Katana Zero Just Got Banned In Australia

You have to give it to Devolver Digital. They've got a great track record with the Classification Board.

The indie publisher has just had another game refused classificiation by the national sensors, with the target this time being Katana Zero. Devolver announced that the game had received a "Classification Refused" rating through the automated IARC process, rather than a direct ban from the Classification Board itself.

IARC rulings, however, have the same legal force as an RC rating from the Classification Board. Devolver noted on Twitter that they would be re-submitting the game directly to the Classification Board, as well as New Zealand's Office of Film and Literature Classification, to get the game approved.

The game was due to launch on the eShop and PC this week. The Steam version is still viewable from an Australian IP, making it likely that the game will still be available for sale when it launches late Friday/early Saturday morning. Switch owners, however, will have to wait for the Classification Board to approve the game before it can be sold on the eShop.

Katana Zero Is Time-Bending '80s Samurai Action

Video: OK Katana Zero, you have my attention. The game is being billed as a "a fast paced neo-noir action platformer", and it looks equal parts slick and brutal. Among other things, the game will let you slow down time and interrupt characters during conversations. It will be out sometime this year.

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Comments

    They really should pay someone to do this, and not get their latte ordering intern to do it.

    Why was it refused classification?

      Was submitted through the automated IARC process, wasn't rejected by a human or a Classification Board panel. If the Board rejects it when it's resubmitted (a ruling wouldn't come in until after Easter at this point) then we'll be able to answer that.

        That sounds utterly ridiculous. I've just been watching a number of videos of it's content and I can name a dozen games off the top of my head with more graphic themes and content that are on shelves? Nothing about it seems ban worthy honestly? Hopefully common sense prevails, because it looks like mad fun :)

          Remember that the only humans involved in this RC classification are the ones at Devolver Digital. So we're looking at either (a) Devolver misdescribed their game in the IARC survey, or (b) some element of the game really is borderline and requires human review.

            I mean, you're assuming we have humans at all working on the IARC :)

              I'm not suggesting someone associated with IARC would perform the review. The IARC survey spat out an RC classification, and that's the end of their involvement. What happens now is that Devolver goes through our traditional classification process.

              Even with potential false positives like this, this is a vast improvement over the old status quo. Presumable the majority of Devolver's games will receive a usable classification instantly at no cost. If they need to pay a human to review a few outliers, they're still ahead of the old system.

                I mean I have to question what the automatic proccess is rejecting it on as well. such data would be invaluable in the future just so further miscommunication doesn't result in this happening again.

                  Some of the other comments suggest that the game includes some fictional drugs that the player can take. The Australian classification guidelines prohibit incentives tied to drug use, but there seems to be some disagreement over how fictional drugs are handled.

                  If you look at all the decisions back and forward, I'd be hard pressed to design a survey question that would reject all the RC games and allow all those that weren't RC. It would be much easier to make the automatic rating conservative, and let game developers appeal results they think are incorrect.

        Say what now? Classification of art and media in Australia is undertaken by.....not a human?

        Oh, even if automated I would have thought some sort of justification would be described

    I guessing no-one knows what caused the rejection?

      Apparently because you use a fictional drug called Chronos or something like that in the game that gives you time-manipulation powers. Ratings board frowns upon any drug usage that gives you positive effects.

        Wow... in the mean time, I'll just go pop some Med-X in Fallout and be fine and dandy... the one that was changed from morpheine.

        I thought the guideline was real drugs, not fictional?

          Or morphine in "Velvet Assassin", that got through the classification system just fine...

            Yeah the whole stance on "incentivised drug use" never made much sense to me when you literally refilled your health bar in May Payne by downing painkillers.

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          thats the biggest problem with the board in general, its not consistant, otherwise saints row 4 would not have been RCed as the anal probe was made DLC and the board was fine with that, but they were not fine with Shaundi and Shaundi geting super powers in a simulation after taking a fictional alien narcotic

            Not to mention GTA4 being censored from the blood and maimings, the blowjobs and sex etc. Then suddenly, in the DLC for L&D and Gay Tony, you got ALL that stuff back into it because... reasons.

        Phew, thank you Classifications Board! Civilisation as we know it has been saved yet again!

      I bought it today and have been playing it and I'm pretty confused why it was RC'd. There's been a lot of pixellated violence, but nothing we haven't seen before, and it's not even "thematically" violent. I'll spoiler tag the rest, even though they'll be mild-to-inconsequential descriptions:

      There is a bunch of swearing (nothing over the top), there was a scene involving torture (non interactive), some people smoking pot (dialogue interactive), some kind of powered drug taking (cocaine type reference, you can choose through dialogue whether to use), a brief allusion to violence against a child. The scene in the trailer with the injectable drug appears to be prescribed and administered by a psychiatrist, so doesn't even appear to be self medicating. Again, this is only after like 90 mins, but I hear one playthrough is only a few hours.

      I'm genuinely confused, unless there's something dramatic I haven't seen yet.

      Otherwise, it's actually quite a neat game. Great aesthetic, great soundtrack, cool pixel art and animation, tight controls. I'm really enjoying it.

    I feel like since the possibility of r18 we've had more games banned here than before...?
    But perhaps that's a bit of confirmation bias because I certainly haven't looked anything up.

      Nah we had way more banned before, there were fewer games made before, but the ratio was a larger rate.

    I wouldn't be surprised that the system sees "Devolver Digital" and it now auto "RC"'s any game.

      It wouldn't surprise me if the classification board has a blacklist to RC specific developers by default and then maybe flag them for manual review later.

        Devolver doesn't have a good track record, i can name 3 games that got banned, Hotline Miami 2, Genital Jousting (although it got resubmitted and approved), Mother Russia Bleeds and now this game.

        Although, i looked at the trailer and couldn't see where the RC could come from. Its not excessively violent, maybe something about drugs?

          If you search "Katana ZERO - Launch Trailer" on YouTube you'll find a trailer on the Devolver Digital account. At the 0:40 second mark you'll see someone flick a syringe and then inject the character in the forearm with a drug called Chronos. The animation looks very similar to the classic heroin junkie shooting up type scene. That's my best guess as to what caused the ban... Still seems stupid to flag it over that, though. Hopefully it gets reviewed and cleared.

    Wtf is the point of an R rating if shit is going to be rejected anyway? Obviously there are going to be questionable fringe titles that include excessive violence against children, but I cannot fathom how any group could sit there and think that the classification board is anything other than a real life manifestation of the Simpson's "won't someone think of the children" meme; they are a fucking joke.

    What's clear from this article and the Twitter thread is that very few (angry) people know the difference between the IARC and the classification board.

    Can I get a robot to do my job too please?

      There's one tiny little problem with that plan ... in that once the robot does your job, you're not exactly required anymore.

    Tinfoil hat time! Devolver deliberately submitted it with non-existent content listed because 'Banned in Australia' is a meme for them, and since its on Switch its childs play to get around any bans.

      I'm imagining the Nintendo Seal of Quality but instead it says "Banned in Australia".

      I doesn't seem like a stretch of the imagination to think that they aim for a ban. They wear these RC's like a badge of honour on social media and can make even a mediocre game seem appealing to audiences who dig the controversy. I think it'll appear on Steam even with an RC – I know Mother Russia Bleeds is still available despite it being refused classification – so they get to have their controversy cake and eat it too.

        On that note, I just opened up Steam and it was right there front and centre.

    Most of the time I don't care about the games that get banned in Australia beyond a general 'get rid of the classification board already' stance, but I actually wanted to buy Katana Zero and I'm furious that it's been banned.

    Gee, an automated Australian government system fucks up and produces a moronic result again? Why does this sound so famicentrelinkliar?

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