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It's not hard to see why Carmageddon ran into trouble. Although it has the outward appearance of a conventional racing game, underneath its veneer-thin skin beats the heart of a vicious, violent and downright irresponsible smash-em-up racer where running over pedestrians isn't just accepted, it's actually encouraged. In other words, it's tremendous fun. Initially banned by censors in the UK, the ruling was eventually overturned on appeal -- but for a while, British consumers looking for high-octane, pedestrian-crushing thrills had to make do with a version of the game that replaced the passers-by with green-blooded zombies.
Wolfenstein 3D (Apogee Software)
Classic first-person shooter Wolfenstein 3D ran into a heap of trouble at its release in Germany, where stringent legislation prevents the sale of material depicting symbols associated with the Nazi administration. Castle Wolfenstein, where the game was set, prominently featured swastika logos, and the game used the Nazi party's anthem as its theme song. This didn't sit well with the German courts, which banned various versions of the game in the mid-90s.
Mortal Kombat (Midway)
One of the original video game nasties, this classic beat-em-up is pretty pedestrian by modern standards. But its release on home consoles, complete with all the over-the-top violence that's become its trademark, came close to prompting a Congressional investigation into the game industry's tactics. Fortunately, the industry association at the time had the foresight to form a self-regulating body that would issue age recommendations to all video games before they went on sale, preventing violent or explicit games from falling into the hands of minors. The Entertainment Software Rating Board, or ESRB, born.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (Take 2)
San Andreas shot to fame for all the wrong reasons following the release of the PC version of the game in 2005. Already a lightning rod of the games-are-evil crowd, the game's notoriety exploded when it emerged that it contained a hidden mini-game, dubbed "Hot Coffee," featuring the star, um, getting affectionate with an admirer. Not only were they both clothed, but you couldn't actually play the mini-game without modifying the software, which wasn't exactly easy. None of this mattered to the ESRB, however, which slapped an "Adults Only" rating on the title, and it disappeared from shelves until Rockstar removed the offending content and re-released the game.
Nintendo's smash hit Pokemon series earned a ban not for its devastating addictiveness or terrible TV show spinoffs, but for promoting Zionism. Who'd do something like that? That Mecca of religious tolerance, Saudi Arabia, that's who. The Islamic state's religious authorities handed down a ban on all Pokemon material in 2001 over the game's use of six-pointed Star of David symbols and alleged encouragement of gambling. Pikachu, I ban you!
BMX XXX (Acclaim)
Although this spin-off of Acclaim's Dave Mirra-endorsed extreme sports games gained the reputation of being crammed to the gunwales with nudity, you actually had to play some considerable distance into the game to unlock the "goods." Thankfully, the game was so crummy that nobody bothered. That didn't stop the notoriously harsh Australian equivalent of the ESRB from banning the game, although it was released in uncensored form on the Xbox and Gamecube in other territories.