Last week, Edmund McMillen announced that The Binding of Isaac: Rebith would finally come to Nintendo consoles (namely the Wii U and the New Nintendo 3DS). Of course, the game won’t be censored in any way, as that was a (rather obvious) April Fools.
The original game, The Binding of Isaac, came out in 2011 on PC, and later got a “Rebirth” version 3 years later in 2014, on PC, PS4 and PS Vita… and in a couple of weeks on Wii U and New Nintendo 3DS. It was originally supposed to come out on Nintendo 3DS, but Nintendo refused due to the “questionable religious content” of the game.
Tyrone Rodriguez explains that this refusal wasn’t simply due to that “questionable religious content”, but rather the very controversial nature of the game. But lots of things have changed since then, and especially Nintendo’s policies regarding what kind of content can or cannot be published on its platforms.
But after the first refusal, Tyrone Rodriguez and Edmund McMillen didn’t give up and perservered. If they managed to get The Binding of Isaac on Nintendo platforms, it was thanks to three key employees at Nintendo of America: Steve Singer (vice president of licensing), Mark Griffin (a senior manager in licensing game development), and Dan Adelman (former head of indie development).
They kept pushing hard for the game internally, which was quite important for Tyrone Rodriguez. After all, he admits being a huge Nintendo fan, and releasing The Binding of Isaac on a Nintendo platform was a huge personal goal of his. In fact, when he and Edmund McMillen first talked about the Rebirth version, they viewed it as a Nintendo-exclusive due to its Zelda-like gameplay.
But they weren’t quite sure the game would be approved by Nintendo (especially after the first refusal), as they were never given a proper “yes”, so they shifted it to PC and PlayStation 4 / Vita. Of course, the two developers were still in regular contact with Nintendo, and in the end, the game was eventually approved in Summer last year (after a long series of meetings).
However, there was a problem: the Rebith version added lots of new features, and even though they were able to make it run on the Nintendo 3DS, its quality wasn’t really satisfactory. In order to avoid releasing a subpar product, they looked at the New Nintendo 3DS. Thanks to the help of friends at Nintendo of America, they were among the very first american developers to get their hands on dev kits for this console.
Then, they found out that the New Nintendo 3DS was “a lot more powerful”, making it feasible to have the game run at 60 frames per second. In order to make the game run on the original 3DS, along with the procedurally generated dungeons, they would have had to redo all the art… which was quite excessive, especially for indie developpers.
Of course, they could have found a way to make the game work on the regular 3DS, but it would have taken a lot of time (more than a year), and it would’nt have been the same game. On the other hand, the New Nintendo 3DS version is exactly the same: no content was cut, no featured removed. In fact, the only real difference is the map on the bottom screen, and the UI.
Unfortunately, the game won’t ship with the After Birth DLC, though there is the possibility it will be released at a later date.
The Binding of Isaac: Rebith (Wii U / New 3DS eShop) should come out in June in North America.