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Once upon a time, the North American video game market was incredibly squeamish about gory content. The blood and guts present in Japanese releases were painstakingly removed, most hilariously with the North American version of Neo Geo title Samurai Shodown, which retailed for $200 in 1993. Apparently the game’s producers thought their customer base was old enough to have that kind of cash in their pockets, but still too young to handle the sight of a little crimson hemoglobin, so they replaced the fountains of blood that occurred in the game’s swordfights with geysers of what appeared to be highly pressurized milk.

Eventually, everyone saw how silly this was. Gamers as a whole were getting older and more mature, and the youth of Japan, where this kind of content had been allowed for years, weren’t turning into crazed remorseless killing machines. So restrictions were loosened, allowing games like Grand Theft Auto to top North American sales charts.

Now, things have come full circle, as a side by side video comparison of publisher Konami’s Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes shows less graphic content in its Japanese version.

We don’t think we’re spoiling anything when we say that the end of Ground Zeroes contains a couple of plot twists. After all, this is Metal Gear Solid, a franchise with a narrative so full of convoluting fake-outs that in its second installment the player is treated to shocking reveals late in the game regarding what an acronym stands for.

Still, if you don’t want us to spoil part of Ground Zeroes’ story for you, stop reading here, then come back in a few hours after you’ve beaten the notoriously short teaser for the full-length Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Okay, all set? Ah, one more thing before we go on. You know how at RocketNews24 our articles often feature images of awesome giant robots, natural beauty, or cute costumed pets? Well, today, we’ll be showing you an extremely detailed, next-generation video game cutscene of surgery being performed on a young woman without anesthesia.

▼ If that makes you feel squeamish, feel free to stop right here and spend the rest of the afternoon looking at this photo of a baby rabbit. Awww.

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Okay, let’s get this show on the road. We join the action as Metal Gear’s protagonist, Snake, is flying away from a secret American military prison in Cuba, where he’s just successfully extracted two of his former comrades, child soldier Chico and espionage operative Paz.

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But wait!

It turns out Snake’s opponents knew he would come to rescue Paz, and they’ve implanted a bomb in the young woman’s body to finish off our hero. They’ll have to operate, and there’s no time to administer any anesthetics!

Now, let’s sit back and watch as Snake and his medic cut Paz open. The images on the right appear in the North American release, while the left side shows the Japanese version.

We don’t spot any differences for roughly the first minute of the scene, but things change once the medical procedure gets underway. Gamers in North America are shown the nitty gritty steps of the incision being stretched open, while in the Japanese version, the camera shifts to show Chico’s pained reaction to what’s unfolding in the helicopter.

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Next, the doctor has to reach inside Paz’s body and pull out the explosive. While the Japanese scene doesn’t shift its focus completely away, it still leaves much more ot the imagination than the uncensored version.

▼ By the way, that’s popular anime voice actress/vocalist Nana Mizuki screaming her lungs out as Paz.

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Even once the bomb is removed, the North American version shows far more literally juicy details.

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In either form, it’s a disturbing scene, but one that series creator and director Hideo Kojima says was absolutely necessary, despite some members of the game’s development staff voicing their strong opposition to its inclusion. Kojima has recently spoken of how such raw, unflinching material is necessary to push gaming to greater narrative heights, and to the scene’s more specific purpose of establishing Snake’s all-consuming desire for revenge that will drive his character through the events of the upcoming The Phantom Pain.

The directorial choice seems to at least have had the intended effect on Ground Zeroes’ voice actors, who were said to have broken down in tears and needed frequent breaks to compose themselves while recording the scene’s dialogue.

In light of Kojima’s bold assertions and the testimonial provided by the vocal cast’s reaction, some gamers in Japan are upset at Ground Zeroes pulling its punches in its Japanese version.

“Why did they do this when the North American version isn’t even that gory?”

“How come the Japanese version is censored like this? There are tons of movies made in Japan with scenes like this.”

“Am I the only one who thinks the censored version seems more disturbing?”

While it’s true that Japanese cinema, from samurai classics to third-rate direct-to-video action flicks, have shown buckets of blood for years, rating standards are different for films and games, and it’s likely Ground Zeroes’ producers wanted to avoid getting slapped with the most restrictive rating, which is often placed on titles with detailed depictions of violence and injuries such as Grand Theft Auto and Skyrim.

Debates about artistic integrity aside, not everyone in Japan seems to mind the edited version, such as this satisfied gamer,

“I watched both versions, and I think they did a pretty good job of censoring it without changing the effect of the scene. The Japanese version has its good points too, like how you can see what Snake and Chico are feeling when the camera shows their reactions.”

We have to agree that in either form, the scene is shocking on a level not often seen in video games. It’s definitely grabbed gamer’s attentions and has them anxious to see how Snake will retaliate. The Phantom Pain doesn’t have a firm release date yet, but in the meantime, you can find us preparing for the next title in the Metal Gear saga by trying to recover from the trauma caused by what happened to poor Paz in the best way we know how.

▼ With more bunnies

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Sources: Jin, YouTube
Top image: YouTube
Insert images: The Design Inspiration, Gamr Review, YouTube, Blogspot