A Japanese-developed RPG has been banned from release in the UK due to the "salacious nature" of its sexual content.
A statement from the Video Standards Council, the official ratings board in the UK, says the body has refused classification for Omega Labyrinth Z because of the "likely harm being caused to a viewer or potential viewer, e.g. children or young people."
It is illegal to sell a game in the UK without a rating from the VSC. While these ratings only apply to physical products, it's likely this will affect the title's availability in digital stores.
Omega Labyrinth Z is a PS4 and PC title developed by Japanese studio Matrix Software and published by PQube. It is a dungeon-crawler set within a school where players control a variety of young girls as they battle evil.
However, the VSC has deemed the nature of the gameplay and many of the mini-games too sexually explicit for release - particularly given the implied age of the characters.
In a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, a spokesperson said: "PQube specialises in the localisation of Japanese video games and endeavours to publish them as faithfully to the Japanese source material as possible.
"PQube works closely with all age ratings bodies and platform holders through this process. In an instance where a release is not possible, PQube respectfully complies with the guidelines of a platform holder and the laws of any given territory."
Omega Labyrinth Z becomes the first game to be banned in the UK since Rockstar's controversial Manhunt 2 back in 2007.
The BBC reports the game has also been refused a rating in Germany and Australia - not surprising given how strict the local ratings boards are when it comes to games.
PQube tweeted that the game will also no longer be released in New Zealand or Ireland. The firm has tried to appeal the decision by German ratings board USK, but this has been rejected. It has not appealed the VSC decision.
"Other appeals would have yielded the same result so those decisions are final," PQube wrote.
The Video Standards Council offered several examples of the content it deemed unfit for release, including:
- sections in which players must touch characters all over their bodies to arouse them, removing their clothes when successful.
- a scene in which players place honey on the girls' bodies for a dog to lick off, which also arouses them (prompting further loss of clothes).
- a mechanic in which the quality of crystals can only be identified if they are placed between a character's breasts, which must then be fondled. The VSC notes the crystal itself "has a clearly phallic quality to it".
- a hot-spring mini-game that also focuses on fondling breasts
- a level-up system in which the player-character's breast increase by a cup size each time they advance. An official press release for the game challenges players to "reach maximum boobage" and achieve a Z-cup for most powerful special attack
The VSC ruled that the game "clearly promotes the sexualisation of children via the sexual interaction between the game player and the female characters" but argued the visual style "will attract an audience below the age of 18."
The statement continued: "There is a serious danger that impressionable people, i.e. children and young people viewing the game would conclude that the sexual activity represented normal sexual behaviour. There is a constant theme of sexual innuendo and activity throughout the game that suggests behaviour likely to normalise sexual activity towards children.
"The VSC Rating Board believes this content in a game, which would have strong appeal to non-adult players, is an issue which would be unacceptable to the majority of UK consumers and, more importantly, has the potential to be significantly harmful in terms of the social and moral development of younger people in particular."