Localizing Criminal Girls 2 in the West: An Interview with NISA

Friday, June 24th, 2016

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Criminal Girls 2 release date announcement from NIS America was followed by a blog post about the content in the game being altered for the West. We thought it would be a good idea to sit down with the company at E3 2016 and get more information on the steps they are taking to localize the title. The conversation took place over lunch with, Robbie, Alan, and Jordan from NIS America.

What made NIS America choose to localize Criminal Girls 2?

The first one actually did pretty well for us. Even though there’s a segment of people saying that the first game bombed, but it didn’t and it encouraged us to do the second one. Once we saw that our fans wanted the second one, it just made sense.

Would you consider Criminal Girls 2 an improvement to the first in the series?

There are a lot of improvements in terms of story and the way some of the motivation scenes are. I thought it was pretty cool that there’s obviously this sexual overtone in the game, but there’s also this more deeper and more emotional feeling when you realize that there’s a reason why this girl is here. You realize that there is a reason she is in hell, but maybe some bad things happened in her life. Those scenes definitely pull those emotional strings.


There’s concern over some of the changes that some of images have gone through. What is NISA trying with this title that you might not have tried with the first game?

I feel like this time we are being more transparent. For the first game, I felt like we just announced that we were doing something to the game, but we aren’t going to be very specific. For Criminal Girls, the fog was a little more rushed then we’d hoped for. We were stuck with “okay we have to get this game out, what are our options here? Okay, let’s just not remove as much of the fog in the final levels.” This time, however, the way we are approaching Criminal Girls 2 is if you play through this game, you wont ever know that something was changed in it. We want the experience of someone playing this, to be the same as someone who is playing it in Japan. Doing the redrawn art, I think, puts the localized version up to the standards of the original Japanese version. Now that we have a little more time to invest in this we can make sure that it’s not a different experience for people playing.

What about the voices over during the motivations scenes, are you still working to keep that in?

I’m not too much involved in the localization part of it or dealing with the ESRB but I know that it is a concern. The problem comes with a girl screaming “No!” while you’re spanking her ass; that wont fare too well with ratings boards. They’re saying that you can’t have non-consensual sexual activity in these games. What I know is that they are looking into those scenes and the audio from them to see if they can keep anything.


So how does NISA market Criminal Girls 2? How do you keep the old audience while getting others interested in it?

I think there are two sides to that: to keep the old audience, you wanna show them like, “what did you like about the first game?” But obviously, people that played for first one were upset with the censorship. So we have need to let those audiences know that this time around we are being more careful and we are aiming to stay true to the original look and feel. As far as getting a new audience, well we wanna speak to the audience that are more into the erotic games. Let them know that “hey, this game has some elements that you might enjoy.” Also, there’s an emotional connection to the characters in the game. Whichever way you look at it, you will learn something about these characters.

Do you think that NIS America is focusing on less ecchi games due to the social climate in the West?

With NIS America pretty much everything is on the table when it comes to choosing games. It really comes down to what our head company makes and that’d be what companies we can approach within Japan. For the most part, we can’t approach the big names and publish them over here because they’ll do it themselves. That’s not a hard and fast rule, but generally speaking that’s how it works. One thing that I know, a lot of consumers don’t necessarily like to hear this, but we are a business. As a business we have to ask ourselves, is this game going to turn a profit or not? There have been times that we’ve had to pass on a project, as good as it might be or as much as we like it, once you punch the numbers it’s not going to do what you’d expect it to do. Our state of mind at NIS America is to bring fun-cool Japanese culture to the West.

When people say that NIS America “doesn’t understand their audience”, how do you respond?

Well, the people that engage with us on social media are obviously interested in us enough to do that. When our user base, the people that do really love our games, are unhappy then we are going to try to address that. At the same time, the internet is an interesting platform that people with very loud voices have a tendency to make themselves a lot bigger. Yes, we do listen to everybody, everything that comes up on our social media. And we try to address any concerns. In the case of Criminal Girls 2, there’s a group that says ” we’re boycotting you”, when we look at the numbers that’s just not the case. But people have a right to how they feel. I like to bring this up, as a kid I was playing Breath of Fire IV and when I learned it was censored, I was livid, I couldn’t believe that they would do that. They ruined the artistic integrity of the game. I understand that consumers always have the right to know, and they also have the right to make a decision with their wallets, and they have the right to say what they want.

We are being very transparent with this game, by coming out in the open with what was change. If you’re mad about it we completely understand those feelings, but we hope that you’re mad about the actual things that were changed, and not just what you think was or why you think it was. As a company we aren’t trying to push our morals onto somebody else. As a business it doesn’t benefit us to spend extra money to get artwork re-drawn, but we are doing it to get Criminal Girls 2 to the West.

My take on our conversation: NIS America wouldn’t spend the time and money to get Criminal Girls 2 localized only to suffer a loss. The company seems to care about their fans and is dedicated to being open and transparent with the games they are working on. They’re also open to criticism and are right there along with the gamers that demand games to be uncensored. What are your concerns? Let us know in the comments below.