It has recently been revealed that Criminal Girls 2 will be coming to the western market in a censored form. And censorship is a hot topic that has people split on the idea. Censorship has also raised an important question. And that would be if it´s better to get the game in question but in a cut-up form, or not get the game at all if it is not 100% of the original? I´ll leave you with that question for now (I will return to that subject later on), because I want to discuss the idea of reviewing censored games. I mean, should these games even get a score, and if so how?

Well, please allow me to give you an example. I reviewed Criminal Girls 1 last year, and funny enough the censorship made the game worse in terms of what it was trying to block. I gave the game a score. Should I have? As censorship, by definition, cuts out content. We are not talking about an update to fix something like spelling or a bug preventing a person from opening a door. Censorship removes the door. No one can experience what is behind the door.

criminal girls 2 nis america four changes

I bet that “Criminal Girls 2” will get even further censorship in the West.

I would also like to point out that game reviews are a controversial issue on its own, because a lot of the time the issues have everything to do with the review score itself. And that´s due to the fact that games which the masses think are 10s get a lot of press, when one random outlet gives it a 7 (see “Uncharted”). Hell, some sites have done away with scores altogether, but those are few and far between because they are already major sites that are established on the Gaming market. And since a lot of smaller sites need scores to survive because being on an aggregate like Metacritic gets them traffic. Well, simply put, no score, no Metacritic and no more boost in hits.

However, as the awareness of censorship in games is becoming more available, my thoughts on review scores are in flux. Because I think that if the game in question is incomplete, then it shouldn’t get a full score. Because censorship makes a complete game unfinished, as censorship = Removing content from a complete product. So, are the companies giving us a discount for the missing content that another country is getting automatically? No, because we have to pay for DLC a lot of the time for additional content, and that makes me wonder why there is no discount on content taken away? (corporate greed, I guess).

fire emblem fates petting

Is there anything that won´t get censored nowadays?

Speaking of censorship, Fire Emblem: Fates will go down in history as a tainted title because of censorship. Just the petting mini-game alone made a lot of Gamers angry, as the petting mini-game was ripped out entirely from the Western release. And that part is a major piece of content which gamers are prevented from enjoying. However, the petting mini-game is to be found in the Japanese version of “Fire Emblem: Fates”, so why shouldn’t there be a penalty associated with the missing content in the Western version? Allow me to give you another example.

When I give my students a test, and they don’t answer a question, I don’t reduce the max score from a 10 to a 9, so they can still get a perfect score. No, my students get a 9/10 score if everything else is correct. At the same time, I still believe that not giving a censored game a score entirely is too extreme, because hack jobs like “Fire Emblem: Fates” is the extreme and not the norm. Nevertheless, reviewers performing the above example, knocking off points for censorship, are what should be done. So, will that happen? Probably not, because review scores are down to the individual reviewing the game.

Even so, the masses still like to put all the credit and blame of a review score on a website, but in reality, it is the individual reviewer who should be getting all the credit and blame. Unless a mass of reviewers band together and make up a universal scoring rubric that will be adhered to by their websites, then don’t expect anything to change in the near future.

And with that said, what´s your take on this matter? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section down below!

Robin Ek – Editor

This is a personal opinion of the writer, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the other writers (nor The Gaming Ground´s) opinions.

Dane Smith
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @LasombraFiles

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26 Comments ON " Video game censorship – The idea of reviewin... "
  • Nanya

    Simple, if it’s censored, i won’t buy it.

    May rent it muuuuuch later and play it, but that would be the farthest I’ll go.

    • On a personal level, if I can´t import the game (with or without English text). Then I´m just going to let it be.

      • Nanya

        And then every system goes to DRM just to piss us off. =/

        Oh well, thankfully I can still import PSP and Vita games if needed.

        Just wish that my Vita was homebrewed so I can use its built-in PSP emulator to play Japanese PSP games on it.

        • Then there is that…Yes, that´s one way to go around the problem. That would be awesome for sure 😉 You could always check the PSP homebrew forums for help.

          • Nanya

            I didn’t mean DRM, I meant Region Locking

            Same difference.

            Yeah, I haven’t seen anything yet. I hope someone found a way to jail break the Vita so we can put PSP emulated titles onto it.

            What? I wanna play my Japanese PSP games on my Vita.

          • Ah, sorry. I hope that you will be able to sort that out 😉 Yes, that was my point 😛 Thus my advice to check homebrew forums for help.

          • Sevuz

            That way we love the PC platform. Almost everything is possible 😛

          • Of course =) Because we were born to win 😉

  • Robot Maid

    I feel reviewing a censored game would have a lot of pitfalls.

    Without playing the original, so you have a feel for what’s actually missing. Unfortunately, not everyone can learn Japanese (or in the case of Nintendo games, buy a JP console as well).

    The only thing I can really think of is simply put in the review “the game version I am reviewing has been censored and some parts of the original game have been removed” and include the major parts that have been removed, such as game mechanics or graphics in the review. Something to that extent.

    • We (the TGG team) have talked about this, and it leans towards doing something like that.

  • MusouTensei

    “Censorship has also raised an important question. And
    that would be if it´s better to get the game in question but in a cut-up
    form, or not get the game at all if it is not 100% of the original?”
    I support Idea Factory’s philosophy to not localize games anymore if they would have to censor them. Will I miss out eventually? Yes, but from a company’s view it doesn’t matter as they won’t get my money if it’s censored anyway, so might as well don’t do it at all. Only exception I might make, depending on what gets censored, if the uncensored version actually gets an AO rating and they censor it just as much as needed for an M rating.

    Now to reviews, I think a censored game definitely needs to be scored lower, also the review itself should always point out the censorship, if possible with comparison screenshots or videos, in an own paragraph and in the verdict as well (and if used, in the box with the positives and negatives as well).
    Depending on how severe the censorship is, the game should get 1-2 points less while pointing out that the uncensored version would have gotten a higher score. Like Fire Emblem would have gotten a 9/10 but the severe and unecessary censorship brings it down to a 7 or so.

  • John Smith.

    Hmm, I really don’t know. Perhaps it would be best to review both the censored and un-censored version so readers can see just what content the censorship have altered or removed.
    As for review scores, I rather liked the version I saw in the old PSM and Sega Saturn magazine in the 90ties where Graphics, story, music and difficulty got a score each along with an overall score. But, and this is a big but, the scores need to go below 7-8. I don’t care how much work a game has been given, if it is shit it needs to rated as such so people don’t get tricked into buying it.

    • That sounds like a good solution to me? Ah, yes. We could try to do something similar to that perhaps?

    • Dane Smith

      The problem with reviewing both versions, apart from the language barrier, is the company giving up codes for both games and having the ability to play them. Not every site gets a code for a game from the company, which we are seeing more and more high profile ones like Polygon and Kotaku. It is 99% impossible to get the Japanese code. I’ve tried for years to review Pro Baseball Spirits but Konami/Konami Japan just gives us static and won’t answer replies about a Japan only game. The only time I did a review was because I bought the game myself, and only cause I planned on it anyways.

      Then factor in time to track down the censorship spots, add in that 95% of reviewers are not paid and/or paid minimum wage for their time invested, and then the cost of supplying your own gear like multiple memory cards for a Vita from two seperate PSN stores, and it is a giant clusterfuck of a situation.

      On a more positive note, I loved PSM magazine back in the day. That and Game Players were my favs and inspiration.

      • John Smith.

        It was just a suggestion, not a demand.
        To be honest, I really have no idea what to do here. On one hand I want to know what was censored from a game so I can decide if its something I live with or if I should just give the company the finger and pass on to the next game.
        On the other I can already see that this censorshit is here to stay thanks to SJWs now being well inserted into the translation industry. So being told Yeah they censored this, this and that” would just be a sad reminder that we’re back in the depressing 1950ties again.

        • Dane Smith

          Wasn’t trying to sound like you were coming off as a demand 🙂 Usually the company will flat out say what was censored. When I did the Criminal Girls 1 review, I did some leg work checking YouTube for Japanese lets plays of the game. This allowed me to see what uncensored stuff and compare.

  • If you want to review and give a score to a censored game, I recommend that you must have experience of the original uncensored game as well. And within the review I suggest a dedicated section for the censorship issues, covering the following:

    – Censorship of the game must be brought up
    – The reason or assumed reason for the censorship
    – Categorize and list the kind of censorship aspects it has
    – To what scale of importance the censorship has on the game for the kind of game it is
    – Comparison of the censored aspects to the original uncensored version with examples, using screenshots
    – What kind of fan the censorship will affect the most (for example: taking away boobs will affect fanservice gamers; and taking away original dialogue will affect RPG storyline purists)

    And censorship should ALWAYS be portrayed in a negative light (because it genuinely is a negative thing).

    As for scoring, censored games should always be scored lower simply because it’s the process of removing/banning something from the original version, which removes the full experience, and is quite frankly an insult to the creator/artist.

    Perhaps some kind of a Censorship level rating too? The higher the rating means high amounts of censorship; and the lower the rating means a low amount of censorship.

    And I’ve used the word ‘censorship’ in this post so many times now I’m getting a little bit obsessed.

  • David

    That’s a problem I had with Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest. On the review I stated that I was reviewing the censored localization version, linked other articles about what was changed (the others wrote plenty on the topic), and grade it on its own merits.

    As for grading a title (included the censored ones) I have to admit I’m not too fond of putting a review score on my game reviews. Personally I don’t think I should put a number on my opinions and criticism. I believe a review is more of an article of what the writer thinks of the game that should be an aid to decide if the audience should purchase it. However as a writer for this site I’ll accommodate by using the format and if it honestly helps then I’m more for it.

    But then that leads to the problem of how I should score a censored game. I agree that censorship does cut out content but should I put a lower score because of it? While I know that I need to at least address the issue I have to put a score on what was left. This turns into the question if it’s fair to deck an overall good game because of censorship. If the censored content was important to the game (a character’s personality and/or views or its a crucial feature for example) then it should be enough cause to lower it. On the other hand if it was content that the game wasn’t depended on then it’s just up for debate.

    Another point has been brought up in the comments (by Robot Maid): not everyone has access to learning Japanese or imports. And this doesn’t fall on the reviewer. A number of consumers are not able to import the original games or JP Region (Nintendo) consoles. While we should address the censorship I think we also have to keep in mind that the censored localized version is properly the game that some of the audience may end up with (if they remain interested after reading the review).

    I know that my review of FE Fates: Conquests is tied in with this issue along with any reviews on censored games. But after reading and seeing the comments I will try to put this in consideration for future reviews.

    • Robot Maid

      I feel that if you absolutely have to give a score in a video game review, the censorship should only affect the score if it takes away from the overall gameplay. Of course, how much that removed gameplay matters to you is subjective.

      (When I review games, I don’t give scores. Just a “this game is worth a try or not”)
      For example, I personally wouldn’t dock too many points off (if I gave scores in reviews in the first place) the removal of FE:Fates petting minigame. It wasn’t -that- big of a game changer (but I don’t like the idea of removing it in the first place since it’s innocuous and optional in the first place (also applies to the lack of swimwear in the NA / EU versions)).

      But if the localization cuts out major content, breaks the game in some places, or rewrites aspects of the game and/or its characters, that’s a huge strike. I remember reading somewhere that the localization for Witch and the Hundred Knight actually made the game unbeatable in some situations, as well as potentially causing PS3s to overheat and become permanently inoperable. This would, of course, prevent me from recommending it to people in good conscious.

      I guess the takeaway is that the less it affects everything else about the game, the less it should impact the review.

      • David

        This is what was on my mind when I read Dane’s article. To me, in the case of a censored game, it should boil down to what’s left and did the cut content affect the game negatively. Reviews on such titles should inform the audience of such but at the same time give an opinion of whether or not they’re worth your time and why.

  • Sevuz

    Censorship is always bad. It’s a wall that stands in the way of creative freedom. Or course there are cases where is a good idea. But these situations are outside this topic.

    A review should point out if a game has been censored or changed from it source material. How this should affect the score, I think it’s op to the reviewer themselves.

    Game reviews are 2 things and 1 it shouldn’t be:
    1. To inform the viewer/reader about what the game has to offer and confirm quality of the title.
    2. An opinion piece that is based on what the reviewer/review team thinks about the overall content and it’s worth.
    -1. A political, gender or religious battleground for oversensitive social hippies and fanatics.

    Of course is hard not to be political with some games, if their content is focused around that theme. But that is what all forms of entertainment is for. To challenge ideas, views and debates. Censorship does the direct opposite of this and it’s the reason why many hates it. Some people (like Treehouse) think it’s a necessary evil because they think the content, words and opinions is offensive and promotes a mindset that is harmful.
    The problem right now in the gaming industry is that they think it’s necessary EVERYWHERE because a few doesn’t like what they see and hear.

    I can only speak for myself, but I hear dumb shit everyday. Sometimes it unpleasant and makes me frustrated and angry. But I believe everyone has their right to speak their mind, as long as they understand that other might not agree.

    Censorship in games, movies and music is the tool of the weak.

    • I never liked censorship, and in a way it feels like the censorship is even worse now than it was in the early 90s. That´s what we´re going with, so it´s up to the reviewer in question to make that call. Exactly, so if I had reviewed “Siege of Dragonspear: Baldur’s Gate”. Then I would have pointed the political agenda out (con). correct, and that´s how it should be.

      However, I don´t like when “some” devs tries to shove down feminazi, anti-white male and PC bs down my throat. Not only that, you might actually miss out on some very important stuff as well. For example, I remember when I played the Australien version of “Fallout 2” back in 1998. In the AU version, there were no kids (everyone looked adult), and this would become a huge problem later on. Because you had no idea who was an adult, and who was a kid. And I accidentally killed a kid (whom I thought was an adult), so I got burn marked as a “child killer”. And you can never remove that mark, so I had to restart the whole game…

  • darkgamer001

    Not reviewing the game certainly sends a statement in its own way.

    But I think a stronger statement can be sent out if a number of smaller sites do review it and reduce the score based on censorship….yes, censorship deserves to be reflected in the score, when consumers are paying roughly the same amount of money as gamers in Japan, have to wait for months, and then don’t get the same amount of content.

    As of right now, in terms of review scores, there’s almost an incentive to censor, because the big, corrupted sites like Kotaku, Polygon, etc., will lap it up. That said, I genuinely feel that these sites are losing influence, to the benefit of individuals on Youtube or smaller sites. If these “smaller” reviewers end up presenting negative consequences for censorship (ex. the overall metacritic score), then companies will have to reconsider their stance on this so-called “localization”

    • True, and it really seems like Kotaku, Polygon, IGN and so on is losing ground as we speak. And you´re right. Because why should we end up with a less complete version than the Japanese? Correct, and it´s getting worse too. That´s why I stated that female video game characters might be covered up from head to toe in the future…

  • Not supporting it.

    • Good, as that´s the best way to send them a single that you’re not cool with censorship.

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