While I was looking into information for yesterday’s post, I kept coming across posts about Bayonetta, because that’s what happens when you search for stuff about female game characters, basically. The one thing that struck me as interesting was that, while a lot of people point out, possibly correctly, that Bayonetta as a character was designed for making boners, not everyone feels that way, and some women actually quite like her as a character. It’s a really interesting debate if you have the time to sit down and sift through it.
What caught my eye, though, was the insistence by a lot of people, including the folks at Platinum Games, that Bayonetta was originally designed by a woman. That intrigued me, mostly because no one was actually naming her or anything, so I was curious as to exactly who the designer was, and what might have informed her decisions on designing the character.
Well, it didn’t take too long to figure it out: she was designed by Mari Shimazaki.
So a couple of weeks ago, the newest well-received redesign article popped up in the world, this time from a website called Svampriket, which looks like a Swedish Kotaku. The article, dubbed “Makeover Friday!” which I’ve helpfully linked in translated form, has been linked in a few places as a positive piece, with authors linking the piece and proclaiming the redesigns as a good thing, because of course they are. Interestingly, though, I discovered this thing not through the normal gaming rounds, but through a link that took me to “The Spideygirl Blog,” specifically a post discussing (among other things) this makeover, a recent character addition to Overwatch that came about due to fan objections to female designs, and some general discussions on why the writer thinks the recent discussions in general are kind of shitty. This sort of argument, as well as this one here which talks about why character agency is a stupid argument*, is nothing new, but what interested me was that the source was, by admission, a lesbian female, and the argument itself was less the typical “I LIKE BOOBS RAWR” we expect and more “People want to drag down sexy, large breasted women,” which is an… interesting approach to take, I’ll say that much**. The one thing I read within the post that I did like quite a bit, though, was this:
“This is my problem with the so called criticisms about female portrayals in video games. The people who love to complain about it seem to be inherently sex negative and puritanical. It isn’t so much that there are women who AREN’T busty and sexualized, it’s that there are women who are portrayed as such. And no matter what, apparently, those kinds of characters shouldn’t exist.”
I rather like that argument, actually, because it kind of undercuts a problem with the current discussions that are going on right now: even as someone who supports and fully believes in the idea that we need more equality in gaming, we’re going to solve that by motivating developers to make good characters, not by shaming them into putting pants on Lara Croft.
Silent Hill 3
Console: Playstation 2
Genre: Survival Horror
(Ah, Silent Hill 3. One of my favorites in the franchise, mostly because it brought the storyline of the first game to a logical conclusion, tied together the events from the franchise well enough, and showed that the concept still had some real chops to it. While many people love Silent Hill 2 over all others, the first and third games will always be my favorites, because I really loved the Mason family storyline, and while I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the second game in later years, it is not, nor will it ever be, my favorite, as Silent Hill 3 will probably always hold that spot. I still probably overrated it though.)
Publisher: Midway. (Aah, Shadow Hearts, probably one of my favorite modern JRPG’s in existence. It’s weird, I generally dislike the series as a whole, but I love this specific game because it actually allows for a happy and relatively understandable ending that the franchise itself wasn’t willing to even try at. The second game still had a good ending, but it was such a convoluted mess, and the game hemorrhaged fans to the point that no one bought it, and the third game ended up being brought over by XSEED rather than Midway. The developer ended up being merged into Aruze, who dissolved the development team, and much of the team went to feelplus, which was a part of AQ Interactive, who themeselves then merged into Marvelous, which is arguably the only company in that list who ever developed a good game that wasn’t named Shadow Hearts. Well, Moon Diver was okay.)
For me, there’s a point in every game where it hooks me; where it takes an holy act of god to pry my sweaty little palms from the controller, because I feel as though I NEED to complete this game. Sometimes that comes from being enthralled with the game and it’s mechanics; other times, from the realization that I PAID MONEY for this pile of crap, and goddammit, I’m gonna see it through. (Sometimes, I just do it out of spite, like with Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust.) And sometimes, there’s a frustration point, too; a point where I get so pissed off with the game that I don’t want to play it anymore, ever. (Like in Watch Dogs.) Sometimes that point hits at a particular fight in a game; sometimes I don’t know where to go at a certain point; or sometimes, I just get so FUCKING BORED with what’s going on that I give up. (Also like in Watch Dogs.) Today, we’re going to look at a game that both hooked me and pissed me off to the point I almost didn’t finish it. Today, we look at Shadow Hearts.
(And here we go, back to the YHCOR game reviews. There are only about eight or so of these left before we get into the IP game reviews, so I’ll probably do some clearing out of the YHCOR backlog for a couple days once these are done, just to get that embarrassing mess over with, then get into the IP/DHGF stuff, because that at least is less embarrassing.)
Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball.
Console: X Box
Genre: Sports/Simulation (Life) (For a very loose interpretation of both.)
Developer: Team Ninja
Y’know, sometimes I hate working for other websites. (Singular, at this point.) See, working at 411Mania is interesting and whatnot, but honestly, all I ever get to review there is the smaller games nobody plays. In addition, I don’t get to link to my website. Such is life in both cases, I know, but still, it kinda sucks. (I have to feel like this was honestly an Ashish Pabari policy more than anything; Widro, for all of our interpersonal disputes, is a goddamn prince about letting us do what we want, and Alex has never told me I cannot do something, and has generally stood by me whenever I’VE enforced something without question. We’ve had our differences behind the scenes but they’re both good friends of mine and let me do whatever I want, and I respect that. Plus Ashish was a fucking game thief anyway so fuck him and the spyware ridden hellhole 411 has become.)
System: Playstation 2
Release Date: 2/16/03 (And here we come to the end of the line with 411 Games reviews, as right after this I went back to writing reviews for my personal site, which I would continue to do off and on until 2005, when I joined what was then Inside Pulse Games, where I’ve been for nearly a decade now. I still somewhat like this review, if only for nostalgic purposes, as it’s about a game I love that not a lot of people do, and it’s probably the best review I wrote for 411, so of course it’s also the last one.
When I saw this game on the store shelves of my local video game store, (I’d like a glass of ice water with ice.) I was actually surprised. Part of me found it surprising that someone hadn’t thought up this idea prior to now… I mean, lord knows there are a multitude of companies trying to produce Resident Evil clones of all shapes and sizes, so why didn’t someone think up the concept of surviving the elements before? It’s a great idea, and I know people would buy it. (It’s especially surprising given that outside of Irem, the developers of this franchise, no one else is even trying it, at all, and Irem seems to have given up on the series; a second game, brought to the US as Raw Danger, did okay, as did a third Japanese exclusive PSP release, but a planned PS3 sequel was cancelled because, well, the Tokoku earthquake/tsunami happened, AKA the one that caused huge leaks in reactors and such. The franchise doesn’t have any further entries announced, because living through a catastrophe is scarier than anything a game can do one presumes, which… I understand, believe me, but given what a visionary series it was, I hope Irem can eventually resurrect it in some fashion. Hopefully once Japan has recovered from the disaster it might find its way back into the market, so, here’s hoping they can recover, for multiple reasons.)
Resident Evil Zero.
System: Nintendo GameCube.
Genre: Survival Horror.
Release Date: November 11, 2002. (We’re almost done with the 411 Games reviews, and thank Christ for that, though the final one will actually be for a game that I feel I probably did… okay by overall. At this point in the review process I was, frankly, wearing on the whole 411 deal; I was kind of aware that I wasn’t especially great at writing game reviews, I felt like there was no real input on the process, and basically it was a case where I was getting no feedback and everyone was content to let me suck out loud and hate my work instead of telling me I sucked out loud and that they hated my work. I’d sooner just get into the argument that comes from telling someone they suck, frankly, because at least then they might get better, and if they leave, they sucked, who cares?
Also I’m absolutely certain I overscored this, but we’ll get there in due time.)