Monday, March 12, 2007

General RPGs' Women's Clothing

Yeah, yeah, I know. Not exactly an original topic. People have been pointing out the insanity of Chrono Trigger's Ayla ascending the windy, ice-covered Death Peak mountain in a fur bikini for over 10 years now. I'll do my best to go in a slightly new direction, though.

So, since RPGs came into existance, their characters have worn ridiculous and stupid outfits on their adventures. This is a simple fact of characters of both genders (or, in some cases, neither). I mean, from Link's never-changing Peter Pan cosplay in the Legend of Zelda series to every character Nomura has ever designed, RPG characters wear things that look absurd and are totally impractical about 90% of the time. Go ahead and ask a FF10 cosplayer how long it took just to create a cheap imitation of Lulu's ridiculous belt dress, and then decide how much sense it makes to get and wear clothes like that on a regular basis. It's like every RPG-making company in Japan has some yearly bet going on who can design the character with the weirdest combination of odd clothing mixed with random household crap aimlessly sewn/tied/taped onto it.

With female characters, though, the idiocy of what they wear seems more noticeable. Not necessarily because it looks especially sillier than their male companions' clothes--sure, Legend of Dragoon's Rose's protective armor seems to be made under the assumption that her legs are totally expendable, but on the other hand, her companion Kongol is wearing steel underpants with a huge horned demon face carved into them right over his crotch. No, really.

The true reason Kongol's race is extinct? No mystery there. I'd be fuckin' afraid to copulate with a guy who adorns his junk with a huge steel grinning devil skull if I were a girl, too.

No, the reason that the stupidity of what RPG characters wear seems more apparent for the women is because they invariably are wearing far less than their male companions, even when, often without complaint, they are travelling through frigid, frozen landscapes that Eskimos would wince at.

Now, as I've mentioned before, people have been noting how weird this is for a while. Celes defending Narshe's frozen fields while wearing a swimsuit in FF6, Phantasy Star 4's Rika wearing nearly the same thing exploring an entire ice planet, Tifa climbing up the FF7 equivalent of Mount Everest wearing a white T-shirt and a pair of shorts that would make Lindsey Lohan blush to wear...folks, I live in Massachusetts. I know what cold weather is. I have felt it myself. It is an unpleasant thing. People do not run around when the temperature drops below freezing wearing clothes they might play beach volleyball in. They stop and put on MORE CLOTHES so that they stop chattering and shaking and wishing they were dead because holy frozen fuck it's cold out. And if they don't have the warmer clothes on them (RPG pockets or backpacks or whatever can somehow carry 99 bottles of magical healing potions, but not a spare change of clothes), they turn around, head back to the nearest area of civilization, and purchase some.

But you know, for most games, I forgive them this. No, not because I think it's hot or whatever. I'd only ever make that exception for Breath of Fire 2's Katt, and I don't have to in this case, because I don't think she ever took her totally-not-wearing-pants self through any particularly cold areas. The reason I don't hold the costume nonsense with Celes and Rika and Ayla and so on against the games' creators is that, in many cases, there really wasn't a lot to work with technically. Old games on the SNES and Genesis and further down the evolutionary chain were pretty small, without a lot of space for extra graphics and such. While I think it would certainly have been possible for Square to make a sprite set of Celes wearing a damn coat when she's running around the frigid caves of Narshe, I can concede that back then it would have been a lot of extra work and money to fit in a whole new sprite set for an ultimately trivial purpose.

But come on. This is STILL going on. Nowadays, it's just getting ridiculous. Are you trying to tell me that SquareEnix, the biggest name in the RPG business, cannot find the time, money, and space on a Playstation 2 game to have FF12's Fran change out of her half-armor half-bondage gear outfit into something that at the very least covers more skin than it doesn't when she's traveling through a mountain blizzard? How damn hard could it possibly be for Nippon Ichi to have Phantom Brave's Marona put a jacket on over her little island sundress thing when she's dying of exposure on a fuckin' ice island? I KNOW that the colorful little advanced sprites that make up that game's characters can't be taking up so much room on a PS2 disc that one or two of her wearing some mittens and a scarf are going to push it too far. RPG makers have really gotta stop fretting over what completely unnecessary complications they can add to battle systems that are going to be boring anyway, and start thinking about what little things could make their games make SENSE.

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