Sega Superstars Tennis looked like an innocent enough release. How could a game about Sonic, Ulala and NiGHTS ever risk being banned in Europe? Or so you might think. Welcome to the crazy world of gaming politics, where zombies hug you and you can't mention Virtua Cop.
A few weeks ago, we were talking to one of the developers at Sumo (who made Sega Superstars Tennis), when he pointed out that the House of the Dead stage in the game is named 'Curien's Mansion' because The House of the Dead is banned in Germany.
Likewise with Virtua Cop – it's 'Virtua Squad' in the tennis game (taking the North American name for the shooter). And you don't hit tennis balls at 3D people, just at cardboard cut-outs of people. Lame? Hell yes. But apparently necessary if Sumo wanted to sell the game in Germany.
This kind of pro-active self-censorship may sound absurd to us, but you have to take into account the different laws involved. Germany is notoriously strict on screen violence. For example, German law frowns on any media which:
"...describe cruel or otherwise inhuman acts of violence against human beings in a manner which expresses a glorification or rendering harmless of such acts of violence or which represents the cruel or inhuman aspects of the event in a manner which injures human dignity".
That would be why Mortal Kombats 1, 2 and 3 were all banned in Germany then. Apparently a shout of 'finish him' followed by a beheading or impalement is glorified cruelty. Just for illustrative purposes (and because we'll never get tired of this video), here are over 231 reasons why Mortal Kombat isn't right for the German market.