Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Team Ninja Needs To Be Stopped

At one point in my life, I actually had an interest in the Dead or Alive games.  Back when it was originally just a fighting game franchise (and I was a lot more immature than I am now, reviews of cartoons featuring ponies notwithstanding), I thought it was pretty fun.  Dead or Alive 2 and Soulcalibur were my two favorite fighting games for quite a while, because even a "button masher" like me could manage to win sometimes.

Then the volleyball games came out, and when I tried the first one, I grudgingly admitted that the volleyball side of things wasn't bad, and sure, if you were lonely and desperate, the other side of it would be a diverting time waster.  Then the sequel to that came out, and....well, I've already expressed my opinion of THAT.

Now, I don't really like just deciding that an entire game franchise is bad because of one bad game.  If I did that, I would have never played any of the really great Assassin's Creed games.  So I decided I'd download a demo of the most recent one on the PS Vita, because it's the only place I could find a demo of it.

So what did I think?

Playing that game was just opening the door into a world of madness and corruption, revealing a company who simply wants to pry every penny it can from gamers with the most blatant, exploitative bait for their money that I've ever seen.

Needless to say, I'm not a fan.

Um, parents, you might not want to let your kids look past the break...some stuff might be...questionable.  

Let's start with the basics:  I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach when I tried to open the game, and the background wallpaper was this:

Gorgeous graphics, obviously, but is she sweating or crying?

(Spoiler alert, considering the rest of this article, I'd say crying, much in the same way a girl forced into working in a prostitution camp might cry)

I tried one round of the demo, playing Tina Armstrong against some British guy named Eliot.  Because seriously, how could I lose to a British guy named Eliot?

I lost to a British guy named Eliot.

Now, Tina's outfit in this battle was a patriotic string bikini and pair of jeans.  In fact, it's this costume right here:

Now, I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking "Erik obviously searched for footage from that beach volleyball game, because there's no good reason for someone to be in that pose."

Well, you're wrong.

That's Tina's "lose" pose when someone beats her.  She drops down to her hands and knees, presses her chest out past her arms, and pants while looking straight into the camera.

The game doesn't leave her "losing" screen until you press a specific button.  However, if you fiddle with the controls, you can move the camera around her, zoom in, and generally be the biggest, loneliest pervert who ever owned a controller.

Don't believe me?  Look.

Oh, right, and don't forget the costumes.  Anything from a Playboy Bunny, sexy schoolgirl, Halloween costumes, French maids, the sky's the limit for how you can have her be dressed in that pose!

It was at this point, when I realized all this, that I started to feel really, really unclean.

Speaking of costumes, let's look at what's available.  Just in case the idea of buying non-existent swimsuits for underage girls didn't weird you out enough in the volley ball game, this game lets you buy every fetish-tastic costume you can imagine.  Do you want your character running around in a Japanese gym uniform?  Sure, that's there.  Bikini and matching thong?  You got it.  Sexy cat costume?  Yup.  Sexy Santa dress?  Sexy cheerleader?  Sexy nurse?  They're all there.

Looking at Xbox Live, there's 499 items that come up in the shop for Dead Or Alive V.  That might be the maximum the store will show, because I know for a fact there have been a LOT of items showing up there.

Each of the items I see are either a costume for one character (sold at $1.99 each) or a costume set (5 costumes for one character for $5.99).  There are also new characters who come with five costumes for $12.99.  There's others, but I'll admit I stopped looking when I found "Rachel's Paradise" for $2.99, which has the following description:

"Take a private peek at Rachel enjoying the sand and surf on Zack Island.  Check out the Private Paradise Set to get movies for all 12 DOA hotties at a special price!"

So for three dollars you can download a video clip of one of the characters hanging out on a beach in a swimsuit.  A fake woman.  In a completely voyeuristic way.  For three dollars.

At that point just go to a peep show, guys.  It's less pathetic.

I can't imagine anybody is buying all of this.  No single video game is worth the hundreds of dollars in costumes and add-ons that this game is grinding out with no sense of respect for the characters or itself.  Team Ninja has essentially turned into a softcore porn studio, and apparently they don't care who knows it based on how they just keep pushing this stuff amid every other piece of downloadable software game companies offer.

What's really sad is that Team Ninja knows how to render a character, be it male or female, really, really well.  I can't help but feel there's so much wasted potential here.  If Team Ninja were to team up with a company that can write a good story, program good controls, and has a healthy respect for any characters it creates, they could possibly create the most visually amazing game ever made.  A video game like L.A. Noire where you'd be able to actually see the person you're interrogating start to sweat would be amazing.  And Team Ninja, you wouldn't need to shill out fifty costume sets for the characters because we'd actually like the characters and respect them.  You do understand what it means to respect a character, right?

Oh, right.  Apparently not.

Man.  Maybe you guys should see someone about these issues.  Or just stop hiring people who stopped maturing at age twelve.

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