Back in the days of the NES, Nintendo had some very strict rules about their games. You know, no blood, no cursing, no sex... but some games managed to get past that. Probably the most famous game for this would be Bionic Commando. Most players have seen or heard of the game's ending, but since there might be some who haven't, I won't mention it. At a close second, Monster Party. The blood content of the first level is insane, and let's not forget the ending.
But there's a game out there that's right up with those in terms of censor violations. And that game is called Nightshade. It's a great game, but very overlooked. Nightshade, along with Bionic Commando and Monster Party, is a perfectly legit NES game. It's on the standard NES cartridge, it's got a Seal of Quality, the screen that comes up when the game is first turned on says "Licenced by Nintendo" down at the bottom, and it's even on the "Coming Soon" list of one of my old Nintendo Powers.
Upon first playing, all I noticed were the bad jokes. But as I played deeper into the game, I realized it's more than bad jokes and stopping a crime spree... a lot more. It's tangible proof that Nintendo was getting lazy with the NES when the SNES was in the works.
Introduction scenes. Kind of minor, but they're still a bit odd.
Now we're talking. This is the first one I ever noticed. After you leave the sewer Sutekh threw Nightshade into at the very beginning, head into the up-right path. You'll be at this screen. Try and enter the building on the left and...
There's a clothes shop near the top-right of the town. When you go inside, there will be two curtains. Operating the curtain on the right gets you into a fight with a ninja (and you can get the Urn by reoperating the curtain after beating this ninja). Operating the one on the left exposes a dressing woman. The woman yells at Nightshade, closes the curtain, and Nightshade loses a Popularity Point.
The name of the Bouncer boss is "Goliath". Of course, it's a reference to the giant David fought in the Bible. I'm not 100% sure if religion was censored matierial, but since crosses were supposed to be things that Nintendo censored from their games (but rarely did), I'd be willing to bet that.
I never noticed this on my cartridge. I didn't notice it until getting some screenshots from the game on my emulator, and when I saw this I actually felt kind of sick. Remember ol' Vortex? Well, in one of the lower rooms of Rat King's lair, you can find his corpse splattered on a wall.
Although it might just be a cape; although it's never clearly stated in the game, the old man outside the sewer from the beginning does suggest Vortex wore one. Still, just looking like blood (and it is lighter than the rest of him) should have merited a censor. Nintendo did make Jaleco take out a Maniac Mansion comment that they somehow thought said Fred was a cannibal, after all. And just being able to find the corpse...
Outside the bookstore, you will find a dog chasing a cat. If you examined the skeleton in the exit of the sewer from the start, you should have gotten a bone. Use that bone on the dog to stop it from chasing the cat and win Nightshade a half of a Popularity Point. Examining the cat that's being chased by a dog (whether or not you've gotten rid of the dog) gets a description that hints Nightshade ate cats when he was a kid. Why should the cooking and eating poor little kitties go uncensored when a comment that wasn't even meant to hint cannibalism was?
While we're on the subject of cats and censor violations, there's another one, although it is somewhat of a minor one. There's catnip in the game. You need it to save the old woman's kitten. But we all know what the human equivelent of catnip is, right? I'm sure that if Nintendo looked at this game, they would have said to change it to a cat toy or something.
Okay, I'm grasping at straws here, but don't tell me there's no way for one to take this in a dirty way.
*UPDATE* Reader LVK says this might be a reference to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy line "That's the second biggest sandwich I've ever seen!". It could very well be. But I'm sure it could still be taken wrongly.
This one almost has two censor violations. The first and not exactly obvious is it appears to be bashing the English. But the one that's fairly obvious is the word "sex". Although it's not used in that certain way, I don't think Nintendo would have allowed it.
But there's more to Nightshade than a bunch of stuff slipping past the Nintendo censors. It's also completely insane while not flipping the bird at Nintendo's censorship policies, as you'll see on the next pages.