Sony's Little Big Planet is one of the most high-profile releases of this holiday season. Developer Media Molecule has seen its game go from indie darling to AAA system-seller in the past year, thanks to the many appearances that the game has made at trade shows and events.
However, fans of the game are going to have to wait slightly longer to get it. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe has announced that it is recalling the game from retailers after it learned that the soundtrack featured some Arabic-language lines from the Qur'an backed with music. A SCEE representative also confirmed to GameSpot that this recall would be global, and could not confirm when the game would now actually hit shelves with the offending music removed.
The confirmation follows rumours that that Singing Safari level of the game features a song with two expressions found in Islam's central holy text, the Qur'an. Cached pages on the official PlayStation forum claim that the two phrases are (literally translated from the original Arabic): "Every soul shall have the taste of death" and "All that is on earth will perish."
Although Sony's press release does not confirm that the above lines are in the game, they do claim that "one of the background music tracks licensed from a record label for use in the game contains two expressions that can be found in the Qur'an." Independent translation done for GameSpot confirmed that the lines linked from the original post are indeed from the Qur'an.
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's press release continues, "We have taken immediate action to rectify this and we sincerely apologise for any offence that this may have caused." It ends by saying that the company will confirm the new launch date shortly.
For more on LittleBigPlanet, check out GameSpot's full review of the indefinitely delayed game.
[UPDATE]: Impatient gamers may still be able to get their hands on the version of Little Big Planet that contains the Qur'an references. Gaming importer National Console Support said that it has begun shipping US versions of the game to customers who preordered. What's more, the site says that it will ship the game to US customers for Saturday delivery if they order by 4 p.m. Eastern time today.
This is not the first time a game developer has run afoul of the Qur'an. In November of 2002, Microsoft released the Xbox fighter Kakuto Chojin with a piece of background music that sampled passages of the holy book.
An internal Microsoft "geopolitical strategy team" identified the potential problem with the music as soon as the game had gone into duplication. Microsoft had a chance to recall the game before it hit shelves, but decided to release it anyway in the hopes that the music would go unnoticed. Although Kakuto Chojin was a critical and commercial flop, the background music eventually came to the fore, and Microsoft recalled the game in February of 2003.
[UPDATE 2]: SCEA has acknowledged the recall on its PlayStation Blog, apologizing to those offended and for the delay. According to the post, SCEA "will begin shipping LittleBigPlanet to retail in North America the week of October 27th."
[UPDATE 3]: SCEE has just issued a statement confirming the game will be out in the first week of November for other territories. The statement reads: "Sony Computer Entertainment Europe is pleased to confirm that LittleBigPlanet will start to appear in stores no later than the week commencing Monday 3rd November in the UK, Europe, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand, on a country by country basis. We appreciate all the enthusiasm surrounding this much anticipated title and we would like to thank PlayStation fans for their support and understanding."