Sunday, October 07, 2007

Scar Removal

I recently started playing Final Fantasy Tactics in preparation for the enhanced, retranslated port that hits the PSP this Wednesday. It’s made me realize that, as much as I love the game, a lot could be improved with a simple, cohesive rewrite of the dialogue.

And while that’s what we’ll supposedly get with Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions, I hope the localizers preserved one little exchange just before the first battle, in which the royally enlisted knight Agrias Oaks has some words with the soldiers of Prince Goltana.





No, not her beautiful face!



Her noseless, abstract, largely indistinct face. The same face that most of the other characters have, actually.

I’m always amused when authors go out of the way to tell us that a particularly tough female character is also attractive, especially when it adds nothing to the story. It’s often clumsily used in print, and when it comes to films, comics, videogames or any other visual medium, it’s much more effective to simply show the uncommon splendor of a fierce young woman or mind-controlled cyborg werewolf ninja superheroine. But some can’t leave it at that. Metal Gear Solid introduces Sniper Wolf as “Beautiful and Deadly” instead of describing her combat abilities, and, in the often grim fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin insists on telling us that Arya is indeed a pretty little girl underneath her many layers of plot-accrued grime, because God forbid that a murderous, lice-ridden tomboy should be ugly.

Returning to Tactics, I wonder why we need to know that stern, matronly Agrias there is actually Beautiful and Deadly, despite having the exact same all-but-featureless face as everyone else in the game. Did it figure into some discarded subplot about her, her knightly duties, and scars? Too bad Agrias and the rest of the game’s recruitable characters get only cursory development once they join your party, so we’ll never know for sure.