Nintendo Apologizes for Offensive Native American Caricature, Will Update for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
posted on by Kim Morrissy
Nintendo is planning an update for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate which will alter one of Mr. Game & Watch's attacks. Mr. Game & Watch's side smash attack, as shown during a Japanese livestream (approximately 3:39:35), shows the character wearing a feather, referencing an offensive caricature of Native Americans. Nintendo has stated plans to remove the feather from Mr. Game & Watch.
Mr. Game & Watch is an amalgam of characters from the Game & Watch games, a line of handheld electronic games produced by Nintendo from 1980 to 1991. In the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate livestream, he is shown holding a torch and wearing a headdress, which is a reference to the sprites from the 1982 game Fire Attack. In the original Fire Attack game, the player controls a cowboy defending a fort against Native Americans attempting to burn it down.
Nintendo issued the following statement to games journalist outlet Source Gaming: "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 [we] are continuing to make Super Smash Bros. Ultimate an experience that is both welcoming and fun for everyone."
Native Americans on social media responded to the initial livestream with hurt and disappointment. In response to Nintendo's statement, one Twitter user said, "Oh my God. Thank you. Thank you so much, not only on my behalf— but thank you for helping spread this on behalf of the Native community. It means the world."
Nintendo has previously edited the Game & Watch series out of sensitivity towards Native Americans. Game & Watch Gallery 4, known as Game & Watch Gallery Advance in Europe and Australia, was a re-release of six Game & Watch games. The "classic mode" of Fire Attack removed the feathers from the characters to make them appear as bandits instead, but otherwise retained as much of the original style and graphics as possible.
Previous versions of the Super Smash Bros. games showed Mr. Game & Watch using a torch attack, but did not depict him with a headdress, nor was that imagery present in earlier builds of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate game that were unveiled internationally.
Source: Source Gaming Twitter