Country that banned it: Germany
Although Germany has a strict reputation for rules and censorship, a 2003 ruling has actually prevented the outright banning of any video game in the country since. Games can have their advertising and in-store displays restricted if the violence is deemed too gruesome though, which often results in more explicit titles simply never being released in the country.
That wasn't the case though for Wolfenstein 3D back in the early 1990s. Back then, an outright ban on including Nazi symbolism outside a historical reference meant that the game's many Nazi swastikas and the Nazi theme music caused it to be declared verboten immedietely on release, with German censors apparently not getting any kicks out of blowing away a chaingun-wielding robo-Hitler.
Despite the ban, by the end of 1993 Wolfenstein 3D had gone on to sell more than 100,000 copies worldwide and was considered a massive success.
Price: £2.99 | Buy Wolfenstein
Country that banned it: UK
Although running virtual people over for points is now something of a mythical cliché in modern games, it was very much a part of 1997 classic Carmageddon. Indeed, you could even complete each level not by racing the other drivers but by simply crushing each and every inhabitant against your spiked bumper.
The BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) - which for some reason was also responsible for classifying video games, despite none of the panel having ANY experience of the medium - took exception to this, refusing to certify the game at all unless all blood and gore was removed.
The game was then released, however was done so with all the blood replaced either with green ooze (to signify that the things you were running over were zombies and not real people) or oil (to represent robots). Naturally, an unofficial patch was immedietely released to re-insert the blood and gore.
Finally, after 10 months of appeals from Carmageddon's developer, Stainless Games, the original version of the game was certified by the BBFC.
To date the Carmageddon series has sold more than two million copies.
Price: £5.99 | Buy Carmageddon
Football Manager 2005
Country that banned it: China
Luxuries such as nutrition and sleep are sacrificed when it comes to masterminding managerial success in Football Manager, but this wasn't what caused China to ban the soccer simulation outright. The Chinese government was more concerned that Taiwan and Tibet had been recognised as independent nationsin the game and had been listed as separate countries, which they considered a serious threat to "China's sovereignty and territorial integrity". Sports Interactive soon released a Chinese version of the game with both Taiwan and Tibet annexed into China.
Price: £9.39 | Buy Football Manager 2005
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Country that banned it: USA
Few serious gamers won't have heard of the infamous Hot Coffee scandal that embroiled Rockstar, GTA: San Andreas and the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).
In June 2005 an intrepid modder discovered and released a patch that unlocked a once inaccessible sex mini-game that was hidden in the game's code. Although Rockstar hadn't intended for this to be seen in the final version, the outcry was enough for the ESRB to reclassify the game as Adults Only in the US. Although that's not, strictly speaking, an outright ban, most retailers have strict rules about not allowing AO titles and, as such, dropped the game from their shelves.
As of today, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has sold more than 21 million copies worldwide.
Authoritative gaming site Kotaku covered the scandal, in full, in its "Did You Know Gaming" video series. So if you want to know more about how the scandal unfolded, then watch the below video:
Price: £16.25 | Buy Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Country that banned it: UK
This computer game originally fell foul of the British Board of Film Certification (BBFC) because of its, and we quote here directly from the BBFC's banning order, Manhunt 2's "unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone in an overall game context which constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing".
But bleakness and a callous tone never prevented Endemol from pumping hours of Big Brother on to our screens each summer for years on end, so we assume that the fact you're encouraged to gruesomely execute your adversaries with a bewildering variety of household utensils had something to do with the ban too.
A High Court Appeal - seriously, this made it all the way to the High Court - eventually overturned the decision and the game was released to the satisfaction of bloodthirsty 14-year-olds across the country. Naturally, thanks to a prolonged media frenzy, Manhunt 2 sold like hot cakes.
You can watch the game's original trailer below:
Price: £5.45 | Buy Manhunt 2
Country that banned it: Singapore
If you picked your character and game actions carefully, the latter stages of Mass Effect could give you an eyeball at a steamy lesbian alien sex romp. The alien in question was a blue-skinned Asari scientist with long skin flaps instead of hair. Errr... ok.
Exciting though an alien lesbian sex romp sounds, it wasn't quite as titillating when you realised that all you got to see was a flash of xenomorphic buttock. And, what's more, it took any gamer a good ten hours of porn-free play to get there. Not to mention careful attention to dialogue options.
Singapore's censors clearly didn't want any sight of that crudely-rendered xenomorphic buttock though and whipped out their massive banhammer, adding Mass Effect to a long list of forbidden titles.
After a mass (see what I did there?) public outcry, the censors' ruling was overturned and Mass Effect was eventually released with a hard 18 rating.
As the game was actually an excellent action RPG, not a alien sex romp simulator, it went on to sell millions upon millions of copies worldwide.
Watch the game's original launch trailer below:
Price: £9.80 | Buy Mass Effect
Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction
Country that banned it: South Korea
South Korea banned Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction on its release citing that it could escalate tensions between the North and South Korea. Now, we've heard of games turning children into rabid mass-murders before, but a game actually inciting a full-on war is definitely a new one.
Here is a war-inciting trailer:
As you can see, if it hadn't been banned then we'd probably now be engulfed in World War 3.
Price: £11.86 | Buy Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction
Country that banned it: Australia
Phantasmagoria will probably go down in history as one of the only games (there are just three by our count) to feature a rape scene. It was NOT interactive and, unsurprisingly, the rest of the game was pretty dire.
Now despite almost every other country in the world simply slapping an 18/Adult Only certificate on the box and then trying to forget about this tasteless title, Australia's unusual ratings system didn't allow for AO games and, as such, Phantasmagoria was banned outright.
What's more, the game's sequel - entitled Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh - was also banned by Australia's censors, with a heavily censored version only finally hitting store shelves months later.
While in most cases where games gets stupidly banned we feel bad for the people who didn't get chance to play them, in this case we don't think they missed much.
Amazingly, the game's original trailer - released in 1994 on a super young internet - is still watchable today:
Price: £6.89 | Buy Phantasmagoria
Country that banned it: Numerous
Although this series never quite inspired the national moral panic of Grand Theft Auto, Postal 2 made Grand Theft Auto look quaint and super safe by comparison.
Indeed, Postal 2 was a game built to generate controversy right from the off, as evidenced by the game's tagline: "banned in 13 countries". The game featured urination, drug use and mutilation, as well as taking shots at every religion and minority group on the planet - and that's just the stuff that we can mention here!
Unsurprisingly, this super violent and subversive game built a cult following, which is still going strong today. The official trailer for the game can be watched below:
Price: £6.99 | Buy Postal 2
Country that banned it: Singapore
And, finally, we come to the 1998 classic FPS Half-Life. Gordon and the G-Man were hit by the Singapore Board of Cenorships' banhammer two years after its initial release due to what was deemed as excessive violence.
The ban, which was reported on by the gaming press, caused a massive uproar and numerous petitions were signed by thousands upon thousands of people in an attempt to get the ruling overturned.
In fact, the outcry was so vociferous that the ban only lasted a week before being overturned, allowing the Singapore gaming community to once more run screaming from headcrabs.
The game's original trailer can be viewed below:
Price: £6.99 | Buy Half-Life