LittleBigPlanet developer Media Molecule has said it is "shellshocked and gutted" at having to recall and remaster the PS3 platformer worldwide after a community member spotted references to the Qur'an in one of its background tunes.

"As some of you may have noticed, LBP has been slightly delayed in some territories," technical director Alex Evans wrote - with some measure of understatement - on the developer's official website. "At MM we were as shocked and dismayed by this as anyone - shellshocked and gutted. We can't wait for you all to get playing and creating!"

Evans said the developer only found out about the offensive lyric on 16th October after it "slipped through the usual screening processes".

"Obviously MM and Sony together took this very seriously. LBP should be enjoyable by all. So within 12 hours of hearing about this issue involving a lyric (in Somalian, I believe!), Media Molecule had prepared an automatic day 0 patch and had a new disk image ready.

"However, a decision was made within Sony that the right thing to do for quality and support of people with no online [PlayStation Network access] was to replace existing disks. They assure us that they are doing everything in their power to get things straightened out as fast as possible, and will announce dates soon."

Elsewhere on the European PlayStation.com forum, one of Sony's community managers elaborated on the nature of the problem and its solution.

"LittleBigPlanet will be remastered in order to remove a track from the game that contained two expressions found in the Qur'an," he wrote.

"Whilst shorter expressions from the Qur'an are sometimes used in Nasheeds, we are aware that the mixing of musical instruments with recognisable extracts from the Qur'an is offensive to Muslims. Therefore, we have taken immediate action to rectify this. We will confirm a new launch date shortly."

Sony America issued a variation on the original SCEE confirmation statement late on Friday, in which the platform holder said the game would arrive in US stores in "the week of October 27th". Sony Europe is expected to confirm a new date imminently, amidst suggestions the game will be released on 31st October or 7th November. (UPDATE, 11.16am: Sony has now said the game will be out here in the week commencing 3rd November.)

In the meantime, the delay has caught national press attention in the UK, and promo versions - already distributed to journalists and folks connected to Sony - are exchanging hands for desperate sums on eBay, peaking at over GBP 100 yesterday.

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Tom Bramwell

Tom Bramwell

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