Dungeon Travellers 2 is an erotically-tinged RPG from Atlus that features some women who aren't wearing much in the way of clothing. There was enough sexual content in the original Japanese version enough that Atlus had to slightly alter the game to avoid an AO rating.
Warning: This post will feature screen shots from Dungeon Travellers 2 that could be considered pornographic. Be careful as you continue to scroll.
Games are changed all the time when they're released in different countries, but it's not common for companies to send out press releases promising they haven't changed very much. When Atlus released a note to fans promising it hadn't compromised Dungeon Travellers 2, it caught my attention:
Dungeon Travellers 2: The Royal Library & the Monster Seal presented some challenges during the localisation process -- specifically, adapting some of the fan service content to western sensibilities. Localisation by nature requires some changes to be made for content to be understood en masse, which is why ATLUS worked closely with developer AquaPlus to preserve the game's themes and content to its fullest.
In order to comply with restrictions set forth by rating boards, ATLUS made concessions on just four in-game images. On these images, some minor edits were made (and approved by the developer) to adjust the overt graphics to within acceptable ranges for the game's M-rating.
Dungeon Travellers 2 is a first-person, turn-based RPG in which players are "sealing" monsters in dungeons. These monsters happen to be women wearing very little clothing.
When you defeat them, they're sealed away, and the game rewards you with a celebratory image, in which the monster is shown in a state of defeat. Some are more sexual than others:
While this might represent the extreme end of Dungeon Travellers 2, a game that's premised around rewarding players with sexual images, you can see why the ESRB might have an issue.
"Most of them [sealing scenes] have partial nudity, which wasn't a problem," said an Atlus representative. "One of the changes in question involved a mutant girl in a pose imitating a sexual act, and the other images were of mutant girls who appeared in clothing too revealing for their young appearance."
We'll refrain from showing you the images of some of the younger women featured in the Japanese version of Dungeon Travellers 2, but "young" would be a generous term.
Here's a much tamer example of what Atlus is alluding to:
The ESRB does have an Adults Only rating, though very few games have been labelled as such.
"Atlus doesn't have any specific policies in place regarding an AO title," a company rep told me, "but the sheer difficulty involved in the business aspects of selling an AO title make it prohibitively difficult."
AO is considered a kiss of death amongst publishers because of the problems it can cause with being carried by retailers. It's not a surprise Atlus would want to comply with the ESRB.
In this case, Atlus closely worked with the ratings board to determine what was in bounds.
"Atlus actually consulted with the ESRB prior to submitting," a company rep said. "They helped identify which images would be an issue, and we took their feedback to the developer to change the images appropriately."
Whatever you think of Dungeon Travellers 2 and its imagery, it's this point that gives fans pause. At what point does editing for demographic and cultural differences become censorship?
On the Siliconera article about the game's alterations, the reaction was mixed.
Some were glad to see the game come over, even if it meant a few changes.
Others wondered about the different standards for sexual representation in the West vs. East.
Below the game's trailer on YouTube, another fan hoped some game developer would decide to flip the script.
For Atlus, it's a balance between all of its competing interests. They want to please their fans and keep the integrity of the game intact, but there are market and social realities, as well.
"At its core, Atlus' business is localising niche games from Japan, and part of that localisation process is keeping the experiences as true to the original as possible," a company rep said. "On top of complying with ratings boards, Atlus also makes sure that the game content fits with its brand as well."
Fans can judge for themselves when Dungeon Travellers 2 is released later this year.