Nintendo Finds Religion

Dragon Quest 9 CoverNintendo and censorship used to go together like peanut butter and jelly. There are dozens of examples of changes between Japanese and North American versions of Nintendo console games, along with a handful of tales of U.S. and European developers being forced to alter their game in some way to receive the all-important Nintendo Seal of Quality. The hammer has let up over the past few years though, and I didn't really realize this until I started playing Dragon Quest IX.

Dragon Quest IX, while developed by the good folks at Level 5, was published by Nintendo outside of Japan. It's an enormous game with buckets of text, and since I'm about 80% of the way through the game, I can honestly say Nintendo did a stellar job translating it for English speakers. There are puns galore and not a single character, item, or town name is wasted potential. Of course, I was greatly impressed by the fan translation of Mother 3 which was done by a single guy, so maybe my standards are low.

What surprises me the most about Dragon Quest IX (besides it actually being a really good game) is that the storyline pretty much made it intact on its trek across the ocean. There are churches, priests, God, heaven, guardian angels, the whole gambit. Characters pray and have faith in the Almighty and you start the game as an angel watching over a village. It sure doesn't feel like the same Nintendo from the Super Nintendo era.

For those who haven't played the game, it's not overdone, it's simply the backdrop of the game. It's weird imagining how butchered Dragon Quest IX would have had to have been to release this 10-15 years ago. I don't think it would have been possible, in all honesty, and this would have just been another JRPG that was never released outside of Japan. How do you possibly spin a tale about an angel falling from heaven to become a hero on earth? All while saving his game at the local church and battling meowgicians?

Thanks to its great story and engrossing gameplay, I'm still loving Dragon Quest IX even after putting over 30 hours into it. Check out the links above for some excellent history in Nintendo censorship.