Publication date of the original Japanese article: 2021-10-20 19:26 (JST)
Translated by. Nick Mosier
Developer Puppet Combo released Murder House on the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on October 14. The survival horror game initially launched on Steam last year and holds an “Overwhelmingly Positive” user review rating.
One of the game’s big draws is its grotesque depiction of horror. But it’s not just what’s in the game that has people talking. Murder House is also becoming a hot topic for its downright terrifying home screen icon on the Nintendo Switch.
[UPDATE 2021/10/21 19:00 JST] Changed the headline to clarify the subject matter.
In Murder House, a local television station crew breaks into the abandoned house of serial killer Anthony Smith to shoot a haunted house story. This serial killer, dubbed the Easter Ripper, was supposedly already executed, but we find out that may not be the case when the player starts getting chased by a bloodthirsty maniac in a bunny costume.
The game’s graphics bear a strong resemblance to the PS1 era of gaming, and include filters to give the game a grainy CRT feel. The retro look is a big part of how it depicts its sense of horror. On top of that, even the home screen icon has players trembling in fear.
The icon is the face of the bunny costume worn by the Easter Ripper. In the game, this gruesome murderer walks around killing people with a sickle, but the blacked-out eyes and tears of blood on the costume alone are enough to make your skin crawl. It’s more than adequate to make players scared before they even start the game.
For icons on the Nintendo Switch home screen, it’s generally preferable that it showcases something like key art for the game, along with the game’s title or logo. Something that makes the game easy to identify at a glance when lined up with numerous other titles. While Murder House doesn’t even have a logo on its icon, the close-up of the rabbit face alone leaves quite an impact.
Some players have posted on social media that they were greeted with a jump scare right after purchasing the game and returning to their home screen. With that, and the icon not having the kind of careful design as mentioned above, some players are requesting that Puppet Combo change it. The studio responded with a short and sweet “No.” I don’t know whether the aim is for it to scare players or not, but they seem particular about their icon.
In Japan, the game was released on the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One on October 14. In contrast to the Steam version, it also features a Japanese language option. However, the game was removed from the Nintendo eShop on October 19 in Japan. As of this writing, Puppet Combo hasn’t released any announcements regarding its removal, so the reason for it is currently unknown.
The current theory is that it has something to do with the game’s rating. The game received its rating from a group called IARC, which specializes in downloadable titles, and was rated at 16+ when it went live. But if you check the Microsoft Store, the game is listed as 18+. The basis for the rating was originally listed as “Strong violence”, but now it is listed as “Extreme Violence” and “Strong Language”. It seems like the game was re-examined after release and received a new rating.
Use of IARC ratings on the Japanese Nintendo Switch eShop were allowed starting in September of last year. But if ratings are over a fixed age bracket, Nintendo will remove permission for the game to be distributed on the eShop (related article in Japanese). With that in mind, we can infer that rating is possibly 18+. But as mentioned before, the official reason the game was removed from the Japanese eShop is unknown at this time. We’ve reached out to Puppet Combo for more information and will update the article if there are any new developments.