>Jiggle Physics Has Not Been Good For Fighting Games

>Back in the dark ages when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I had a huge addiction to Soul Edge for the PlayStation 1, which later became the Soul Calibur series. I played the subsequent games – Soul Calibur 1 and Soul Calibur 2 as well. And sure there was fanservice – what fighting game didn’t have fanservice?

Okay, so sure in Soul Calibur 2 Sophitia and Cassandra’s skirts flipped up into panty shots when they moved. Whatever. The thing I love, love, love about Soul Calibur is that the gameplay is actually affected by a character’s chosen weapon style. I took enough tai chi to appreciate how Xiang Hua’s sword technique works, and I enjoy playing Seung Mina and Kilik since they use staff techniques that I learned in tae kwon do. The various martial traditions appeal to the martial arts geek in me.

But Soul Calibur 2 was the last game in the series I was able to tolerate. The fanservice was moderate in Soul Edge, a bit more in Soul Calibur, and actively irritating in Soul Calibur 2, but after that it was actively intolerable. And the most recent game, Soul Calibur 4 is downright ridiculous!

So, first of all, Soul Calibur introduces several new female characters:

(From left to right: Setsuka, Angol, and Tira) All of these characters have pretty ridiculous character designs. How exactly am I supposed to find a woman with an umbrella and platform flipflops intimidating? With those breasts and those shoes, she looks like she’s about to fall on her face. And what about Angol? What the hell is with the crotch floss and the stripper boots? And Tira’s costume can’t even be called a costume, really. It’s just a few pieces of torn fabric.So all of these are pretty bad. But what makes all of this worse is when you compare pictures of existing characters from Soul Calibur 2 and Soul Calibur 4…

So on the left, we have Sophitia from Soul Calibur 2. And yes the costume is ridiculous. She’s going to prance around in that ridiculous top with no bra and just a few pieces of string holding her in? And the built-in panty-shot physics? But as ridiculous as the Sophitia from Soul Calibur 2 is, she is still within the realm is what physically possible in a human being without surgery. She’d be a genetic lotto win, but it could still be possible.Compare that with the Sophitia on the right from Soul Calibur 4. We’ve gone from “extremely improbably but still possible” to absolute abomination. Her breasts are twice as large as her head, for Christ’s sake!

We see pretty much the same thing with Cassandra in terms of proportions, but her costume has also gotten much worse as well. In the space of two games, she’s gone from supermodel in a short skirt to a total freakshow. The skirt is gone, there’s a giant cleavage-hole, and her boots have gone from ankle boots to stripper boots. And as awful as these transformations are, Sophitia and Cassandra weren’t even “sexy characters”!
(I wasn’t able to find anything showing all of Seung Mina’s costume from Soul Calibur 2.) Is the economy that bad in the Soul Calibur world that none of these women can afford to entirely cover their breasts? Do they use cloth as currency? Because what’s with this costume? This is just awful, especially since Seung Mina is one of my favorite characters. But this still isn’t as horrific as…

Taki is one of “the sexy characters”. The body paint outfit was introduced in Soul Calibur 2. Taki’s proportions on the left are definitely problematic, but the Taki on the right is just cartoonish. What woman has boobs that pointy? They’re like bazookas attached to her chest – and just look at the camel toe! I imagine she winds up pulling spandex out of her crotch after every fight.

Last we have Ivy. Ivy’s dominatrix outfit (her default, btw) was pretty ridiculous to begin with in Soul Calibur 2, but it’s gone from an outfit to a few pieces of dental floss. Her breasts are bigger than even Taki’s, and whenever you Google Soul Calibur 4 images of Ivy are usually the first ones to come up.

I just don’t get it. I mean, what about any of these women is attractive? I mean, if I was a man I’d be insulted by shit like this. Clearly the design team made a decision that big breasts move product, but do they really think that male gamers are so shallow that they’ll buy anything with huge tits all over the cover? Game developers have made that mistake before – just look at Acclaim and BMX XXX.

The really sad part is that it didn’t have to be this way. Check this out:

This is one of the new characters, named Hilde, and she’s awesome! The armor, the expression – they’re fantastic! She kicks all kinds of ass! Why couldn’t they have designed more female characters like Hilde? Why stuff the game full of walking freak shows? I really wish I could understand the decision making process here. If any of these women were real, they’d look like Maxi Mounds. They certainly wouldn’t be able to swing a weapon, much less fight effectively.

It’s disgusting, and it’s disappointing. As much as I love the gameplay of the Soul Calibur series, I’m certainly not about to buy any future games in the series. And I certainly hope that gamer men aren’t as shallow as Namco’s marketing department seems to think they are.

10 thoughts on “>Jiggle Physics Has Not Been Good For Fighting Games

  1. >I have no exposure to these characters prior to reading this. As a gamer man, the only of these characters that I find attractive is Seung Mina from SC2. She's the only one who looks human, frankly. Also, I suspect some of this is uncanny-valley stuff, but they look almost universally vacuous. That's a turn-off for me and seems like an equally problematic objectification issue.

  2. >I don't really play fighting games, so I also have little pre-exposure to these characters. Is it just me, or does SC4 Sophitia look lopsided? Her right boob looks a couple cup sizes larger than her left. What percentage of the female characters does your blog post represent? I'm asking because it bothers me when every female character is super-chesty. Especially when they're supposed to be super acrobatic, because if buskers is any indication, most female acrobats aren't. Also, I wish I had the webcam set up, because I'm sure my facial expression when I opened that "Maxi Mounds" page was priceless. Just…oh gods.

  3. >Valacosa: I haven't bought the new game, but from what I've been able to ascertain these awful character designs are true of EVERY female character in SC4 except for Hilde. (Xiang Hua and Talim are both underage, so they're not quite as bad…) There might be hidden characters who aren't freak shows, but I didn't find anything about them.

  4. >In the interest of data and disclosure, I'm a man who found Ivy sexy in SC2 (mostly because of her voice and attitude, and – I have to admit – her grappling move where she puts a boot in the victim's back and strangles them). When I these images for SC4, I thought, "my God, what have they done to her?" So, nope, not sexy at all, zero possibility of the slightest hint of arousal, alto voice and dominatrix-choke-move be damned.I understand foregoing anatomy for design in animation and comics. But there's a point where it gets ridiculous.

  5. >I've bought all the games in this series and played it with my friends for very long hours. The increasing boobs, the fetish aspects of Voldo and Ivy, the faces of some of the ladies getting younger and younger… That's disgusting. It's why I prefer to play the men (Mitsurugi etc).

  6. >There are a few men I enjoy playing, like Rafael. But largely I prefer medium-to-long reach characters with high speed, and those are largely female – Xiang Hua, Seung Mina, and Kilik being the exception to the rule. Mitsurugi is a bit too slow for my tastes, and Yoshimitsu is just… weird. (I guess Yung Sun is pretty okay too.)

  7. >I've mostly enjoyed your blog, but your criticism of Setsuka makes me want to put my head through a wall. You make some reasonable points… but her umbrella (with a concealed sword) and "platform flip-flops" are inspired by the Kabuki style of dance and traditional Japanese wear. They're not a sensible choice for combat, but they're not just something they made up and stuck on her for no reason, which your evaluation of her seems to not realize.

  8. >Meg: I get that the costume has a cultural origin – and I would be totally okay with that if the "ethnic" characters weren't so completely white-washed. Look at Seung Mina's design in SCIV – she's lily white and doesn't even look vaguely Korean. (Neither does Yun Sung for that matter.) Ditto Xiang Hua – you'd never guess that she's Chinese. I don't know Setsuka's backstory – maybe there's a good reason she doesn't look Japanese at all. If Setsuka actually looked Japanese, then whatever. I just know that it irritates me that they've created yet another "Asian" character who doesn't look at all Asian.

  9. >Japanese have had a big thing about paleness for a long time — associating it with beauty and all that. Which is part of the reason, although it doesn't exactly make it nice. Another reason is a tendency for Japanese to use "blank slate" characters that tend to be read as whatever race is "default" for the person viewing them — in Japan, this is Yamato (the dominant Japanese ethnicity, as distinct from the aboriginal Ainu), but in the US, it's Caucasian. Some of it has to do with Japan tending to broadly classify people into "Japanese" and "Not Japanese", with less attention to individual races. (this is sometimes misread as a lack of racism on the part of the Japanese, as they don't distinguish between black or white in the same way the US does. It's not — culturally speaking, they hate anyone who's not Japanese.) Some of this is that they have, in fact, fetishized Caucasian appearance as "exotic." There's a lot of factors going in there… but none of which eliminate the problem that their characters of ethnicities other than "Caucasian" frequently do not look it.

  10. Ironically, the creator(s) of Soul Caliber mentioned that Hilde was created specifically to have a fully clothed but kickass female character. It’s sad if the makes acknowledge their own faults but still fail to do anything about it.

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