One of the year's most anticipated video game releases, Sony's "LittleBigPlanet" for the PlayStation 3, is being delayed a week in the United States because lines from the Quran, the central religious text of Islam, were discovered in one of the game's licensed musical tracks.
"LittleBigPlanet," in which users create their own levels, was supposed to be released next week, but Sony is instituting a worldwide recall of the game and re-pressing the discs without the Quran references. As a result, the game will start shipping to U.S. retailers the week of October 27, according to an update on the PlayStation Blog.
The lines in question are found in one of the game's licensed songs. The Muslim gamer who first pointed them out said the "LittleBigPlanet" track features the lines "kollo nafsin tha'iqatol mawt," which means "Every soul shall have the taste of death," and "kollo man alaiha fan," which translates to "All that is on Earth will perish."
Copies of "LittleBigPlanet" have already shipped to a number of retailers, and some gamers are reporting success in finding them on store shelves. Even MTV News has received copies of the now-recalled version of "LittleBigPlanet."
The developers of the game, a small group of British creators whose studio is called Media Molecule, issued a statement on their Web site apologizing for the delay: "We were as shocked and dismayed by this as anyone — shell-shocked and gutted." The statement went on to explain that Media Molecule learned about the controversial lines just one day earlier, and was prepared to issue a "day 0" patch to update copies of the game already sent to retailers. The studio indicated that publisher Sony instead opted to delay the game and only sell revised discs. As for the content of the song in question, the studio's statement indicates: " 'LBP' should be enjoyable by all."
Not everyone concerned about the issues surrounding the game's delay was able to read the statement, as the widespread interest knocked Media Molecule's site offline on Friday (October 17). (The full text can be read on MTV's Multiplayer Blog.)
The controversy apparently was first discovered by a fan of the game. PlayStation user solid_08 posted a message board thread on the game's site titled "very urgent about little big planet lbp" and described the two lines from the Quran featured in "LittleBigPlanet."
"We Muslims consider the mixing of music and words from our Holy Quran deeply offending," solid_08 wrote. "We hope you would remove that track from the game immediately via an online patch and make sure that all future shipments of the game disc do not contain it. We hope you act immediately to avoid any confusion and unnecessary controversy, and we thank you for making such an amazing game."
Another user, Solid Sebi, who said he is Muslim, took issue with solid_08's comments.
"I myself am a Muslim gamer and do not find the words in this song offensive," Solid Sebi wrote. "However, I can see this turning into something nasty, where extreme Muslims will completely bash Sony for including such a song in their game. I played the beta for this game and absolutely loved it. I would hate to see Sony get slated for including such a track, so I think it would be best if this was removed. Although, I don't really see why it should, as it does not insult Islam in anyway."
This is not the first time references to the Quran have caused a video game to be altered. Nintendo altered post-release shipments of "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" after it was discovered that the game's fire-temple level featured Islamic chanting. More recently, Microsoft deleted audio files in Xbox's "Kakuto Chojin" that cited the Quran, and Capcom removed the Islamic phrase "allahu akbar" — meaning "God is great" or "God is greater" — from the Wii release "Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure."
It is not clear what will happen to the copies of "LittleBigPlanet" that have already made their way into gamers' hands. MTV News has asked Sony to clarify whether a patch will be issued to remove the content from those versions of the game, and as of press time, Sony has not provided an answer.
Check out the Multiplayer blog, updated daily, for even more gaming coverage.