Since you’re here, you probably know that we are bringing Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors to North America and Europe for the PS Vita this September. As with the first game in the series, some of the content will be changed to accommodate this international release. Since this can be an issue for some, I want to give you some insight into our process and exactly what’s changing so you can make an informed decision.
Some of you might be asking, “Why change anything in the first place?” The answer to that question is pretty complicated overall, but here’s the short version: While we do our best to make all our fans happy, we also need to make sure that our games can be released on the platform they’re made for, and released in the various territories in which we sell them.
So how will Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors differ from the Japanese release?
1 - Redrawn art.
We had a bit more time to work on this title. We didn’t want to make any alterations to the game that would be jarring to the experience or feel “off,” so we worked with the original artist of the game who redrew the art for the Motivation scenes that might have caused issues due to their explicit nature. We didn’t want the game experience to change though, so we are also investing the extra effort into incorporating Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors’s unique Live 2D effect into the new art.
2 - Terminology changes.
As with the first in the series, Criminal Girls: Invite Only, “Punishment” will be framed as “Motivation,” and other terminology changes from the first game will also apply here. There may be a few other translation changes as well. This reduces the power distance between the player character and the girls in the Reformation Program and makes the activities of the game more consensual.
3 - No native language dialogue.
Like with Criminal Girls: Invite Only, we will not be dubbing the game in English. The game’s text will be in English, but the spoken dialogue will be the original Japanese voice track.
4 - No Motivation scene dialogue.
Some of this could cause an issue with power distance, or perceived consent of the activities of the game. This dialogue also represented a technical challenge to localization, because there are no subtitles. Thus, another reason this dialogue was removed was to avoid a situation of no text to accompany several lines of untranslated Japanese being spoken.
I’m sure many of you noticed that I said things “could” be an issue. That’s a little vague, and not 100% saying something would cause, for example, an AO rating. And you’re right. However, we consult with rating boards, our developers, and a variety of other stakeholders before deciding on a course of action with a title, and we did so with Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors.
We hope that you can appreciate the effort that has gone into bringing Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors to North America and Europe, and will enjoy the game when it comes out this September.
We have and will continue to work hard to bring unique and entertaining content to North America and Europe. As I mentioned earlier, we have tried to make the experience you will have playing Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors as close to the original experience as possible. You’ll experience the same story, the same understanding of the characters and their histories, and the same gameplay mechanics as someone in Japan. Some nuances have changed, but we sincerely hope you will enjoy and appreciate the overall game.
Yours in Prinny,
1. If you knew this game was going to get censored, why did you bring it over in the first place?
There is still a demand for the game and its content. Although some players might not be happy about the changes, we expect many will still appreciate the product for what it is and localizing it allows them the chance to enjoy the game's unique story, gameplay, and characters without needing to speak Japanese or deal with the pains of importing.
2. Why make changes to the game before it is even rated?
Two main reasons: time and budget. When we submit something to ratings boards, we need to be absolutely sure that it’s going to be the final version, or we risk costly delays and even the game not being released at all.
3. Any chance of an uncensored, unrated version being released? Maybe on PC?
Releasing an uncensored version on PC would require having the game reprogrammed and rerated. It is also against our company policy to release “unrated” games, so this possibility is quite unlikely.
4. Why not just release the game with an AO rating?
AO-rated games are not allowed on many platforms, are not carried by many typical retail outlets, and as a company we have a policy of not releasing games with an AO rating.
5. Why was the terminology changed?
Two of the main concerns that ratings boards had in regards to Criminal Girls: Invite Only were power imbalance and consent. To avoid this, we decided to change some of the terminology to reframe the situations to be accepted by the ratings boards. Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors follows the same trend for consistency.
6. What about the story and characters?
Other than some specific instances where characters’ apparent ages are mentioned, no significant changes have been made to the dialogue or story. It’s still Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors.
7. How about Criminal Girls: Invite Only uncensored on PC?
Probably not happening, either. That would require the game being rerated, reprogrammed, and retested, and, unfortunately, it also runs the risk of receiving an AO rating. In addition, almost all of those resources are going into Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors instead. We only have so many Prinnies to go around, dood!
8. Isn’t it possible that the game would have received an M from the ESRB, no changes necessary?
From our experience and the conversations we’ve had with ratings boards about the content, it is extremely unlikely that the game would have received an M (and equivalent) rating. Unfortunately, it is so unlikely that we cannot take that risk as a company.
9. But what about [Other Game]? That got an M and it was way worse!
Though the debate about precedent and what “should” qualify as AO vs. M is ongoing, the only opinion that really matters is that of the ratings boards. We can (and often do, trust me) argue our position, but at the end of the day, we have to conform with the guidance the ratings boards give us. If they inform us that a title is going to be rated a certain way, we cannot persuade them otherwise by bringing up [Other Game]. They’ve made their decision, and we have to respect that and work with it rather than against it.