Dragon’s Crown And Vanillaware’s Reputation

vanillaware2011

When I look at all the controversy surrounding the character designs in Vanillaware’s upcoming Dragon’s Crown, I understand where the criticisms are coming from, and they’re not invalid, but I also feel like it’s a case of the wrong game that got unlucky at the wrong time.

First of all, I think it’s a testament to how niche a game is when people begin to take notice of and criticize the character designs nearly a full two years after they were unveiled. I remember Vanillaware fans going nuts over the Sorceress and Amazon designs when Dragon’s Crown was first announced at E3 2011. An absolute mountain of fan art (most of it probably not safe for work) has been floating around ever since, and only recently does the gaming press in general start to take notice. Furthermore, this is probably the most attention any Vanillaware game has gotten.

But whatever, to be upset about such character designs is totally valid, especially when you just see the game at a glance. Some of the people I’ve seen criticizing the art like Kotaku’s Jason Schreier (who eventually apologized to the game’s director and main artist) and Gearbox artist Shaylyn Hamm, seem to have come at it with no prior knowledge of George Kamitani’s art or Vanillaware’s games. That doesn’t make them invalid though. When people are frustrated at the lack of respectable playable female characters in video games, seeing characters like the Sorceress and Amazon in Dragon’s Crown doesn’t help the situation, and it’s understandable to be mad at that.

I guess the reason I’m not upset at the game at all is because I trust Kamitani and am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. I know Vanillaware makes great games with exceptional art and very well-crafted worlds. More importantly those looking for better representation of females in games might want to check out pretty much any of Vanillaware’s previous games.

I won’t pretend Odin Sphere and Muramasa: the Demon Blade don’t include their share of ladies who are easy on the eyes, but they also run the gamut of female characters and character designs. As far as I’ve seen, all of Vanillaware’s and Kamitani’s games include playable females who aren’t designed purely to satisfy the male gaze. Just from this, I can tell that Kamitani didn’t design the Sorceress and Amazon with the mindset of a 14-year-old boy. To most gamers the equivalent would probably be someone like Naughty Dog unveiling a character that looks like Bayonetta.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s completely right for these kinds of complaints to be coming out in today’s game industry, but I feel like the wrong game is being picked at for it because not to many people are familiar with its developer. There are probably other examples, even examples from Japan that could be picked on at least as much. God help us if any of the Senran Kagura games get released in English.

BULLETS:

  • You might have heard that the new Tomb Raider is half-off on Steam, but actually so are all the other Tomb Raider games: http://t.co/Dg9EMY6aSF
  • Looks like Splinter Cell: Blacklist really is bringing back one of my favorite multiplayer modes ever: http://t.co/AdZYFQLyYf
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3 thoughts on “Dragon’s Crown And Vanillaware’s Reputation

  1. The fact that this game is full price and won’t have cross buy is going to doom it to failure. That George more or less called someone gay over the brouhaha just sealed it for me. I’m going to pass on this.

    • RedSwirl says:

      I don’t know if that many people really place high importance on cross-buy in their purchasing decisions (or even own a Vita) yet. I’m going to be fine with just the PS3 version.

      Plus, Vanillaware’s still a pretty niche company. Muramasa from what I hear only sold a few thousand copies and was still profitable (and its art assets were originally in HD).

      • Well, the price would be much easier to swallow if I could take it on the go and play it on the big screen when I get home.

        Besides, the one game that’s consuming my time (Pinball Arcade) is cross buy.

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