Omega Labyrinth Z, an adult-orientated anime dungeon crawler, will not be released on PlayStation 4 or Vita after Sony stepped in.
The game, which mixes chibi-style dungeon exploration with a slideshow of provocatively-dressed young anime characters, had been set to launch in Europe and North America.
Here in Europe, Omega Labyrinth Z was given a PEGI 18 rating for sexual content, although a physical UK launch had already been scrapped after the Video Standards Council (VSC) refused a certificate for a UK boxed release back in March.
Numerous scenes deemed problematic within the game involved the undressing and sexual stimulation of the game's young-looking characters in various settings.
"The player touches certain points on a female character's body to arouse them," the VSC noted of one mini-game. "A successful action will activate a 'shame break' where parts of their clothing come off revealing more of their bodies.
"The player places honey on the girls' bodies," the VSC noted of another challenge. "A fantastical dog-like creature then proceeds to lick the honey off their bodies which causes them to become aroused. Like the previous mini-game, when they reach a certain level of arousal parts of their clothing fall off or vanish. As the dog licks at the honey, the girls respond with sexualised language."
But the main sticking point was the young age of the characters in question.
"The game is explicit in its setting within a 'school' environment and the majority of the characters are young girls - one child is referred to as being a 'first year' student and is seen holding a teddy bear," the VSC concluded. "The game clearly promotes the sexualisation of children via the sexual interaction between the game player and the female characters. The style of the game is such that it will attract an audience below the age of 18."
What feels odd is that while the VSC's ruling was slapped down in March, PEGI's own classification for European release elsewhere still stood. Still stands, even. And it's only now - today - that PQube has announced it will not release the game in the West at all because PlayStation itself intervened.
"It is with sadness that we announce that the game is cancelled on both platforms [PS4 and Vita] and all Western regions permanently," PQube wrote on Twitter, attaching a further statement as an image. "We will not comment further on this matter. Thank you for your support."
Please see below the statement on the situation of #OmegaLabyrinthZ in the West. It is with sadness that we announce that the game is cancelled on both platforms and all Western regions permanently. We will not comment further on this matter. Thank you for your support. pic.twitter.com/ePmmiWSTAY— PQube (@PQubeGames) June 25, 2018
"PQube strives to release Japanese content for its fans as close to the source material as possible," the publisher admitted in its image-based statement, which it accompanied with screenshots of the game's characters discussing their short skirts and breasts. "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's European and North American release on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita."
The interesting thing here is that Sony has stepped in itself, late in the day. It's not the first time we've seen PlayStation releases blocked in this way - but this move is still incredibly rare. In March, PlayStation slapped down the launch of creepy "pick-up artist" game Super Seducer just days before its planned debut.
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