After being pushed back by Japanese censors, the Callisto protocol won’t make its way to Japanese consoles and screens in December anyway.
The Computer Entertainment Ratings Organization (CERO) considered horror game The Callisto Protocol – with its ray traced eyeballs and copious entrails – too gory and violent for public consumption, refusing to review it unless Striking Distance Studios agreed to a censored edit for the region. Given CERO’s strict measures, Japanese developers are used to making this compromise, with Capcom softens Resident Evil games (opens in new tab) for their home turf releases.
US-based Striking Distance Studios refused to make a modified version of The Callisto Protocol, saying it would be a bad experience for players and will instead refund all pre-orders from the region.
Sense or stupid?
This isn’t the first time review teams have rejected a game, and it’s certainly not a Japanese problem.
Film, media and internet censorship are nothing new. The so-called “Great Firewall of China” (opens in new tab)” has been implemented since the mid-90s to control the dissemination of information, and it would be difficult to find a video game that is not banned for nudity, violence, or inflammatory behavior (opens in new tab) in places like Saudi Arabia.
But the West has also had its fair share of video game surveillance, especially when it comes to violence.
When Manhunt 2 was released in 2007, it encountered the hurdle of the British rating authority. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) declined to review or approve it for release, and US boards rated it for adults only, effectively preventing it from being distributed.
The game, which depicts an amnesiac man led by a psychopathic killer, was eventually released in the US after Rockstar agreed to modify the game and tone down the depictions of violence.
Even with a rating from M from the US itself, the BBFC again rejected the censored copy of Manhunt 2 until their decision was finally appealed, with the released version given a category 18.
In Germany, games are subject to the criminal code known as the Strafgesetzbuch. This code has ultimate authority over which texts or pieces of media can be distributed to the German public, and it has banned numerous titles for depicting graphic violence, including the original Dying Light, Silent Hill: Homecoming, and Condemned: Criminal Origins. However, after a 17-year ban in the country, German players can finally buy the original Doom.
All of this proves that video game violence is a global problem rather than being relegated to a specific corner of it.
Japanese horror fans can breathe a sigh of relief; it’s 2022 after all. You can buy pretty much anything online except the original Manhunt 2 – that version is still banned in most places.