Omega Labyrinth Z Banned in the West

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Right now I am enjoying the Muv-Luv visual novels that recently got released on PlayStation Vita. The highly acclaimed trilogy came to the system courtesy of a successful 2015 Kickstarter campaign. Muv-Luv starts out as a high school harem rom-com, in the first title, before transitioning into a sci-fi mech adventure in the later sequels. If you are interested in downloading the games be sure to manually search for them in the PSN store. Sony’s inept European staff never bothered to list either VN on their New Release listings. Guess they really hate anything that publisher PQube brings out.

Case in point, earlier this week it was announced on PQube’s website that Omega Labyrinth Z won’t be getting a Western localization after all. A handful of prudish nations (including Australia the kings of censorship) refused to give the dungeon crawler an age rating, thus barring it from being sold in their retail outlets. The rest of the world was however expected to get the game at some point this year. Unfortunately for RPG fans Sony has scuppered those plans at the eleventh hour. A press release from PQube reveals that Sony has effectively banned the game in the US and EU…

“In the case of Omega Labyrinth Z, while PQube has worked with all relevant age rating bodies in their respective territories, PQube must respectfully comply with the wishes of the platform holder and have therefore withdrawn any future plans for Omega Labyrinth Z’s European and North American release.”

When I say Sony I mean their European and America branches, because the game came out last year in Japan without incident. Shame that said Asian version doesn’t carry English subtitles, because that would have allowed prospective buyers to import it. Thank you very much Sony Europe/America for policing what grown adults can buy. You are okay with profiting from games that revel in graphic murder (God of War) but heaven forbid that an eighteen year old gets to play something that features cute cartoon girls. Better not tell them that their Crunchyoll app already allows people to view ecchi content on their machine.

I feel bad for PQube because they must be out of pocket, after going through the expense of translating a game they can no longer sell. Meanwhile the folks at Sony have accelerated the death of their handheld with this decision. Banning games is not going to help the lifespan of a system that is starving for new releases. One thing that concerns me is the signal that Sony has sent out. Game publishers are hesitant to localize niche games because they aren’t big sellers. I suspect in future even fewer quirky titles from Japan will reach our shores. The risk is too great when the threat of a potential Sony ban hangs over their heads.

41 thoughts on “Omega Labyrinth Z Banned in the West

  1. It’s a shame, really. I wish I had more to say, but it circles back to the stuff we talked about with Steam/Valve. Even if you can get past government censorship in cases like Australia, companies in the west just don’t want to deal with the potential controversy. The sexualized games, especially, because then they’re susceptible to taking heat from both the fringe conservative crowd with the “degrading the moral fabric of society” argument, AND the fringe progressive crowd with the gun-ho “objectification of women” argument.

    They’ll take chances if it’s a money-maker with mature sexual content like GTA or Witcher. The niche ones that don’t bring in as much profit? Not happenin’.

    • It does feel like the rules are different depending on a company’s bank balance. Sony will virtue signal by banning niche games, but is okay with mature content when they get a cut from a multi-million release. Says a lot about their morals.

      Do these decisions even help to prevent controversy? My social media lit up when the news got announced. Meanwhile I never hear any fuss when Senran Kagura brings out a sequel. The games are so niche that they fly under the SJW radar.

  2. Things like this always make me frown in disbelief. As you point out so well, it’s apparently okay to have bloody and gory content, but heaven forbid if one sees some boobs bouncing around: you are probably scarred for life than! (Yup being sarcastic here lol). Seriously things like this are so weird 🤔🤔

    • Back when I was a teen the media wanted to ban games because they were violent. These days no one bats an eye at violence, but go mental over cleavage. It’s a weird standard that I will never understand. The content of these games won’t appeal to everyone, but people who don’t like it are free not to buy it. A ban means that no one gets to enjoy the software.

      Not sure why Sony had to step in. Aren’t companies set up to make a profit? You can’t make cash from a title you refuse to sell. These days it feels like companies are more interested in dabbling with politics than turning a profit.

      • Well, that’s one thing we don’t have here in Holland: going mental over cleavage (although we also have our issues here lol). Seriously though, I completely agree. I don’t see why it would be bad to see a little and honestly inncocent bit of sexual suggestive stuff, over people getting torn limb from limb in over the top and gory violence. As you say, if you have a problem with it, then simply don’t buy it.
        As to the question why Sony felt the need to step in, I have no idea. Perhaps they had some misguidd belief that their reputation would be tarnished if the didn’t ?

  3. Forgive my ignorance but what is the selling point of this game beyond boobs? That video clip you included told me nothing, so are the censors objecting to the objectification of underage girls for the gratification of pervs who should know better or does the game contain sexual violence?

    I know anime isn’t much better on that front so maybe there is a different mindset towards judging how this content is perceived in interactive gameplay than it is as simple viewing?

    • Omega Labyrinth is a dungeon crawler. The appeal of these games is working out how to escape a maze. Along the way you slay monsters and power up your character by acquiring stronger weapons. From the clips I have seen the story is told via comical cut scenes.

      If the game was an anime I would liken it to Highschool DxD or Bento. Action and comedy with a mix of eye candy. You would have to ask Sony why they have banned the game because the US and European age rating boards both approved its sale in their respective regions.

      Not sure what to make about concerns of underage characters. From the footage I have seen the cast are no different to your average harem anime. When it comes to illustrations an artist can make up whatever age they like. Expelled from Paradise for example has a well developed clone who is technically only sixteen. Flonne from Disgaea meanwhile looks like a child but is 1500 years old.

      • Fair enough. Like I said the video promo only shows the boobs so maybe someone saw that and felt it was simply peddling ecchi. 😛

        But if what you say is accurate regarding the content and a precedent has been set allowing games with similar or “worse” content to exist on the market, then someone needs to have a VERY good argument for banning this game.

  4. That’s bad news. I don’t like the idea that it’s ok in one territory but not others. I approve of the position Valve recently took with regard to the content that is allowed on Steam. Sony have a similar responsibility because, realistically, they have the only console platforms that adult content from Japan is likely to appear on in the west.

    • This shows how subjective age ratings can be. Japan has strict pornography laws and has no problem with this game. The US on the other hand bans it. I welcome Valve’s decision, although it doesn’t matter so much when it comes to PC. Any company that cannot sell their wares on Steam has the option of taking orders on their own site. Sadly when it comes to PlayStation there is no fallback if Sony says no.

  5. Never heard of this, but looking into it apparently even the ESRB was only going to give it an M rating, so this is pretty strange. Meanwhile other games that were getting hard AO ratings like Conan Exiles and Agony are just getting slightly toned down and then released here anyway, and I mean really slightly toned down, cuz I’m playing Agony right now and there are dicks literally everywhere.

    • If I had to guess though, I’d say that this isn’t about sexual content at all, but the specific context of it. As in it’s not tits they’re afraid of, but games that kind of seem like they’re treating women as sex toys, because they probably don’t want to open the door to that market and become associated with that and the much more extreme versions of this kind of game that would then follow given the precedent.

      • Yup, the decision is bizarre when you consider that far more graphic games have gotten Sony’s blessing in the past. Perhaps objectifying women is the reason, but if that is the case how have the Senran Kagura and Neptunia games managed to get localized?

  6. I was really intrigued to give this game a go. It seemed right up my alley despite my not being a huge dungeon crawler fan…Alas poor sods are more scared of sexy pictures than severed heads. Makes little sense to me how blood is more tolerable than sexy anime girls.

      • The game appearing on PC would be nice. PQube have remarked that porting Omega Labyrinth would cost at least 100k so it’s doubtful though. They probably feel it’s safer to cut their loses because the game is not likely to be a big seller. Perhaps they could test the waters by opening a Kickstarter for a PC version.

  7. I suspect this wouldn’t have been my sort of thing, even if I had a PS4. What gets me though is that it’s all very inconsistent. I mean, there are pelnty of games out there with much of the same content as seen in the trailer that made it through fine. I rather suspect that there are games with far more sexual content that saw a release too.

    • How inconsistent Sony are with their rules is what makes the news all the more frustrating. Omega Labyrinth doesn’t seem to be any worse than Senran Kagura for example (a series of PS games were high school girls get their clothes torn off in combat.) There have also been several triple A titles that feature sex scenes in their stories.

  8. Sadly, this news is not surprising. I’m sure the SJW contingent of video game “journalists” see this as a great victory. At this rate, anyone who wants to play these kinds of niche games are better off learning Japanese and making Japanese Playstation accounts. Fuck the EU and NA branches.

    • Shame that I am terrible with languages. If I understood Japanese I could import so many cool games that never came out over here. Don’t get me started on journalists. Rather than being impartial with the news they love to beat the SJW drum. Their articles play a part in pressuring game companies to censor titles. On the plus side it was hilarious watching them lose their minds when Valve decided to allow anything on Steam.

  9. First Steam, now Sony! 😮
    I’m not familiar with Omega Labyrinth Z, but surely it can’t be that bad that it needs to be banned.
    Like I’ve played/read some of the otome games published by Abracadabra, available to the masses, usually for free on the Play Store and a lot of the time they cross the line into torture porn and can be pretty questionable, at times. However, they don’t get banned, so I’m kind of wondering what’s so bad about this game that it had to be banned.
    Surely it couldn’t be any worse than your run of the mill video game, like GTA or the likes of that.
    (Sorry for the little rant, but I’m with you on this one) 😀

    • I have no beef with otome games. Equality means that games catering to all genders/tastes should be allowed to exist. You make a good point however. Otome and Yaoi games don’t seem to attract the flack that titles aimed at a heterosexual male audience do, even when their stories are much darker in tone than the comical Omega Labyrinth.

  10. Like others, I am curious as to what made this particular title an issue. Extreme non-consensual relationships or a particularly young loli character perhaps?

    Also, I am still mad that Sony is canceling Vita physical versions. If a company wants to make a cartridge, let them! Hopefully we’ll be getting a rash of announcements sometime soon as companies rush to get as many releases as they can before the cut-off date.

    • I suspect that a loli character might be to blame. Either that or pressure from sensitive types. If loli characters are not allowed it makes no sense that Senran Kagura has released multiple games on PlayStation. Sony also doesn’t police the anime you can watch on Crunchyroll. There are a lot of young looking characters in harem shows.

      Sony seems to be doing everything in their power to kill the Vita. They have pretty much announced the death of the system with that cartridge decision. Shame, because the handheld could have been a hit like the Switch. Just release a cable that allows you to hook the Vita to the TV and you can promote it as a system you can play at home or on the go.

      Over here in Europe the PlayStation blog often fails to mention new Vita releases. On the store they haven’t even bothered to update the front page. They have banners showing games that came out years ago rather than current titles.

  11. Not a game I’m interested in, but this whole thing definitely sucks for those who were looking forward to it. It’s quite amusing how gruesome violence is more acceptable than love in most forms of media, eh?

    • Sucks for people who wanted to play the game and Vita owners in particular, as there are hardly any new games coming out for the handheld. Yeah, it says a lot about the human race when we have become desensitized to violence, but lose our minds over revealing attire. You can’t ban firearms that cause death, in the States, but it’s so easy to ban harmless games.

  12. Hello The Otaku Judge,

    I had never heard of this video game before and I know nothing about this situation, but it sounds like the ban is unnecessary.

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention, and hopefully the outcome can be changed.

    -John Jr

    • A lot of people have not heard of this game because it is rather niche. I suspect that if the game wasn’t so obscure Sony would not have dared to ban it. These type of moves tend to trigger a fierce backlash, especially right now with censorship being a sensitive topic.

  13. Do you know if there is game where the heroine’s main objective is to become a billionaire in 100 days? In order to do that. She has to seduce as many men as she can by making them fall madly in love with her. The hardest thing about the game is to juggle with so many boyfriends and try to make them happy without letting the boyfriends know it has many competitors. Sounds like a funny game to me. Don’t you think?

    I am not here to argue with you, but think about what I just said. This type of game might offend normal girls. It really is not about violence over sexual games. Why one is more acceptable. It’s about respect for the gender.

    • The game you describe sounds cool. I would actually play it. With respect to offense, if we ban everything that someone dislikes there wouldn’t be much entertainment left. Some insecure guys may find otome games offensive, but that doesn’t mean they should be banned so no one can enjoy them. Same logic applies to Omega Labyrinth. People are not forced to play games they don’t like.

      • Thanks. I know I’m highly creative. I’m just stating my opinion as a heterosexual woman who has respect for my kind. What people choose to play is really none of my business.

    • There should be a big reveal where it turns out she is a human black-widow spider, and bites the heads off of her husbands, once she has sucked away all their financial assets. Oh, but crushes all their hopes and dreams first.

  14. RE: “their Crunchyoll app already allows people to view ecchi content on their machine.”

    Now that I know this, it will be a real time-killer waiting in my foot doctor’s office.

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