Plenty of Japanese role-playing games get racy with the exaggerated anime art styles, generous peeks at exposed skin, and all-around mature themes. But a new game from Japanese developer Matrix Software apparently has pushed those boundaries too far for official censors in the UK.
The Europe-spanning Video Standards Council, which the UK has used since 2012 as its legal ratings designator for games, has given the thumbs-down to a JRPG dungeon crawler called Omega Labyrinth Z, banning the game outright ahead of its release this summer to the PlayStation Vita in Japan.
The game, a sequel to 2015’s Omega Labyrinth, tracks a group of girls who are preoccupied with beauty, led by a protagonist who’s seeking magical enhancements to her breast size. Because the game is set against the backdrop of a girls’ school, VSC reasons that players could infer all the onscreen sexuality depicts characters who are not of legal age.
“The game clearly promotes the sexualisation of children via the sexual interaction between the game player and the female characters,” VSC said in its statement on the ban. The trailer for the game, which drops clear hints at everything the VSC is describing, is available on YouTube behind an age-confirming sign-in wall.
“There is a constant theme of sexual innuendo and activity throughout the game that suggests behaviour likely to normalise sexual activity towards children," VSC said. "As a means of reward gained by successfully navigating the game, the player has the means to sexually stimulate the female characters by using either a hand held remote device or touch screen software.”
The decision to ban the game in the UK comes on the heels of a similar ban in Australia, where the government’s Department of Communications and the Arts refused a ratings classification for the game in February. That ban came, in part, for the game's alleged potential to “describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not).”
According to gamesindustry.biz, Omega Labyrinth Z is the first game to be banned in the UK since Rockstar’s Manhunt 2 was refused classification back in 2007, mainly owing to its violent content. The BBC reports that Germany, Ireland, and New Zealand also won't be offering Omega Labyrinth Z to players.