Nintendo is preparing for the release of its upcoming fighting game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the Nintendo Switch, and it seemed like everyone was happy with the way the game was shaping up. Upon closer look, however, fans noticed that one of the characters features an animation that could be considered offensive to Native Americans, as reported by EuroGamer.
Mr. Game & Watch is the character in question, and the animation comes from the 1982 release, Fire Attack. In that game, the titular character helps a cowboy defend his fort from attacking Native Americans. While that premise may have been okay in 1982, it just doesn’t work in today’s climate, and many felt like it was an odd choice for Nintendo to include it in the game. After all, Mr. Game & Watch didn’t have this move in his previous Smash Bros. appearances.
Fans first noticed the new attack animation during a Nintendo live stream. In the move, Mr. Game & Watch is seen holding a torch and baring his teeth with a feather coming out of the back of his head. Shortly after the move was first shown, heated debates popped up on popular gaming forums and the Smash Bros. subreddit.
Debates aside, Nintendo has come down on the side that the imagery is, indeed, offensive and that it has no place in the game. The company has also promised to remove that particular animation before the final release.
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, in a statement to Kotaku, issued the following comments on the matter.
“Nintendo has been planning to distribute an update for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate that removes the feather from the silhouette of Mr. Game & Watch. 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. We sincerely apologize that this change was not noticed in our marketing material and are continuing our work to make Super Smash Bros. Ultimate an experience that is both welcoming and fun for everyone.”
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time Nintendo has used this particular animation in a game. In 2002, the company released Game & Watch Gallery 4, a compilation of classic games. According to Kotaku, Nintendo removed this particular animation from that Game Boy Advance game, which made many gamers wonder why it was included in the upcoming Super Smash Bros. title.
Fortunately, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate isn’t scheduled to release until December 7, giving Nintendo plenty of time to correct the situation and release a game that’s welcoming to all players.