Have you heard how ratings situations go in countries like Australia and Europe? If games are denied ratings based on content, they don’t get sold in that country. Manhunt 2 is an example. The United Kingdom Video Standards Council refused to classify it, due to its violence, so it ended up not being sold there. And with violent games, we can understand when this happens. (Even if we do not agree with it.) But what about when games from Japan, niche RPGs and shooters, are banned because they show a little too much skin?
That is something that happens more frequently than you would imagine. In countries like Australia and Germany, games where the characters are in possibly sexual situations or end up showing a lot of skin, the games just don’t get rated. They then get banned as a result. But what are these games and why does it happen? Let's look over a few games that have been banned and why they both might and might not have deserved it.
Gal Gun 2
Let’s start with Gal Gun 2. This is a game that was refused a rating in Germany, banning it from the country. Why? Well, here’s the plot. The hero is a high schooler who is assigned by an angel to help fight demon-possessed girls in his high school. He has to use the Pheromone Shot gun to make them so “happy” that they are exorcised. It also has dating sim elements and a vacuum gun gadget. Basically, there is a lot of moaning, plenty of panty shots, and an occasional situation where clothes may be sucked away. People take issue with it, because these are clearly high school students.
Is it something I would want to personally play? No. Is it perverted? Sure. Is there any nudity? No. While there is the age issue, it is actually the tamest game we'll be looking at today. It is often presented as more goofy than actually offensive or serious. Because of this, it probably did not deserve to be denied a rating. Especially since it will be on the Switch and PlayStation 4 in other regions.
Omega Labyrinth Z
Omega Labyrinth Z is another game everyone is talking about, due to it being slapped with the ban hammer. This is a PlayStation 4 and Vita roguelike about girls at a magic academy high school who are going through a magical dungeon only open one day each year to try and find the Grail of Beauty. Sounds simple and innocent enough, right? Except by beauty, this Japanese game means that the girls are self conscious about their bodies and want bigger breasts. Gameplay mechanics include poking at the girls, licking them, and watching as their boobs go bigger as they dungeon crawl. These are essentially high schoolers, by the way.
Is it everyone’s cup of tea? No. But in this instance, some lines are crossed and the characters are known or implied to be underage. The UK and Germany banning this one makes sense. Yes, Gal Gun 2 had high school characters, but there is not the same overt actions there as there are in Omega Labyrinth Z.
Criminal Girls 2
Finally, we come to Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors. This involves a player who is a guard in purgatory, trying to help rehabilitate female prisoners that each represent one of the seven deadly sins. For the most part, it is a dungeon-crawling RPG. But, there are also elements where you dole out “Motivation” in the form of shocking the girls, shooting slime at them, spanking them and scrubbing them. This is done by rubbing and touching half naked characters on the screen.
Is it a bit much? It might be. But as someone who actually did play and enjoy much of the original Criminal Girls, the rest of the gameplay is interesting enough that this element might be something folks can overlook. There are a lot of implications here, but outside of the Motivation elements, which present rather extreme fanservice, the game has a rather tragic and engaging storyline. The issue with the bans here is that most of the girls seemed to be either in high school (even if they were of a legal age) or just about to graduate when they died.
Sometimes, there are going to be games out there that push people out of their comfort zones. They may feature more fanservice or violence than we may want or need in our lives. But, that does not necessarily mean they should all be banned. Especially if they are being allowed in other regions. Ratings boards should pay a little more attention to the bigger picture and be willing to say, “Okay. This does have issues, but let’s go ahead and make it Adults Only, rather than ban it completely.” Of the three games we looked at today, Omega Labyrinth Z is the only one where there are some clearly uncomfortable issues at play. But in other cases, where things are not crossing as many lines or ages are more clear, giving it an 18+ rating and letting it exist may be a better idea.