EDIT: In the days since I wrote this, I’ve seen several other opinions online and participated in a few discussions. Let me point out a few things my original article did not. My outrage at this character change was maybe a little too great, as I’ve several such changes have been happening in games for years (as a few people have brought to my attention). I stand by my annoyance at the developers for mentioning something so superfluous in an interview, and the tone they take on Lightning’s new breast jiggle is still a little creepy. However, I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. It may be just as ridiculous as Dead or Alive’s tech, but it also may not. She may also act exactly the same, just with bigger breasts. We won’t know for sure until the game is released. I do think I wrote this article with a bit too much of a hothead, and it maybe isn’t as bad as I originally thought. However, I still do not appreciate the strange PR tact that the developers took in their interview and would much rather learn more about the character’s journey through the game instead of all the creepy ways gamers can look at her voyeuristically
Final Fantasy XIII was a rather divisive game. Many fans of the series hated the streamlined combat, extremely linear areas, and ten-hour tutorial that frontloaded the game. I personally thought it wasn’t terrible, mashing an interesting (if not a little boring on anything but boss fights) combat system with some neat story ideas. Probably my favorite part of the whole game was the female “lead” of Lightning. Here was a female character who was strong, independent, and not shown as being lesser in any way because of her gender. She was simply a woman living her life. I won’t say that parts of her character, and the other characters for that matter, weren’t terrible, but her basic design was very sound.
The newest game in the series, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, is set to feature her as a playable character again, as you can probably tell from the title. I was very excited about this–until I saw an article posted on Destructoid today. They linked to a Famitsu interview with the director of development on the title, translated by another site. In this interview, it is mentioned that Lightning has been redesigned with larger breasts, because it was intentionally requested by the director of the project. She has not only been altered, but the interviewees made sure to note that her breasts will now jiggle suggestively, even giving tips on the best ways to get the perfect angles and amount of jiggle.
What the fuck.
Is there any meaningful purpose of such a redesign, other than the perverted whims of the lead on the project? It doesn’t make a single iota of sense in the context of the game, essentially meaning that her appearance was solely changed to broaden her sex appeal (or to appeal to the perversion of the developers, at least). This is such a poor reflection of gaming culture at large. I have no problem with a character expressing his or her sexuality, but only if it makes sense for it to be exaggerated. Changing the appearance of a character who has already appeared in two games–on the same hardware, mind you–just to make her more attractive and to even make her breasts jiggle ridiculously is not a good use of sexuality. It is just ridiculous and juvenile.
As a huge fan of the original character design, I’m more than a little offended by this change. How can I be proud to be a part of gaming culture when actions like these are often rewarded by more sales and a wider general approval of a product? What does this tell those outside the hobby about those who partake in it? I’m not saying that this change ruins Lightning for me as a character, but I do think it hurts what she stood for. The original character was such a good design, a perfect blend of femininity, normality, and strength. I could have lived with a larger bust size because it doesn’t really matter (even though it is still crazy that it was even brought up in the first place), but the immature jiggly breast tech just about makes me want to give up on games altogether.