An Open Letter To Nintendo Re: The Binding of Isaac

Hey, Nintendo. How’ve you been? I hear the 3DS is selling better. That’s cool. Good for you.

I don’t expect this letter will mean much. You’ve proven that people need to shout at you with a megaphone, en masse, in order for you to listen to them. Regardless, there’s something I need to say.

You need to approve The Binding of Isaac for the 3DS eShop. Seriously, if this ball is in your court, then you need to make a play, and do it without running around in circles for months to a year. Honestly, you should be the ones approaching great independent developers about making downloadable games for the 3DS and Wii U, and you certainly shouldn’t turn down those who already want to appear on these systems.

Quality indie content like The Binding of Isaac can only help your platform. Over the past month or so, the eShop has seen some huge releases in the forms of Pushmo, Mighty Switch Force and VVVVVV. These games have made the eShop (which still has its own host of problems) a worthwhile place to hunt for new game experiences.  Keep the train rolling. VVVVVV in particular was a great addition because it’s an indie darling already, and there was an established userbase anxious to try the game in glasses-free 3D. The Binding of Isaac will draw a similar (and perhaps bigger) crowd, I assure you.

Of course, one of the main reasons we’re even worrying about the fate of Isaac on the 3DS is the religious elements, which Nintendo has been known to shy away from in the past. The Binding of Isaac was made by an atheist, yet a Biblical story as the basis for a violent and in many ways disturbing video game. There are plenty of Christians that would take issue with it, sure. They will probably take a quick glance at its intro movie and scoff at the way it portrays crazy Christians.

But I’m a Christian, and I think The Binding of Isaac is a great game. Not only that, I actually think it a worthwhile message. I’ve finished the Steam version three times so far, and I plan on going back for more. You know what would make it easier to go back for more? If it were on my 3DS, in my pocket wherever I go.

I’m not alone as a Christian that finds the game intriguing at the very least. Christ and Pop Culture put it on their Favorite Games of 2011 list. One of the site’s editors, Drew Dixon (also a pastor), had good things to say about it in his review for Paste. But there’s more to it than that.

It’s not that The Binding of Isaac doesn’t sometimes make me uncomfortable – because it does. Both as a Christian and as a human being that hurts deeply for victims of child abuse, Isaac’s world and story can be unsettling. But for games to be taken seriously as an art form, we need to be made uncomfortable sometimes. For you to be taken seriously by hardcore gamers and indie developers again, Nintendo, you need to let them create the experiences they need to create.

I can understand when you enforce limits on sex, nudity, whatever. You put families first, that’s fine. I get it. But let the developers thrive. Let them create experiences that push us a little. Let them appeal to more mature audiences. Let them share sales data, for goodness’ sake. Embrace them. And more than that, promote them. Grab a 3DS port of The Binding of Isaac and boast about it. Let the world know that this experience is available on your platform.

I love my 3DS, especially now that more quality games have started to arrive on the platform. But the more good games, the better. I want to play The Binding of Isaac on the go. Please let it happen.

Follow Britton Peele on Twitter.

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2 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Nintendo Re: The Binding of Isaac

  1. Yyyyyeah, I don’t think they’re bothered with the religious part as much as they’re bothered about that part where you fight a centipede made out of heads with anuses in a dung-filled dungeon(Larry Jr) or the obviously malformed cojoined twins(Gemini); or those parts with the lumpy-headed people that are always crying in pain and when you kill them their heads explode with flies; or that part where you fight Lust and she(?) is a disease-infested imp.

    What I mean is that the game is disturbing, and it was made to be so. It’s almost gratuitously so(also: dog foot and rotten meat are labeled “Lunch” and “Dinner”). There were disturbing moments in Nintendo games before, yes(Majora’s Mask comes to mind), but this is different. This is a creepy-fest. If Big N does approve this, it’ll be a heck of a bold move, and kudos to them!

    But if they don’t, they’re not wrong. They have an audience and an image to preserve, and I don’t think anyone ever bought a Nintendo console/handheld anticipating all the mature games they were going to play…

    INB4: Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Yea, but it was only once. With a good reason.

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