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Street Fighter V's Rainbow Mika: A Force for Women in Games?

Why Capcom's scantily-clad butt-slamming lady offers a surprisingly positive example of female representation.

Preview by Nadia Oxford, .

Capcom's Rainbow Mika ("R. Mika") Street Fighter V reveal came as something of a surprise. The busty, rubbery female wrestler rarely has rarely appeared anywhere since her Street Fighter Alpha 3 debut.

In fact, barring some appearances in the Udon Street Fighter comic, Street Fighter V is R. Mika's only other outing of note since her first time out. Her new trailer has prompted less discussion of her origins, though, and more tongue-wagging about her looks, mostly along the lines of, "Wow, her outfit sure is something, isn't it?" Indeed, it's hard to look at R. Mika without wondering how her assets avoid spilling out of her costume. Every match she undertakes is a three-on-one.

Despite her mind-boggling proportions and physics-defying costume, I'm glad to see that R. Mika is rarin' to go for Street Fighter V. Much as I like Cammy and Chun-Li, we all just need an occasional reminder that there are other women Street Fighters out there, and some of them forego punches and kicks in favor of grappling and throws. And who needs projectiles like the Kikoken when you're capable of propelling yourself butt-first into a foe?

The manner in which women tend to be represented in games is a complicated, multi-faceted topic that's always guaranteed to bring people's opinions boiling to the surface. As a lifelong game player who happens to be of the female persuasion, these discussions (even the heated ones!) mean a lot to me. I want to see more representation for my gender in games. I also want better representation.

"'Better representation?'" you parrot. "Then how can you like R. Mika? She's total cheesecake material."

I am but one lass, and I can't speak for my gender as a whole. But I can say that I have nothing against, er, voluptuous women in games. Or even scantily-clad women. My problem has always been women characters whom I'm expected to take seriously while they slay dragons/wander the desert/travel the frozen wastes while baring their midriff through the majority of their journey.

Not all women are interested in fashion or accessorizing. But contrary to what some games want us to believe, most women above the age of three are capable of dressing themselves to suit their environment. Even a little girl who insists on wearing a princess tiara coupled with monster truck boots will put on a jacket before going outside in a snowstorm.

"So why does R. Mika get a pass?"

Because her whole schtick is silly, goofy, and way over-the-top — all stuff you'd expect from someone working in "sports entertainment." Mainstream wrestling is a profession that's full of gimmicks, weird promos, and chairs meeting heads. Even male wrestlers outfit themselves in stupid costumes and show up on television framed in pin-up moments.

In fact, believe it or not, R. Mika's representation is better than what most women wrestlers ("Divas") are subject to in the WWE. Though the entertainment empire's female roster has gradually garnered greater respect and recognition in the House of McMahon, R. Mika is still miles ahead in many ways.

Look at her Street Fighter V art, for instance. Is it gratuitous? Absolutely! But at least it shows off the fact R. Mika has meat on her bones, and when you're throwing around other people — and getting thrown around yourself — you want to have some padding. By contrast, watching a WWE Diva's exposed hip bones hit the mat makes me cringe every time.

In the same vein, the storylines featuring these women tend to involve a lot of back-stabbing, cattiness, put-downs, and other "character traits" chiseled out of the old/untrue trope about women hating each other. All that bad blood translates to a lot of shrieking, screaming, and crying in the ring.

R. Mika's having none of that. She left school determined to train and become a wrestler, and by golly, she enjoys what she does. Even the reveal trailer has a lot of laughing, smiling, and all-important butt-flinging. She has muscle, and the act of using it makes her as happy as a kitten in a yarn shop.

Admittedly, I haven't mastered R. Mika's move set, so I don't know how much I'll get to play of her in Street Fighter V. But wrestling isn't necessarily about getting involved. For most of us, it's about watching the performance on-stage.

â€ĶI'm still not sure how she avoids chronic wardrobe malfunctions, though. Starched costume? Clear tape? Crazy glue? I need to think on this.

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Comments 44

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  • Avatar for Daikaiju #1 Daikaiju 3 years ago
    "…I'm still not sure how she avoids chronic wardrobe malfunctions, though. Starched costume? Clear tape? Crazy glue? I need to think on this."

    A wizard did it.
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #2 jeremy.parish 3 years ago
    @Daikaiju The Wizard of Bras?
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  • Avatar for jeremycarrier12 #3 jeremycarrier12 3 years ago
    My main issue with R.Mika is that she has an UGLY, tacky costume. The frills, the ponytails, the robin mask, the random holes and digressions. Its not a good look.

    I got no problem with her character type; I think a professional wrestler character is a great idea for the cartoon absurdity of Street Fighter. I mean, her V-Skill has her pulling out of a mike and cutting a promo to build heat. That's fuckin' amazing, as a former WWE/WCW fan myself.

    But her outfit is bad. Like, real bad. Once she gets some alternate costumes she's gonna be dope.
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #4 nadiaoxford 3 years ago
    @jeremycarrier12 Yeah, though I don't object to her costume, I can admit it's kind of tacky-looking. Definitely looking forward to the alternates.
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  • Avatar for mobichan #5 mobichan 3 years ago
    I think her design makes sense in the context of Alpha 3's production. She was designed by Bengus (or that is his Capcom artist moniker), a guy who loves wrestling, cheesecake and wacky designs. And her design is very indicative of Japanese female wrestling, love it or hate it. She was created well before the "Diva" era of US wrestling.

    I am not a big fan of the sort of frilly lingerie loli meets loud mouth schoolgirl persona she has, but it certainly makes a statement. Of course, she was not all that popular among players. I always found her move set hard to work with and her options very limited when compared to other grapplers in Alpha 3. It really looks like they changed her timing and moves a lot for V. But without playing the game, it is hard to say if she is better or worse. Also, I don't understand the need to change the costume around the bust area. Unless that is solely to incentivize DLC?
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #6 cldmstrsn 3 years ago
    Ya her reveal was great because I loved playing her in Alpha 3 and she is such a spunky character. I hope that they reveal more Alpha characters!
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  • Avatar for The-Challenger #7 The-Challenger 3 years ago
    @cldmstrsn I hope they include either Q, Necro, or Twelve. I would love to see one of those freaky characters recreated with this engine.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #8 Kuni-Nino 3 years ago
    Mika is a-okay with me. She's a wrestler and wrestling consist of people fighting in their underwear and wearing crazy masks.
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  • Avatar for kidgorilla #9 kidgorilla 3 years ago
    Glad you wrote this, Nadia. I'd like to think that I'm a little more sensitive to how women are portrayed in games as I get older, and my knee-jerk reaction to the trailer was a little closer to "well, shit," but I see your point. Flamboyant and absurd, just like in Alpha 3. I didn't really like the character then, but I'm a little more accepting if I'm looking through your lense.

    Her move descriptions on Capcom's site make her sound super fun to play, too. The tag team partner is a clever way of approximating a projectile.
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #10 Roto13 3 years ago
    It seems like her boobs got noticeably bigger since her last game, though, and now they're bursting out of her singlet thing. Her look doesn't seem to have changed that much otherwise.
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #11 nadiaoxford 3 years ago
    @Roto13 When it comes to the cold, us Canadians aren't the clearest-thinking animals on the planet.
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  • Avatar for Windwhale #12 Windwhale 3 years ago
    Thank you, for this interesting perspective!

    Personally, as much as I appreciate Street Fighter, the way these games present most of the female characters bothers me. I am very conflicted here, for example: my second most played Third Strike character is Elena, who has a certain degree of "fanservice" to her. I am mostly okay with her appearance, since I believe that female characters are allowed (but certainly not required) to look sexy - though I would not mind if she had a least a tad more cloth on her. What I do not like are certain poses, which soley exist for voyeuristic purposes. Still I can mostly look past that in the case of Third Strike, mostly because of the semi-abstract pixelartstyle. But SF4 and especially V really seem to push and highlight those poses (Mika slapping her own ass.. *sigh*) and combined with the high resolution 3d models, it reaches a level of Dead or Alive shamelessness - which goes too far for my taste. It is rare enough to find a female fighting game character who is not defined by lack of clothes and overall sexiness (some Samurai Shodown/Last Blade titles come to mind), but even Street Fighter had some "decent" ones in the past, like Makoto, Ibuki, maybe Rose. With Street Fighter V they had the chance to redesign the characters (like Cammy for example) and to get rid of that sexist "fanservice"-stuff, but so far they went the opposite direction and made it even more explicit. Of course it could be worse, they could put Sakura in the game in a similair manner..

    Come on Capcom, I want to love Street Fighter again: please grow up – if just a little bit! Try to imagine this: a female SF character who is just as grotesque as Necro, as old as Oro or as mysterious as Q. (Yeah, I adore Third Strike's character designs).Edited August 2015 by Windwhale
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #13 nadiaoxford 3 years ago
    @Windwhale Thanks for commenting! Yeah, I'd definitely be down with a female Street Fighter who's scarred / otherwise less than physically perfect. Maybe it'll happen someday! For now, I have to take my victories where I can, haha.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #14 Kuni-Nino 3 years ago
    @Windwhale SF is pretty tame compared to something like Dead or Alive and I know because I play them both rather frequently. Capcom is showcasing some rather attractive women. I don't think there is anything wrong with playing up their beauty.

    More importantly, regarding Mika, I don't think spanking her ass is a simple voyeuristic play. To me, it's kind of like the Bayonetta situation where Mika is in full command of her body and sexuality. She knows what she has so she can flaunt it and taunt you with it. It's more of a display of strength in my view since it's seemingly done on her terms rather than anyone else's.

    I understand where you're coming from but I do think Capcom has been really good about how they decide to showcase their characters. If you're still bothered by it though, there are other fighting games that don't do the stylish, exaggerated take on fighters. Take at look at the roster of King of Fighters XIII for example. Most of them are all pretty damn classy. The same goes for Virtua Fighter too. Those are really great fighters (better than SFIV too!) that don't do the 'lewd', and could use some more attention.
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  • Avatar for nuvntses63 #15 nuvntses63 3 years ago
    Great article. Nice to see that you actually know a thing or two about street fighter as opposed to other superficial websites.
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #16 MHWilliams 3 years ago
    @Windwhale I'm actually fine with R. Mika and Cammy presentation, but I admit that Chun-Li's excessive jiggle was not a welcome sight for me. That's the kind of creeping fanservice I dislike. Chun-Li has a completely different tone than say, R. Mika.
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  • Avatar for Windwhale #17 Windwhale 3 years ago
    @Kuni-Nino King Of Fighters XIII seems quite cool - everyone just looks like Remy and Dan ;) - though I would not call Mai's design exactly "classy"... (granted, you said "most of them"). And Virtua Fighter is just not for me.

    But the point is: I WANT to fight my Blankas, Dhalsims, Ibukis and Akumas - and boy does that Necalli guy look cool! Because when Capcom gets their character designs right, then there is nothing quite like them to me. And gameplay-wise Street Fighter is my fighting game comfort zone - I can feel right at home jumping in with Ken in any of these (though I am very excited that they mixed things up with him in V).

    Like I said in my earlier comment, there is nothing wrong with beautiful women in fighting games per se, but if almost all of them are required to be shown from very revealing angles, then there IS something wrong in my opinion.Edited August 2015 by Windwhale
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  • Avatar for MattG #18 MattG 3 years ago
    R. Mika's wardrobe is kept safe from malfunctions by the might of the ESRB.
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  • Avatar for camchow #19 camchow 3 years ago
    Not a huge fan of R.Mika but I love SFA3 so it's nice to see some more characters from that showing up again. Really hoping for Karin to jump in as well!
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  • Avatar for Daikaiju #20 Daikaiju 3 years ago
    @jeremy.parish And now the song is in my head. THANK YOU.
    @MHWilliams I heard that was a bug? Was I misinformed?Edited August 2015 by Daikaiju
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #21 Kuni-Nino 3 years ago
    @Daikaiju It was a bug that happened when Chun-Li was on the 2P side. Capcom doesn't do crazy jiggles. That's Team Ninja territory and they are the masters.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #22 SatelliteOfLove 3 years ago
    Look at her Street Fighter V art, for instance. Is it gratuitous? Absolutely! But at least it shows off the fact R. Mika has meat on her bones, and when you're throwing around other people — and getting thrown around yourself — you want to have some padding. By contrast, watching a WWE Diva's exposed hip bones hit the mat makes me cringe every time.

    I'm glad someone else noticed this as well. Gal got country stronk since A3. That's a Giant Swingin', Stone Cold Stunnin', Flyin' Double Butt Smash Piledrivin' torso there.

    Also it doesn't have this as being "her place in skimpy outfit" or whatever. I do hope the other outfits are better though; she's never been a favorite design of mine.
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #23 Roto13 3 years ago
    @MHWilliams Didn't that weird jiggle turn out to be a bug or was that just an excuse cooked up by fanboys?
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #24 MHWilliams 3 years ago
    @Roto13 Might've been a bug? I didn't choose Chun-Li on the PAX build for SFV, instead using my time to try out R. Mika and Necalli in live play.
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  • Avatar for Kadrom #25 Kadrom 3 years ago
    @MHWilliams there was a glitch in the E3 build of SFV that caused player 2 characters to have DOA physics http://kotaku.com/street-fighters-ridiculous-new-breasts-are-a-glitch-ca-1711977157
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  • Avatar for MHWilliams #26 MHWilliams 3 years ago
    @Kadrom Excellente! You need to treat the first lady of fighting right!
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #27 VotesForCows 3 years ago
    Street Fighter women are often a bit embarrassing looking, especially some of the alt costumes. Mika looks great fun though, love the tag team element. Mind you, SF is still 100 times better than most fighting games in this respect.
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  • Avatar for Iliya-Moroumetz #28 Iliya-Moroumetz 3 years ago
    I can understand where and why you're coming from, Nadia, however, I can't find myself agreeing.

    Don't get me wrong, I want to main Mika when it comes out... just until after she gets an outfit that makes me NOT want to look over my shoulder to see if anyone's watching me play as her.

    My point is; I've heard the 'over the top' and 'joke' excuses used so many times to justify horrible designs that I have grown numb to them and just hear "Because I leik teh boobies!" instead.

    I'm tired, Nadia. It's 2015. This is not a Japan-only game we're importing here. And Cacpom's a worldwide company. You'd figure they'd catch on by now.
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #29 LBD_Nytetrayn 3 years ago
    @nuvntses63 You should have seen her take this one guy in our wedding party who was bragging about his ability to school after we got married.
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #30 LBD_Nytetrayn 3 years ago
    @Iliya-Moroumetz I don't know, it seems pretty true to life to me...

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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #31 LBD_Nytetrayn 3 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by LBD_Nytetrayn
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #32 LBD_Nytetrayn 3 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by LBD_Nytetrayn
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #33 LBD_Nytetrayn 3 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by LBD_Nytetrayn
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  • Avatar for boxofficepoison #34 boxofficepoison 3 years ago
    I doubt they'd handle it with the respect it deserves, but it'd be very interesting to see Poison go back to being a transsexual. Very underrepresented group in the AAA gaming space.
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  • Avatar for Iliya-Moroumetz #35 Iliya-Moroumetz 3 years ago
    @LBD_Nytetrayn Except her ass and boobs don't seem to be hanging out everywhere like they are in Mika's costume.

    And the seemingly obvious and repeated camera shots on Mika's ass in the trailer. If you really think that's not blatant, you haven't been playing games for very long.Edited 2 times. Last edited August 2015 by Iliya-Moroumetz
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #36 nadiaoxford 3 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by nadiaoxford
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #37 nadiaoxford 3 years ago
    @Iliya-Moroumetz No worries! I totally understand where you're coming from. That's why I made sure to emphasize that my opinion is my own, and I still acknowledge that R Mika is kind of flawed as an example of positive female representation in video games (as I stated in another comment, I'd still love to see a female Street Fighter who's scarred / imperfect / heavy-set without it being treated like a joke). I take my victories where I can find them, but I get why others don't want to settle.

    PS:@LBD_Nytetrayn is my husband of 14+ years, and I can vouch for his lifelong gaming habits. :)
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #38 nadiaoxford 3 years ago
    Deleted August 2015 by nadiaoxford
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #39 nadiaoxford 3 years ago
    @boxofficepoison Was Poison's transgender status erased? That'd be kind of awful if true. Like R Mika, Poison's not the perfect example of representation, but IIRC at least she's not the butt of any shitty "Ha ha, he/she's a trap!" jokes.

    In fact, I believe Capcom plays her heartbreak over Cody's disinterest in her pretty straight instead of turning in into a sideshow with a punchline about how a trans person has no chance with someone who's cis, and "isn't it funny that she's even trying?"

    I could be wrong about this, though. I haven't played every game with Poison in it, or read every bit of supplemental material. Either way, you're 100% right; more (and better!!!) trans representation is needed in games.
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  • Avatar for Kuni-Nino #40 Kuni-Nino 3 years ago
    @nadiaoxford Well, I'm not sure if it's official or not, but the creator of Poison recently said that Poison isn't a transgender and he designed her with the mindset of creating an attractive woman. Those were just his thoughts on the matter. I don't know what Capcom has said officially. Honestly, I don't think they care about it all that much. They're fine letting it be its own thing that fans argue about.
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  • Avatar for UnskippableCutscene #41 UnskippableCutscene 3 years ago
    My favorite Street Fighter lady is Sakura, but I'll say that R.Mika is no more ridiculously dressed than the men in this game. Could she wear more? Sure. But then again, so could Blanka and Zangief and E.Honda, and that's just three names pulled from non-expanded SF2.

    This isn't like Ayane wearing a gown, fighting a Bayman who looks like a walking military surplus store.
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #42 LBD_Nytetrayn 3 years ago
    @Iliya-Moroumetz Oh, sorry -- I thought you were arguing that it looked too ridiculous and that "over the top" wasn't a good reason.

    Yeah, her stuff is all over the place, I won't argue about that. I'm not sure even DOA is that blatant, and it seems like they knew what they were doing when capturing thumbnails for the trailer, too.

    Funny that even the comic tones it down.
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  • Avatar for boxofficepoison #43 boxofficepoison 3 years ago
    @nadiaoxford As I understand it they changed her from a cis to a trans for the American release of Final Fight because they thought Americans would be uncomfortable beating up a woman, since then they've kind of tried to pretend that never happened. Seems like this is the right time to get some good pr and add some diversity to the SF cast and make her trans.
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  • Avatar for Mooglepies #44 Mooglepies 3 years ago
    This is a nice article. It's particularly easy to understand for me as over the last year I've got into wrestling again - the state of the womens' division is dire at the moment, honestly (although the last few weeks have seen a marked improvement thanks to the promotion of several people from NXT up to the main stage).

    I think the parallel also follows across the rest of Street Fighter as well, because it and Sports Entertainment do a lot of things very similarly when it comes to creating characters, which is emphasising and amplifying differences, whether in appearance or otherwise (e.g. flamboyant Spaniards and gentlemanly Englishmen). Both are used to make the character design process quicker and to make it easier for the audience to understand what's going on, more than anything else.
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  • Avatar for Darji #45 Darji 3 years ago
    @MHWilliams Mika's breast do jiggle as well in the current build but as people said before it is a buck I think it makes Birdie even float.

    http://giant.gfycat.com/HighlevelEthicalGoosefish.gif
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  • Avatar for Darji #46 Darji 3 years ago
    @nadiaoxford
    "My problem has always been women characters whom I'm expected to take seriously while they slay dragons/wander the desert/travel the frozen wastes while baring their midriff through the majority of their journey"

    I honestly do not get this complain. I understand when it is a game like COD and you see women running around in Bikinis while the males wear proper armor. But for fantasy like games?

    For example the Tales of Series. Here is a picture of the new Main Protagonist of Tales of Xillia Milla


    And here is for example The Main Protagonist of Tales of Vespperia

    /revision/latest?cb=20081020204945


    Both do not wear proper armor because it is fantasy and not bound to any sort of reality just like Anime. So why do you have a problem with it when women are presented like that. Also to note that there is a huge female fanbase for these games in Japan and they already really excited for the newest Tales of Game which will feature this Main protagonist



    And yes I am sure there will be dragons caves and snowy areas as well. Isn't it just better to turn of your sense for reality in these circumstances? I personally think that it needs to fit the world the game is set in and not bring real life logic into it. But I am just a male in this regard and I really do not care if a character male or female is wearing less clothing. It needs to fit to the character in my opinion. Just like Mika is a perfect fit for this outfit as well.Edited 3 times. Last edited August 2015 by Darji
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  • Avatar for BRG-Choy #47 BRG-Choy 3 years ago
    Speaking of WWE's divas, I do miss those pre-PG-era t&a matches. Sure they weren't grandiose displays of technical skills, but they were fun and silly.
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  • Avatar for CK20XX #48 CK20XX 3 years ago
    @Darji It probably has to do with cliches more than anything. Scantily-clad women tend to scream "cop-out" when not used in moderation. I don't think anyone has any real problem with the Tales series either, so that's probably not the best example.
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  • Avatar for swamped #49 swamped 3 years ago
    I was "whatever" on this announcement until you reminded me of the butt slam! Yeah... Actually... Can we get that in an NXT Divas match??
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