Uncensored Religion In NES Games

In order to placate the overprotective parents of the USA, Nintendo America implemented a censorship program. Any game to be released in the USA must not contain nudity, swearing, blood, or religious iconography. Despite the best intentions of the censors, several games did make it past the censors with some "child endangering" content. This page chronicles the religious iconography found in NES games.

If you know of any other NES games that have uncensored religious iconography in them, let me know. However, there are a few stipulations:

  • The game must have been released on the original NES.
  • The game must have been licensed by Nintendo.
  • The game must have been released in North America.
  • The imagery must be religious in nature.

Some uncensored religious iconography doesn't yet have a screenshot. If you have one, please submit a screenshot.

8 Eyes


In this overly-difficult Castlevania rip-off you receive red and white crosses from dispatching enemies in order to fill up your health and item power. The boss of Germany has blue crosses in the background of his room. The bulk of the House of Ruth is covered with purple columns with little white crosses on them and when you defeat each boss a second time, they become giant flashing crosses. In the ending a red demon with a cross on his forehead talks to you.

Thanks to: Sethrashnoo

Arkista's Ring


One of the dungeons features a cross.

Thanks to: Flying Omelette

Astyanax


Level 1-1 has angel statues in the background, which is contrasted by level 2-1's demon statues. Level 4-2 features crosses throughout the grave.

Thanks to: Sethrashnoo

Athena


It's pretty obvious when the game is actually named after the Greek goddess Athena. The manual even begins, "I am Athena. They call me the Goddess of Wisdom..."

Battle Chess


The bishop has a cross on the end of his staff. Well, that, and he's a bishop.

Battle of Olympus


Battle of Olympus takes place in the land of Greece back when the Greek gods still hung out on top of Mount Olympus and smote the occasional mortal. While most people tend to think of mythology when they think of the Greek gods, 3,000 years ago this was the religion of the Greeks.

The game features many references to the ancient Greek religion including the mention of the gods Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Gaia, Hades, Hephaestus, Hera, Hermes, Poseidon, Prometheus, and Zeus.

Blues Brothers


They're on a mission from God, remember? Chapter 1 is even called stairway to heaven.

Bionic Commando


While the American version censored out all of the references to Hitler, Nazis, and swastikas, they forgot to change the graphics of the pendant, which is in the shape of a cross.

Thanks to: Codiekitty

Castlevania


Castlevania features a cross as an item hat kills all the enemies on the screen when you get it. The game also has holy water as an item, which has a cross on it's top. Crosses are seen on the coffins in stage 14 and again on Dracula's coffin.

Castlevania II: Simon's Quest


The prologue of Simon's Quest describes Dracula's mansion as a "Hell house". There are crosses on both the inside and outside of the churches. Castlevania II also features holy water, crosses in the graveyards, crossess in the password sections, and an item called the magic cross.

Thanks To: Flying Omelette

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse


There are numerous crossed in the very first level of Castlevania III. The game starts with Trevor Belmont kneeling down in front of one. From there you see them in the stained glass windows, in the grave yard, and on the cross item, and the holy water. The password system also features the cross as one of its symbols.

Crystalis


The shield above the weapons store features a cross.

Thanks to: Flying Omelette

Faxanadu


The symbol above all healers is a cross. Also, when you die, you are told to remember your mantra, which is used in several religions.

Thanks to: Flying Omelette

Final Fantasy


Two of the four fiends in Final Fantasy are gods. Kary is probably a poor translation of the Hindu goddess of eternal energy, Kali and Tiamat, is, oddly enough, the Babylonian goddess of the sea, not the air.

Thanks to: Brickroad

Frankenstein


The introduction of Frankenstein has the monster walking through a graveyard. When lightning strikes, you can see a cross for a tombstone.

Ghosts 'N Goblins


Not only does Ghosts 'N Goblins start in a graveyard covered in crosses, but some of the enemies are named after Christian villains like Satan, Lucifer, red devils, and blue demons. Also, the weapon that looks like a shield, is called the cross--probably because of the huge cross on it.

Thanks to: Tool Assisted Videos

Gun.Smoke


Fort Wingate is the very last level of Gun.Smoke (which few people ever get to). There, you'll find graveyards littered with crosses. Strangely, because of the viewing angle, the crosses on the blue tombstones look like they're upside down!

Thanks to: Sethrashnoo

Hydlide


Per usual, the tombstones are covered in crosses. There is also a cross in the game as an item that helps you kill vampires.

Thanks to: Flying Omelette, ACC Kain, Melty Fresh

Journey to Silius


In the opening cut scene you stand above Jay's father's grave, which features a cross.

Thanks to: ACC Kain

Kid Icarus


Kid Icarus, being based on Greek mythology is ripe with religious paraphernalia. There are a number of crosses in the game. You can see them in the background of the overworld and and in the hospital in the fortresses.

Several gods are mentioned in the game. Zeus helps train you, a made-up god called the god of poverty kicks you out of the treasure room, and the manual calls Pandora a demon god, Uranos a sky god, and Erinus the god of revenge. The snake from Medusa's hair is called Tanatos, which is no doubt named after Greek demon Thanatos. There are also references to angels in the game as well--Angel Land, angel's arrows, and the angel's feather.

Thanks to: Flying Omelette

Legend of Zelda


The Legend of Zelda features a great deal of religious symbolism. To begin with, there are crosses everywhere. Link's shields, the tombstones, the shield of the darknuts, and the magic book all have crosses on them.

Underworld 3 is also shaped like a swastika. The manual calls the symbol by it's Japanese name, a "manji". The swastika is used as a religious symbol for many Eastern religions.

Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link


The Adventure of Link features a couple crosses as well. The tombs throughout the graveyards are all crosses and there is an item, called the cross, which lets you see hidden enemies, and there is a church in Mido with a cross at the top. Also, some combat sections feature crosses in the background.

Thanks To: Flying Omelette, Dusan Vlahovic

The Magic of Scheherazade


A couple of hexagrams can be found in The Magic of Scheherazade. The symbol is used by several religions, most commonly the Jews. Also, the boss Curly is most likely supposed to be the Hindu goddess Kali.

Thanks To: Flying Omelette

Mappy-Land


Mappy-Land features a church with a cross on the steeple, and a bunch of crosses in the graveyard.

Thanks To: Flying Omelette

Monster Party


Along with being the most bloody game for the NES, by far, Monster Party also features a couple religious references. "Hell" can be seen in the dialog of the grim reaper boss in level 7, and the first room of level 8 is a church, predictably adorned with a cross.

Thanks to: Flying Omelette

Ninja Gaiden


There are numerous small hexagrams all through Act VI, Scene 3 and a couple big ones on the floor in Jaquio's room, and Jaquio has one on his chest. Just before the final battle there are a couple more references: a blasphemous use of God, and the mention of the demon statue and the temple.

Thanks to: Sethrashnoo

Pinball Quest


Pinball Quest has the typical crosses on the tombstones issue, but it also features various other pseudo-religious images. You can buy an item called devil flippers. There are also skeletons, witches, ghosts, demon-like store owners, and various other dark elements.

River City Ransom


In Merlin's Mystery Shop you can buy Zeus' wand and an Isis scroll which are named after their respective gods.

Shadowgate


As a high fantasy game, Shadowgate deals with all sorts of myths and legends. Most of them are Greek in origin, but there are several Hebrew myths as well. The hero is described to believe in his own personal god, and several other unnamed ones are referenced throughout the game. Gehenna and Hell both make appearances, as do hellhounds and demons. Holy water is one of the items in the game. There is a scene that closely resembles the biblical story of David and Goliath. The skeleton of the king is wearing a cross. The River Styx is seen near the end, complete with Charon, though he is not named. The game also mentions druids several times, titans, and a behemoth.

Thanks To: Flying Omelette

Spy Hunter


Nothing says "respect for the dead" like a car chase along-side a graveyard covered with crosses and a bunch of palm trees.

StarTropics


The actual religious aspects of StarTropics is pretty small. There is a shaman woman in C-Island and a number of tombstones with crosses on them in the graveyard of ghost village.

However, StarTropics features a very high number of references to astrology. The characters in the game mention constellations, specifically the Southern Cross, magic, shooting stars as ill omens, and the evil powers of mystic stars.

Thanks To: Flying Omelette

StarTropics II: Zoda's Revenge


In Chapter 3: Egypt one of the enemies bears a striking resemblance to Horus, Egyptian god of war and the sky. Also, in Chapter 8: Camelot, there are crosses on the shields.

Thanks To: Flying Omelette

Taboo


Taboo is a dull simulation of tarot cards that uses a hashing algorithm based on your personal information to deal out poorly drawn tarot cards and give you a brief explanation of them. This is as dull as watching "real" tarot cards being dealt. The information screen features a cross and a pentagram (a religious symbol used by a number of religions).

Some of the cards feature religious themes as well like the bare-breasted high priestess holding an ankh and the devil card.

Ultima: Exodus


Ultima: Exodus is probably the NES game with the most religious overtones of any released in the US. Right from the box art you see a cleric with an ankh staff and necklace (an ankh is an Egyptian symbol for life and it appears throughout their religious texts). In the game the illusionist class has a ankh necklace in her status picture, the cleric has an ankh staff, and the druid has crosses on both his staff and robe. In the game's introduction, Lord British can be seen holding a staff with a cross on the top. In the town of Yew has a temple with priests. One priest teaches you how to pray, the other lets you meditate.

As for monsters, the game includes titans, demons, and devils. It's also debatable if the name Exodus comes from the second book of the Torah.

Ultima: Quest of the Avatar


Once again, this Ultima game is filled with symbols of the Egyptian ankh. It is found on the box art, numerous times in the game manual, and even as a character you can talk to in the game.

Quest of the Avatar also features occult references like tarot cards and runes.

Ultima: Warriors of Destiny


Warriors of Destiny features it's fair share of ankhs. The ankh is on several pages in the manual, it's on the Avatar's armor in his close-up pictures in the game, and it's also an item you can obtain.

Vegas Dream


There is a cross above the church doors in the wedding scene.

Links


Here are some links to other pages that chronicle censorship for the NES.

flyingomelette.com/oddities/nudesnes.html - Game Oddities: More Nintendo Nudity
filibustercartoons.com/Nintendo.php - Nintendo's Era of Censorship