Nippon Ichi Software America went through the hassle of overtly censoring Criminal Girls: Invite Only for the English release of the game in the West for PS Vita and PC. However, despite the censorship (and the community having to work overtime in removing said censorship from the PC release of the game), New Zealand’s Classification Board still decided to hit the game with the ban-hammer for “objectionable” content.
Censored Gaming did a quick recap of the event and linked to the New Zealand Classification Board’s website where there’s a brief entry regarding the reasons as to why the game was banned.
According to the board’s decision, which was made on June 26th, 2017…
“[…] the Classification Office called the game in due to concerns that the sexual content found within the game focuses on young persons and involves elements of sexual violence. However the Motivation sequences themselves do not encourage the player to focus on the girls as ‘young persons’, and instead concentrates on presenting their embarrassment, powerlessness and humiliation in a sexualised manner. The dialogue clearly establishes that the girls are either unwilling to participate, or naïve about the player character’s intentions. Then, once the Motivation is finished, the girls’ reaction is positive. The lack of consent presented here – and the idea that “Even if you have to force her – she’ll end up enjoying it” – is a narrative that justifies rape and is presented solely for titillation.”
The entire premise of the game works around the concept of BDSM fetishes, and is aimed at the crowd of gamers who are into anime BDSM. Elsewhere in the world Criminal Girls is rated ‘M’ for Mature. What’s interesting here is that NIS America purposefully censored the game for English speaking audiences specifically on the grounds of trying to portray the game as less sexual and the girls not as resistant to the player’s “motivation”.
For Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors, NIS America’s localization team went through a lengthy blog post about consent, and the third-wave feminist definitions of how consent should be used during sexual foreplay and intercourse. NIS America attempted to “localize” Criminal Girls 2 to fit more in-line with what feminists believe consent should be regarding BDSM. The localization team also censored more than half of all the game’s art to make the themes less sexual and remove some of the bondage play. Quite naturally a lot of gamers who were actually interested in the title petitioned for an uncensored release of the game on Steam, but it’s likely something that will require the fine touch of the modding community.
Nevertheless, the New Zealand Classification Board felt that the original Criminal Girls attempted to “normalize” non-consensual sexual activity and that it would harm the public good…
“This game requires players to engage with the female characters in sexualised situations where consent is not only absent, but where the protestations of the female characters are part of the attraction. There is a strong likelihood of injury to the public good, including to adults from the trivialisation and normalisation of such behaviour, so the game is banned.”
So even after heavily censoring the original Criminal Girls it still ended up getting banned in New Zealand, and not because NIS submitted it for review but because the office sought it out and banned it anyway.
Nevertheless, the original Criminal Girls: Invite Only is available on PC with fully featured nude mods to bypass all that pesky censorship that still wasn’t enough to keep the game from getting banned by the Genital Gestapo.