add elements from the beliefs of foreign countries.
And it can’t just end there, so what’s OK and what’s bad needs to be thought out, but there is no such rule existing.
What’s the best is to have the world’s religionist check, but that would not be possible.

In the parts of La-Mulana that are complete, when Bahamut appears, using the hexagram to make an evil monster appear is not good.
To Judaism the hexagram is a symbol with such important meaning, so it was changed to a pentagram.

Currently, we’re lost as to draw the image of Hindu Gods between the Births or to create different designs.
Other than problems with beliefs, we’ve been contemplating about things such as covering the Goddess statue’s breast in that Goddess tower with a cloth and what to do with the blood displayed when the girls dive in to the needles of the Gate of Illusion.

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Comments

  1. Maverynthia says:

    I think you just just own up to the fact that really the game is offensive from it’s concept. An Indiana Jones adventure where an archaeologist goes to some “exotic native ruins” and pillages all the natives treasures for material gain and pretty much screws up any kind fixing the Natives could have done. Leaving the ruins and the native’s treasures looted and destroyed. That’s the basic premise. It’s a game about Imperialism. Let’s just totally ignore the symbolism of a foreign man going in to kill a woman for just wanting to go home and wanting help. Maybe could have sent her back into space, but NOPE, gotta pillage those treasures first! Oh that means I have to kill her to get the ultimate treasure.. no problem! So it’s a game about looting, pillaging and murder.

  2. TheMaverickk says:

    I don’t feel the images are offensive in any way in the original game. They aren’t insulting or degrading the historical and faith images. In my mind it actually makes the game accessible, and cool.

    Being able to see something you recognize and be like “Hey I remember learning about that in school” or “I saw something like that on the discovery channel”. It helps bring a players own experiences into their gameplay experiences.

    If you go around censoring everything that could take forever, and as well it will just create something more generic and a substitute for the original vision. Why can’t real world and virtual world mingle a little and everything. I mean we can’t help but be influenced by the world we live in so it’s inevitable to express what we see in such art forms.

  3. Korcas says:

    La Mulana is not a children’s game. It deserves the T rating, and shouldn’t try to go lower than a T rating. The blood, especially in Shu’s room is very symbolic, and frankly, it’s a part of the boss. I was seriously disappointed to see it not there in gameplay trailer #4.

    Please keep La Mulana as it is. Covering up the featureless breasts of a statue is just really prude. Have you ever seen a TV broadcast censor David’s penis? He’s a statue too, and no one ever covered their kids’ eyes in disgust over that.

    As for the Pentagram/Hexagram thing, you do know that the Pentagram would likely be more offensive, right? It’s widely considered a symbol of satanism. Given that Bahamut is a Hebrew creature, the Hexagram is just fine.

    Please don’t do any extra work to make the US version unnecessarily different from the Japanese one, me and a lot of friends would be very disappointed.

    (ATTENTION! La-Mulana staff’s edited original comment. by Shoji Nakamura@La-Mulana Staff. thank you!)

  4. TokyoRed says:

    Well this is a very interesting article.

    To me personally, faith is very important. I appreciate your concern and the desire to change the hexagram to a pentagram.

    However, it is quite important to remove things like blood and nudity especially when it comes to the fact that a game such as La-Mulana which would attract children, especially those who’ve seen Indiana Jones or Prince of Persia or played LEGO Indiana Jones The Video Game.

    I think that so far the most important thing would be to remove the blood. In regards to the statute a cloth over the breasts would suffice.

    I’m quite sure that this game would be perfect under a E10+ rating.

    I would also like to know if La-Mulana will be brought to the Nintendo DSi via the DSiWare store?

  5. Please do your best to keep everything intact. This isn’t the mid-90s anymore, the USA (and yes, this is largely about them. No one in Europe would give two craps about any of the “evils” present in La-Mulana. Let’s call a spade a spade here) needs to grow up and become more accepting some time. I really doubt any of this will get the game anything higher than a T rating anyway, and tat wouldn’t really keep it away from many people.

  6. Kyle says:

    I have to say guys, please keep the game as true to the original as possible. I’m a huge retro fan, and I have to say that I loved every second of La-Mulana. Faith and religion shouldn’t be a problem. Obviously, the game is fantasy. Most people play games just for fun, and I highly doubt anyone will have a problem. La-Mulana had an amazing mythological feel, and I would had to see that modified.

  7. Anon says:

    Games have been borrowing from many religions for a very long time, and in the US nowadays, it is no different.

    Lots of popular series have used religious symbols from many different cultures. So stay true to the game’s spirit and avoid censorship.

    Good luck.

  8. Eagle0600 says:

    The pentagram is just as religiously significant as the hexagram, so you shouldn’t bother changing it. You’re going to tread on someone’s toes either way.

  9. If you are ultimately forced to censor anything, I would understand if you didn’t release this at all.

  10. Kapow says:

    Final Fantasy 6 had you beat up Shiva and then keep her as a pet rock. I think you’re underestimating how much western gamers are accustomed to seeing this sort of thing in video games.

    I say leave in the blood and artistic nudity and religious references, and change it if Nintendo complains.

  11. Lilly says:

    I was wondering if you guys would still keep the blood in Shu’s battle … I personally think that as one of the creepiest parts of the game, it should stay. Otherwise … in the US, the pentagram would make more sense than the hexagram for that, the pentagram is considered to be a satanic symbol, while the hexagram is Judaic. As for the nudity … the US is touchy about that, it may be worth just covering it up, I’m not sure.

  12. dragon7x2k says:

    I think the game should stay the same, games like Castlevania Aria of Sorrow had blood and bare breasts (without much detail) and still managed a T rating, La-Mulana isn’t nearly as heavy in imagery as that game and the way is depicted is kind of harmless, thers’s no gore and those bare breasted statues weren’t supposed to be erotic but artistic.

    Maybe there will be problems with two bosses, the one in Twin Labyrinth (wich I think it was mentioned in an earlier post) and one of the forms of the last boss, I thought both were incredibly well made and brilliant but the censors might disagree.

    Bottomline, whatever you do is gonna be for the better of the game, I just hope the experience doesn’t get butchered by censors since the last boss was one of the strongest and most dramatic moments in the game.

    Good luck with that.

  13. DarrenForest says:

    The way I see it, video games are interative are. And art is like comedy: you have to either accept all of it, or none it… with the exception of obvious and intentional cruelty.

  14. Opa² says:

    Now you guys earned even more my respect for this game and NIGORO itself. Being worried about such thing is kind of rare nowadays. But yet I believe you guys should do what you judge to be the best. I won’t mind some few censoring as long as the game keeps it’s essence and fun from the original version.

  15. My worthless little suggestion – keep it as it is, send the required video or whatever, let the ESRB make a verdict, and if it doesn’t look good, then censor it and try again.

    The ESRB is semi-unpredictable, and you might be pleasantly surprised – I doubt blood, exposed breasts on a statue, and religious symbols (actually, since it’s so wide that may be a biggy) would be enough to get you anything higher than an E10+.

    But that all depends on who they choose to review the footage I guess, and I have no idea how PEGI, CERO, etc, would view it.

    Regardless, the game shouldn’t be affected that much if a little bit is changed.

  16. MeniscusKing says:

    You know what, scratch what I said earlier. Reading a lot of these posts has changed my mind about the whole topic. I want the game as it is. If anything comes up later then change it. This isn’t even a matter of being rude or disrespectful, its about whoever believes something is morally right or morally wrong, that isn’t something someone should be able to control.

  17. Hm… I’m a bit on the fence about the whole censorship thing. The ESRB, the CERO equivalent of North America, would probably rate the game as “Mature Audiences Only” for the breast, and you want the game to reach as many people as possible. The only way to make the game reach as many people as possible is to make the game get the lowest age-rating possible, while still having the Age rating be sensible – we don’t want a five-year-old girl playing La-Mulana, do we?

    If it were me, I would keep all the religious icons as they should be. (Except for the pentagram – that makes more sense than a hexagram.) I would also keep in the blood in the sacrifice pit. I mean, think about it- if someone jumps into a pit of spikes, they are GOING to bleed, no matter what. As for the breast, I would only censor it if you wanted the age rating to remain low, otherwise, don’t cover it.

    If you censor the breast, its possible that La-Mulana will get a rating of E10, so anyone over 10 years old could play it. If you uncensor it, La-Mulana will get a T rating, meaning anyone over 13 could play it.

    The decision is ultimately up to you. But, in summary, keep the blood, keep the breast, and keep the religious names.

  18. MGassailant says:

    Wait?! If this game does gain censorship when released in America (which I hope won’t), first, I’ll get the un-edited JPN one, and second, does that mean that one of the last bosses’ forms will be edited too? (you know what form I’m talking about for those who played the game)

  19. I say keep it as original as possible. La-Mulana has a charm that will be ruined it too much is changed or taken out. Taking the maidens out of the Confusion Gate would change the meaning of the level.

  20. abster:

    oh my bad. I was just remembering what I saw in the last trailer that shows when you’re fighting Shu, I believe you should still see the maidens meeting a spiky death, but I didn’t… so I figured nintendo had them take that out. :(

  21. Frugal says:

    You do realize that a pentagram is just as religiously significant as a hexagram, right?

    Changing that is pointless. Just leave it as a hexagram. I mean, it’s not actually a Star of David.

  22. ITA84 says:

    I generally dislike any kind of censorship, especially when it causes inaccuracies in the cultural/historical references of the censored work.

    In this case, if you think (or if you already know) that the game won’t be published at all, or will be published with an unsuitable ESRB rating, without the changes you mentioned, then go ahead. As David Edwards said, it’s better to get the game out; I don’t want La-Mulana or Nigoro to be used as a pawn in the battle against censorship, it’s not worth it.

    However, if you’re considering these changes because you fear potential backlash by people who might be offended, then I’d suggest you to reconsider: after all, the game won’t be played by many people (unfortunately)

    and even if there are complaints by offended people when the game is released, it may actually be a good thing, as you’d get a bit of free advertising. “There is no such thing as bad publicity”

    In short: please don’t censor the game unless it’s really necessary to get it released for the intended target demographic.

  23. FoolyCooly says:

    Well, I don’t think the censorship is going to be that much of a thing. If it was ancient Nintendo, well, that would be something else, but nowadays, with gory and religion-related games all around, meh, nobody is going to get mad at you guys at NIGORO. And the God’s can’t come down and cause Ragnarok just for that, right? Hahahaha…

    They can’t, right?

  24. Hi!

    Please don’t censor your beautiful game. Anyone who would be offended by the things you mention isn’t going to buy La-Mulana anyway, so why spoil it for the rest of us?

    That said, I’d rather the game came out than be held back by whatever draconian regulations Nintendo may impose on you, so do what you must.

    Keep up the great work!

  25. Abster says:

    I believe the end of the post here refers to the maidens for Shu’s pit.

  26. One thing I noticed from one of the earlier trailers, were the ‘sacrificial maidens’ removed from Shu’s pit? I wonder if they had to be taken out.

  27. Abster says:

    Castlevania had bared breasts for Goddess statues for a while, and those didn’t get any higher than a Teen.

  28. MeniscusKing says:

    Blood is not an issue for there are many games in the US that display blood in them, and when I say many I mean there are countless games. However covering the Goddesses breast would probably be a good idea. I am not against it but there are a majority of people who are. For that ESRB must make a decision based on that aspect. Once again I do not view it as a lewd concept in anyway, but some people like to exaggerate what is there. This would most likely cause the game to be given an Adults Only rating, which does not give the game any justice. This is a game to be enjoyed by many individuals and not just adults. It would be wise to consider this when making the title for the United States.

  29. Abster says:

    This is something that was brought about in the early days of Nintendo, getting rid of religious themes entirely on American releases only. Really, some of the religious themes feed into the characteristics of a given franchise. It goes all the way back to series such as Zelda and Castlevania. First they backed off on it, but then through time religious themes generally became accepted and uncut from American releases. La Mulana doesn’t need to start the same way, especially with the original MSX shout out not being censored in any fashion. No one complained of it, and I doubt anyone will in the Wii remake. There’s a number of intellectual properties nowadays that feed off of such inspiration, like most recently Dante’s Inferno.

    The bottom line: Censorship ain’t necessary, and is more or less a deprivation of accuracy when it comes to localization. Early Nintendo censorship got ridiculous at times.

  30. madamluna says:

    First, let me say that I appreciate this entry very much. It’s clear that you guys take a lot of care and consideration when approaching these controversial topics.

    That said, I think including the original gods, from real life, would be all right. In the original PC game, it was clear that NIGORO did their homework and made sure to depict gods and mythological creatures as closely as possible to their source material, so I got a feeling of reverence from it.

    As for things like nudity or blood, I think you should keep those in if you can. Nudity isn’t too big of a deal either way, but the blood is important to Shu’s fight and is a very striking image in the Confusion Gate–it’s very iconic.

  31. Dare to be bold, screw the censorship.

  32. You should just keep everything uncensored and raw when it comes to the religious elements and whatever else. Anyone who gets, as the internet says, “butthurt” over certain depictions of elements of their faith are just fanatics of said religion anyways. Censorship kills.

  33. Vakama94 says:

    Why dont you keep those things like in the original game? I mean, we dont play the game to learn something religious, we play it to get the 100%

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