Check out the video below for Super Modern Mario Bros. It's a novel concept dreamed up by a gamer, removing a lot of the cutesy Mario-ness, dialing up the level of seriousness by removing the music and adding realistic sound effects. It’s a bit more violent, too, with Goombas exploding and Mario crashing to his untimely demise when he leaps towards the end-of-level flag and fails to successfully grab hold and slide down. Look, just watch it--it's way more fun than reading our description!
To teen Daniel Petric, Halo 3 is more than just a game. He became so angry at not being able to play it that he shot his father and killed his mother with his dad’s gun. Apparently, his parents didn’t want him to buy the game and caught him with it when he tried to sneak it into the house. Father Mark then put it in a lockbox in his closet that housed a 9mm handgun until his son retrieved both. Daniel’s lawyers claim their client has been under stress because after an accident and staph infection, he had been homebound for a year with nothing to do but watch TV and play video games. Daniel and Mark, can you say books?
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Along with the release of “Halo 3” and the unfortunate postponement of “GTA IV”, one of the biggest video game stories of the year is the saga of Rockstar’s “Manhunt 2”. First, it was banned in England due to its graphic violence. Then it was given the kiss-of-death “Adults Only” rating here in the US by the ESRB. Sony and Nintendo do not release games with that rating—and they’re not carried by Blockbuster and Walmart. Undaunted, Rockstar made some revisions, and eventually the game received a “Mature” rating.
So now “Manhunt 2” is available in stores for Nintendo Wii, Playstation 2 and PSP. Having followed the saga, and very curious about the game’s content (plus I’m a huge fan of previous Rockstar games), I made it my business to rent the Wii version and play it. Having never played the original “Manhunt”—and not being a fan of stealth games—I had little idea what to expect. After completing the tutorial of Wiimote and Nunchuk moves (which includes some very funny, if grisly, sound effects), I dove in.
Some questions were asked after Rockstar announced that it had adjusted the content of its violent horror title Manhunt 2 to warrant an M rating from the ESRB rather than the unsellable AO it had previously been given. California Senator Leland Yee was one person asking such questions.
Since much of the public’s information about the original content in Manhunt 2 came from IGN’s Matt Casamassina’s hands-on with the game prior to rating, it’s only fitting that he plays the modified version heading to retail and reports on what the differences are.
Primarily, Casamassina says, the game has taken the controversial murder animations and added some blur and darkening effects to obfuscate the actions, making the action less identifyable. Casamassina is disappointed with the changes:
[It’s] unfortunate because both everything else is unchanged and because these death strikes are what gamers will want to work toward; they’re the pay off for a job well done, but now the pay off is not nearly as rewarding.
It’s worth noting that one maneuver in which the player removes an enemy’s testicles with a pair of pliers has been completely excised from the game, but aside from these adjustments the game is still extremely dark and graphically violent according to Casamassina’s estimation.
After finally agreeing to grant the embattled Rockstar title Manhunt 2 a retail-friendly Mature rating, the ESRB is drawing some fire from California senator Leland Yee. Yee, best known for his failed 2005 video game legislation, is questioning what changed to entice the ESRB’s about-face. In a statement he says, “The ESRB refuses to use the AO rating for violence despite the descriptor calling for such a rating when there are ‘graphic depictions of violence.’ If Manhunt doesn’t qualify, what would?”
Somewhat surprisingly, Yee does have a valid question. It does seem like game publishers ought not to be under the typical pre-release scrutiny for something as inconsequential as ratings determination, but is there any reason why the ESRB can’t be forthcoming with specifics about how and why it comes to its conclusions?
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