Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hyrule Warriors: A Linkle to the Drama

For the past year or so, there's been a vocal contingent of cultural critics, industry writers, and twitter loudmouths that have been pushing for female characters. For even longer than that, there's been actual gamers that have been saying “We like the characters that we've got, but wouldn't mind a little more variety in character design.”

I've been a part of the latter group for some time, and appreciate every game that lets me play something other than the industry meme of the 'dark-haired white dude in his 30s.' From under-appreciated games like Assassin's Creed: Liberation and Remember Me to classics like Beyond Good and Evil and Tomb Raider, to imports that a lot of people very vocally hated like the Final Fantasy XIII series, I dig a good female protagonist.

Now I haven't been in Nintendo territory in a long time, but I understand there's a game out there called Hyrule Warriors, which is a Zelda-themed take on the Dynasty Warriors franchise, a sort of horde-mode spectacle fighter in which you pick a hero and take on hordes of enemies. 7 male, 8 female, and 3 monster characters fill out the roster; pretty balanced, I'd say.

Hyrule Warriors is available on the Wii U (which has just now managed to out-sell the failed Sega Dreamcast) and  is coming to the 3DS in March. (The 3DS has out-sold EVERYTHING. I mention this because it will be relevant later.)

On the 3DS version, Nintendo has announced a new character to the franchise: Linkle, a hero with long-ish blonde hair, big blue eyes, a green tunic, brown boots, and a very familiar overall style.
Good for them..?
Yep, this is a female Link. This is what Link would look like as a woman. This is literally everything that the cultural critics and Twitter-twatters have been clamoring for (short of literally making Link into a woman). And the reaction has been... mixed.

Pack it in, guys.
Now, you all know I've been paying very close attention to that alleged misogynistic hate mob, Gamergate, for the past (oh god has it been that long) 15 months, and given their reputation one would think there'd be outrage from them over a female Link. Mostly, though, the reaction has been “Hey, she looks neat. We'll give her a try” and discussion over her fighting style (and wondering how she fires crossbows without reloading them).
I can't find a single topic of discussion where people complain about a new female character being introduced, and the praise is pretty much universal.

The reaction outside of there, though; now that's where the real drama lies.
Do worms still turn?
Initially, it was very positive, but then it began to break down. The Mary Sue (bless them) cries “I love Linkle, but Linkle is not enough!” She's been criticized first for being a new female character and not a female Link, and then called a Ms. Male Character, when a literal female Link would be just that very thing.

It genuinely feels right now as if Linkle was trotted out by regressive activists as a “gotcha” who then backpedaled quickly into critical-theory-based criticism of the character as soon as they realized their targets actually kinda liked it. I almost wonder if Nintendo created Linkle just to prove that this type of people can never be satisfied, but then I remember that most of the Japanese companies really couldn't care less what Western-centric cultural critics think of them and practically print money every time they come up with something like this.

My favourite bit of criticism has to be that she doesn't count because she's on a mobile device.

A mobile device that's the Nintendo 3DS, which has outsold the X-Box One, Playstation 4, and Wii U. combined.

Linkle will have a potential reach of 55 million players (as opposed to a potential reach of only 10 million had she been released on the Wii U), and given that's she's being released on the 3DS, she'll likely cross over onto the Wii U version of Hyrule Warriors anyway.

Tits? What tits? She's wearing 
a loose blouse and flowy green tunic.
Sorry, cultural critics and twatters, Linkle is legit. She's adorable, and she's a great-looking character. You'll just have to swallow that disappointment and live with the fact that a Japanese games company gave you exactly what you wanted in a way that appealed to the rest of us as well.

Maybe one day you'll even admit that you're only in this because you're addicted to being outraged over things. Either way, the cognitive dissonance is great fun, and if I had a 3DS, I'd give her a spin.  

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