Back in mid-December, Square Enix announced a major push into the mobile market beyond the ports and free-to-play cash-ins that have typified most of its current lineup. Mevius Final Fantasy is a title planned for iOS and Android, with the full development weight of the publisher behind it. Final Fantasy VI and VII director and XIII producer Yoshinori Kitase is producing the title and he's serious about it. According to the game's teaser site, Kitase's team is "crafting a full-scale, high-quality RPG world the likes of which has never been seen on smartphones and tablets."
"This is the end product of longtime Final Fantasy creator bringing the series to mobile - and things will never be the same," Kitase added.
Final Fantasy VII, VIII, X, and Kingdom Hearts scenario writer Kazushige Nojima is crafting the story, while Lightning Returns costume designer and Final Fantasy IX character designer Toshiyuki Itahana is lending his artistic style to Mevius as character designer. The official site also includes some key art for the titles, including the design of game's unnamed main character.
The reception to this design has been interesting. It depicts a male character in what could charitably be called a one piece bathing suit, though the entire back of it is missing and someone has taken a razor to the leggings. Depending on the shot, there's also armor covering the character's arms and legs; this hints at possible visual armor customization. Honestly, Mevius' look makes me think the game will be Final Fantasy: Revengeance with Infinity Blade-style gameplay.
Some have expressed distaste in the design, due to the feminine nature of the outfit. Take these comments from this NeoGAF thread for example:
- "Dude looks like a lady. But impressive from a technical standpoint."
- "Is this what girls feel when they see games with girls wearing skimpy armor?"
- "Hope you can change your outfit."
- "Vaan (slightly up thread) is closer to sane male sexualization (though much like this guy he seems to excessively value his legs' protection). It's more than the outfit is hilariously ridiculous. I mean, is that an apron or what?"
- "Honestly, this looks like a literal translation of some of Amano's designs. ....Waaaay too literal."
- "Man, this is male sexualization gone wrong. At least FFXV looks good in that regard."
You get the idea. The thing is, this design isn't anything particularly new for Square Enix. Vagrant Story's Ashley Riot laid claim to nearly the same exact design back in 2000. Players spent much of the game looking at Ashley's butt cheeks peeking out between his cut-out shorts. Vangrant Story's villain, Syndey Lossatarot wore much the same outfit.
Final Fantasy XII focus Vaan also leaned hard on the bishonen look with an open-chested vest and more feminine features. Play Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and you'll run into the Subligar armor early on; the armor is equally skimpy for male and female characters and is only one of many sets that is that way for both sexes. Itahana has plowed this ground before as well: he designed Final Fantasy IX antagonist Kuja. Mevius' hero isn't treading a brand-new path for Square Enix.
I'm not a big fan of this design, but I'm also not a fan of similar designs on female characters. The interesting thing is this design takes frequent female armor tropes and applies them directly to a male character. We've seen looks like these before on Final Fantasy X-2 Rikku, Final Fantasy XII's Fran, and Final Fantasy XIII-2's Serah. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII has input from Itahana and is full of designs in the same vein, including Lightning's Lilitu, Coral Mermaid, Rhapsody in Rose, and Amazon Warrior outfits.
The truth is we've seen completely outlandish character designs in Square Enix games for a long time. Even the upcoming Final Fantasy XV - which features generally-sane clothing styles for its Jpop Arashi-style main cast - features Cidney (Gif via Kotaku), the series' first female Cid. It's not the best outfit for a mechanic, but I guess fighting soldiers and monsters in the latest styles from the DKNY isn't great either.
This can be true of many fictional worlds. The trick is to make sure that your character designs are true to the character and the world they inhabit. Designers should ask themselves if outlandish designs are to the character's benefit, or if they're there for simple fanservice; there's a sweet spot between form and function
For some, Mevius Final Fantasy's lead design is a chance for male players to peer through the looking glass and see what female players have gotten used to over the years. For others, it's the realization that some design don't make much sense. Some Mevius fans may just take it as the next great cosplay hurdle.
Whatever it is for you personally, it at least has people talking about Square Enix's first major Final Fantasy for iOS and Android. With no Vita or console release on the horizon, this may be your only non-remaster Final Fantasy fix this year. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is coming in March, while Final Fantasy XV still has an underdetermined release date. Mevius Final Fantasy will be out this Spring in Japan and the North American release is still in the dark.
Will this be your next big Final Fantasy game?