Wii U Will Be The First Console To Launch With A CERO Z Game

By Spencer . October 4, 2012 . 2:49am


What’s CERO Z, you say? It’s the Japanese "adults only" rating for video games with excessive gore. CERO Z titles are held behind counters and retailers check your ID before selling the game to you. When the CERO Z rating was first added in 2006 it was taboo and some developers edited content to get a CERO D (17+) rating. That’s one of the reasons why Tecmo Koei removed decapitations from Ninja Gaiden Sigma.


The CERO Z rating is more common nowadays since more Western games are localized for Japan. Wii U will actually launch with a CERO Z game – Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. Wii had Red Steel, a CERO C (15+) title, as a launch game for Japan. The Nintendo 3DS launch line up in Japan only had CERO A and CERO B games.


Nintendo has taken steps in Japan to reach out to older gamers starting while keeping their family friendly image. They funded the ultraviolent giant slaying game Zangeki no Reginleiv from Earth Defense Force developer Sandlot. At the same time, Nintendo required all Wii and Nintendo 3DS games rated CERO C and had to be packaged in easily identifiable black boxes. They are the only hardware manufacture in Japan to do this. This balanced approach allows Nintendo to develop games that target adults like Bayonetta 2 without shedding their family friendly image.

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  • malek86

    That said, most of their Cero C+ titles got sent out with very little marketing and therefore often end up selling little. Meanwhile, NOA has not published a single M rated game for the Wii or DS, ever (incidentally, this means I won my bet with a fair few people). NOE is more similar to the japanese side, but apparently a bit more open to publizicing mature titles.

    Overall, I think they care a whole lot more about their family friendly image, with mature games being an afterthought. Like that family member everyone is ashamed of but they keep inviting at parties because it would be rude not to do so. 

    Fortunately with the 3DS things are slowly changing (Monster Hunter or Revelations, for example) and the Wii U looks like another step toward. We can only hope Bayonetta 2 will get a bigger push too.

    • Shiki


      • SolidusSnake


    • Budgiecat

      Conkers Bad Fur Day – M17 rating…..N64
      BMX XXX – M17 rating….Gamecube

      • malek86

        … you did read my post, yes? Cause I specifically said “published by Nintendo” (which BMX XXX wasn’t) and “for the Wii or DS” (which neither game was).

        I don’t care if the Wii got Madworld or whatever else. My point is that NOA themselves never published a game like that on the console, which speaks volumes about which kind of image they wanted. But at least Bayonetta 2 and NG3 mean things are gonna change on the Wii U.

        • Eternal Darkness on the GC… and I guess we can add NG3:RE to the list, which has been pushed alongside NSMBU in game retail.

  • SolidusSnake

    Cool, but like all Murkans I’m desensitized to gore. Make a console porn game and maybe I’ll be shocked. Maybe.

    • Andar

      Considering what the 360 is in Japan, and what happens when some people take it upon themselves to create something in the doujin PC game area, there really is nothing that will surprise me anymore.

      • SolidusSnake

        …you’re a good man, Croix

    • If I can see a eroge lk Muv Luv PS3 localised on PS360 then I’ll defin. be mind=blown.


    You also get a savage brow beating by the clerk.

    Nothing more depressing than that I tell you.

  • riceisnice

    Bayonetta, Ninja Gaiden 3, whatever giant booby game Monolith Soft makes, also the recent Fire Emblem game and it’s skankier models. I’m glad that Nintendo is embracing the more mature themes in life, but I’m not sure how to feel about this, heh…

    • Nameless App 1989

      Bayonetta is D-rated, that’s one rating away from Madworld, which was Z-Rated.

  • natchu96

    The west increased the CERO Z rating count just from influence by imports to Japan alone? Wow. Says a lot about east/west cultural discrepancies . . .

    • Same thing applies to US also:

      Persona 3 and 4 were rated T in Japan, but when it came to US ESRB gave it a M-rating.  Infamous was rated T in US, but it got a CERO Z in Japan and I check out the Japanese version, they didn’t add any graphic violence or any sexual content in the Japanese version, it’s the same like US.

  • I think that’s awesome that Western games get localized even though they have the CERO Z (A.O.) rating in Japan. God, why can’t North America just do that so we can get more awesome games too! (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

    • If I ever had the money, I’d love to have an “AO Only” localization branch. 

      I wouldn’t touch the audio, I know how the fans are XD

    • PreyMantis

      CERO Z is different from A.O. in terms of content censorship and cultural differences. Violence and crime to us here in North America is a little less jarring than to those in Japan. However, sex, pornography, or even just a little censored light-core sex scenes in games are a taboo here in North America. Just look at Mass Effect 2’s controversial sex scenes. It doesn’t even touch the likes of Japanese games’ typical loli eroge and it caused a huge uproar here.

      The only A.O. games that will be coming here from Japan, if they’re ever localized, are those porn games. This is very unfortunate for us because… uhh… you know… WANT!

    • British_Otaku

      Ratings aren’t always balanced.
      Ratchet and Clank was 3+ for the first three installments in the UK and all of which got stamped with the T rating for North America which I know isn’t exactly M for Mature, but it happened.

      Just because Germany and Australia (both have some reputation for refusing games – Like Germany refused MadWorld and many games with Nazi related content)  have open arms to a game doesn’t mean that the UK (overall not that different to North America till the BBFC clamps down and decides they won’t like the game through without being cut and censored multiple times – See Manhunt 2, then look at MadWorld which got through untouched).

      Ratings are fickle and often random things in one region based on cultural sensitivity to topics, but may be based on a period of alert (Manhunt 2 would have passed more easily if there wasn’t a murder connected to the original Manhunt in the UK – even if the victim owned it).

      Japanese games like MadWorld have been localised worldwide (for the most part, all three regions even if it isn’t legal to sell it in places). Hardly any games are Z rated anyway, even if they are you can find games which have more unsettling violence, more creepy settlings and characters and such in other games…

    • amagidyne

      I agree with some of your post. We do need to either break the
      ESRB’s control of the North American retail market or hope some devs
      make an AO title that is critically and commercially viable enough to
      inspire some changes. Right now the AO rating is a form of censorship.

      It’s bizarre when you compare MA-rated games to how
      much an R-rated film can get away with, even though filmmakers have an
      even older and crankier set of judges in the MPAA.

      But I really don’t think CERO is any better. I would have to assume a Z rating leads to headaches for retailers and a loss of profits as well. There has to be a reason so few Japanese games get a Z rating.

      • M’iau M’iaut

        But the ESRB isn’t the issue. They will rate anything as long as the fees are paid. It’s that none of the major console and handheld players have shown any willingness to allow their license. The reason there is clear, one AO means the legal doors are open for any AO. I know the days of the big porn companies showing interest in such fields is largely done, but that would not stop some fly-by-night who likely would have the worst of that genre.

        Then its finding a storefront. Again, here the brick and mortars as well as AMZN have stated no direct sales of AO through them. Leaving company direct and RightStuff as about it. Those are awfully hard hurdles to overcome from the making a profit side.

  • Demeanor

    I’m not at all concerned with ratings, but Nintendo’s effort to gain a foothold in the  “darker lands” means that pushing the right buttons they could quite easily steal fanbase from the other competitors.
    What I mean is: – Nintendo has cero z games! Ok, so what? – Nintendo has an exclusive called Bayonetta 2! Wait what? I want it but it’s not enough to sell me a whole system. – Hey did you know that all multiplat harcore games like, I dunno, a Dark Souls sequel, are going to be on Nintendo’s console as well, and plus they’ve announced Valkyria Chronicles 4. SMTIV HD and Shadow Hearts 4 as WiiU exclusives? ***darts to buy console***

    I wouldn’t know whether to be worried (region lock, monopoly…) or happy (VC? SH? hell yeah!).

    This is all just speculation though.

  • Budgiecat

    I bet one day we Ninja Gaiden Sigma 3

  • Nice to see Nintendo up the ante for their hardcore audience.

  • neo_firenze

    Good to see that the rating (including the inevitable M rating for the North American release) isn’t preventing Nintendo from releasing the game.

    As for the game, Ninja Gaiden 3:
    Razor’s Edge really looks like it will fix the issues with the original
    NG3 release.  I’m very much looking forward to getting it with my WiiU
    system, probably more than any other launch day game.

  • The opposite of North America. We are not afraid of excessive gore in our games… just don’t show nipples to our children.

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