There has been a lot of talk in the gaming community about a subject that tends to rear its head on systems that may have a reputation as being family friendly or host Japanese games. I’m talking about censorship. People are always questioning whether or not companies are making unnecessary changes to games or defiling a developer’s vision by doing things like altering or removing cutscenes or images. In 2018 and 2019, the conversation shifted to the Sony and Nintendo, but not for the reasons people might expect. Sony, a company whose PlayStation 4 and Vita both tended to host a lot of the sorts of games people get upset about, suddenly was being more strict, while stoic Nintendo was loosening up. It might have people wondering if there is a new designated “fanservice” console.
Well, it is really a little more complicated than that. There is a definite shift in effect. After all, Sony was long home to Compile Heart games that always made an excuse to send characters to hot springs and Senran Kagura-likes where fighting makes people’s clothes fall off. Suddenly seeing titles being released for the west with altered cutscenes, such as images from visual novels removed or a translation that might leave people wondering, could give people pause. Especially since the Switch is getting even more fanservice games, like ports of Moero Chronicle, an uncensored Omega Labyrinth Life, and so many dating sims. However, other factors are at play.
First, the PlayStation 4 is still getting these games. Yes, some images might be altered a bit. Characters could be aged up a few years, due to them being teenagers. The companies localizing these games, like NIS America and XSEED, are being transparent about what is going on. In some cases, they are even stating exactly which images are being altered or removed. Is adjusting one image ruining the whole game for someone? I mean, it is possible, but it would also be very silly for someone who was anticipating a game to consider boycotting it entirely over a single picture that would only be on screen for about 15 seconds. There are also plenty of games still getting away with things. Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal still had the clothing-tearing. It just didn’t have the prodding and poking sessions where the girls seem visibly distressed. Judgment has a whole sidequest with the Twisted Trio, a group of perverted men that includes people like Ass Catchem and the Panty Professor.
So, what about the Switch loosening up? In this case, it is more about it being in the right place at the right time. Nintendo has been allowing more games geared toward older gamers on its systems since the Wii U. That system had ZombiU on it, a gritty roguelike about surviving in a zombie-infested world. It also saw Nintendo bring over Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water, a first-party horror game. There’s been this shift toward embracing gamers of all ages, as shown by DOOM, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, and Resident Evil games galore.
As for the Switch fanservice games, it is essentially picking up where the Vita left off in Japan. In the region, companies tended to pick a handheld and use it for games with romance element or character-focused stories. The PSP and Vita were home to dating sims and titles like Moero Chronicle. People liked having a portable system to play these sorts of games on. They also appreciated having a touch screen for certain… input… options. It is the system that best suits the needs and the Vita’s life is over, so it is getting these games over the PlayStation 4.
Every system is going to have fanservice games of some sort. Especially since the term is so broad and can apply to so many different kinds of games. People might look at the Switch now, see the sorts of games it is getting, and pigeonhole it as “the” fanservice system. However, Sony is still getting plenty of these kinds of games on the PlayStation 4. Even though there have been some concerns raised by people who are upset about the titles not being released exactly as they were in Japan, both systems still offer many of those kinds of games in their libraries. It is a fact of life, and people who pay attention will find the games they are and aren’t interested in on their platform of choice.