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Nintendo to remove racist Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Game & Watch imagery

An old-school Game & Watch reference came under fire, prompting response

Mr. Game & Watch holding a bell in a screenshot from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Nintendo

Nintendo intends to patch out offensive imagery from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, after fans pointed it out following last week’s Nintendo Direct. A racist depiction of Native Americans included in Mr. Game & Watch’s move set led to widespread criticism, prompting an apology from the company.

A Japanese livestream hosted after the Nintendo Direct showcased Mr. Game & Watch, the throwback fighter who draws on Nintendo’s early portable game history, using an attack where he dons a feather and torches his enemies. The silhouette comes from a 1982 Game & Watch handheld, Fire Attack, where players are a cowboy warding off Native Americans that set fire to his fort. When Nintendo included Fire Attack in the Game Boy Advance compilation Game & Watch Gallery 4, however, it removed the feathers and headdresses from the Native American-themed characters.

Watch Mr. Game & Watch perform the move quickly in the GIF below, right before his competitor King Dedede hammers him off the platform

A .gif of an offensive image of Game and Watch in SSBU
If you watch it a few times at the very start, you’ll catch it.
Nintendo via Polygon

Interestingly, this image is seen only in the Japanese version of the Nintendo Direct. A recent video distributed to Western audiences shows Game & Watch performing the same move, but rendered differently.

The new outfit for Mr. Game & Watch stands as a tiny alteration of a familiar attack in his moveset — but one that viewers did not fail to notice. A lengthy ResetEra thread over the weekend compiled these concerns, with many users suggesting that Nintendo should alter the design as soon as possible. When reached for comment by several of these posters, Nintendo said that it will alter Mr. Game & Watch’s appearance post-launch.

“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 company told Polygon in a statement. “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 are continuing our work to make Super Smash Bros. Ultimate an experience that is both welcoming and fun for everyone.”

We’ve reached out to Nintendo for clarification on when we should expect the update and will add that information accordingly. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will come to Nintendo Switch on Dec. 7, so expect something around then. In the meantime, catch up on everything else you need to know about the game with our explainer.