Most discussions about video game censorship in the 16-BIT era revolve around how the blood and guts were being removed from Super Nintendo games. Insert "Mortal Kombat sweat joke" here. Sometimes you'll hear about how religious references were censored to the point where "God" was transformed into a "car" in a Final Fight scene. One of the oddest bits of censorship had female enemies being removed from many games and replaced by male enemies. Sometimes these men were just copies of pre-existing enemies but quite a few used new sprites redrawn to fit the female hit boxes. For reasons that will be obvious to some of you and will be explained to the rest of the class later, I've decided to call these men by a new name: Sidbillies. Yeah, like that one cartoon but with a few less letters. The term has been on the Vernacula-X glossary here for a few years but I'm just now getting around to writing about it.
I don't know if this was a policy put in place by the console companies or self-imposed censorship from 3rd party game creators that didn't want to catch any flak from parents or groups of moral crusaders It's just odd that many companies seemed to do this during the same time period. As mentioned in nearly every Final Fight FAQ, a book titled "Game Over" tells a story where someone from Capcom USA brought up concerns about the male heroes beating up the women. This lead to the bad girls being replaced with new male sprites drawn to fit within Poison and Roxy's old attack and collision boxes. But was this Capcom's decision or was this a mandate by Nintendo? Pit-Fighter's bad girl Angel appears but has black pants edited over her original skimpy outfit while a Gorgons-Gone-Wild version of Madusa appears topless in Super Castlevania IV. Maybe Medusa just snuck in by being a monster. Catwoman was also allowed to remain in Batman Returns. I thought this may have been a trend where only the female drones were removed but Maximum Carnage has both a female boss and a female drone enemy. The focus seemed to be on female enemies in more realistic platformers and beat-em-ups.
Let's take a look at a few of the games with different types of Sidbillies.
Final Fight (SNES)
The SNES port of Final Fight is probably the most well known case of Sidbillyism if not the first. Why? Because Final Fight was a huge arcade hit back then with Poison and Roxy were even more well-known and popular than most of the bosses in the game. Yes, even more popular than Two.P. Leaving the bad girls out of the game wasn't as much of a deal-breaker as it was yet another thing missing from the game like Guy, Rolento (and the entire round he's a boss of), Sodom and Damnd's real names, the alcoholic health items and the ability to have a two-player game. Billy and Sid, their replacements, had to be redrawn in same hitboxes spaces as Roxy and Poison or else they'd have to do some reprogramming. Another problem is how it looks like the designers were aiming at a punk rock vibe with them but they just wind up looking like a pair of skinny guys with belly shirts, bangle bracelets and slightly womanly walks. Sid and Billy made a
Sonic Blast Man (SNES)
Final Fight 2 (SNES)
Ninja Warriors Again (SNES)
Sunset Riders (SNES and Genesis)
This started as a Super Nintendo policy but some Genesis games began to use Sidbillies after the whole Congress vs. Video Game hearings in the mid 1990's. Sega was singled out of allowing blood in their home versions of Mortal Kombat and the untrue notion that Night Trap (Sega CD) had players trapping and killing innocent girls. Yes, really. This should tell you what kind of scrutiny the companies were under.
Robocop vs. Terminator (Genesis)
the Punisher (Genesis)
The quadruple-jointed ninja girls in the skintight outfits from the arcade game were replaced with... hold up, wait a minute. Are these supposed to be men or women? It looks like they drew some typical ninja pajamas over the original female sprite bodies but left the head and hair untouched. The face looks really mannish and they yell "OW!" and "YUAAAAAAH!!!" like the guys when they get hit and when they die. On the other hand, they still have their female Japanese names. Maybe they figured that English-speaking players wouldn't know. While that seems settled, look at that sprite up there and pay attention to the flashing circle. Is that a... breast? Dammit, stop looking at me like that and look at the sprite. What is that? Sure, I could just say, "That just the loose top of the shinobi shozaku uniform. It's hanging like that since the ninja is hunched over so stop obsessing over it." Forget that, I need the material for this page. Seriously, is this a gang of but-her-face female ninja assassins with horrible man voices or is there an entire ninja clan that only recruits men with womanly waists and perky breasts? In either case, what kind of crazy person decides to make a ninja clan of nothing but this? I thought the ninja in the arcade version were weird but this pretty much takes the cake, the cookies and all other nearby pastries.
So there you have it. Yet another phenomenon in the era of highly censored gaming that made some games more bizarre than they already were. The sidbilly concept seemed to live and die inside the 16-bit era of gaming. Eventually, games like Captain Commando, Combatribes, Final Fight 3 and Sonic Blast Man 2 and Streets of Rage 3 were released with all ladies intact. Sure, some of them were told to put a few more clothes on but that was the price of doing business in the 1990's. Less than a decade later, we went from playing toned-down beat-em-ups and side-scrollers with no villainous women to games where you can violently murder anybody right in the face on purpose AND be rewarded for it. Er... yay, progress?