Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gendered Fantasy - FF: Dissidia

So I've traditionally been a nintendo whore. I went from SNES to N64 to Gamecube to Wii. But recently I've put on my big boy gamer pants and branched out to other systems. Bought an Xbox360 (of which half of the games I own, I'm too scared to play) and most recently a Playstation Portable (PSP for the laybetch).

The only reason why I bought a PSP was to play the absurdly fun, unapologetic heap of fan service that is Final Fantasy: Dissidia. For those of you unfamiliar with the game, FF:Dissidia is at its core a 3D crossover fighting game featuring a metaplot which brings together iconic characters from the immensely popular Final Fantasy franchise. Ever get into a heated debate on whether Squall could kick Cloud's ass? Or perhaps comparing the ego of Sephiroth and Kefka? This is your game.

I've always been a fan of Final Fantasy. I like J-RPGs in general, abhorrent translations aside, and the Final Fantasy franchise is king amongst the genre. They're beautiful, they're epic, and they always have a cute androgynous male lead (which a few notable exceptions). But moreover, Square Enix's game writers consistently produce compelling and enrapturing stories for these characters to traverse through.

Dissidia trades in its classic turn-based, battle menu system for a high flying, action packed, and visually stunning battle system.

My one beef with the game is that all the female characters (Terra of FF6, Cloud of Darkness of FF3, and Ultimecia of FF8) are all magic based, ranged characters with week melee skills and fragile builds. While the ladies certainly kick ass in their own way, it is disappointing that they all squarely (tehe square) fit into this gendered dichotomy of women being mystical and physically weak, while men are physically strong. In fact, there are several powerful male magic users (Kefka of FF6, Kuja of FF10), so it seems men can just do everything better than women in Final Fantasy. And it's not like there's a lack of strong female characters on which to draw from. All they needed to do was include Tifa (FF7) the hand-to-hand melee fiend who kicks ass in my favorite mechanima production, Dead Fantasy (a fan movie pinning female Final Fantasy and Dead or Alive characters against each other).

Well one can hope for the Dissidia sequel...

2 betches:

t.s. said...

are there any characters besides the amazing tifa that are gender variant in nature?

i guess i'm kind of answering my own question .. the male leads DO tend to always be gender variant (at least for us westerners). why?

Jason said...

I'm not sure if they count as gender variant, but there are plenty female characters in the FF Universe which are heavy melee fighters. Selphie in FF8 wielded a kick ass nun-chaku for one. Quistis from FF8 was also pretty butch with that victorian school marm thing going. Also the hero from the new FF13 marks one of the first times that a female character will be the main protagonist of the game (excluding Terra of FF3 and the wonderfully campy sequel to FFX, FFX-2 dress spheres and all).

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