You’ve probably read the news by now: Many journalists noticed that Lightning, the protagonist of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII and Square-Enix’s poster girl for the franchise currently is looking a lot more…filled out. Of course, the amount of fetish and cosplay items that the third game will feature certainly helped in revealing a more, well, revealing side of Lightning. So the question was posed, and no doubt intended as a joke – is Lightning bustier than before?
Director Motomu Toriyama , who you will note was the one who took the town areas out Final Fantasy XIII because they were “too much work” and wilderness lead planner Yui Umeda, who has a job title that doesn’t even make sense, enthusiastically answered that yes, Lightning is bigger. In fact, she’s gone from a C-cup to a D-cup. We wish we were joking about this, but Toriyama actually instructed his team to make them bigger and even jiggle. Toriyama did clarify though that, “It actually depends on the wear you select. Sort of like supportive underwear.”
Of course the world, which needed no reason to hate any Final Fantasy XIII game anymore, found some new ammunition. Square Enix was bombarded and criticized. What seemed like just some fun, if somewhat creepy additions in the form of costumes and poses – some which were throwbacks to previous Final Fantasy games like Cloud’s Buster Sword and SOLDIER outfit, and Yuna’s kimono – have turned out to be yet another insane dive into the worship that Toriyama has for the “goddess”.
Or has it?
Let’s be honest here: Tifa, even by the standards of the 90’s, wasn’t exactly anything less than gifted (and she wasn’t that old either). Ashe from Final Fantasy XII wore a mini-skirt hither tither, battling over-whelming beasts while some of us waited for the inevitable slip and peek. Even Vanille, from Final Fantasy XIII, was constantly revealing her inner thighs and indulging the shadier fans among us with her child-like antics. And don’t even get us started on Final Fantasy X-2, which was a menagerie of fan service in every serviceable form, from the interactions between the three girls, to their dresses, to the villainess’s dress and more.
But then, look at Lara Croft in the latest Tomb Raider reboot. She’s grittier, tougher and goes through far more torture than most mainstream males do (with the exception of Isaac “Did I Just Survive a Moon Being Dropped on Me?” Clarke). But even if her body is fairly more realistic and proportioned this time around, she’s still parading around in tight jeans and revealing an ample amount of cleavage.
Honestly, the game industry is incredibly sexualized, because the core belief – that game developers are catering to males – will always exist. However, great games always have their say as well – whatever we may say about Croft’s exposure, she was part of an excellent adventure. And no amount of fan service could excuse the fact that Final Fantasy XIII was an awful game (Final Fantasy X-2 less so but still). It’s not hard to make money by pushing a mentally strong heroine either, and in fact, it can be argued that games like Portal 2 did better than games with male heroes.
However, it’s important to look at Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII’s attempt to sexualize or fetishize as just an attempt to cater to the more “devoted” fans of the character. Heck, why else would they include a Cloud costume and Yuna costume? It can’t be because of the insane exposure those offer. In the same way, there are plenty of costumes within the game that help conceal or expose Lightning as much as the player wants.
As for the new “physics” adorning Lightning’s assets? Well, is it as exaggerated as Dead or Alive? Is it any more ridiculous than Saints Row? Can it be viewed as a means to cash in on players’ whims to see the female anatomy jiggle? Does it matter? It’s there, and honestly, it would be a whole lot weirder if they didn’t move at all, even if Lightning was a C-cup.
Regardless, the debate is just that: a debate. We can argue over whether Square Enix is committing a travesty when it’s nowhere near as overt as Dragon’s Crown’s sexuality. We can also argue about the developer doing everything in its power to make the game a success, which includes fan service in all its forms and a new “open world” approach. Or we can just argue that the Final Fantasy XIII series at this point has gone way paste its expiration date.
Because when people want to trash your entire game over something like increasing your heroine’s breasts by one size – or even the other way around, where people are reluctant to rush to game’s defence because it’s just another in a line of f**k-ups – well, it’s time to wrap it up, move on and try something else, no?