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Square Enix: “Only Macho Protagonists Work in the West”

Interviews with the developers of Square Enix’s new Nier franchise reveal a bizarre development saga in which arguments over whether western audiences could stomach a typical girly JRPG lead eventually lead to the company making two versions of the game.

Square Enix’s new “Nier” franchise launched with two games, Gestalt (PS3/360) and Replicant (PS3), each with radically differnet character designs for the hero; however only Gestalt was released in the west, as “Nier” – comparisons of the two attracted some attention.

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ClownBelt2648d ago

" Yoko: At first we just doing the youthful protagonist version (which became “Replicant”), but Square Enix started taking talking about international markets during development.

Yoko: In fact, an argument erupted at Square Enix’s Los Angeles studio, over whether a thin looking male character [hereafter translated as “girly”] was possible for the game. For the North American consumers, it was decided to provide a macho main."

Just as I thought, the MACHO, UGLY, DEFORMED LOOKING character is not the actual character SE decided, and Replicant is the real one.

-Alpha2648d ago (Edited 2648d ago )

It's true though. Mario, Link, Sackboy, all total failures because the West clearly did not like them and were turned off by their puniness to the point that they refused to buy the game.

/s

Oh, and a tip for all my fellow N4G Nuns: Porn on the website, cover your innocent eyes with the nearest bible!

I often find that when you are concerned with marketing your game to the point that you need to change your main character you lack confidence in your product. Hopefully the game is great regardless and we will see if this move pays off in anyway for SE's sake.

Macho protagonists have ruined the industry. Killzone 2's Rico is annoying as all hell and lacks personality. But at least he's tough as nails and totally macho! Dude from Resident Evil 5 sucked the meaning of "horror survival" out of the title. But at least his arms are big!

The macho protagonist carries with him the typical annoying, childish jock attitude followed by catch phrases such as "booyah!" or "F this and F that". Their demeanor is supposed to make up for their lack of character despite character being more important than image.

Realistically, how many more copies does SE expect to sell now?

eggbert2648d ago

the difference is that Mario and Link are from a different Era. Things were way different back then. People actually cared about the gameplay instead of graphics for one....

Nowadays all the little boys care about is macho-men in video games. It helps if they also swear a lot because swearing is cool. Also, there needs to be a lot of blood, AND CHAINSAWS YEAH THATS AWESOME.

And I have the same exact feelings about resident evil 5. All the other resident evil's made you feel like you could be killed at any moment whereas Resident Evil 5 was more of a action game. Not too mention the game was a hell of a lot easier than previous entries.

Myze2648d ago

The problem is that they apparently don't realize there is a massive difference between a "macho character" and an "effeminate emo that you can't tell is a boy or girl till they talk." There is such a thing as a middle of the road character.

-Alpha2648d ago

Yeah I'd assume social construction relativity would play a role, but really how much is SE thinking they are going to gain by making the main guy more manly?

I don't find anything that wrong with macho characters. It just depends on how you use him. Building a character around marketing concerns me as I feel the primary function should be to create a character around the game.

ShinMaster2648d ago (Edited 2648d ago )

What's up with this trend of choices SE has been making this gen to try and "appeal the western crowd"?!
The essence of their games is slowly being lost.

booni32648d ago

True. Absolutely true. look at how the american market treated the brilliant offering from platinum games: The critically acclaimed Bayonetta. It suffered in sales by comparison to other action games but features combat options deeper than any thing prior to it. That sexy female protagonist was a big risk for p* and they ultimately paid for it, in a commercial sense of the expression.

In the states at least.

hay2648d ago

Wow, and to think that those people with so narrow field of view are making games, while talented people with great ideas are struggling to get in the industry.

That's just... Lame.

UltraNova2648d ago (Edited 2648d ago )

I've said it and I will say it again. SE days as bar raising, formidable developers are over. Their mind is strictly made up into pleasing the US consumer hence this fiasco by their marketing department.

Cant they stop for a minute and ask themselves, what made us famous and successful to begin with? Yes is was EMO's like Cloud sir!

TotalPS3Fanboy2648d ago (Edited 2648d ago )

People don't want a macho man on steriod:
Someone like Rico from Killzone 2.
Someone like Marcus from Gears.

Peole don't want an emo feminine man:
Someone like Hope from FF13.
Someone like Edge Maverick from Star Ocean 4.

People want a normal manly man:
Someone like Cloud from FF7.
Someone like Squall and Seifer from FF8.
Someone like Samunosuke from Onimusha.
Someone like Ash Riot from Vagrant Story.
Someone like Dante from Devil May Cry.

Wada wants to fit into the Western market and so he desperately tries to fit in. But the problem is, Wada doesn't even understand the Western market.

It's like that white guy from school who wants to fit into the "cool" click, so he try to wear gansta looking clothes and try to talk like black peoples.

It ain't cool. It's just ridiculous. People just laugh at him for trying so hard. He should just be himself. He would be coolor if he just be his own confident self.

shadow27972648d ago

In defense of macho men, Snake is awesome AND normal. He also came from Japan, to boot.

Final Fantasy has never struggled because of a lack of macho men. It's a Japanese thing, people understand that. Anime was also a big phenomenon in the states and manly men are few and far between there, too.

I think people care more about interesting and engaging characters than their supposed level of masculinity. Though (judging by appearances, I haven't played XIII), characters like Snow are definitely welcome.

But no, 'roided up buffoons like Marcus or Rico definitely don't belong in Final Fantasy.

+ Show (6) more repliesLast reply 2648d ago
Noctis Aftermath2648d ago (Edited 2648d ago )

How hard can it be to make a character that isn't juiced up on roids but at the same time not completely missing the Y chromosome.

There is more then 2 choices you stupid f***s, it can't be that hard to figure that out.

Leathersoup2648d ago

Indeed. I think what the western audience wants is a little bit of realism and a bit of variety.

darthawesome902648d ago

Not that hard to figure out square. We want more Highschool/College on up characters like Cloud, Vincent, Aerith, Noctis, Fang, Fluerett (the girl from VersusXIII), Balthier.

STOP with the tween characters like Vaan, Penello, Hope, and Vanille. We Westerners are sick of children crying about daddy issues, prancing around like a fairy princess, or 14 yr olds crying about not understanding love. I mean they are SAVING THE WORLD toughen up!

If your going to use younger character make them like Yuna, Rikku, or Gau. While they were sometimes annoying they actually had a pair (I know Yuna and Rikku don't but you get the idea).

Dragun6192648d ago (Edited 2648d ago )

You know what I think? Screw Yoichi Wada's plans in trying to appeal to the western market. They were way better off making games towards the Japanese audience like back then when they were SquareSoft, Seriously

Infinite Discovery? Xbox360 Exclusive? Hell Yeah
Last Remnant? Xbox360 and PC only? Hell Yeah
Star Ocean IV: Last Hope? Time Xbox360 Exclusive? Hell Yeah
Port over FFXIII to Xbox360? Hell Yeah
Front Mission Evolved? Tactical RPG? Nah, Third Person Shooter? Hell Yeah
Nier? Young version? Wtf?!? Macho Version? Hell Yeah
Next, Final Fantasy Versus XIII? Multi?
Lets ask Cliffy B

Heisenberg2648d ago (Edited 2648d ago )

We would've never heard this kind of BS coming out of SquareSoft. This is what's wrong with SE, they're trying to fit into a cookie cutter mold that they think will sell rather than focusing on telling great stories. Just because certain games that have sold very well in the west have macho protagonists, doesn't mean that's all we want. There are so many games that have sold well here that prove otherwise.

EDIT: And I agree that there's a big gap between macho beefcake and flamboyant sissy. Too far either way can be annoying, there's such a thing as a happy medium.

gano2648d ago (Edited 2648d ago )

dude u get a bub jus for the avatar.
best shyt since the sopranos.

Heisenberg2648d ago

It's true though, Breaking Bad is one of, if not THE best show currently on TV.

BasilMarceaux2648d ago

And only feminine trannies with spikey and strange-colored hair work in the east apparently

ultramoot2648d ago

Y'know, I generally dislike stereotyping, but I have to agree with you to an extent. While I'm tired of musclebound steroid-freaks as heroes in a game, I'm also sick of protagonists who look like Boy George fans with weird hairdos. Why can't there be a middle-ground somewhere? Like someone who looks normal aka Max Payne 1 or some such.

Alex_Mexico2648d ago

Totally agree with you. I'm jus as much tired of seeing Marcus Fenixes in western games as I am of watching Neir Replicant's main character type.

Also, there is a middle ground. He's called Nathan Drake and he's the man! Play Uncharted 2 now if you havent yet.

Jeff-Ryan2648d ago (Edited 2648d ago )

yup sounds like Cloud to me.

@Alex_Mexico

Nathan Drake looks like a duchebag anyway. Boring and bland.

Heisenberg2648d ago

That's the definition of judging a book by its cover, well played... Although if you had have played long enough to hear Drake speak word one, you'd have realized it was the personality brought out by one of the best voice acting performances in videogame history that made him a likeable and exciting character, not his haircut and wardrobe.

shadow27972648d ago

Nathan Drake looks like a douchebag? Seriously? He looks normal. And Drake is anything but boring or bland. You have horrible tastes.

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 2648d ago
badz1492648d ago

no wonder their reputation is slipping fast! all they need to be is what they were and everything will be good! trying to appeal more to the westerners thing is tarnishing their image! - not only by Japanese, but also the westerners that used to love them! Yoichi Wada is stupid! nuff said!

N4BmpS2648d ago (Edited 2648d ago )

That's not true [what Yosuke Saito] said, a character doesn't have to be "macho" to enable a foreign game to work in the west. To me this sounds like a cliche(of sorts) generalization of the Western audience(no I'm not getting offended), sure the American audience(let's face it that's who he referring to) does like a a lot action sequences and explosions, but the characters aren't always "macho".

Let's take a look at one of my favorite characters Dante (from DMC) to the Western audience he wouldn't exactly qualify as "macho" awesome sure but not macho, oh and look at the Final Fantasy series none of those characters are "macho" if they were supposed to be....yeah, apparently Japan doesn't have a clear sense of whar macho is.

Another character that isn't really macho would be Nathan Drake, he climbs a lot of mountains, jumps trains and fights supernatural weirdos but he's not macho he has charm though. Square Enix should take into consideration the possibility that they might be out of touch with the Western Market. However I won't ignore the fact that alot of "Macho" titles sell the highest in the West, Halo, Gears of War, Modern Warfare and others prove that American gamers like "macho" type characters but not all of us in the West prefer these "macho" games that Yosuke claims we all like. Give me a relatable, humorous character with a great story and plenty emotion and I will be buying that game.

I just love his perception of the Western Market. *Sigh* (Sarcasm)

Alex_Mexico2648d ago

Its not that we absolutely positively need a big burly grunting MACHO character for it to work. Look at Nathan Drake or Gordon Freeman which, for me, do NOT fit the bill of MACHO.

One thing is "it has got to be macho" and the other is "this is a girl thats actually a guy" type of situation that we have low tolerance for and I'll admit Im one of these that think that. I always hated Symphony of the Night's Richter and Alucard's incredibly girly designs and I was happy to see how Lords of Shadow's Gabriel Belmont actually looks like a guy.

It doesnt have to be a big bald space marine. It just needs to look like a man. We dont like to guess genders, damn it.

TotalPS3Fanboy2648d ago (Edited 2648d ago )

People don't want an emo feminie, so Wada instantly moves to the opposite extreme. An insecure macho man on steriod.

What happen to the middle ground: an everyday manly guy?

ally123452648d ago

The old man is more believable as the girl's father because he looks, well, old enough to father a child. But he's hideous to look at. Not even "hollywood ugly", just "ugly ugly".

But the young man is better to look

Why couldn't Square Enix have gone with someone who is in-between these extremes? Someone like Solid Snake, who is both manly and rugged, but not 'roided up and hideous to look at.

Square only seem to be able to make two types of male characters: Effeminate pretty boys (Cloud, Squall, Vaan, Hope, etc) and fugly battle-scarred old men (Steiner, Auron, Heidegger, etc). Oh, and weird things (Quina, Red XIII, etc)

TotalPS3Fanboy2648d ago (Edited 2648d ago )

Wada: "Feminine guys don't work. And after seeing Neir failed, ugly macho man on steroid don't work. However... Quina and Red XIII as the main protagonist that Western man can easily relate to just might work..."

FOXDIE2648d ago

thank god the game sucked, so this argument about characters doesn't matter anyways lol :D

+ Show (8) more repliesLast reply 2648d ago
Otheros002648d ago

If the thin guy doesn't sell than every final fantasy you made so far shouldn't have sold that much at all. Wada is clearly blind. I hate overdose steroid space marines.