Fan service is the horn in Square-Enix’s Side

Posted on Aug 16 2013 - 8:00am by Gabriel Zamora

ct misc05 e1376549227628 Fan service is the horn in Square Enixs Side

A few months back I had started putting together a piece on Chrono Trigger, an RPG released by Squaresoft back in 1995. Despite its resounding acclaim among RPG fans and critics alike, I never actually played the game until winter of last year – 2012 – over seventeen years after the game was originally released. Yet the game blew my mind, regardless. I was stunned at how much fun I was having with the gameplay, and how the story was straightforward, yet filled with humor, intrigue and tragedy. I had forgotten how much fun I had with Square’s old RPGs.

I was melancholy after finishing the game, to be honest. I didn’t want to jump on the “Square isn’t what it used to be” bandwagon, but I realized that there have been no Square-Enix-developed RPGs to leave a [positive] lasting impression on me since Final Fantasy XII back in 2006. And that game suffered from notable problems of its own.

The article was meant to harken back to the olden days of Squaresoft – when their RPGs were adventures filled with memorable characters and simple, but easily relate-able plots. A time where their game worlds were places a player could get lost in. When one could sit down and have fun, rather than nit-pick at the nonsense of the game’s mythos and characterization.

But I put the article on hiatus when E3 rolled around in June. Final Fantasy Versus XIII, one of the three games initially announced under the “Fabula Nova Crystallis” umbrella of games back in 2006, was finally, finally getting attention after seven years of near-complete silence from Square Enix. It was given a new name – Final Fantasy XV - and we were given a proper debut trailer and gameplay trailer. Kingdom Hearts III was revealed as officially under development – another series that hasn’t seen a proper numbered entry in over seven years.

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It seemed like Square-Enix was listening. They were giving me the content I was actually interested in, and I was genuinely excited for things to come.

And then I read about theseFamitsu and Dengeki interviews with Director Motomu Toriyama, Character Model Designer Nobuhiro Goto and Designer Masaru Suzuki about Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII – and I remembered what made me so melancholy in the first place. What valuable information can we glean from these interviews?

Boobs. Bigger, jigglier, and more pronounced than ever before. What’s that? You want to learn about the as-of-yet unrevealed “Wildlands” region of Lightning Returns? Why? Lightning’s bosom is clearly more important. They even give us pointers on how to maximize Lightning’s breast-jiggling. I wish I was joking.

Look. I’m not the most politically correct fellow around. I like huge, giggling boobs. I like big butts (and I cannot lie). I was secretly envious that Wii U and PS3 owners could jiggle the female protagonists’ breasts with their controllers, while Xbox 360 owners (like myself) got the shaft in Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge. I would abuse the targeting in Resident Evil 5 to get Sheva’s boobs to bounce around. And bounce they did. I also used her tribal costume all the time. I would make Fran the leader in Final Fantasy XII just to see her gloriously detailed butt-animation as she walked. I gave my Arisen and main pawn the biggest breast-size possible in Dragon’s Dogma. I’m playing as the Sorceress in Dragon’s Crown at the moment. Why? I’ll give you two magnificent guesses.

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I don’t actually mind these often-times gratuitous and sexualizing elements in my games. And I’m not sorry to admit that. I love fan-service, and I love when a developer acknowledges there are gamers out there (like myself) who do stupid and/or perverted things in their games, and throw in an Easter egg to make ‘em smile. What I do mind, is having a developer focus on the fan-service.

It’s one thing to add a bit of fan-service and turn a blind eye to what your fans do with it. It’s quite another when you give your fans pointers on how take advantage of the perverseness you’ve injected into your game. It’d be like having your father walk in to your room, handing you a Fleshlight and stack of Playboys, and giving you a wink and thumbs-up as he leaves. “Go get’em, tiger.” Yeah, thanks dad. And thank you too, Square-Enix.

While I don’t want to point fingers, it seems that director Motomu Toriyama has a soft-spot for fan-service, to the point where I feel he designs games around fan-service.

I’m of the opinion that Final Fantasy X did not need a sequel. It was its own self-contained story, and while I appreciate the engaging and fast-paced gameplay of Final Fantasy X-2, I feel it did nothing but sully an already flawed entry in the Final Fantasy series. (No, I did not like Final Fantasy X very much.)

Final Fantasy X-2 was the first time I felt that Square-Enix was pandering to a specific crowd, rather than making a game that appealed to everyone. The entire world of Final Fantasy X shifted perspective, with a focus on the younger, “hipper,” characters. Teens Yuna, Rikku and Paine were the central protagonists, and it seemed like any character over twenty was an unimportant fossil who would break their own hips if they so much as tried to participate in the narrative. Powerful established organizations within the game world, like the Crusaders, Yevon and the Al Bhed, were now led by snotty, over-dressed, fashion-reject kids. Suddenly, Final Fantasy turned into a video game for the Shōjo and Shōnen audience.

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And then we get to the “Dresspheres.” Final Fantasy X-2 reintroduced the “job” system of earlier Final Fantasy games, where each job had specific and unique attacks and abilities, through a system called Dresspheres. The gist is, Yuna, Rikku and Paine could switch between jobs (gaudy dresses) mid-combat, through silly and lengthy Sailor Moon-esque outfit-changing animations. Because combat was so dynamic, players would want to switch between combat roles regularly to maximize their offense, which meant lots of silly dress transitions.

No, Square-Enix. I don’t want to see awkward half-naked dress-switching during gameplay. Yes, it makes me uncomfortable. As fuck.

Sadly, it seems that this transition – this focus on the otaku crowd – is here to stay. Yoshinori Kitase explained Square-Enix’s focus on the younger demographic during an interview with Edge Magazine prior to the release of Final Fantasy XIII. In short, Square-Enix intends to stay focused on the younger generation of gamers. If you keep playing their games when you grow out of the target demographic, then great! But if you actually expect them to mature their storytelling for your sake, tough luck. Final Fantasy simply isn’t for you.

The 3rd Birthday, released back in 2011 for the Sony PSP, had female protagonist Aya Brea’s clothing tear as she took damage. From a story perspective, this made absolutely no sense. She isn’t physically present in the gameplay areas – rather she possesses soldiers and fights through them, according to the narrative. Her clothing and ridiculous outfits and costumes were created solely as fan-service. So having these non-existent articles of clothing get damaged at all is beyond silly. What made this really awkward was that her clothing could get tattered to an obscene degree – some outfits would be reduced to strips of flimsy cloth barely covering Aya’s goodies.

14 Fan service is the horn in Square Enixs Side

And of course, let’s not forget the shower-scene easter egg that you are rewarded with if you fulfill every bonus objective within a mission in The 3rd Birthday.

But you know what? I wouldn’t have cared about the cosmetic damage or the stupid costumes (or even the shameless shower scene). What amazes me is the fact that this seemingly unimportant aesthetic feature was given so much thought and presence in The 3rd Birthday. Go to the official The 3rd Birthday website. The clothing-damage feature is listed under gameplay elements, right between her “Overdive” ability and character progression. The fan-service is just as important as actual gameplay or story, apparently. Yes, the different outfits are meant to give Aya different defensive perks. In my experience, the defensive bonuses were negligible.

Now, I’ll admit, The 3rd Birthday had a laundry-list of problems that plagued the experience, the least of which was the shameless perv-pandering. But I can’t help but feel that the development team’s efforts could have been better used towards improving the gameplay and story narrative, rather than focusing on completely unnecessary fan-service.

While we’re on the subject of unnecessary things to focus on, do you know Snow’s shoe size? Snow, being one of the protagonists of Final Fantasy XIII, and Lightning’s foil. Who gives a damn, you say? Well, Square-Enix, apparently. “Mr 33cm,” was Snow’s nickname prior to his official reveal, as referred to by character designer Tetsuya Nomura. Why he chose to mention this explicitly during an interview, I have no idea. I imagine Nomura thought it was important enough to know.

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In any case, Lightning Returns once again makes playing dress-up a major gameplay element. Each schema (role) gives protagonist Lightning a new look, in addition to granting her new abilities in combat. Does anyone else notice how dress-up gameplay elements are only ever important when females are the central protagonist of the game? Aya Brea in The 3rd Birthday, Yuna, Rikku and Paine in Final Fantasy X-2, and Lightning in Lightning Returns. Coincidentally, these three games were directed by Motomu Toriyama.

But even if the focus on costumes wasn’t shameless pandering, how does one explain Lightning’s boob-job? Did the God Bhunivelze enhance her bosom? What for? Are they magical now? Does she even notice that her bosom is a cup-size larger? Maybe side-character Hope, (who has somehow reverted to his teenage form from Final Fantasy XIII) will notice and comment on Lightning’s… enhancements. Or maybe Snow will.

Aww, who am I kidding? I know exactly what’s going to happen – nothing. Lightning’s breasts are larger, because TITS. No character will acknowledge her larger breasts in the slightest, because the change to her bust was done for the benefit of the player, and not for the sake of the narrative.

Perverts are going to perv. We all know that. I expect better from the developer, though. A little integrity goes a long way, and I get none of that from the Famitsu and Dengeki interviews.

Square-Enix made Lightning’s breasts bigger. Why? To appeal to pervs and otaku? They’ve added jiggle physics? Again, why? To appeal to pervs and otaku? They’re giving us tips on how get the best view of Lightning’s new jiggly bosom? Why would you tell us this? Why would you think it would be okay to share this information with a news publication, and your fanbase? How morally bankrupt do you have to be to deliberately exploit your character sexually?

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Look at the Miqo’te outfit Lightning is wearing. Look at her pose. Does that seem like Lightning at all, personality-wise? I’ll admit, the characterization in the Final Fantasy XIII games has been piss-poor and spotty to date. But if there’s one thing Lightning has not been, it’s a cam-whore. Yet that is exactly what she’s being depicted as in Lightning Returns. What’s next? Duck-lips Lightning? She’s been relatively sexless aside from a few subtle quirks (like her belly-button piercing), so seeing her depicted like this is jarring, bizarre, and a little creepy. Yes, I understand that she’s doing the Miqo’te victory pose from Final Fantasy XIV, and it’s supposed to be fan-service. It doesn’t make it any less ridiculous or out-of-character.

As I’ve no doubt clearly established earlier, I’m no prude. I have no problem with a female character who is depicted as sexual and seductive. Bayonetta comes to mind, and Bayonetta is one of my all-time favorite female characters. The difference is that Bayonetta has, since her inception, always been a sexual creature. And despite her flirting and sexual flaunting, Bayonetta has always been a female in control of her sexuality. She taunts her enemies with seductive poses, and challenges them to touch her, knowing full well that they’re far too slow and incompetent to ever keep up. She dances around the battlefield and has the time of her life teasing, but it’s obvious that she does it purely for her own pleasure – she teases and taunts and flirts because she loves it – it’s for no one’s benefit but her own. We, as the player, get to enjoy watching Bayonetta enjoy herself – but she’s not posing and flaunting herself for our sake.

Lightning has never been portrayed like this in any way. She has always been reserved and calculating. Beautiful, but never in a flirty way. She has never flaunted her looks prior to Lightning Returns. Who is she coyly staring at in that Miqo’te screenshot? Who is she leaning over and posing for? Clearly, she’s posing for the camera. For the viewer. For us. Her “Sorceress” role has an awkward victory pose as well, with Lightning holding her arms over her head and smiling for the camera.

It feels like Square-Enix is selling out.

I can’t stomach how they have compromised a character’s established personality and design for the sake of fan-service. And this isn’t the first time this has happened, either. Aya Brea was completely and utterly bastardized in The 3rd Birthday – she behaves nothing like Aya Brea did in past Parasite Eve games. Oh, there are very legitimate (and utterly stupid) narrative reasons for why her character was rewritten. But what it boils down to, essentially, is that Aya Brea didn’t appeal to Square-Enix’s target demographic, so they remade her for the purposes of the game. Basch fon Ronsenburg, the grizzled and betrayed original protagonist of Final Fantasy XII, was supplanted by Vaan, a young pretty-boy street-rat, to better appeal to Square-Enix’s target demographic.

I actually liked how Lightning had b-cup breasts and relatively thin legs. Sure, you wouldn’t see her in a Victoria Secret ad, but she was attractive and natural. Not that having large breasts is a bad thing, but changing her physical appearance just reeks of a lack of direction and integrity. Nothing is sacred anymore. What’s next? How about a nude Tifa DLC skin for Dissidia? I’m sure that would sell like hotcakes. Or is that somehow too exploitative? If you keep lowering the bar, Square Enix, you are eventually going to hit rock bottom.

When looking at Lightning in that Miqo’te screenshot, I just can’t shake the mental image of old Japanese men salivating and licking their lips in between malicious grins as they stare wide-eyed and hungry, flexing their fingers, ready to cop at feel (at the very least) of their enhanced cyber-beauty. And It makes me really uncomfortable.

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Gabriel Zamora is a freelance writer, ghost writer and hardcore video gamer. He has contributed written works for 2D-X, Examiner and MultiplayerGames among other sites.

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44 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. 咒純討厭 August 16, 2013 at 12:49 PM - Reply

    “there have been no Square-Enix RPGs to leave a [positive] lasting impression on me since Final Fantasy XII back in 2006.”

    You don’t play enough of them, then.

    Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Chaos Rings, Chaos Rings II, Chaos Rings Omega, Final Fantasy Dimensions, Nier, Dungeon Siege 3, Dissidia: Final Fantasy. And there’s a pretty awesome slate in queue as well, like Bravely Default.

    Furthermore, if you’re taking on SE for changing Lightning, then I have to ask where the article chatising Bioware for increasing Shepard’s bust size is. It’s a fun coincidence that I found this article right after this one

    • Tatjana Vejnovic August 16, 2013 at 2:49 PM - Reply

      Dragon Quest IX was good, but made by Level 5. Deus Ex: Human Revolution was NOT developed by Square Enix.. It was developed by Eidos Montreal. Birth by Sleep was okay at best. Nier wasn’t that good at ALL and developed by Cavia, Dungeon Siege 3 was made by OBSIDIAN, Chaos Rings was made by Media.Vision, Dimensions was made by Matrix Software, and Bravely Default isn’t coming to America until 2014.

      All the games you listed were only PUBLISHED by Square Enix, not DEVELOPED.

      The size of FemShep’s breasts weren’t THAT much larger than in the second. It was a gradual growth, I will admit. HOWEVER, Bioware/EA didn’t go OUT OF THEIR WAY to make it a POINT that they added physics and size to the protagonist’s breasts. I think Gabriel has every reason to say Square Enix is selling out.

      • 咒純討厭 August 16, 2013 at 2:54 PM - Reply

        *Points to linked article once more*

        • Tatjana Vejnovic August 16, 2013 at 2:56 PM - Reply

          There’s like seven links in that article.

          • 咒純討厭 August 16, 2013 at 3:00 PM -

            Points at link in my comment with a slightly disappointed expression.

        • Tatjana Vejnovic August 16, 2013 at 2:58 PM - Reply

          Oh never mind, I see now in Gabe’s comment. Somehow I didn’t see it before.

        • Gabriel Zamora August 16, 2013 at 3:02 PM - Reply

          Duly noted, and tweaked.

      • 咒純討厭 August 16, 2013 at 3:20 PM - Reply

        Also, totes calling you about about the FemShep breasts. Took a minute to find this

        http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/17g6a6nfzfrw5jpg/xlarge.jpg

        • Tatjana Vejnovic August 16, 2013 at 3:33 PM - Reply

          From 1 –> 2, yes, there is a huge difference. But as someone who’s had breast augmentation surgery, from 2 –> 3 is not a huge difference. If you notice, her posture in 3 is much more straight up and down than in 2. In 2, she’s slouching and sticking her stomach out. This actually makes all the difference.

          • 咒純討厭 August 16, 2013 at 3:39 PM -

            As valid as that is, still there was no “moral outrage” over Mass Effect 2′s bust increase. Also, reiterating my comments about this being a Japanese interview for a Japanese outlet. If this was Kotaku or IGN and this came up then I could see the objections. But the gamer mindset in Japan =! the gamer mindset in America. Furthermore, it was the interviewer that brought it up. See my previous comment in reply to Gabriel.

          • Gabriel Zamora August 16, 2013 at 3:54 PM -

            Like I said, Square’s guys could have (and should have) just left it at “yep.” I don’t think they should have gone into detail about the boobs. With that said, you DO bring up an interesting point about the interviews being aimed at a Japanese audience. I don’t want to generalize either, mind you, but I can only assume this sort of interview exchange is much better received in the land of the rising sun than here.

            And I want to point out, again, that I have absolutely NO problem with Lightning’s larger breasts. I don’t have a problem with them jiggling, either. Had Square-Enix added these features and left them at that, I would have undoubtedly (and happily) found them on my own. Like I said, I love fan-service.

            Her increased bust is NOT what I take issue with – it is how they’ve compromised her character for the SAKE of fan-service that rubs me the wrong way.

          • 咒純討厭 August 16, 2013 at 3:59 PM -

            Okay I just made a reply to that in another comment, but I’ll just give the TL;DR version here:

            How is her character compromised? Answer: It’s not. You’ve constructed a Lightning in your mind and you’re upset that the creator’s version of here is no longer lining up with the version you had made.

          • Gabriel Zamora August 16, 2013 at 4:57 PM -

            No. This isn’t some “Metroid: Other M” situation, where the character in question has never had a voice and doesn’t have an established personality. And even in Other M, I would argue that Samus’ depiction is an unfaithful bastardization of the character that has been established in past games.

            No, Lightning HAS a personality. She is intelligent and driven, being perfectly capable (and willing) to fight and fend for herself. She also has maternal qualities in respect to her sister, Hope and even Snow. She can be hot-headed at times, but she is generally decisive and cunning, studying her situation and quickly diffusing or overcoming adversity.

            At NO point EVER in past games has she been depicted as coquettish or flirty. She is almost entirely sexless (aside from aesthetics) in Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2. She is not defined by her gender AT ALL in these games, aside from her caring side (again in regards to Hope, Serah and Snow). And I’d argue that having a caring side isn’t necessarily maternal or feminine either.

            Look at Miqo’te Lightning. That ISN’T sexless. That’s flirty, attention-grabbing sexiness. She’s posing for the camera in a low stance, showing off her divinely-enhanced breasts. Look at her sly smile. It’s screams sex. She knows where her audience is looking.

            And as much as I LIKE looking at her, that is NOT the Lightning the past two games have come to establish. There is no “hypothetical” Lightning that I’ve made up in my head – the Lightning I’m familiar with is the Lightning depicted through her actions and interaction with characters in past games. Cam-girl Lightning is NOT her.

          • 咒純討厭 August 16, 2013 at 5:07 PM -

            The same argument people make against FFX2 Yuna.

            Again, unless you’re not telling us something, you’ve not played LR:FFXIII. So any judgments to how she has or has not changed are massively premature. Don’t correlate the hype campaign with the story content. Let’s not forget that you could put Serah in a bikini if you wanted.

            Also, just to note Lightning was wearing a miniskirt in XIII and no pants in XIII2. Furthermore, that’s not her default costume in LR. This is:
            http://images.wikia.com/finalfantasy/images/a/a1/Lightning_-_LRFFXIII.png

          • Rasheed Jackson August 17, 2013 at 4:09 PM -

            My friend, the person you are replying to is a blind fanboy that tries to rationalize every argument that you throw out. I know that as this is your article and you may feel inclined to reply to the complainers but this person will never comprehend your point. They are blind and don’t see the deviation from the core series. Toriyama will always muck up whatever he touches and turn it into fan service for the japanese audience. Square Enix says that they were trying to go for something to catch a new audience and have sunken low to do so when all they had to do is just make a traditional FF game and show people what the series is ACTUALLY about. I have high hopes for the future of the series made by Tetsuya Nomura though. He seems to be going back to the roots of the series and thowing in the Kingdom Hearts battle system. Can’t wait for it.

    • Gabriel Zamora August 16, 2013 at 2:52 PM - Reply

      Ah. I should have clarified. I meant Square-Enix developed RPGs. That is to say, any Square-Enix published RPGs developed by Square’s own development divisions, and not by their subsidiary studios.

      Dragon’s Quest IX and Deus Ex are excellent games, as are the Ogre games. I also happen to have a soft spot for Cavia’s titles (like NieR), despite them being relatively mediocre. Dissidia had solid gameplay, despite the schlock story, and I like that quite a bit, I admit. Birth By Sleep and DDD were fine games. I haven’t played Final Fantasy Dimensions, but I don’t usually play on my phone.

      I am extremely excited for Bravely Default, as are many of us here at 2D-X, as we have mentioned in more than a few podcasts in the past.

      On the matter of Bioware: Why should I chastise them? Did anyone from Bioware interview with publications prior to the release of the last two Mass Effect games and explain how to best get Fem Shep’s boobs to jiggle? Did they compromise her character or personality by depicting her in silly cam-girl poses prior to the release of these games? No? Then I feel that discussing Mass Effect and Bioware is largely moot.

      As I mentioned quite clearly in the article, I don’t care if developers want to make a character’s boobs bigger or smaller. In my opinion, the bigger the breasts, the better. The joke I made about the Gods enhancing Lightning’s breasts is just that – a joke. Sure, it’s silly (and painfully obvious) when a developer changes an established character’s look, but it is what it is, and I can’t (and certainly won’t) complain about bigger tits in my games.

      No, what bothers me is Square-Enix’s utter lack of integrity in respect to the changes they made. It’s one thing if they simply state “Yes” when asked if they’ve increased Light’s bust-size, and QUITE another when you hold a QA session with two major Japanese publications about said tits, and go so far as to give us optimal jiggling tips.

      What bothers me is Square-Enix changing a character’s personality for the sake of fan-service. How could anyone look at Miqo’te Lightning and NOT wonder what the hell she is doing? How could you not wonder who the hell she is posing for, and why?

      This has nothing to do with stifling an artist’s creative vision, and everything to do with bastardizing an established character. Lightning isn’t a NEW character. She has an established personality and backstory. But Square-Enix has changed that, just so Lightning can wink and pose for the audience.

      I can appreciate that not everyone sees this as a problem. It is MY gripe with Lightning Returns currently, and it is my issue with a few of Square-Enix’s (or perhaps I should say Motomu Toriyama’s) recent titles.

      Thanks for the link to the “Ideology masquerading as criticism” article. (http://www.savecontinue.com/2013/08/ideology-masquerading-as-criticism-is-whats-truly-problematic/) It’s a great read. But it also raises the question of artistic merit – that we should be more careful about how we criticize works and judge them on their merit, rather than by simply existing. So I’ll ask – what merit can you find in the Miqo’te Lightning pose?

      • 咒純討厭 August 16, 2013 at 3:13 PM - Reply

        Dude, it was a Japanese interview for a Japanese audience. Furthermore let’s look at the interview in question:

        Q: Is it true you said you wanted Lightning-san’s size from a C cup to a D cup?
        Nobuhiro Goto (Character Modeling Designer): Toriyama-san said “I want it bigger” so…

        Motomu Toriyama (Director): [What a] cop-out! (laughs)

        Goto: Yes, it was enlarged.

        Q: Was it a C cup until now? Does it even jiggle this time?

        Goto: Yes!

        Toriyama: it’s determined by clothing, like the so-called corrective underwear. (laughs)

        Masaru Suzuki (Designer): There’s an unreleased costume that exposes the l’Cie scar on her chest. Please think [carefully], is there any other information that should be disclosed? (laughs)

        I mean, it’s a generalization to say that Japanese gamers are pervs, but there is a case to be made for using sexual appeal to draw in a crowd that might not have played the game otherwise. Plus the interview brought it up, not the producers. Furthermore, the tone of the series hasn’t changed, if the trailers are any indication. This is still a serious story and still quite dark. Lightning might be playing dress up games, but I doubt there will be much levity in the game and little if any in a sexual nature. It’s essentially the same as using the Sixaxis to shake boobs during MGS4.

        Also worth noting is that Lightning only went up a cup size something that can and does happen to women on a fairly regular basis.

        All in all, I’m most reminded of the Green Goblin from the first spider-man film “But the one thing they love more than a hero is to see a hero fail, fall, die trying. In spite of everything you’ve done for them, eventually they will hate you.” Final Fantasy is and remains one of the top tier JRPG franchises. The fact that you’re still excited for FFXV is proof of the fact. I just tire of people bashing the series over what I see as non-issues.

    • Trevor Alexandre August 16, 2013 at 7:36 PM - Reply

      Nice straw man you’re building throughout these comments. If you aren’t hiding behind a wall of pedantry and semantics, you are trying to redirect to an easier to hate developer, or deliberately misunderstanding the central point.
      Just so I’m clear
      1) The last couple years worth of offerings developed by Square-Enix have been lackluster. They have over promised and under delivered on a scale that makes Peter Molyneaux looks positively benign.
      2) Gabriel took issue not with the physical changes to Lightning, but the changes in how she comports herself and with how Square is currently choosing to market her.

      3) Fem Shep is a piss poor example to use in this case because as iconic a character as she( and bro Shep) is, she has no personality other than the one the player imposes, your Shep could be a screaming lunatic where mine is an indecisive bunny.
      Lightning was written a specific way for two adventures, now at the close, when the stakes are the highest, she can suddenly let her hair down, mug for the camera, and shake her newfound knockers about? For what, the fuck it YOLO generation?

      • 咒純討厭 August 17, 2013 at 3:10 AM - Reply

        So you’ve played Lightning Returns? How does it end? Are there multiple endings? Was it a satisfying conclusion? In what ways in the game’s story was Lightning’s portrayal different? Was she constantly flirting with Hope in cutscenes? Did she make a pass at Snow? Did she wiggle her ass during the Noel battle? Is Lumina really Sera? Was Vanille VA better than she was in XIII? Does Sazh show up? Does Dajh? Is Dajh older? What does Chocolina do, since she’s not selling stuff anymore?

        Oh you don’t know?

        For the last time, marketing is marketing. The game is the game. It’s one thing when the game is heavily sexualized (like let’s say, Dragon’s Crown), but it’s a whole ‘nother beast when it’s just the marketing. Talk to me when Lightning’s fanservice actually has ramifications on the gameplay. Complaining about how a game portrays the protagonist before it comes out is grossly premature. Basically, this article is saying “I’m not really sure if this is going to be this way, in spite of the fact that it hasn’t been this way in the past two games, and also in spite of the fact that the last game from this company that was thought to *be* this way (FFX2) was actually not the same as its marketing, but I think it will be this way so Ima complain.” And I’m saying “Hey, let’s wait until we’ve played it before we complain”. Not one person in this thread has played Lightning Returns, yet here we are discussing it like some bizarre postmortem on sexuality in gaming.

        Also, did you just read one comment and decide to reply?

        • Trevor Alexandre August 17, 2013 at 5:21 AM - Reply

          No, I did not just read the one comment. And none of that diatribe in response touched on the primary point that if the marketing focus is on fan service over actual gameplay, the last two games this Yahoo directed were crap fests that focused on t&a over gameplay and story ( which they were) , what is there to remain excited about with Lightning Returns? XIII was bad enough when it came to minimizing gameplay in favour of pretty visuals and a storyline that was basically a rehash of how the establishment is broken and people are sheep ( themes which were executed better in Xenogears and FF X)

          • 咒純討厭 August 17, 2013 at 2:50 PM -

            So basically, you didn’t like 13, yet you still played 13-2 which you also didn’t like, and now you’re looking for any excuse to bash on Lightning Returns. So much so that you cant have a civil conversation. Sorry you’re gullible. Or maybe just a pretentious idiot. I’m done with responding to you.

  2. 咒純討厭 August 17, 2013 at 3:13 AM - Reply

    So to get to the main core of everything, why is it that you think that Lightning’s personality has changed? Why can’t she also have a sexual nature alongside of everything else that makes her her? And why do you see her having a sexual nature as such a betrayal of the character?

  3. Zahk Scott August 18, 2013 at 10:17 PM - Reply

    I’m sorry but this whole argument about Light’s breasts is just beginning to get completely out of control and I wish it would just die off already because it is obvious that neither side is going to be swayed by the other even in the least bit because both are too fixed in their perspective.

    You’re claim that the pose, increased bust, and outfit are “out of character” because they do not fit into your interpretations of her as a soldier and a warrior is invalid because it ignores the fact that your interpretation does not reflect all there is to her personality. When used in regards to the performing arts, the phrase “out of character” refers to any actions deemed “inappropriate for the character that an actor is playing.” So the question this statement poses is: what character is Lightning playing?

    In FFXIII Lightning was playing the role of a hardened soldier—a role it was not only necessary for her to take due to the circumstances, but a role she felt compelled to fulfill in order to endow herself with the strength and authority to support her younger sister in the absence of their parents. Light relied on this role to give her direction and validation in her life. As the game progressed, however, Lightning’s internal reflection revealed this role was nothing more than a façade she had built up to guard herself—and furthermore, a detriment to her interpersonal relations that distanced her from those to whom she wanted to be close.

    “Lightning… It Flashes Bright, Then Fades Away. It Can’t Protect. It Only Destroys.” – Lightning

    Serah was afraid to tell Light about being branded as an L’Cie because of the cold façade that Light had put forth, and Light was ashamed when she learned that Serah had hidden the secret from her and instead confided in Snow. However, her role as a soldier was still necessary, as the party in which she found herself lacked a distinct leader to drive them onwards towards their goal (or Focus)—and so despite this personal insight Light gained, she was still forced to continue with the role… at least, until Serah was safe.

    Then, in FFXIII-2 Light was spirited away out of her own environment and thrust into an unfamiliar world where she was conscripted to fight for a cause that not only had little to do with her own personal life on Cocoon, but only necessitated her continual participation in the part of the soldier, revised into that of a “warrior goddess.” Yet Light’s attitude seemed to change with her new condition—there was a weary and somber look on her face, a certain melancholy fatigue in her voice, and at times, tears glimmering in her eyes. Donning angelic silver armor, Lightning somehow seemed more vulnerable and pensive than before. And yet, the same familiar stoicism and determination was there, her role still performed—she was still required to take up arms and act as the warrior, suppressing and pushing her personal feelings aside, denying access to any deep personal intimacy.

    So yes, up until now, Light has appeared mainly in the role of a soldier and a warrior—and her interactions with others have occurred within this context. However, that does not mean that is all there is to her personality. As the SE developers have stated, their portrayal of Lighting in Lightning Return will add many more layers to her personality in order to better flesh out her character make her feel more human. That is to say, they want to introduce us to who Light is no only as a solder, warrior, or even merely the savoir, but as a person. What we have known Lightning to be up until this point is not false nor will it be invalidated, but it is only a small part of the whole person at the heart of the actions—the person who takes the role of the soldier and the warrior, the person willing to suppressing some parts of herself in order to become the version of herself that the world so desperately needs.

    Thus, any accusation that the developers are depicting Light in such a way that is out of character due to her clothing or breasts is invalidated. SE is in control of what direction they choose to take in developing her character—they created her, they own the rights to her name. Although the costumes may show a more delicate, sexual, and/or feminine side to her character, that does not make them OOC, rather it adds (as opposed to subtracts) a new dimension to her previously existing character without taking away from what has been already established. To portray Lighting’s feminine or sexual side is not reductive, contradictory, or imposing—its effect is additive (or positive) and can only enhance her pre-existing persona.

    Clothing and breast size does not define the character of a person. In the real world, we may change our clothes at the slightest whim—within a regular day, we may even put on and take off up to ten or fifteen articles of clothing. To infer any permanent character traits may be derived from a fabric that may not even have contact with the flesh of the body for a full twenty-four hour period is simply unrealistic. Although in video games characters are often only given a very minimal selection of attire (sometimes never even changing for an entire lifetime in their respective fictions), that is not the case in Lightning Returns. Player will have the freedom to play fashion designer and to dress Light in a variety of different styles ranging from classically feminine and revealing to more masculine and conservative—and thus, no single outfit can be said to define her persona as a whole any more than the rest. Each outfit will try to enhance a different aspect of her personality, but in the end, such a simple cosmetic change will not have the power to replace the character that has been established before, at least, not any more than a pair of socks can be said to define the entirety of any single living, breathing human in the real world.

    • Zahk Scott August 18, 2013 at 10:34 PM - Reply

      And regarding the contrast you are trying to draw with Bayonetta – her character was designed entirely based on the sexual fetishes of the series creator, Hideko Kamiya. He gave her glasses and those unnatural proportions because that was what he found to be sexually arousing. Lightning has not been designed in such a way before, and she has not been designed in such a way for this game either. Even the “sexy poses” that you are so opposed to are not nearly as sexually explicit as you are trying to make them seem and neither are they particularly overt compared to the other representations of female characters in media that you mention. In fact, the poses that Lightning is striking in her victory stances are quite tame in comparison to the majority of female characters in video games, and although the Miqo’te pose does draw attention to her chest, the pose is derived from the game that the costume is pulled from and is meant to be a tribute to it. I would not think of it as ascribing any character traits onto Lightning herself because the very existence of the costume is more of an easter egg than anything else. It is the same as the Yuna and Cloud costume that they have released – it is a reference to another title not intended to represent Lightning as a character. It does not degrade her or detract from who we have been led to believe her to be up until this point.

      • 咒純討厭 August 19, 2013 at 1:47 PM - Reply
      • Terry Torres August 19, 2013 at 5:25 PM - Reply

        I think the biggest complaint being lodged re: Lightning vs. Bayonetta is that Bayonetta, the game and the character, always has been a product of Kamiya’s brain, and as such there is a cohesion to her behavior and a purpose for her personality in the context of plot of the game and the way that it’s played. Bayonetta 2 seems to contribute to what we know about her as a character.

        I believe the writer doesn’t seem to think that Lightning’s character has received the same attention to detail when it comes to maintaining her cohesion between games. This might be due to her growing responsibility as a godly ambassador contrasting with omake of her posing for the camera while the world is coming to an end. A large part of the frustration seems to come from the tonal conflict between the known story and the promotional material. It’s hard to tell if she’ll be taking her role seriously or if she won’t – and by extension if the writing team is taking their roles seriously, especially considering Square hasn’t been famous as creators of satire or comedy.

        Without more details about the story or Lightning’s motivations, it’s hard to tell whether these characteristics will add up to provide depth or inconsistency. Does anyone know if the Famitsu article goes onto say anything about Lightning’s growth as a person during the game? I mean emotionally, not mammarily.

        • 咒純討厭 August 20, 2013 at 2:08 PM - Reply

          It doesn’t but I kind of hope that we’ll be getting a more in depth focus on Light as a character since we’ll have her for the whole game.

  4. Terry Torres August 19, 2013 at 5:09 PM - Reply

    People might be fed up with this issue, but it perfectly illustrates how Final Fantasy’s branding works now. All creative energies at Square get siphoned into Final Fantasy. Consider: Why didn’t Square make a NEW IP about time-travelling, or a new IP about preparing a society for the end of the world? Because that would mean making something that is not Final Fantasy. Forget unity of branding or tone – all the ideas go into Final Fantasy.

    The same thing happens with Lightning. Millions of dollars have gone into designing, testing, and finally creating her, so they don’t want to let her go. So theyput her in the new games. Even if the story of the new games are totally unlike the previous ones in scope and tone. Even if it means changing her motivations to fit the mold of the next thing.

    Man, I don’t envy Square. They’re in a CRAZY situation. They’ve got this expensive-ass FFXIII-engine, all this money they lost from FFIV and this Fabula Nova Crystalis thing they promised, like, a decade ago. And now they have to deliver. It’s like a runaway train – they can’t just STOP it, not after all the people they hired and all the budgets they drafted. All they can do is make the biggest profit from as little investment as possible – and that means chasing demographics and playing it safe.

    Some people who pay attention can curse FFXIII while being excited for FFXV because they can see that Fabula Nabula Tabula is the product of decisions made during a Bad Time, where as FFXV… might actually show some of what they’ve learned from their mistakes? Maybe. Not too much, though.

    • Trevor Alexandre August 20, 2013 at 10:41 AM - Reply

      Nail on the head here.

    • 咒純討厭 August 20, 2013 at 2:07 PM - Reply

      The FFXIII series has sold 10 million over two games. I doubt they actually lost money on it.

      Bravely Default exists, as does Kingdom Hearts, Murdered: Soul Suspect, and a few other new IP and that’s before we ever get to the games made by Eidos Square Enix Europe like Tomb Raider, Just Cause, Hitman and Deus Ex. Everything doesn’t go into FF, and I think it’s a fallacy of the gaming community to think of it as the sole thing SE produces. It’s like thinking of Rockstar- no, it’s like thinking of Take Two as only makers of GTA.

      • Tim August 20, 2013 at 3:08 PM - Reply

        Sales numbers aren’t necessarily indicative of overall quality, if that’s what you’re implying. And they definitely lost money over FFXIV (the original version). They also considered Tomb Raider, Hitman and Sleeping Dogs financial failures despite those titles selling millions of copies each. Square Enix outright said as much the same time it announced it was going to focus more on smartphone games and micro-transactions (like All the Bravest). It was also around the same time CEO Wada stepped down. Just google “square enix financial trouble.”

        Also keep in mind, the Square most people here in the comments are talking about it are the internal developers who make Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts and Bravely Default. Square the developer. Not Square the publisher, who released Hitman and Tomb Raider, etc. Square didn’t make those, Eidos and Crystal Dynamics did. We’re talking about the Square formerly known as Squaresoft — the developers. In which case, it’s pretty safe to say they are not the creators they used to be and that nearly everything they develop these days does go into FF… or Kingdom Hearts, which features FF characters, or Bravely Default. which has an art style similar to FFXII and Tactics, a job system similar to FFV, XII International and Tactics, and an awfully familiar sounding subtitle in (F)lying (F)airy. There are also three confirmed FF games in development right now in Lightning Returns, A Realm Reborn and XV. There’s ALSO a Type-0 game floating around out there (in Japanland) that could still, goddammit, be released here sometime in the future. Oh, wait, there’s also Final Fantasy X HD and Final Fantasy X-2 HD. And Kingdom Hearts III, which is sure to have a Lightning cameo.

        But what about Dragon Quest? Well, that’s the Enix half of Square Enix. We’re talking the Square half.

        Keep this in mind as well: Most of us commenting were weaned on the SNES and PS1 era of Square when they released games like SaGa Frontier, Einhander, Tobal, Brave Fencer Musashi, Threads of Fate, Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Parasite Eve, Legend of Mana, Bushido Blade and Vagrant Story. Games with variety, games in different genres. A rich time of experimentation. Final Fantasy games were high in quality AND they also came out a year apart at a steady pace, unlike today’s 7-8 (9? – who knows when XV will come out) year turnaround. Can you see the Square today developing a fighting game, a shooter or something like Vagrant Story? No, because Square the Developer of Today pretty much IS the Final Fantasy Factory. And, somehow, despite the focus (Focus?), the time and the money thrown at it, the product still ain’t what it used to be.

        • 咒純討厭 August 20, 2013 at 3:19 PM - Reply

          Not referring to quality, referring to losing money. And Square the Delevoper has transformed into Square the Publisher. That’s where thinks like Sleeping Dogs and Kane & Lynch are coming from. TBH I’m excited about SE branching out (I’m aware I’m diverting from your point, but look at this comment section. I’m worn out repeating the same things over and over and taking shit for having the gall to go against the zeitgeist by liking FFXIII and FFXIII-2) simply because it opens the possibility of having this Lara Croft in Kingdom Hearts. Which would be SO. BAD. ASS.

          • Terry Torres August 21, 2013 at 11:05 AM -

            I think we’re each ignoring something in the other’s argument when it comes to qualifying financial success. A company’s budget is not a fluid thing. It is correct that a failure like Tomb Raider’s sales, or even a failure like FFXIV’s debut, would not necessarily effect development funds for Lightning Returns. But such failures would certainly affect decisions by Square Enix THE PUBLISHER when it comes to promoting and selling work by Square Enix THE DEVELOPER – they don’t WANT any more financial disasters.

            That is precisely why Fabula Nova Crystalis went from being a collection of games on multiple systems with multiple casts of characters with differing game mechanics to THREE GAMES about Final Fantasy XIII, all made with the same engine.

            (Ugh, man, even the fact that I’m PINING FOR THE DAYS when Fabula Nova Crystalis was announced as a series of Final Fantasy spin-offs is depressing)

            And I’ll be the first person to say THAT’S OKAY if you like that! But it’s also important to see that the decision to completely rebrand and rebuild multiple projects in opposition with their previously publicly promoted multi-year plan was not made out of a brave desire to branch out and experiment. It was made because Square Enix is TERRIFIED of experimentation! For the same reason as any other publisher. Experimenting – loses – money.

            That is partly why I believe Square Enix became a publisher of the works of other developers. Their in-house, Japan-based designers no longer have either the talent or the desire to create games in multiple genres and styles while appealing to a massive audience. That’s why they put their name on developers who are more willing to do so.

        • 咒純討厭 August 20, 2013 at 3:21 PM - Reply

          Also, FFXIII was a massive experiment. It’s success is subjective, but let’s not pretend they weren’t consciously trying to shake up the FF formula.

          • Tim August 20, 2013 at 4:37 PM -

            If you’re implying Square Today is as experimental as Square Then, I’m sorry, but no, I don’t think so. Fabula Nova Crystalis — three (!!!) Final Fantasy games — does not compare to all that variety I listed. As for XIII’s “success”, let’s look at Fabula Babula Crabula’s success first: it wasn’t a success. Each game announced back in 2006 (a lifetime ago), save XIII, got the XIII part of its title stripped from it. Agito XIII became Type-0 (with Type-1 and Type-2 trademarked, cementing it as a new spin-off) and Versus XIII, as we all know and predicted ahead of time, is the new XV — which, after 7 years of development hell, intermittent grainy screenshots and shaky cam footage, was not the original plan. XIII-2 and Lightning Returns were not part of the original three games announced. They were not part of the original plan either. By Square’s own later admission, it didn’t know what the plan was to begin with. Square ran off half-cocked and announced a bunch of games without any idea what they were going to be. Yeah, there was a “vague crystal mythology” idea for all of them, but that kind of base idea is no different from any other FF game. So, what made Fabba Hooba Booba special? Hot off Compilation of FFVII and Ivalice Alliance, they wanted to throw another phony brand out there for fans to get excited about… without any idea of what it would actually become: three games based on Lightning’s “saga”, two of which were unplanned births, a spin-off without a Western release and vaporware that would become the new numbered installment because the XIII brand is irrelevant now and it’s time. To. Finally. Move. On. At best, it’s a subtitle — Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. The whole Fabula idea fell apart, warped and became a bunch of different things nearly a decade after the fact. So there’s that.

            As for FFXIII being a massive experiment, not really. Unless you meant it was a massive experiment in poor planning and mismanagement, then in that case it was a glorious success. No, it was par for the course because every FF game (until they got sequels) reinvented the wheel. If you didn’t like one FF game, chances are you’d like the next one because it’d be a pretty different game. That was the wonderful and sometimes frustrating thing about the series. After FFVIII, did we see an improved version of the Junction System in FFIX? No, we got a straightforward return to FFVI’s abilities-from-items mechanic. Did FFXIII expand on FFXII’s Gambit System or its massive open world? No, the battle system was a stripped down version of FFX-2′s Dressphere system with level design stolen from the Lincoln Tunnel. It was a step back in many ways. Did FFXIII-2 address that? Kinda, halfheartedly. And Lightning Returns looks like more of the same. A whole generation of FF games has gone by (or is about to) and they’re all basically the same game with the same world and cast of characters. That is depressing as hell when you consider the variety we got in generations past and especially depressing if you don’t like the world or characters we’ve had to put up with the past several years. A massive experiment in testing one’s patience. And that doesn’t even take into account what happened to FFXIV. Good grief.

            No, the game to shake up the FF formula looks like it could be XV. It looks unlike any other before it. Um, unless you realize it looks a lot like Kingdom Hearts, which is disheartening if you’re not a KH fan (I’m not), but it does look like something that the brand needs. The name’s damaged. It’s in a rut. It’s been the same dull thing for years now (Thanks, Lightning). It’s PAST time for a change, and something as crazy and attention-grabbing like XV is exactly what the series could use. Hopefully Square pulls it off. Lord (or the goddess Lightning, looking down on them in their cubicles) knows they had the time to do it.

          • 咒純討厭 August 20, 2013 at 4:52 PM -

            Oh yay. We’re gotten to the “I didn’t like it, so it’s bad” part with a side of prejudging a game that’s not out yet part of the conversation. Fuck it, I’m done.

          • Tim August 20, 2013 at 6:13 PM -

            I didn’t say that. I’m (cautiously) looking forward to XV and will likely play (and review) Lightning Returns. And I said a lot more, none of which you decided to respond to or refute with an argument of your own. Arguments require evidence. Sorry you have none.

          • 咒純討厭 August 20, 2013 at 7:05 PM -

            You’re right, I didn’t. Intentionally. You didn’t respond to my comment either, so there’s that.

          • Tim August 21, 2013 at 1:37 AM -

            Which comment did I not respond to?

    • redpyramids August 21, 2013 at 9:39 AM - Reply

      So what you’re saying is there ain’t no gettin’ offa this train we’re on?

  5. 咒純討厭 August 20, 2013 at 7:16 PM - Reply

    Wait wait. Vaan isn’t the protagonist. Everyone knows that Balthier is the leading man.

  6. fredd August 24, 2013 at 9:18 PM - Reply

    I wish people would know about FFX2 before commenting on it. The game’s nature is merited and anyone who is seriously bothered by the dress sphere animations has other issues at play.

  7. Ballzatron February 12, 2014 at 4:20 AM - Reply

    Them tits tho! holy shit sorceress!!!!!!!!

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