The Witcher was fairly heavily censored in North America (to the point of having its own, less graphic sex cards) until the Director's Cut patch was released.
Whenever a game is denied sale in Australia due to lacking a rating (due to it being "too much for MA" and the people in charge of giving higher ratings to videogames being more than a little clueless), this will inevitably occur. The most famous is Fallout 3, where morphine became "Med-X", as the Australian censors really felt the need to protect Australian kids from getting jacked on hospital grade narcotic that is nowhere near as readily available as its illegal counterparts. For essentially the same reason, this also happened to the other versions of the game (so as to keep the rating from being AO or its foreign counterparts). Team Fortress 2's Soldier lampshades this through some of his Domination lines for the (Australian) Sniper:
Soldier: Aww, am I too VIOLENT for ya, cupcake?!
Soldier: Your country did not prepare you for the level of violence you will meet on my battlefield!
The German release of Team Fortress Classic replaces all classes with a generic robot model, making it incredibly hard to tell who's on your team and who's on the opposing team.
The German release of Team Fortress 2 has the original models intact, but all gore has been replaced with the "Silly Gibs" mod, which causes the characters to turn into toys, mechanical objects, food, and other items upon being blown up. In the German language Meet The Team shorts, they explode into just the mechanical parts, blood is now entirely oil black, and the spines seen protruding from the necks of the disembodied heads in Meet The Soldier are now screws, implying they're all robots.
The Japanese release of Fallout 3 made it impossible to nuke Megaton for sensitive reasons.
The same applies for Germany. It's not unusual that games are Bowdlerised as a preventative measure, as it's legally tricky to do it after the original release got "indexed". Although it has been pulled off at least once, but required a name change in addition to the actual Bowdlerization.
The Chinese version of World of Warcraft. To the point where Chinese censorship often delays new content far longer than it should, much to the irritation of fans everywhere. Especially with content involving death. Quite problematic, considering Wrath of the Lich King's premise was basically a Zombie Apocalypse. The playable undead have all the exposed bones covered by badly colored flesh — you can see exactly where the original model had holes in the flesh. The skeletons left behind when a dead character resurrects are replaced by neat, tidy graves in the Chinese version.
The Final Fantasy games have their fair share of censoring, especially those that appeared on Nintendo's consoles. Examples include:
In the original Japanese version, Tellah just swears at Edward while he's pummeling him.
Judeo-Christian references were forbidden. The White Magic spell "Holy" was renamed to "White", the Tower of Prayers in Mysidia was renamed to Tower of Wishes, and Rosa's "Pray" ability was removed entirely.
References to death were inconsistently censored. Early in FFIV, Rosa, sick with sand fever, was "kept from falling down" at the desert village.
References to Cid and Yang dying after their Heroic Sacrifices are removed. It makes Rydia's protest to Edge not to throw away his life so easily like Cid and Yang did less poignant even if the two are later revealed to be alive.
Square did this to themselves when the Easy Type version of the game was released. In addition to the expected difficulty adjustment, some of the more mature themes were removed or toned down and several dialogues containing big obscure words were rewritten to use phrases kids would be more likely to understand.
Final Fantasy VI, like FFIV, had references to alcohol and religion completely censored. Pubs were changed to Cafes, and Holy was translated as Pearl. They also covered up some scantily clad female sprites: Chardanook's woman form had much more censorship steam, Goddess and Siren were edited so that the cloth wraps they wore were less revealing, and the random enemy Critic had her swimsuit enlarged.
Final Fantasy VI Advance reverted some changes, such as references to alcohol, sex, and death. Siren and Chadarnook retain their censored sprites. What got removed was a scene where Celes was repeatedly punched by a prison guard. It was removed from the Japanese version due to being Too Soon after a murder case in Japan, and they just didn't bother restoring it in the overseas version. Ironically, the punching scene was present in the heavily censored SNES version. There's also the line about Edgar "waiting eight years" for (ten-year-old) Relm. Emphasis ours, because he couldn't just say "wait until you grow older". Apparently the United States' age of consent applies to pseudo-medieval Europe now. And in the SNES and PlayStation versions, Locke threatens to rip the lungs out of a man who calls him a thief. In the GBA version, he simply calls him rude, because the "rip your lungs out" was never in the original Japanese version.
Later Final Fantasy games continued to face a few editorial axes to stay within the ESRB's "Teen" rating. Notably, Final Fantasy VII was localized with Cid and Barret's Cluster F Bombs bleeped over.
Pearl finds its way into Kingdom Hearts as the American name for King Mickey's signature spell. With the much lessened level of censorship these days, especially on the Sony side of things, it's more likely a reference to FFVI than a strict case of bowdlerization — "Pearl" was the localized name for the spell "Holy", chosen because the spell looks like a bunch of exploding pearls. In Kingdom Hearts, it releases, well, shiny pearls. "Holy" also exists, and varies with the game, as does another version called "Faith".
A particularly noticeable Bowdlerisation comes from Germany in the form of Carmageddon, a GTA-esque car game. Originally the protagonist could run people over, but the game makers replaced the people with zombies. According to the execs this was still not enough, so they replaced the zombies with robots. (This is one of the few examples of Bowdlerization making something cooler, in an insane way). The N64 version replaced humans with zombies, and changed the blood color from red to green.
A similar Bowdlerization occurred in the PAL version of God of War: in the other versions of the game, Kratos must at one point, drag a helpless man in a cage up a slope and use him as a human sacrifice to open a door, with him screaming in protest all the way through. In the PAL version, he's replaced by an ordinary zombie enemy. This made the preceding scene where you come across the bodies of two men who committed suicide rather than carry it out rather odd.
Practically all rhythm games must edit songs to remove swear words or other inappropriate content that are not acceptable for the game's rating:
In the Parappa The RapperSpin-OffUm-Jammer-Lammy, the sixth stage takes place in Hell. In the American release, the cutscene was re-animated so that Lammy ends up on an island instead. Also, some lyrics were changed: In Stage 1, the lyric "...so you can play in Hell" is changed to "...so you can play on an island". In PaRappa's side-story, a lyric in Yoko's song says "...I want the devil to join my next dish", this lyric was changed to "...I want a man to join my next dish". There was also a scene cut from the American version that involved Yoko threatening to kill Lammy with her guitar, with Lammy remarking that she's already dead because she's in Hell, so Yoko simply tells her that if she plays well, she'll let her come back to life.
Similarly, in Parappa The Rapper 2, the lyric "...tastes better than wine" was changed to "...you better get in line", and all lyrics/dialogue mentioning God were changed to "the man".
Guitar Hero and Rock Band are not above editing songs to remove the cussing. If the song has a radio edit, they use that, if not, they cut the word out. The bridge of Down With The Sickness is rendered almost incomprehensible. Notably, the level of censorship in Red Hot Chili Peppers' song "Sir Psycho Sexy" in Rock Band makes you wonder why they even bothered. Entire lines of the song go missing, leading to several very awkward pauses in the vocal track.
Band Hero is full of weird censorship due to it being a "family-friendly" installment of the series, and thus, rated E. For one, they censor the word "whiskey" from Don MacLean's "American Pie" (though this has the silver lining of being able to sub in whichever 2-syllable fluid the singer wishes.) Another notable example is "Gasoline" by The Airborne Toxic Event, which removes the word "gun" from the line "bullets from a gun", and "Pictures of You", which does to same to "a Soldier and his gun." Uh yeah, where else would bullets come from? In the case of Gasoline, several of the lines that remain are very sexual in the context of the song, however, which raises the question of why this song wound up in a family game in the first place.
Just Dance has been filled with censorship here and there, approaching Band Hero levels of awkwardness, despite having an E10+ rating in most cases.
In Just Dance 2014, Olly Murs' Troublemaker silences out the words "hell" and "damn" during Flo Rida's segment, even though "damn" and "hell" are easily allowed in an E10+ game.
"The Lazy Song", which is DLC in 4, censors "birthday" ("birthday suit") but not "freaking" ("I'm the freaking man"). Uhh?
Also on 2014, "I Kissed a Girl" censors "cherry" ("cherry chapstick", exactly how did Ubisoft believe people could easily think of any other use of "cherry" in this context when the topic of the song is specifically about kissing?), and "Blurred Lines" gets chopped to hell and back. The piece du resistance is "C'mon", which censors "Get it on", "Gimme", "Hooters", "Lollipop","Screw" (all of which could be used in a sexual context, mind you), and "Wine", but not "Budweiser".
Korea discourages positive portrayals of Samurai (on account of the various invasions and all). This affected the release of some versions of Soul Calibur, which replaced Mitsurugi with a British katana-wielding knight named Arthur (with no relation whatsoever to King Arthur). He later returned as an unlockable bonus character in Soul Calibur III, using a katana style distinct from Mitsurugi's. Some versions of the first Soul Calibur also alter one of Voldo's alternate costumes to remove a bull-shaped codpiece. This is also apparently the reason Hayate, a character from Street Fighter EX, only appeared in a single game; eventually his Super Moves were given to Garuda as a Meteor Move.
Jojos Bizarre Adventure Heritage For The Future features many name changes in overseas releases to avoid legal issues with characters named after musicians ("Vanilla Ice" to "Iced", for instance). In addition, in the overseas releases, when DIO is defeated in some characters' endings, he's simply thrown offscreen. In the uncensored Japanese version, his death mirrors how he dies in the original manga: his upper torso is violently, bloodily obliterated.
Other Soul Calibur examples include:
The PAL versions of Soul Blade/Soul Edge changed Li Long's weapons from nunchaku to a three sectioned staff due to a law in the UK banning the use of or depiction of weapons such as nunchaku.
Kenseiden had the map of Japan changed with a map of Korea, and the story was also adapted to reflect the change.
Kingdom Hearts II has several localization censorings — for example, recreating the scene from Pirates of the Caribbean where Will threatens to kill himself. In the film (and the game's Japanese version) he holds his pistol to his head, while in the American version, he doesn't even raise it from his side. And the Hydra from Hercules? Its already relatively family-friendly green blood was changed to black/purple vapor (A change that was later kept for the Japan-exclusive Final Mix version). Proof that not even Disney's own source material is safe from Disney. On a smaller scale, Xigbar's sniping sequence was altered so that the cross-hairs looked less like cross-hairs.
The violence present in Twisted Metal Black's storyline — eye gouging, throat-slitting, brain splattering, and the like — was so extreme, that for the PAL version, the entire story for every single character was removed. Yep, every last word.
In a rare occurrence of material being censored in its native country, the original Japanese version of Resident Evil 4 removed all decapitation deaths, instead changing them to have the faces mutilated much like the aftermath of a Novistador's acid attack.
The first Resident Evil. The intro FMV in the Japanese version had gore with bloody corpses and death animations. The Western releases were recut and used alternate footage. The PC version and some PAL releases of Director's Cut contain the original FMV.
At least in the American release of Resident Evil 4, Ashley exclaims "What's going on?" when being trapped against a wall during the game. However, in the demonstration video played when left idle at the menu, the same scene is shown, with the dialogue being "Oh my God! What's going on?"
Censorship of decapitation is somewhat common in Japanese releases. Among others, decapitations aren't possible in the Japanese versions of Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox. The bowdlerization was carried to all regions in Ninja Gaiden III.
The PC adventure-slash-RPG game Superhero League of Hoboken has an interesting example of Bowdlerization being used in-game as a puzzle solution. One mission part-way through the game involves finding out why a neighboring superhero league has suddenly gone "missing"; it turns out that this particular league — comprised entirely of men — has become so enthralled by a crate full of pornographic magazines that they refuse to do their jobs. The solution? Zap the magazines with a Bowdlerizing ray gun that instantly changes the magazines into much less offensive (or interesting) material. In an extension of the gag, none of your male party members are willing to pull the trigger — the only person who'll actually do it is your team's sole (at the time) female member.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was named as such in English because of Nintendo of America's aversion to even the most tenuous of religious themes; what the translated title should have been was Triforce of the Gods. For the same reason, the temple dungeons were renamed palaces, the church was renamed sanctuary and the priest there became a sage, and Agahnim's status as a priest was changed to that of a wizard. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds lets the priest stay a priest this time (that the plot of the game involves actual sages must have helped), but the Sanctuary is still referred to as such and references to prayer were changed to "morning preparations". Temples are called "palaces" again, but that at least may be for continuity reasons.
One game later, in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, they changed cross-shaped grave markers into "RIP" rounded-block gravestones (this was averted in the two NES games, which did have cross motifs, including the Cross item in the second game). Also, one of the quest items was changed from a mermaid's bra into her necklace, which explains why you never see any part of her except her head. Additionally, diving underwater near the mermaid will cause her to swim her away from you. While she doesn't say anything in the English version, if you try doing this in the original Japanese version, the mermaid will call Link a pervert. Also, the Hippo in Animal Village was originally a nude model (with visible breasts) with a towel which she pulls up when Link enters the studio. She screams when you talk to her, which explains why she's sitting on the ground facing away from Link.
The original release of Ocarina of Time had Ganondorf cough up blood after you beat him and mortally wound him. The blood was turned green in later-produced cartridges. The vocal track in the Fire Temple was excised as it was a Muslim prayer chant, and the Gerudo symbol of the star-and-crescent was replaced with a custom symbol, again for its association with Islam; this also required the icon of the Mirror Shield to be changed (notably, The Wind Wakerincludes the custom symbol◊ as a Continuity Nod, rather than the crescent). And, contrary to popular belief, the chanting and the star and crescent design were not removed due to public outcry, but by Nintendo to avoid public outcry and because of its rule against having any type of religious content in their games, which is the reason why a lot of crosses and crucifixes get edited.
The much-hyped, gorgeous-looking PS3 game LittleBigPlanet had one Toumani Diabaté song, "Tapha Niang," excised completely by Sony, replacing with something more generic, a mere four days before its launch date, pushing back the release two weeks so that whole new, bowdlerised discs could be distributed all over again, so that those without online access to patches might not be offended. The issue was two passages from the Koran having been set to music in the song, which is a major controversy in Islam.
The Area 1 boss of Super Aleste greets you with "Welcome to Hell!" In Space Megaforce, the North American version of the game, this got changed to "Welcome to the underworld!"
Another example of removal of religious references: The American version of DuckTales had the crosses on the gravestones in Transylvania replaced with "RIP".
The English localisation of La Pucelle removed every single crucifix/cross from the game. Considering that the plot was based around an church of demon-hunting battle nuns, that's a hell of a lot of crucifixes. The company in charge of the localisation released a statement explaining their reasoning: namely, that they were a very new and very small publisher that simply could not afford their game to be crucified by the Moral Guardians, so they preemptively gave every concession they could to 'good taste'. There were also other edits, such as removing the cigarette from Croix (but keeping his victory animation where he takes a smoke from his invisible cigarette). The American version's box was also subject to censorship as well. Instead of the original artwork of Prier standing front and center, the American cover appears to be some kind of fanart piece she's kind of off in the corner while the other characters take prominence. This is a pretty blatant attempt to distract attention away from the fact that she has rather large breasts and thighs.
In the US version of Disgaea 2, the audio for the legendary worst ending is butchered. In the Japanese dialogue, Adell, being taken over by Overlord Zenon, eats his younger brother and sister. This is accompanied with a rather realistic audio clip of him chomping on their flesh and bones. This audio was removed from the English dub, but you can hear it by setting the speech to Japanese.
Shadow Warrior's UK release had the shrunken weapon replaced with darts. 3D Realms made a patch available online that would patch the game back to the original form. Regardless of which version of the game you have, the graphics for the dart weapon are actually present, even if they're not used because the game isn't the modified version.
While all other media from Left 4 Dead (including the game cover) features a hand with its thumb ripped off, said thumb is present, folded, on the French poster ads. Similar censorship occurred in Germany, although there the game had two covers, an outer one with the "folded" finger and the actual inner cover with the ripped-off finger. In the UK, the cover for Left 4 Dead 2 had the hand reversed, to avoid the two fingered salute
There was a long-standing rumor that Barinten was a bit more explicit about having raped Rafa in the Japanese version of Final Fantasy Tactics, but it was Bowdlerized for the US release. Technically, this is true; he was a bit more explicit — in the Japanese script, during the scene on the Rooftop of Riovanes Castle he refers to her as "Dear, sweet Rafa," which, given what he's saying, has rather obvious connotations... but the rumors that either she or he said it in so many words are false.
The script of Final Fantasy Legend II got thoroughly edited (albeit nowhere as bad as its predecessor), with two parts being the most glaring examples: after the protagonist defeats Dunatis in Apollo's World, he/she/it finds his/her/its father with ally Lynn's mother, coming to the conclusion that he abandoned his/her/its mother all those years ago to have an affair. The English version makes it seem that the protagonist gets angry for no apparent reason. The second biggest edit was changing the smuggled opium in Edo to bananas (which actually gets lampshade).
When the Global version of the MMORPGMapleStory got Showa, all the guns were replaced with robot-like attacks or energy blasts, and the swords were replaced with toy hammers. All the enemies were also shown transforming into monsters upon death. Fairly large changes, considering that only two maps contained monsters not unique to Showa.
Early in the life of City of Heroes, Cryptic attempted to create a Korean-language version of the game dubbed City of Hero. Because South Koreans had an extremely negative regard for America and Americans in the early 2000's, overt references to the United States (for example, the American flag that flies over City Hall in Atlas Park) were removed. Similarly, instead of the All American Face Statesman as the game's mascot, City of Hero used Foreshadow, the Korean leader of the superhero team W.I.S.D.O.M.
In Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, The Joker's fatality move is (to widespread dismay from American players) less violent in the US than elsewhere. In a pre-release version of the game shown to game journalists, Joker's Fatality went as such: he pulls out a gun and fires it, only for that gun to be a fake gun with a "BANG!" flag; after laughing like a madman and the opponent relaxes like they've been let off the hook, Joker pulls out another gun and shoots his opponent in the head. The Fatality itself was left intact in the American release version of the game, except for one small detail: when Joker does the killshot, the camera zooms in to only show him, not showing the opponent getting a lead lobotomy. A similar Fatality done by Deathstroke is also censored in the same manner in the American version of the game (the European version of the game features both Fatalities in their uncut form). The crossover game has other examples of censorship, due to the copious content restrictions influenced by the use of a family-friendly license by DC Comics. This eventually proved to be the factor that hindered sales most of all.note By going for a T rating and hoping to get in the good graces of teenagers's parents, they displeased both young players who found it to be a dilution of past MK gore and the Moral Guardians who still went after its violence just like they did every other iteration in the series. This game can serve as an example that by trying to please everyone, you often end up leaving many unimpressed. When Warner acquired Midway, they rebooted the Mortal Kombat series and made it unprecedentedly more violent to compensate for the censored content in the previous game. In fact, Midway brought back Joker's Fatality in Mortal Kombat 9, completely uncut, as one of Shang Tsung's Fatalities (the only change being that he transforms into a generic Monster Clown beforehand).
The SNES version of Mortal Kombat 1, the blood was replaced with gray sweat. Also, Sub-Zero's decapitation Fatality was replaced with one where he threw a ball of energy at the opponent, which froze them solid, at which point they shattered to pieces.note This became a standard Fatality for Sub-Zero in all games afterward, even being referenced in the movie. The only difference is that in later games, the pieces are much bloodier, and he usually takes a more hands-on approach to the shattering (in Mortal Kombat II, you must freeze the opponent yourself before performing the Fatality).
Castlevania: Bloodlines was renamed Castlevania: The New Generation in Europe to remove a reference to blood. It's also notably less gory and violent than any other version — including changing a dripping blood hazard into dripping water that still somehow hurts you — it didn't make a lot of sense for blood, but it makes even less sense for water.
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse in the US was censored to remove any nudity (the Medusa boss of the Ghost Ship was made into a male, and the statues in Dracula's Castle were clothed), however, it escaped religious censorship as did Castlevania II Simons Quest. (Castlevania III even opens up with Trevor praying in front of a cross) however, the SNES games were not so lucky, one big example being Richter's Crash for the boomerang/cross: in the Japan only Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, Richter summons a giant crucifix that sweeps up across the screen repeatedly, whereas in Castlevania: Dracula X, he simply calls a bunch of boomerangs that fly randomly around the screen.
In the Japanese version of Persona 2, the Zombie Junkie is the reanimated corpse of a druggie who died of drug overdose. In the official translation of Eternal Punishment, he is a "junk food junkie turned zombie." In the PSP remake of Persona 2 Innocent Sin, Hitler was changed to The Fuhrer and given Sunglasses and a coat to cover the Nazi uniform, The Last Battalion (see: Nazis) changed to The Imperial Army, and all Swastikas removed and replaced with the Iron Cross. Note that this is the Japanese version, which was even advertised to be uncensored.
Kato & Ken: a toilet humor-filled TurboGrafx-16 game featuring two Japanese comedians, featuring fart attacks, crapping birds, urinating on walls, taking a dump in the bushes, etc., was Macekred into JJ and Jeff for the US. The other character no longer pisses on walls or craps in bushes, the fart attack was replaced with spray paint/pepper spray, although there were still the dog/bird turds and a few other things.
The SNES version was particularly wrecked for its international version. Two enemies, Damnd and Sodom were renamed "Thrasher" and "Katana", the line, "Oh my god!" is changed to "Oh my car!", references to alcohol were removed (the "bar" from Round 3 became a "club", while "Beers" and "Whiskeys" became "Root Beers" and "Vitamin Es"), and the two transgender enemies Poison and Roxy were replaced by Billy and Sid. When Street Fighter Alpha 2 was released on the SNES, Sodom remained "Katana" to maintain continuity. The GBA version of Final Fight, though mostly uncut, still has Billy and Sid.
The Japanese arcade version also featured a scene in the intro showing Jessica in her underwear on Haggar's TV monitor, which was removed from the international releases. The SNES port (both, Japanese and international releases) redrew the scene so that it shows Jessica wearing her red dress instead. The Sega CD version alternates between the two, showing Jessica in her underwear in the Japanese version and in her red dress in the international versions.
The overseas version of the Sega CD port was also censored like the SNES, except Roxy and Poison were still kept, they simply wore more modest clothing.
Hilariously inverted with Garou: Mark of the Wolves, in which the character known as Marco Rodriguez in the Japanese version got renamed to Khushnood Butt for the U.S. release.
The N64 port of Duke Nukem 3D was done when Nintendo was just emerging from the Video Game Censorship Ghetto, so much of its "adult content" was axed. The porn shop was turned into a gun shop, the strip club was replaced with a Duke Burger joint, the captured babes were no longer topless (and had to be saved instead of being killed), and the prison chapel was removed. It still had the somewhat stripperiffic females and gratuitous violence, garnering it an M rating.
The GBA port of Doom and Doom 2 had the blood changed to green to maintain a T rating and the Nazi references in the secret levels were replaced, presumably to avoid being banned in Germany. Some things sneaked through, however, such as the status face and blood already existing on Former Sergeants and mostly affects blood the monsters shed. Of course, the Cacodemon isn't censored as it has blue blood and the Baron of Hell and Hell Knight already have green blood.
The Game Boy Color ports of the first two Grand Theft Auto games were heavily censored to cater for the handheld's target audience (which is perhaps mostly composed of 8 to 12-year olds or something along the lines of that), removing all references to profanity and gore. Grand Theft Auto Advance later averted this, as the game was released for the Game Boy Advance complete with all that you can expect from a typical GTA series game.
The TurboGrafx-16 port of Splatterhouse (which was also released on the Wii's Virtual Console) was Bowdlerised, but not as badly as people might think. While a fair amount of the violent content remained intact (some of it was toned down — but that can partially be blamed on hardware limitations), there was some censorship, most notably in Level 4. The boss of the level in the arcade version is a possessed upside-down cross, surrounded by severed heads, and following its defeat, Rick moves further into the chapel where it resides and kneels before an altar with a crucifix in hand, while a hymnal theme plays and light shines into the chapel; in the console version, the cross is changed to a demonic-looking skull, and the altar is removed from the post-fight scene (though the hymnal and lighting effects inexplicably remain). The mobile device release will replace all demons with aliens to make it more family-friendly.
The SNES release of Chrono Trigger removed ALL references to alcohol — including alcohol drunk by legal adults. In the DS release, they were back. There was a line that went along the lines of "But Toma, you have drunk too much soda today! You must have too much sugar in your body!"
The PSP port of To Heart 2 is proof that not even facial expressions are safe from Bowdlerisation. And other, more sensical stuff ripe for this trope. The intended non-naughty facial expression may imply something much worse.
In Test Drive 5, the song "Anarchy" by KMFDM had the line "fuck me like a whore" changed to a repeat of "knock me to the floor". In another version of the song, the two lines were replaced with "Save me from myself... let me burn in hell".
The early console installments of the Contra series in Europe and Australia were released under the title of Probotector, replacing the original human characters with robotic counterparts: thus the original heroes of Bill Rizer and Lance Bean became the robots RC011 and RD008, while the cast of Contra: Hard Corps were replaced by other robots with the generic names of CX1-4 (except for Browny, who was already a robot in the original version, but was still renamed). This was mainly due to a censorship law in Germany that forbade the depiction of human characters killing each other with guns, which affected the rest of the PAL region.
Inverted with Super Double Dragon: a sign in Mission 6 which says "Beer" in the international version was changed to "Books" in the Japanese version. This may be an unintentional example, since Super Double Dragon was released incomplete and the Japanese version, Return of Double Dragon, uses a more completed (but still unfinished) master build.
The Dept Heaven series has fallen prey to this in Atlus' translation. In Riviera: The Promised Land, main character Ein's Crowning Moment Of Awesome speech decrying the villain was heavily toned down (the original Japanese version carried strong atheist — or as some would say, "anti-organized religion" — undertones) and is considered by many to make the scene very weak and Narm-filled. In Yggdra Union, one of the main antagonists is Flanderized heavily to make him appear less sympathetic to the player, and there were a few lines changed or added for no apparent reason. Knights in the Nightmare is more of a Cut-and-Paste Translation than anything else, as the translated text is often inconsistent with prior translations or abandons stylistic speech patterns, depriving characters of their individuality. There's also the arbitrary name changes, as that's highly touchy territory. Also, Riviera actually Bowdlerised itself once — in order to keep the game's rating at CERO-A, Sting was forced to remove the bath scenes from the PSP remake. The "special edition" rerelease of the remake put them back in, but clad all the girls in bathing suits — they were going swimming, not getting naked! The fandom (and even the Fan Dumb) found this hilarious, as CGs are still included of the girls panicking when Ein arrives, leading to the meme "OH NOES! EIN SAW MY CLEAVAGE!" It's actually even more funny when you think that it is a remake from a Nintendo platform to a Sony platform.
Breath of Fire IV was hit with this particularly severely (even compared to the rest of the Breath of Fire games, almost all of which have either suffered some bowdlerising, dodgy translation, or both). The PlayStation international versions had a bit of fanservice (in essence, an onsen scene involving Nina and Ursula) and a scene involving Ursula proving her womanhood via exposure (which were not so important to the plot) cut entirely—as well as a third, ''very'' plot-important scene where Fou-lu decapitates Emperor Soniel. International versions just fade to black at the latter scene and people are left wondering just what the hell happened. It's particularly puzzling as the scene where Fou-lu actually offs Soniel is only depicted by black-on-red "washi screen" Gory Discretion Shot—very common to keep games in the equivalent of a PG rating as well as to get around Australian "blood bans"—and which would be considered quite safe for inclusion in Playstation games of the period. In the adaptation of Breath of Fire IV being published by Comic Blade Avarus there is a bit of a Take That response to both the (relatively mild) original Japanese bowdlerisation and the (completely censored) international PS1 and Windows versions; the "graphic novelisation" is considerably bloodier and more explicit in the depiction of that scene. Of note, the two scenes that could be seen as being at Ursula's expense aren't included at all in the manga.
Family Project had an English translation done by JAST. A number of scenes involving Matsuri were censored, with underwear digitally added in any scene that involved her being remotely nude at all. It didn't help that the customers who pre-ordered this were never warned of the censorship; in fact, JAST marketed the game as FULLY UNCENSORED.
All alcohol, religion (with the exception of Paula's pray command and the Happy Happy Religious Group), and death references were removed.
Ness was naked wearing a hat in Magicant. In the US version, he wore pajamas like in the game's beginning.
In the scene where Lardna kills Buzz-Buzz, she exclaims "It's a nasty toilet fly!" in the Japanese version. In the American version, it's "A dungbeetle!". Either this is a case of Bowdlerization, or plain "Blind Idiot" Translation. Either way she doesn't tell Buzz-Buzz to go to Hell in the English version.
In the Virtual Console re-release, all of the flashing/flickering effects are given a blur effect in order to prevent seizures.
Important to note that while the prototype script for MOTHER as well as the script for EarthBound had their fair share of Bowdlerizations, Itoi actually approved them. This sometimes brings it in to Woolseyism territory.
The NES version of The Immortal had the gratuitous death animations toned down.
The House of the Dead is banned outright in Germany. This affected Sega Superstars Tennis and all other Sega Superstars/All-Stars games, which feature an HOTD-themed court and minigames, and HOTD tracks — because it would have been too expensive to release a Germany-only version without this content, the HOTD elements are renamed "Curien Mansion" in all territories.
In the Super NES version of Art of Fighting, the Super Death Blow (which is actually a literal translation of the term "Chou Hissatsu Waza", the common Japanese term for super moves) became the "Super Fire Blow". The ability to expose King's bra was removed as well. Oddly enough, the Super Famicom version of Ryuko no Ken 2 (Art of Fighting 2) also removed the ability to undress King and Yuri, even though that version only came out in Japan.
World Heroes turning the "Death Match" to the "Fatal Match" in the SNES version.
All Xenosaga games suffered various levels of censorship to assure the game a T-Rating in the US. The most extreme case was in Xenosaga Episode III: Also sprach zarathustra, in which all blood was digitally erased for the American release (odd, since the other games got away with some blood). This led to a specially nonsensical scene — a certain character is "trying to put the blood back" in another character's body... but her hands are completely clean. Ironically, Episode I seemed to have enough blood to put it in the M zone within the first few hours.
Akatsuki Blitzkampf was altered for the arcade version: the blood from being slashed by Fritz or shot by Anonym was replaced with yellow... stuff... and the "Sieg Heil" that pops up in the background during Elektrosoldat's level 3 super was replaced with "Blitzbombe".
Skies of Arcadia had some minor changes made to it, but none of them affect the plot or gameplay:
The main drink that the Air Pirates preferred was rum; the U.S version changed this to a non-alcoholic juice named "loqua." Due to this, drunken characters were either edited out completely or had signs of drunkenness (such as red faces and dialogue) removed.
A Nasrean dancer's outfit had an added strap to her top and her pants were no longer transparent.
The dialogue between Vigoro and Aika when he corners her in a Valuan prison cell had the implications of him wanting to rape her toned down heavily. He was also topless in the original version of the game.
During the first part of the final battle, Ramirez squeezes his sword to the point that his hand bleeds. This was removed.
As a final note, these changes were carried over not only to U.S version of the updated Gamecube version, but they were bought to the Japanese version as well, and in the latter, a lot of the kanji that was used in the Dreamcast version was changed to hiragana so that younger players could read the text.
The Pokémon games have been getting steadily more extreme about this:
In Gen III's Gen I remakes, for example, the Gamblers became "Gamers" (and thus spouted such gems as "I'm a rambling, gaming dude"). In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, Gamblers returned but were renamed P.I.s in the English translation due to their clothes coincidentally resembling that of a detective. This is, however, despite the fact that they're clearly shown flipping a coin and their dialog contains gambling and probability references because the translation staff didn't bother changing the sprite and dialog to match the name change.note The same games actually did change sprites — male swimmers in Gen IV wear trunks in the international releases (which they ended up doing worldwide in Pokémon Black and White) instead of the speedos they had in the Japanese versions and older games, likely because the low resolution combined with their pose unintentionally made the speedo kind of hard to see in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum and for consistency with those games in the case of HeartGold and SoulSilver, and Registeel's sprite was changed in the European releases as well a all versions of Platinum because the graphics designer gave it a pose that resembled a Nazi salute.
The Gen II remakes take censorship even further. Sticking with European gambling laws, the slot machines have been completely replaced by a Minesweeper clone (outside of Japan, anyway). Generations V and VI bypass the issue by simply not having a Game Corner at all.
Remember that line in Gen IV's ancient Sinnoh legends about how humans and Pokémon once "ate together at the same table"? In the original Japanese, they married.
Gen I had a possessed woman in Lavender Town's Pokémon Tower telling you to "Give... me... your... soul...". Come the remake, she says to "Give... me... your... all...". Making this funnier and weirder is that another woman, in both versions, says "Give... me... blood..."
'Firebreather Dick' in Gold/Silver, who was renamed Firebreather Richard in the Heart Gold and Soul Silver remake. Which is still accurate, as "Dick" was actually a nickname for "Richard".
The male swimmers in the original Gen 1 and Gen 2 Pokémon games released outside of Japan wore speedos like they did in Japan, but from Gen 3 on, they became swim trunks outside of Japan. In Gen 5, the male swimmer wears swim trunks in all versions. Interestingly, the female swimmers (and some of the other female enemy trainers) go the other way in this. The Beauty in the original version of Gold/Silver/Crystal had her skirt lengthened and no longer winked at the player, but the female trainers haven't been Bowlderized since.
However, to clarify; Ghetsis's attempt to order Kyurem to Glaciate the player in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 was actually not Bowdlerization - that was a mistranslation.
Surprisingly averted with the MTF post-op Beauty in Pokémon X and Y's Battle Chateau, who survived in international versions with slightly vaguer wording.
The NES and "US Set 1" arcade versions of Legendary Wings had the stripperiffic Michelle Hart and Kevin Walker replaced by two generic guys with golden mechanical wings, as opposed to angelic feathered wings.
Rare example of a game being censored in it's own country: in the original PC version of Higurashi: When They Cry, there are shots of a red blood splatter on screen occasionally. When the time came for the PlayStation 2 remake, the color of the blood was censored into blue/dark colors (due to the Japanese rating system undergoing a change at the time, this was done to avoid an 18+ rating.). The blood is red again in the DS remakes.
Drakengard was slammed pretty heavily by this. In the Japanese release, the main character's sister was incestuously in love with him, the supporting character Leonard was a pedophile, and another supporting character Arioch was an insane infertile child murderer. In the American release, the only thing kept out of that was that Arioch is batty.
In In The Groove, two of the Marathon Courses were originally titled "Drunk" and "Pure Hell"; these were later changed to "Drift" and "Breaking Point". A few songs had their lyrics edited for the home version, with lyrics from other lines dubbed over the offending lines. These edits were not very well done, for example the line "Lying naked on the floor" from "Torn" now sounds like "Lying chained by a whore".
Strider arcade version: "You will never defeat the Lord!" In the home versions, "lord" was changed to "master".
In the N64 version of Quake, in accordance with Nintendo's censorship of religious references, the death message "You Visit the Volcano God" (death by lava) became "You Visit the Volcano Maker". Other religious references such as crucifixes were also removed.
Metroid Prime 3 - In the original release of the game, "damn" is used in one scene as an expletive. This was changed to "No!" in the PAL versions, as was in all versions of Metroid Prime Trilogy, despite the fact that it's rated Teen/12+.
No More Heroes involves quite a bit of blood when an enemy or six die in the American version. The Japanese version replaces blood with black dust, and the European version got the same thing. However, No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle had blood in both the American and European versions. This is because Japan is less tolerant of excessive blood in video games as time goes on.
In the original Japanese version of Super Mario Kart, Bowser and Peach would drink from the champagne bottle upon winning first place at the awards ceremony. It was changed in international versions to simply tossing the bottle around.
In the Japanese version of Super Mario Galaxy, the last main galaxy is known as Hell Prominence Galaxy. In the English-speaking versions, it was renamed Melty Molten Galaxy, despite the other language versions giving the level similar names to the original (i.e. Infernal Stroll Galaxy in the Spanish version).
The music for the Madden NFL games is real life songs with titles that can be related to the game of football. However, some of these songs have lyrics that wouldn't be acceptable in E rated games such as Madden, so they end up with references to "non-friendly" things cut out. The worst would be the Atreyu song on the 2007 version, which is so butchered that there are, at points, several second blots where the music completely cuts out. The NHL version suffers a similar fate. Burn It to the Ground by Nickelback was rendered nearly incomprehensible due to how many words were censored. Apparently, fighting in a hockey match is perfectly fine but "damn" is just too much for little Timmy.
In Blazing Sword, Hector's language and (apparently) Raven and Lucius's ending were toned down, but Priscilla's feelings towards Raven were kept.
In The Sacred Stones, the necrophilia and some of the Ephraim/Eirika Twincest undertones were kept but the language was toned down and Ewan peeking up Amelia's skirt was changed to him laughing at a dirt stain on it.
The Tellius duology toned down Ike and Soren a teeny bit (their A support was changed from "only you are precious to me" to "you're my only friend") but the nature of their relationship and Soren's feelings for Ike were still very much there. So was Heather flirting with Nephenee and other women, Tibarn and Reyson's own Ho Yay and the word "damn".
Awakening did away with almost all pretenses of making it a "kiddy game", leaving in almost all the language and Ho Yay and skimpy outfits and Nowi waxing perverted on Tharja's "boingy bits" (though the European version did change it to talking about her smooth shiny hair instead). Played straight in the "Summer Scramble" DLC with Tharja's bikini CG, though, censored for North America by putting a cloth in front of her rear end. Which is odd, because the game is rated T anyway - leaving the image unedited would hardly be grounds for a rating bump. The biggest change was the fact that any incestuous romantic pairings (which, unlike the Jugdral games, consist entirely of Kissing Cousins) were censored to read as "companions" on the status screen instead of "husband" or "wife." The one obvious cousin pairing is Lucina with her paternal cousin Owain, and if Lucina's father, Chrom, is also the father of either Cynthia or Kjelle, and Owain marries either of them, then the companion label also gets slapped on. Other edits include removing almost every single mention of Cordelia'sA-Cup Angst, save in a few DLC conversations, and in the European version, an implied Skinship Grope featuring Nowi and Tharja is changed to mention Nowi complimenting the latter's hair instead.
The NES port of the first Metal Gear wasn't altered much, if at all. However, its notorious "FUCKM E1111 11111 11111 11111" password, which dropped the player off at the final boss with no weapons, led to Nintendo imposing an additional layer of censorship by forbidding or at least discouraging vowels from appearing anywhere in a game's password system, due to the potential for swear words to accidentally or intentionally appear within them.
Because of the unfortunate timing of its release (9/11), Metal Gear Solid 2 had several scenes from the game removed, such as Vamp explicitly stating that his and Dead Cell's intentions of using the hydrogen bomb are actually quite different than Solidus: specifically, they planned to nuke NYC itself rather than simply cause an EMP wave over Wall Street (the latter of which was Solidus's plan), Liquid Ocelot stating that he set Arsenal Gear's course to Manhattan, the actual crash sequence for Arsenal Gear, Raiden cutting the American Flag and having it drop on Solidus's corpse after he is defeated, and a news report mentioning the Statue of Liberty's new resting place at Ellis Island.
In the torture scene in the Japanese release of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Strangelove uses the electric rods to tickle Big Boss rather than electrocute him. Also, the dialogue is different, and Big Boss is laughing rather than screaming. This is due to the fact that the Japanese version was meant to appeal more to children as well as older gamers (in Japan, PSP is a system targeted toward all ages, unlike the US and UK, in which it is mostly targeted toward teens and adults). View the bowdlerized cutscene here.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater went through some changes in the European and and Australian releases. You can see a full list of censorings/edits here, but to name a few examples:
Volgin's electricity color was changed to white (for whatever reason).
During the scene where Volgin realizes Big Boss was disguised as Raikov and proceeds to beat him up horribly, the electric surges are gone.
The explosion of the base holding the Shagohod is less intense.
The release of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance had troubles due to dismembering of humans. As a result, enemies in the game were changed to cyborgs. Additionally, the Japanese version changed the red blood to white. Note that Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots already had white blood in the cyborg characters so Japan's censorship can be justified.
The original versions of "Fever for the Flava" and "Goin' Down On It" by Hot Action Cop had extremely naughty lyrics, so they were heavily censored when they appeared in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2. Surprisingly, the clean versions were actually better than the dirty versions.
Parodied in Elite Beat Agents, where the "Survivor" stage acts like a bowdlerised zombie game. It features zombies who merely look like strangely-sick people, who transfer it to others via kissing, and who're literally cured by being shot... with peanuts!
The Gran Turismo 4 remix of "Getting Away with Murder" by Papa Roach had the word "murder" removed and the title changed to simply "Getting Away".
In the Japanese version of Faxanadu, gurus held crosses, and their churches had stained-glass windows depicting Jesus' crucifixion. These were removed for the international release, though a couple of churches did have crosses at the very top.
FIFA 11 as a very bizarre editing on the songs in the game. They remove the line "when you and I were down on the floor" in "Rules Don't Stop" by We Are Scientists, but they remove the word "corpse" in "Flash Delirium" by MGMT. In Charlotte Gainsbourg's "Trick Pony", they remove the word "rum" in the line. "train, train/come and go/rum cocoa" and make it "train cocoa". Another odd edit is the words "under" and "from below" in "Snowflake" by Malachai, which don't even make sense in context.
The German version of most Command & Conquer games replaced all infantry units with cyborgs (mostly limited to changing the voices and unit names), with a few exceptions (such as Tanya, who appears in the FMVs). Generals got the worst treatment, altering most voiceclips to sound robotic and all human faces getting edited to make them look like robots. The suicide bomber unit also got replaced by a bomb on wheels (which suddenly gets a voice when entering a civilian vehicle, as that ability was obviously overlooked.
The Updated Re-release of Conkers Bad Fur Day, Conker Live and Reloaded was heavily censored for some unknown reason. The foul language was half the reason the game was appealing. However, upon finishing the game, you do get the option to hear the swears uncensored.
The US version of the MMORPG TERA censored the Elin models. Compare the differences here.
With Exile, many items that were drugs in the original XZR II were already censored in the Japanese console versions. However, the TurboGrafx-16 translation by Working Designs also obscured the religious themes, at NEC's insistence: Christians, for instance, became "Klispins."
The original UK release of Mario Party 8 had the word "spastic" in it (a word considered offensive in the UK because it's used as a derogatory term for someone who has epilepsy). All copies had to be recalled and then Nintendo released a new print that edited the word to "erratic".
The first Mario Party game also went through a similar change. In the Japanese version of the game, Wario and Luigi both cry "Oh my god!" whenever they suffer from a bad event. In the English version of the game, Luigi just groans and Wario says "D'oh, I missed!" due to Nintendo of American and Europe forbidding the use of religious figures and phrases in their games.
The Sega Saturn port of House of the Dead changed all blood to green. However, bloody marks that appear on-screen upon being hit are still red. The arcade games also have a switch to change the blood color.
Inverted with the first Super Street Fighter II Turbo - the secret character Gouki, meaning "proud demon", was renamed for the US version, with a more extreme term that wouldn't see much use in Japanese media - Akuma.
The PS2 and Wii versions of Manhunt 2 had their execution scenes censored with static blurs to avoid an "Adults Only" rating, which is forbidden in console games. The PC version remained uncensored.
Title example: Jet Set Radio was re-named "Jet Grind Radio" for its original American release, apparently because there was a band named Jet Set Satellite, and they were worried that they'd be associated with a game about doing graffiti and running from killer cops. This conflict was long gone by the time Jet Set Radio Future and the HD re-release of the original came out. Also, quite a few songs in both games had lyrics that were cut. For example, in "Birthday Cake", there's a verse that goes: ''It's mooldy, mom, isn't it?//I DON'T GIVE A FLYING FUCK THOUGH!" In the game, right after the "It's morning, mom..." part, it cuts right to the chorus (because you cannot use the F-bomb in a T-rated game). And "I'm Not a Model" originally had a segment about giving instructions on oral sex. It was cut in-game for obvious reasons.
The U.S. Sega CD version of Time Gal had the year 666 changed to 999. It also changed the text for a Time Stop option in 1941; the original version had "Pray to God". The U.S. version changed it to "Hope for luck". What's more, if this option is selected, Reika actually starts praying in the Japanese version, while the American version has her say, "Please help!" She turns into an angel in both versions, though.
In the Chinese version of Wizard 101, all skeletal characters and props in the game were fleshed or removed respectively since it is considered inappropriate to depict skeletons in Chinese culture.
The WWE series has done this to a degree, in terms of wrestler videos, historic footage or commentary. Several reasons exist: one is if the content is too violent or it depicts a wrestler who is with TNA (hence Jeff Jarrett and Al Snow are censored out of video on the 98 Survivor Series,) the loss of rights to the content (witness Cactus Jack's video and how all King of the Death Match video is removed,) or to avoid the dreaded WWF appearance in case the World Wildlife Fund spots an instance of it and sues. Annoyingly, rather than use historical commentary for Attitude matches Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Howard Finkle, Triple H, Dwayne Johnson, et al redid the scenes. This is annoying because they will still use WWF rather than WWE, and the F will be muted out. A meta example in assorted pro wrestling videogames has to do with female create-a-wrestlers. The Smackdown vs Raw series, at least for some time, did not allow designs to be added to the chests of female wrestlers because it was trying to prevent players from trying to make fake nude female wrestlers with nipples made out of the pre-existing patterns. So if all you wanted to do was put a logo on a T-shirt, too bad. Later games in the Smackdown series allowed torso designs, but the patterns would go behind the CAW's breasts to prevent the aforementioned nipple abuse. The Attitude series simply added a modest black bikini to the default female CAW template. This thing frequently extended past the edges of the outfits and made the CAWs look quite silly.
One of Crash's deaths in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back involved him being pressed down to nothing more than a Waddling Head if he got crushed by falling/collapsing objects. Sometime before the Japanese release of the game, a murder was committed in Japan in which the murderer left only the head and feet of his victim behind. Naughty Dog feared that if the Waddling Head death animation were kept in the Japanese release, Japanese gamers would find it tasteless due to said real-life murder, so they had to cut it.
The creators of Dangan Ronpa couldn't have red blood without bumping the rating up into adults-only territory, so it was changed to - of all colors - bright neon pink. In a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, this became an iconic part of the game's visual style, to the point that The Anime of the Game is set to preserve it.
The beta version of Shadowrun for SNES had Kitsune saying, "What's the matter, never snuggled down with a fox? Wanna try?" This was changed in the final release to "What's the matter, never seen a fox before?" Calling the morgue a "chop shop" was also edited out.
The Yellow Devil in the NES Mega Man games was never mentioned in the games or their English-language manuals. However, at least one Nintendo Power walkthrough renamed it Rock Monster.
Soda Popinski from Punch-Out!! was known as Vodka Drunkenski in the arcade version. In the home console games, he has his name changed to eliminate the alcohol reference.
Bravely Default increased the characters' ages and altered the Bravo Bikini and female Vampire outfits to be slightly less revealing (by making the Bravo Bikini's panties into shorts and adding shadows under the Vampire's outfit). Interestingly, the Bravo Bikini is still considered to be the most sexy thing in the world by the characters in-game.
Several of the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games had to do some censoring of the licensed soundtrack in order to retain a Teen rating. Pro Skater 3 probably had the heaviest amount of soundtrack censorship, with songs like Guttermouth's "I'm Destroying The World" and Redman's "Let's Get Dirty" being heavily edited for foul language. Outside of curses being removed from songs, Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" had an implied reference to gun violence removed ("shoot 'em in the back now"), and Del Tha Funkee Homosapien's "If You Must" dropped a reference to hard liquor ("he had a can of O.E." note O.E. being short for Olde English 800, a brand of malt liquor - apparently the issue was that the song mentioned a specific, particularly strong, brand of alcohol, since the aforementioned Guttermouth song still gets a general reference to beer by).
Parodied in Cthulhu Saves the World. Whenever the heroes begin to talk about beer, they pause, and instead say milk.