Opinion: Project X Zone’s Character Design
After recently completing Project X Zone for the 3DS, the strategy RPG that crosses over characters from Sega, Namco Bandai, and Capcom franchise, I noticed something. There sure were a lot of big breasted ditsy girls in the game. Whether it was Mii’s single strapped dress, Morrigan’s blatant sexual advances, Kaguya’s innocence coupled with her G cup bust, or the Valkyrie’s ability to grow huge and attack the opponent with a giant falling upskirt panty shot, the frequency of tropey and unpalatable female characters in this game was depressing.
Then I decided to look back at the male characters, and while they were blatantly sexualized they certainly did feel like they were cut from the same cloth. They were all badass pretty boys with too many buckles. Think about it. What really is the difference between Dante from Devil May Cry, Lindow from God Eater, Haken from Endless Frontier, or Yuri from Tales of Vesperia? If they weren’t buckle headed pretty boys they were stoic martial arts masters like Ryu, Akira, Heihachi, and the like.
Now, here’s the kicker — this really wasn’t Project X Zone’s fault. The game was just mashing up characters that already existed. It just proved that we don’t have a whole lot of interesting ideas left in video game character design. We always saturate our characters with the same tropey personalities. Perhaps that’s why it seemed entirely natural for Project X Zone’s characters to act like they knew each other, because they are all essentially the same people.
Namco Bandai also didn’t do themselves any favors when they made the aforementioned Mii and Kogoro, the main characters of the game. Mii is a cheerleader who’s batons are also guns and Kogoro is a lazy pretty boy ninja who wears tiger patterned white bellbottoms… I’m not kidding. Essentially, Namco Bandai purposefully made incredibly tropey main characters of this crossover game, as they have done in past crossover games with Reiji and Xiaomu and Haken and Kaguya.
Project X Zone was an incredibly fun game and I suggest that everyone play it, not only for the awesome combo based gameplay, but also because of the inadvertent statement that it makes about character design in our industry. It really makes you step back and think, “Hey, maybe these characters aren’t really all that interesting. Maybe I actually do want a character with some depth rather than the same giggling pretty girls and ultra manly men that I see in every game.”
What do you think?