"Slaves of the Red Mansion," a fantasy game about girls sold into sexual slavery, has been denounced as "blasphemy" by some Chinese Internet surfers who have called for the game's designers to apologize and halt its production.
"Turning 'Dream of the Red Chamber' into a lewd game besmirches a treasure of Chinese literature, and is a desecration of Chinese culture," thundered one irate Net surfer on Web portal Sohu.com.
"As a big fan, this is absolutely unforgivable for me!"
The game's developer, listed as Takayashiki Development, could not immediately be reached for comment.
"Dream of the Red Chamber", also known as "Dream of the Red Mansion," by Qing dynasty (1644-1911) author Cao Xueqin, chronicles a noble family's declining fortunes, and is often regarded as the zenith of classical Chinese fiction.
The Japanese computer game, however, features images of scantily clad young girls bound by chains, and, local media reported.
While the game's setting has little to do with the epic novel, Chinese Internet users believed its main character--a pallid young girl called Lin Daiyu--was closely modeled on the novel's heroine.
The Chinese Internet users said the story's character had been slandered by the game, which describes her as an illegitimate child born after her mother had an affair with a foreigner.
"Her mother died of drink and disease, and Lin Daiyu was sold into the red mansion," the Chongqing Economic Times said, citing the game.
China is very sensitive about Japanese interpretations of its literary landmarks, and anti-Japanese sentiment regularly spills over into the virtual world.
In July, thousands of online game players denounced an image of a red sun used in the hugely popular online game "Fantasy Westward Journey," developed by China's NetEase.com.
Players associated the rising-sun image, used as a backdrop in a virtual Chinese government office, with a symbol of Japanese militarism, local media reported.
In August 2005, the Communist Youth League--a branch of China's Communist Party--announced plans to team up with a Chinese game developer to design a game based on resistance to Japan's World War II invasion of China.