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Thursday, April 21, 2022

Censorship? Contrived Chrono Cross Controversy

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - ...Well, MOST of that headline is actual alliteration.

Ever since Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition was announced at the February 2022 Nintendo Direct, I've wanted to hear more about it. For... a very long time now, I've only read bad things about Chrono Cross—though I've heard very good things about it because its music is fantastic. But I don't know how much of the bad things are because Chrono Cross deserves it and has real flaws, and how much of the bad stuff that's said about it is because of perpetually triggered Chrono Trigger fans complaining because Chrono Cross is not a real sequel.

I see Chrono Cross as in a similar situation to the likes of Paper Mario: Color Splash and Paper Mario: The Origami King—polarising games with fantastic soundtracks but iffy gameplay and relatively-pointless-to-enter, slow combat that are demonised by fans of the earlier game in the series (Chrono Trigger or Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door) that won't give it a chance for being something different.


I'll probably get Chrono Cross when it's on sale (which I'm sure will happen at least once this calendar year); though it's already only $20. The remaster adds “cheats” that serve as potential quality-of-life features... plus RADICAL DREAMERS - Le Trésor Interdit - exists. There are upscaled graphics, and the frame rates are very similar (or worse) to what they were on the original PlayStation... which isn't a good thing, but not the absolute worst thing for a turn-based RPG.

But that's not actually the worst thing about this Chrono Cross remaster. Not according to “anti-censorship” critics. The worst thing is that the nine-year old diva character Marcy has slightly longer underpants beneath her tutu. Critics consider this “censorship” and claim that they won't buy the game because of it. While I find the screenshot comparison a tad distasteful in that hyperlinked source (and that whole source, Sankaku Complex, is distasteful), I will supply this related image instead:


Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations 9 years old Larry Butz Pearl Fey break some rule pedophile
You and me both, Phoenix Wright.


That Sankaku Complex article (which, as far as I can tell, is a nest of perverts targeting Japanese culture), alongside its collection of creepy commenters, believe that Square Enix is out to harm the notion of “feminine sex appeal” by having the nine-year-old's remastered 3D model have marginally longer underwear. Personally, I don't believe small children inherently have sex appeal to begin with. But what do I know? I don't find anything sexually appealing. Anyway, they have other complaints about the game's slightly adjusted script (which they deem to be censorship), which apparently replaces vague gendered references with specific words that doesn't rely on whatever society considers gender-specific behaviour at the time to get the meaning. And they also changed a recruitable voodoo doll's speech quirk to be less quirky. (They didn't explain what exactly that's censoring.) And this censorship defies borders; not only are these changes reflected in the Japanese script, but apparently some of these changes are EXCLUSIVE to the Japanese script!

Let's get my position out of the way: I don't believe that localisation is censorship. If it's the same company and rights-holder that makes changes from one build of a game to another because they are making decisions that they believe will help the game's sales viability, that, by definition, isn't censorship. Censorship requires some kind of outside force, like a government or a mob. When Valve and CD Projekt bent to the Chinese Communist Party and had Devotion by Red Candle Games removed from their distribution platforms because of a reference to Xi Jinping's resemblance to Winnie the Pooh, THAT'S censorship. The homosexual lobby manipulating the media and online search engine results to make all queries of Tomodachi Life about the “Miiquality” movement in an effort to ruin the sales of Tomodachi Life and the reputation of Nintendo because it didn't have gay marriage? That was an attempt at censorship. Bad stuff.

While I'm not entirely sure why Square Enix made the changes they did (and in the grand scheme of the vast amounts of dialogue in the game, they are incredibly minor changes that absolutely don't affect your game experience... although I can confirm that people at the time of the original game noticed Marcy's underwear), it's not my role to defend them but to say that it can't be censorship. If you want to make your position that you just hate any change at all, alright, but “censorship” is a purposefully loaded term used to get hate-clicks and attention. If you find issue with some words being changed and believe that words matter, then you shouldn't use the word censorship because that's not what the word means. I'm not going to sit here and nod my head as these anti-censorship grifters try to give a negative connotation to you changing your own mind about something. I am not making a strawman argument. That's literally what they're deeming censorship.

As research for what the anti-censorship crowd believes, I listened to these two videos about the Chrono Cross remaster's “censorship” from this YouTuber named Vara Dark. She cumulatively has 10,000+ views across 18 minutes of highly repetitive content... and really all of her videos (that I watched) are like that. There are several other content creators just like her with the same gimmick of making content where they're outraged at society and culture for “wokeness” and “censorship.” The comments section is similarly filled with morons. She offers little analysis and zero nuance, just reading off the already-stupid Sankaku Complex articles and claiming “censorship” every half a minute or so trying to drum up a storm by making disingenuous statements in the most grating voice... when she's not promoting her Patreon or whatever. Clearly there's no talent involved. It's a pretty sweet grifting act. The point is that there's little intellectual basis with this crowd, which resorts to little-known scapegoats and boogeymen like the “Square Enix Ethics Department” and “Western culture” attacking Japan. Rather than engage with the truth (which isn't really known), they make up (or speculate) and get caught up in their own narrative.

I wonder if the anti-censorship crowd was as happy as I was about how faithful Pokémon Shining Pearl and Pokémon Brilliant Diamond are. After all, the dialogue stayed the same. It wasn't “censored” or changed. That's what they want, right? Wouldn't it be “calls for censorship”, by their definition, to demand that Pokémon Platinum plotlines (and more?) would come to remasters of Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl, which are different games? If the games’ original creators (GAME FREAK) WANT to focus on Diamond and Pearl and keep it the same, then how is that different than wanting Chrono Cross to be exactly the same? I think it's up to the rights-holder on what to do with their own work.

By the way, Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition has a “classic” mode which does keep the graphics the same—though it's unclear to me from research if the dialogue changes are in classic as well. The fact they included that probably means things like the little girl's underwear being changed in the HD version means that it would've looked like that to begin with if the original PlayStation wasn't such a weak console, and these changes are actually closer to what it should've been all along. What the anti-censorship crowd really wants is to own things that aren't theirs to own, and that makes them no different than the pro-censorship mob...


Update, April 22, 2022: Rather late update since the article was published for me to add a whole extra paragraph or two. Does that count as “censoring” my original vision by changing how the article ends? I'd like to know at what point in the game development process something goes from “artistic vision” to “censorship”. It's all within the same company or group of contractors. Which department is considered the enemy? Is it your company's quality assurance/game testing teams? The localisation team? Is it your boss when they say your idea sucks and shoots it down? Is it censorship when the executives come in and say this game needs this feature and you need to chop off this other feature you had your heart set on in order to have the same release date? I wonder how many of these anti-censorship advocates have ever worked in game development before... or any creative project involving multiple people, actually. Again, this whole discussion is because they believe changes that materialise as a result of working in a company with multiple cooks in the kitchen are censorship. If an entirely unrelated party interferes, that's another situation altogether.


Ludwig swears that he is against censorship... as long as the word is used in its proper definition. That's why the KoopaTV comments section is a free place to comment without content moderation, even if you're an idiot. ...If you'd like to actually talk about Chrono Cross, please do so, like by discussing if purchasing the game is worth it on the merits of the game itself, not because of a deluded notion that you must oppose all “censorship” and will boycott the game because of that. By the way, this was KoopaTV's 2400th published article.

14 comments :

  1. Always appreciating alliteration, am I.

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    1. Here's my alliterative article headline for... the year, probably.

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  2. (I saw the alliterative headline and expected a Soseki screenshot.)

    "Censorship" complaints can be very strange. I'll never forget people insisting Xenoblade Chronicles X was *censoring religious references* because the name of the faction that recovers lost debris/items was changed to "Reclaimers" in the English script from "Testament" in the Japanese script.

    ...Or people calling it censorship when Bravely Second came out in Japan and Japanese audiences widely criticized one aspect for being tedious, so Square Enix made it less tedious in the localized version.

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    1. (Should I have put TWO Ace Attorney screenshots in an article that has nothing to do with Ace Attorney? Because the one I used is literally perfect.)

      I'm appreciative of the fact that Fire Emblem fans don't consider it "censorship" when Nintendo removed "Maniac Mode" from the localisation of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, because "Maniac Mode" involves extremely tedious waves of enemies that are noticeably more bulky than "Hard Mode" but retain low damage output, so it just takes a long time (combined with the lack of animation-skipping) and isn't fun.

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  3. Wow! That is the first time I’ve seen the term “censorship” be used out of context…

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    1. As I was gettin' at, there's a whole little industry of people who make their money by getting a lot of people not to know what "censorship" means.

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  4. How about Contrived Chrono Cross Censorship Controversy

    I don’t really care about the dress change, but I have heard some of the dialogue has been edited. One of the characters who is a broom/tree used to have an accent and they removed it. Kinda weird, I guess they thought maybe someone’s mistake the broom/trees accent as a racial stereotype do some sort? . Side tangent, I wonder how former Enix employees feel about Square Enix just being referred to as Square by so many of the Internet. I know you didn’t do, but so so many do.

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    1. I'd rather have the four K-sounds in a row than break it up with the S censorship.

      I asked in the comments section of that YouTuber I namedropped how someone knows they changed Mojo's speech quirk for a political reason. They said Square Enix changed it "so sjws don't get offended." I asked how they know that's why it was changed, because Square Enix has made no comments to that effect. No reply yet.
      I'd like to know what racial stereotype is involved here. <_<;

      Enix would have a better reputation if they brought much more of their games outside of Japan!

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    2. Oh yeah, I didn’t think of the sound of it. I really want a reason too, because there was literally no reason to change anything other than bugs. Enix has started to rerelease some of their games, I think that they were the ones who merged with the company that made Actraiser. I’d count those as Enix games now, since the original company died a looong time ago anyway. Of course actraiser “remaster” looked like sludge, but thats besides the point.

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    3. That's why I suggested in the sub-header that it's MOSTly alliteration.

      I got a reply basically saying that Square Enix won't make a statement because they want to hide that they're making these changes. (And that it was "clearly" for political reasons despite... no evidence of that.)

      Apparently the accents were made from an automatic generator as opposed to being... hard-written in? Perhaps that has to do with things. Maybe it really is a bug. The original Steam thread that those outlets cited has since edited its main post to say that Mojo's speech patterns differ inconsistently.

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    4. Accent generator? That’s cool but what’s the practicality to that. An rpg is usually hours long, So if someone ever did replay the game years later it’s not like they’d be amazed that some random npc has a different accent then the first time they played the game. If they even remembered the character at all.

      Does “Mojo’s speech patterns differ inconsistently” differ by each players game or by every localization attempt. Unless I’ve gotten something confused.

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    5. Mojo's speech patterns differ inconsistently between Chrono Cross PlayStation 1 and Chrono Cross 2022 remaster. So he has his "censored" accent in the 2022 remaster in certain spots but not others, and I believe the difference is where the accent generator was applied. (I don't know why there was an accent generator to begin with in the original game, but I did read back before the remaster was ever announced that people thought the whole accent system was stupid.)

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  5. They using english+jp interface ps1 chronocross to check the difference.
    I think people who doing it is chronocross big fans. Thanks to them i know now they start inserting politics in their games. only sjw hate be manly/be girly word and it's not weird at all knowing how the story settings in that game.

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    1. Thanks for commenting.
      People who make the comparisons are Chrono Cross fans. Not only did they get the remaster, but they also have the original PS1 game AND remember it well enough to notice minor text changes on relatively trivial dialogue. That takes some dedication.
      Content creators/media outlets who take those comparisons and make a whole political song-and-dance about them and say to boycott Square Enix or wotever likely aren't Chrono Cross fans. They're drive-by media, going from one faux-outrage story to the next. In a few months, they'll never think about Chrono Cross again. They'll have a few dozen other things to complain about.

      Anyway, as someone who dislikes SJWs and is also a writer, it's a stretch to say swapping out "manly" or "ladylike" for more specific words (this is objectively better writing and in absolutely no way takes away from the original script but is the same or better) is "inserting politics in their games." If anything, it's... removing politics from their games if you think hard enough about it.
      I mean, if I was a social justice warrior and my goal was to pollute the minds of people playing games, I'd change the actual plot and have it be something that someone playing the game for the first time ever would play and come away with a certain point of view. You know, like FINAL FANTASY VII and environmentalism/anti-capitalism.

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