Mr. Game & Watch is a retro character from a line of handhelds Nintendo released in the 1980s. One of his moves is reportedly a reference to “Fire Attack,” a 1982 game where the player is a Civil War-era general defending a fort from torch-wielding Indians. When he uses it, he transforms into a stereotypical Indian wearing a loincloth and feather, and he attacks with a flaming torch. Users on the gaming forum ResetEra first noticed the similarities during a recent Nintendo Direct livestream and called for its removal, calling it racist and unacceptable.
Please check and spread the below thread from ResetEra. Mr. Game & Watch's new forward smash in Smash Ultimate is a direct reference to a G&W game featuring racist depictions of Native Americans.
— ✨ gale. #BLM (@rr_gale) November 3, 2018
Nintendo edited “Fire Attack” when the game was re-released as part of the Game Boy compilation “Game & Watch Gallery 4” in 2002, according to Eurogamer. It removed the feather and loincloth. Now, it plans to do the same in “Ultimate.”
“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 said in a statement to Eurogamer. “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 apologise 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.”
So far, the Native American version of Mr. Game & Watch seems to only be in the Japanese version of the game. Promotional videos for the U.S. version show the character performing the flaming torch move without the offensive outfit.
“Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” comes out Dec. 7 exclusively on Nintendo Switch.