Nintendo seems to have caused quite the controversy with last week’s Direct presentation, as new footage of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate showed Mr Game & Watch don an insensitive Native American sprite. The developer has since apologised, stating that it will be altering the animation from its anticipated brawler via an upcoming patch.
Mr Game & Watch’s ‘forward smash’ in the upcoming Switch title is reference to 1982’s Fire Attack, which debuted as a part of the Wide Screen series of handhelds. Fire Attack pits the player in the shoes of a cowboy defending a wooden fort from being burned to the ground by clichéd Native Americans. Although the modern interpretation of the design is accurate down to the feather in Mr Game & Watch’s hair, this stereotype has long been deemed an offensive portrayal of Native Americans.
Please check and spread the below thread from ResetEra. Mr. Game & Watch's new forward smash in Smash Ultimate is a direct reference to a G&W game featuring racist depictions of Native Americans.
— ✨ gale (@rr_gale) November 3, 2018
Nintendo previously recognised the imagery as offensive, editing the feather out of 2002’s Game & Watch Gallery 4 for Game Boy Advance. In an attempt to “make Super Smash Bros. Ultimate an experience that is both welcoming and fun for everyone,” Nintendo apologises that this change slipped by in its marketing material and plans to change it ahead of its 7th December release.
“Nintendo has been planning to distribute an update for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate that removes the feather from the silhouette of Mr. Game & Watch,” reads Nintendo’s statement to the press. “The original game on which this depiction of the character is based was released more than three decades ago and does not represent our company values today.”
KitGuru Says: Some might brush this off as censorship gone mad, but it should be recognised that it is difficult for a game over thirty-years-old to remain current in relevance and politics. How do you feel about Nintendo’s response to the controversy?