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You're Doing it Wrong: JRPG Character Design


I pay attention to tiny details in games. Little-bitty changes and pieces of games excite me. It all adds to the 'feel' of the game which is what I'm all about. However, since I notice small details that a lot of people might ignore, or may just not care about, there are a lot of small things that annoy me too... One of these is the design of modern RPG's. I know that people complain about girly male characters a lot these days, but I haven't seen much on this topic so here we go.

I just wanted to get this one out of the way. We all know the lack of color is a problem, but it's especially a problem in a game where the only two things that REALLY change that much are the story and your environment. This hasn't been a problem with RPG's as much as it has in say... First-Person Shooters, but it's still a problem.

I think my MAIN irk though is how complicated every character's outfit seems to be. Lately I've been playing Lost Odyssey and I love it, but from the get-go one thing drove me NUTS about this game is that the main character looks like his outfit takes at least 5 hours to put on every morning!

Really guys? Really.

Everything is so freaking complicated! It's not just him either, it's pretty much everyone in the game. However, what's weird is that nearly every RPG seems to be using this extremely odd style of character design and it's resulting in A LOT of characters that look very similar. Can you figure out which games the two characters below are from?

I wouldn't have known if I hadn't saved the pictures myself, but seriously how similar do those two look? Heck, if you changed the guy on the left's hair to brown, I wouldn't be able to tell them apart! I will give props to Infinite Undiscovery (right) for use of color though, even though the character's outfit is really complicated, the coloring is contrasted very well and fills in the main points of the character's outfit. For instance, even though his jacket or whatever is covered in all kinds of weird designs, the whole thing is mainly brown (as opposed to 3 or 4 different colored sections) which makes it come together well. Same with his pants. Not that I have much interest in this game anyway, but kudos for that I suppose.

However, these complicated outfits make it hard to focus on memorable attributes or traits of the character. Even before I played RPG's when I was younger, I could still recognize Cloud and what series he was from just because his characteristics stand out so much and are so memorable.

His spiky, blonde hair, his gigantic sword, his... poofy pants. I mean, there's nothing generic about the guy (well, at least at the time).

I understand that one reason behind this is that graphics in games are so much better than back then, and that creators want to utilize that potential correctly and make the characters stand out and look interesting. I mean, honestly, with Final Fantasy 7 looking as bad as it did (and it REALLY did) would there have been many other ways to make that character stand out? However, I don't need my characters to have tiny pieces of armor on each finger and 400 buckles all over their body. This whole thing has effected weapons and monsters as well. I mean, you can hardly make out what the crap you're fighting in the newer Final Fantasy's sometimes and the weapons always look so... Weird...

I really do blame Squarenix at this point though. They seem to have patented this look and of course other developers are going to follow suit. It all really reminds me Amano's art work, so complicated that it almost doesn't make sense. I mean, even though the older Final Fantasy's were based on his artwork, Square always toned it down for the actual sprites. Example.

I also miss manly characters...

I also noticed the other day that the only characters in older Final Fantasy games that didn't have normal hair colors were summoners (they had green) I thought I'd share that.
So sure guys... Add some stitches to that leather armor and make individual links on that chain mail, but tone it down a bit would ya? Here are some more examples to close us out.

#Community    #Retro   
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About jackal27one of us since 1:28 AM on 06.16.2008

I'm mostly a retro gamer. I don't hate everything after the 90's, but I tend to prefer retro game design. I enjoy alot of indie and portable games, not to mention a blockbuster title every now and then. However, like I said, the majority of my gaming takes place on older consoles.

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/jackal27
My Tumblr: https://jackal27.tumblr.com/

What I'm Playing:
Bravely Default
Kirby Triple Deluxe
Final Fantasy X-2 HD
Child of Light
Jeanne D'arc

My (supposedly) Weekly Posts:

Sound Test- Video game music. I love it, you love it, what more do I need to say?
Super Mario 64: Dire Dire Docks
Zelda: Link's Awakening: Tal Tal Mountains
Suikoden 2: Opening Theme
Dragon Quest V: Ocean Voyage
Katamari Damacy: Lonely Rolling Star
Castlevania:OoE: An Empty Tome
Castlevania: Heart of Fire
StarFox: Corneria
Mother 3:Hard Rain
Chrono Cross:Time's Scar(Opening)

Game Run!- Check out the exciting life of a poor retro gamer!
11/19/08- Batman(NES) and Power Blade
10/11/08- Mystical Ninja and Clash at Demonhead
10/10/08- MASSIVE update! NES and loads of games.
8/12/2008- Killer Instinct, TMNT:TF, Super Tennis
7/20/2008- Inindo, Wonderboy, Crusader of Centy
7/9/2008- NBA Jam, Out of This World

My Favorites:

Keep in mind that these change SO much... I'm terrible at lists...

...5 Consoles
2. DS
3. Playstation
4. NES
5. Wii


...3 Games
1. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
2. Final Fantasy IX
3. Dragon Quest V

Final Fantasy IX

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom

Unreal Tournament series

Xbox LIVE:lyden27
Steam ID:jackal27


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