Indie game The Binding of Isaac has recently been announced for the Wii U, Xbox One, and New Nintendo 3DS. However, in an interview with the game’s main developers, Tyrone Rodriguez and Edmund McMillen, it emerged that the game was originally planned to be released on the original Nintendo 3DS, but did not due to its “questionable religious content”.
The game, which features mature content such as crying naked babies and horror-like elements, was rejected for release on the original 3DS back in 2012. Nintendo felt that this was too controversial to be released on a platform that would primarily be used by younger players and therefore chose not to release a 3DS version of the game.
The Binding of Isaac is coming to the New Nintendo 3DS, along with the Wii U and Xbox One versions. According to McMillen, this is partly because Nintendo now relies solely on the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) system to decide whether a game is suitable for release on their platforms. The only category now unsuitable for Nintendo platforms is the Adults Only category. The Binding of Isaac is rated Mature, meaning it is deemed acceptable for release on a Nintendo platform.
“It wasn’t entirely religious related. I can’t speak for Nintendo, but the game was a little controversial at the time. Since then things have changed in terms of what can and can’t be on their platform. My understanding is that they now rely on the ESRB for guidance. Anything that is rated from E (for Everyone) to M (for Mature) is OK, but AO (Adults Only) can’t be on their platform. I think this and a few other games were the impetus for that change.”
— Edmund McMillen
When asked about how they managed to get the game accepted for release by Nintendo, Rodriguez and McMillen said that they were “very persistent” and the game had several big fans in the company. Three individuals in particular pushed to have the game accepted: Steve Singer, vice president of licensing, Mark Griffin, a senior manager in licensing game development at Nintendo, and the company’s head of indie development, Dan Adelman.
“They all pushed hard for the game to happen. I’ve been pushing hard for this to happen too, with their help. I’m a huge Nintendo fan and it was a personal goal, not a stubborn goal, but a goal that I approached very amicably. I wanted them to know how important they are to me and how important it was to get the game on the platform.”
— Edmund McMillen
The approval came in the summer of 2014 after months of meetings and discussion. The developers had originally been considering adapting the game for the 3DS until the release of the New Nintendo 3DS, but felt that it would be too much wasted effort for too little reward. However, the New Nintendo 3DS allowed them to run the game at 60FPS and reuse a lot of original art while allowing them to remain true to the original.
The pair think that, though they won’t be shipping the New 3DS version with any of the newer content (such as the
After Birth DLC), they may add it as DLC for the platform down the line.
“If Nintendo’s infrastructure for DLC is better than it was during the Wii era, I think it’s possible,” he said. “We tried to do DLC for
Cave Story and the certification process was such a terrible disaster that we canned it and gave it away.” — Edmund McMillen
Overall, they are very pleased to finally bring the game to the 3DS.
“It’s great to finally release something on Nintendo consoles. I never expected my first game would be
Isaac though :)” — Edmund McMillen