I’ve been trying to complete my NES collection. I don’t want to get every NES game. There are just too many. But I’ve set my sights on getting every Nintendo-made NES game. To do that, I needed a list of those games. I got that list from Wikipedia. As I perused it, I saw all the old favorites: Zelda, Super Mario Bros., Metroid, Kung Fu, etc. I also saw some I’d heard of but wasn’t that family with: Family Team Games, Dance Aerobics, Anticipation. And then I found this one:
Devil World was one of the black label games, the games that were released at the beginning of the NES era. Not only so, but it was created by video game superstar Shigeru Miyamoto. Yet I had never heard of it before. How could that be? Well, it turns out that Devil World is pretty heavy on religious imagery. You played a dragon who tried to clear a Pac-Man-like maze while collecting Bibles and crosses. From what I understand, Nintendo had a strict policy against such imagery, at least for their North America releases. Usually, the iconography was just scrubbed out, as in Castlevania (ever wonder why what looks like a cross is called a “boomerang”?). In Devil World’s case, the imagery was too pervasive to be scrubbed out, and so the game was never released in America. It was released on the Famicon, though, and a European version was released as well.
I’m not sure if the European version will play in a North American NES, but you can use a Famicon converter (such as can be found inside some games) to play the Japanese version.
I can’t say it’s a shame we didn’t get to have it back then. It is basically a Pac-Man clone (albeit a clever and stylistic one), and I doubt I would have played it any more than Clu Clu Land or Urban Champion. But it is a big shame I didn’t know about it back then. The idea of a banned NES game would have been an awesome bomb to drop on my middle school friends.