Mr. Game & Watch in the Super Smash Bros series has always been a throwback to Nintendo‘s line of portable games from the 1980s. The character’s decades-old design has come under new scrutiny after fans noticed offensive imagery during one of his attacks. The offending material will be patched out of Super Smash Bros Ultimate after it launches.
Fans of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate noticed a racist depiction of Native Americans was part of Mr. Game & Watch’s moveset. A Japanese livestream of the game brought the design, which sees Mr. Game & Watch don a feather on his head in a caricature of some Native American cultures, into question. The imagery has long been seen as offensive by Native Americans, and brought criticism to Nintendo, which has issued a statement regarding the headdress.
“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 are continuing to work to make Super Smash Bros Ultimate an experience that is both welcoming and fun for everyone.”
The 1982 Game & Watch title Fire Attack originated the silhouette for Mr. Game & Watch. Interestingly, Nintendo removed the feathers and headdresses from the game in a Game Boy Advance compilation of Game & Watch titles. The imagery only appears in the Japanese livestream of the new Super Smash Bros. title, as a recent Western video depicting Mr. Game & Watch did not include the headdress. Mr. Game & Watch first appeared in Super Smash Bros. Melee, and that game’s Western release did not include the offensive material. It’s unclear why the imagery existed in the Japanese version of Super Smash Bros Ultimate at all.