Hardcore Gaming 101 made a pretty interesting discovery over the weekend. Nintendo’s censorship policies during the NES years were incredibly strict; nothing controversial could be mentioned, which included any form or hint at religion or politics. The ban extended to historical figures like Hitler, who had his name changed in the localized version of Bionic Commando (but his head still exploded).
There is an exception, however. For some reason, a Japanese-exclusive command-based adventure game (think Maniac Mansion) was released for the Famicom Disk System in 1991 that broke every single rule Nintendo had laid down for itself. The rules were far stricter in the US and Europe, of course, but in this case, the game seems to go out of its way to use every forbidden topic it can.
Time Twist is about a boy who lives in Tokyo in the far-flung future of four years after the game’s release (1995). While in a museum, he hears of some incantation that’s supposed to make any girl fall in love with you (his target is the girl on the box, who barely factors into the story at all). But oops, the spell doesn’t do that, instead it allows a demon to possess his body. Now floating around as a ghost, he has no choice but to chase the demon around through time and undo all the damage he’s trying to cause.
Since he can’t affect history directly as a ghost, he has to hop from body to body, and the only way to switch is if the host goes unconscious. The first body he takes over is a Frenchman named Pierre from the time of Joan of Arc, and he leaves that body by making Pierre drink himself into the ground. That’s just the beginning of the lines this game’s going to cross.
From that point he travels to a Nazi concentration camp, a slave plantation (where he gets hung by the KKK) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ, where the demon actually TAKES POSSESSION of Christ and you’re forced to fight him. Eventually you’re able to travel to the precise time before all this started and prevent it from ever happening. But there’s a “Here We Go Again” ending with the girl. so…there’s an opening for a sequel if they ever dare.
This was the last game released in physical form for the Famicom Disk System (there were some released after it, but they were only available within the disk-rewriting machines). It’s never been released again, never ported or rereleased on Virtual Console in any region. Nintendo seems to be embarrassed by the existence of this and has done everything they can not to call attention to it, and until now, they succeeded. And that’s incredible: It’s insane that the Internet has existed for this long, yet the general public had no idea Time Twist existed until now.