Tropes in Gaming: The Fanservice Pack with Mod Aria!

Mod Aria’s Back! This week I’m taking the reigns on our popular Tropes in Gaming segment, and I’ve decided to talk about a trope that everyone knows, but didn’t exactly know the name of it. This trope is dubbed “The Fanservice Pack”, and it is quite common in the video game industry. Particularly, this trope is quite common among fighting games, as you can tell by the flagship image of Soul Calibur’s most recent rendition of Sophitia. But what is The Fanservice Pack? I’ll tell you, but get ready to say an audible “Ohhhhhhh!”.

The name of this trope is a bit strange, but oddly appropriate. The Fanservice Pack, in essense, is the idea of characters becoming more and more attractive as a game goes on. However, this trope mainly centers around the progression of female character measurements. As a game series follows this female character, her secondary sex characteristics will change to make her appear more desirable. Sometimes it’s a chance it clothing, sometimes it’s not. Typically, it is denoted by a drastic, yet steady, increase in chest size. But enough beating around the bush, right? Video game companies just want these girls boobs to be bigger than they were.

Where can you see this? I counter with: where can’t you? Let’s look at Sophitia. Compare her Soul Calibur 2 sprite to her Soul Calibur 5; can you honestly say that nothing has changed? Oh yeah, there’s change. A couple cup sizes worth of it. Mortal Kombat, BlazeBlue and Tekken are also perpetrators of The Fanservice Pack. Because of the regular installments of the series, the excuse “Time is passing, a woman’s body changes” is easy to use as an excuse to up the fanservice for these female characters.

But fighting games aren’t the only victims. The Fanservice Pack can be seen in JRPGs like Final Fantasy X-2 and the Final Fantasy XIII installments as well as The Neptunia series and even Pokemon. Western games, like Mass Effect and The Elder Scrolls series, don’t dodge the The Fanservice pack either. Now, male characters can also be affected by The Fanservice Pack, but the effect is nowhere near as drastic or frequent. As I said earlier, The Fanservice Pack is not necessarily a change in body, but also a change in clothing or hair design. Male video game characters often see new outfits as a series goes on, and they can sometimes be more revealing than before. Whether or not this is actually fanservice is debatable, but that’s a topic for another time.

So this trope can be a bit of a toxic one for gamers; there are some obvious and some not so obvious reasons. At the center, the reason why this trope is toxic is that it is blatant hypersexualization of female video game characters. There is a stigma in gaming that we are only just now starting to move away from: in order to be a strong fighter, a woman must be physically appealing.

This argument falls apart in so many areas; the definition of physically appealing is dynamic, the phrase “physically appealing” usually comes along with an addendum of straight, cis males, and the argument itself is nonsensical. A woman’s beauty and sex appeal does no way correlate with her athletic prowess. Breast size does not equal a stronger punch. An hourglass figure does not mean she can dead lift a car.

Nevertheless, it is the true heart of this trope that forces sexist notions on gamers: that the kind of transition these games are showcasing is a natural one. This goes for women and men too. Bodies come in all different shapes, sizes and skin tones. We should accept that our bodies are wonderful things, and that they are wonderful no matter what they look like. Having women grow three cup sizes in a matter of two games that take place within a few years of each other is absolutely unrealistic. And no excuse can justify it.

Take our poster girl today, Sophitia. It’s easy for people to say that her breasts have steadily enlarged because she had children. People know that having children can increase a woman’s breast size. But that argument is weak at best. Enlarged breasts is not the only sign of former pregnancy, nor would the increase in size be so dramatic. Everyone knows why Sophita was changed. The same goes with men’s bodies and their musculature. You don’t get ripped just by practicing martial arts. There’s way more to bodybuilding than just working out.

The first step to recovering from this idea that excuses can justify sexualization in the media is acknowledging what is happening. These fictional characters are being hypersexualized in order to appeal to their audience. Some people like curvy women with large breasts, some people like beefcake men. And what I’m about to say might blow your mind, but follow me on this: to an extent, I don’t have a problem with that.

Let me explain: there’s nothing wrong with catering to your fans. There’s nothing wrong with embracing your sexuality. You’re attracted to what you’re attracted to. You should embrace that. If fanservice is harmless, then there’s nothing wrong with sexy girls in bikini’s or cute boys in suits. Does that mean fanservice can’t be harmful? No. Fanservice can be harmful in numerous ways.

Forcing others to partake in sexual gratification via sexy fictional characters is wrong. Destroy the idea that everything must be sexual. Secondly, fanservice can be harmful because of unrealistic expectations it enforces on human bodies. Remember that these bodies are fictional for a reason. Do not hold others to standards that they will never be able to meet. Thirdly, justifying one type of fanservice while condemning another is not fair. Claiming that Sophitia’s huge chest is acceptable but a topless Kilik is not makes you no better than a child who didn’t go to a birthday party because they didn’t like the cake. The world does not revolve around you.

The Fanservice Pack isn’t necessarily a trope I think should be completely eradicated from the media. However, I think that we as gamers and creators need to take a step back from fiction and learn what we need to do to make this right. Stop making excuses for fanservice, don’t force others to consume types of fanservice they detest, and realize that fanservice can be okay if it’s not appealing to you. And, most importantly, separate fiction from reality. The sooner we can do that, the sooner we can all learn to love our own bodies. And appreciate fictional ones, too.


Thanks for reading this article and please continue to support NWG! Until we meet again!

Top 5 Best: Multiplatform Games with Mod Loser!

Hey there, Nasties! It’s Mod Loser, Jackie, whatever you want to call me. And today, we’re getting into multiplatform games! Third party titles can make or break a system just as much as not having good first party ones can, so let’s all get to the meat of the top 5 Multiplatform Third Party games!

Number 5: Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion

A fantastic RPG for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC gamers, as well as my favorite elder scrolls game of all time. I adored that Oblivion had a heavy emphasis on an extreme amount of quests that actually felt pretty varied with their goals, as well as a lengthy and interesting main plot line.

What always drew me into Oblivion for replay value were quests with multiple endings given the choices you made, a Fame-and-Infamy meter that decided how the people around you viewed your character, and enchantment and spell creation. Making my own spells always felt too good! Most loyal Nasties know that I hate Skyrim, so I think its about time I give Oblivion the love that it deserves.

Number 4: Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight has come to Nintendo Switch, Wii U, Xbox One, Ps4, PC, and Nintendo 3DS, and I absolutely adore the game. I may not have been very good at the first Shovel Knight, but Specter of Torment drew me in moreso than any indie game yet. A perfect mixture of what felt like Castlevania meets Mega Man. The combat was fluid and challenging, while the platforming was fun and fair.

Shovel Knight, Specter Knight, and Plague Knight may be indie games, but what I adore about them is that they have such broad appeal with tight gameplay that it was important to put them on every console possible. I firmly believe that anyone looking for some nostalgic gameplay or just a good action platformer should pick up this game immediately.

Number 3: Mass Effect 2

A game released on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC. Do I honestly need to sing the praises of Mass Effect 2 to anyone? This was, in my opinion, the best Sci-Fi RPG I have ever played in my life, and I thoroughly enjoyed Knights of the Old Republic. Mass Effect two had great controls, had a power system that added flavor to third person shooting, a character creator that was stellar for the era, and fantastic characters.

Mass Effect 2 kept me coming back over and over each time purely because of how much I loved the romance, the characters,and the multiple ways I could end the game. This game wasn’t perfect by any means, which I understand. But to this day, if anybody asks for a Sci-Fi game recommendation, Mass Effect 2 will be the first game I suggest.

Number 2: Dark Souls 3

Released on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC. I adore Dark Souls; this isn’t anything new to our fans! I could sing the praises of this game for far too long, but suffice to say it’s a fantastic entry into the souls franchise, and from what I can tell, it has been a great starting point for many people. The story is fantastic and the gameplay tighter than ever, with weapon skills and the FP bar. I also found the DLC to be incredibly enjoyable; however, with the Fire Fades edition, you can now purchase the game together with the DLC. If you want to try a Dark Souls game, now is the time.

Number 1: Dragon Age Inquisition

Released on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC. This is, without a doubt, my favorite Western RPG of all time. I could not accurately describe how much I adore Dragon Age Inquisition. With great Queer representation, so many amazing and depthy party members, massive worlds and areas to explore with great quests both side quests and main story, I don’t think I’ll love another western RPG as much as I have loved Dragon Age.

Unfortunately for myself, despite having the DLC, I have yet to play through it all which is a shame. Even so, just the core game was so long and enjoyable and intense; I would recommend this game to just about anybody who likes fantasy RPG’s. From killing dragons to slaying demons, get ready to lead the Inquisition.

Well Nasties, did you enjoy my list? How about you; what are your favorite multiplatform games that have been release? Tell us in the comments below your thoughts. 

This has been Mod Loser, Jackie, whatever you want to call me, signing off!

NWG Reviews: Mass Effect: Andromeda with Mod Aria!

Mod Aria here for an expansive review of Mass Effect Andromeda. While this game as met with some praise and some criticism, I hope that I can break down the good and the bad parts of this game. There are no story spoilers in this review, but I do discuss which characters are romanceable and do a full breakdown of the gameplay.

So let’s dive into this! I’ll start with my favorite part of the Mass Effect Games;

Story: 

Mass Effect Andromeda’s story is vastly different from its predecessors. The player controls Ryder (named after the first woman in space, Sally Ride) as they embark with their family onto an expedition across galaxies. Unfortunately, things take a sinister turn very quickly, and Ryder must pick up the pieces of the failed Andromeda Imitative while also protecting the Heleus Cluster from hostile aliens called “the kett” and learn the mysteries about strange ruins left by a race of machines called “the Remnant”.

The game takes place 600 years after the events of Mass Effect 3, but BioWare craftily set the date of the Andromeda Initiative’s launch before the events of Mass Effect 3, so you won’t be seeing any familiar faces. However, BioWare has included references to the previous games that will have a Mass Effect veteran grinning.

The main plot itself is high-octane, and doesn’t slow down once you get going. However, the way it is presented is incredibly similar to Dragon Age Inquisition’s story; you’re free to pick it up at any time, but there are tons of side stories and planets to explore while you wait for it to progress. For a fan of traditional open world games like Skyrim or Fallout, you’ll enjoy that aspect of the game. For the people who preferred the original trilogy’s linear story, you’re probably going to find yourself frustrated with it.

But each planet that you can explore has its own subplot that you can solve to help the people on the planet as well as bolster your resources in the game itself. I found most of the main planet’s plots to be interesting, but I wished that they had been a bit longer. In fact, I wish that (save for maybe a few side quests) the planet’s subplot was the only mission that was necessary.

I also wish the main plot itself had been longer. There is a tendency nowadays with open world games to pad the worlds with tedious side quests and subplots, which make the main objective of the game feel like a brief respite instead of an important narrative. I think this something that BioWare (and other game companies) should change. I’m much more interested in saving a galaxy instead of running around playing errand girl. I’m much more interested in talking with my crew and playing games with them than talking to random smugglers and doctors on every planet.

I see what BioWare is trying to do; they’re emulating Bethesda. They are trying to be Skyrim and Oblivion, and that’s not what they are. They are unique in the fact that the plots of their games are fun, from the wonderful characters they make and the fact that you can create meaningful relationships with them. But they seem to have it in their minds that those story and characters are just not what players want; they want a big world to explore, they want to be able to spend an hour in the game just staring at the scenery. And they couldn’t be more wrong.

Size for the sake of it just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Characters:

The game allows you to choose either Scott or Sara Ryder, and both are customizable. Interestingly, you can keep the default names of the characters, and other individuals will address them by their default names within the narrative.

The main races that appear within Mass Effect are Humans (naturally), Turians, Asari, Salarians, Krogans, and the new race called the Angara. Most of the familiar races haven’t changed much. The fun part is that there seems to be more female Turians and Krogans that have appeared within the game, which is always a nice thing to see. Having no female Turians or Krogans in the first three games was always perplexing to me.

There are tons and tons of characters in this games, but for the sake of my own sanity, I’ll just talk about the crew on the ship and the romaceable characters.

Ryder starts out with two human companions: Cora Harper, a powerful biotic and former Asari commando, and Liam Kosta, an ex-cop and crisis specialist who is certainly quirky. Later, Ryder picks up a few other faces: Vetra, a female Turian smuggler and all around badass; Peebee, a curious Asari who seems to keep everyone at a distance; Drack, a really, really old and wise Krogan soldier; and Jaal, a passionate Angara who fights for the Angaran Resistance. These six characters are your core squad, but there are other characters who work with and/or can be potential love interests.

You have an Asari doctor named Lexi T’Perro and Salarian pilot Kallo Jath (sadly not potential love interests) who serve on your ship. Your engineer Gil Brodie and and co-pilot Suvi Anwar are there and can be romanced as well. Three other characters can also be romanced by Ryder: Aveja, an Angaran historian, Reyes Vidal, a human working for the Angara, or Keri, an Asari journalist.

This is a lot of characters! I appreciated getting to know all of them, and I also appreciated that BioWare made some of them easier to get to know than others. They followed through on their promise to have some characters want a committed relationship while others were more flexible, and that allows for players who enjoy a spectrum of romance options to find something they’ll like. They even included a terminal where you can read forum chats that your characters have for each other, which can be very funny.

I felt that the character dynamic in Andromeda’s party was better than the original trilogy’s. I’m not saying that one set of characters is superior, but that the group dynamic was much stronger than the previous games. This is due to all the opportunities the characters have to engage in dialogue while you’re roaming around on the planets and on your ship. It helped the atmosphere of the game.

And, of course, not everything is perfect. Because BioWare went overboard on creating this authentic world with tons of people to interact with, the opportunities for Ryder to interact with the characters haven’t changed from the original trilogy. That is something I had hoped would change, as this was a problem I also had with Dragon Age: Inquisition.

I don’t want to hear some random Turian woman’s life story, BioWare. I want to make googly eyes at Jaal when he recites me poetry and play more card games with Gil. I want to talk to Suvi about God and hang out with Vetra’s family. The characters in this game had depth, but not enough.

For Story/Characters, I give ME:A 6.5/10

Graphics, Visuals and Art:

It’s obvious at this point, but this is the category where Mass Effect: Andromeda fails. And it fails pretty hard. When I had first heard about the open beta’s rough glitches and animations, I took it with a grain of salt. Some people set themselves up for having errors like that, and to an extent I believe that is true. On my PS4, I had nowhere near as many walking animation hiccups. The faces were still a bit funny looking, but still not as misshapen.

But that doesn’t mean my game wasn’t full of glitches. Even Dragon Age: Inquisition was full of textural problems, and they showed up here, too. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In areas with high amounts of enemies, the framerate plummets. While driving the Nomad into new points on the map, the game will freeze for about two seconds without fail. The camera position when Ryder speaks to NPCs would often misalign; my Ryder’s armor would completely obscure the face of the person I was talking to. The background on the pause menu would flash from the textures of the game behind it now and again. NPCs wouldn’t load into the screen even though I could press the button to interact with them. The list goes on.

These are small mistakes, but once they start piling up, they become one huge mistake. I tried to defend this for the longest time, but I can’t anymore. This game needs some serious tweaks in regards to graphical glitches. At the same time, I’d say this game was no worse than the launch of Skyrim, though. No random enemies would fall from the sky and hit me.

Silver linings exist: I’ve had no quest glitches or game breaking glitches. Nothing has hindered my progression. And when the graphics do work (such as space travel and in non-open world maps) the game is stunning. The main hud is organized and familiar to Mass Effect players. The cutscenes are brilliant. The visual representations of space are spot on. There’s ten times more color and vibrancy in Andromeda than the original Milky Way trilogy.

It still doesn’t make up for the 180-degree head turn my Ryder did in a conversation with an NPC, though.

For Visuals, I give ME:A 5/10

Gameplay: 

Gameplay is where Mass Effect Andromeda shines. The quality character customization that BioWare gives is back. There’s so much you can customize for yourself, but you can also customize your family members. You can customize the color of your armor (and different armor gives you different shapes to work with). You can choose from a few different casual clothes and customize the color of those, too. You can buy paint for your Nomad. So many color options!

Now for the gear. You can also customize your guns and melee weapons. You have so much variety to choose from. Looting chests helps you find schematics for new guns, melee weapons and armor that you can craft. You also find research data to craft different types of weapons and armor; there are Milky Way, Heleus and Remnant schematics that can get you your perfect set up. The more questing you do, the easier it is to suit up. Thermal clips still exist, but if you’re not an ammo person, you can also use weapons that have a cooldown aspect to them. You’re free to choose.

When you craft them, you can also find mods that can help further help you find that sweet spot in playstyle. Whether it be tech, biotics, or just raw damage; you find what you’re looking for.

There are types of consumable ammo (such as incendiary and cryo which return from the original trilogy) that you can use in battle. Though the higher level you get, the less you’ll need them. This was a feature I felt could be taken or left.

There is a system called AVP (Andromeda Viability Points) that is pretty much a rehash of Dragon Age: Inquisition’s “Inquisition Perks”. The more you play and level up, you can unlock a variety of features that are nice bonuses. You can reveal hidden caches on your map, get a steady supply of money and materials sent to you, or lower some shop prices. But this is also optional; you can mostly ignore it if you want to.

Mass Effect did away with the class system it had in the trilogy and has left all powers open to the player so they can build a truly custom character. I was on the fence about this decision at first, as I love class systems. But Andromeda’s leveling is a bit different. There aren’t skill trees so much as there are three sections with a list of powers and abilities that you can chose from. Once you start creating a character, you can choose a profile that will give your character bonuses to help them make something more cohesive.

Combat is a lot more fun in Andromeda, too. You’re not forced into just pointing and shooting a gun as it railroads you through a mission. You’ve got your whole environment to play around with, and it can be somewhat challenging even on the lower difficulties. There’s plenty of random enemies and big bosses around for you to scuffle with.

Driving the Nomad around can be kind of fun, but it’s a very sensitive vehicle, so be careful you don’t drive off a cliff while trying to find your way around to your objective point.

There’s so much else left to discover in regards to gameplay; I could talk about it for hours. It’s best to just jump in and explore for yourself!

I give ME:A’s Gameplay a 9/10

In Conclusion

Mass Effect Andromeda has been a turning point for the series, much like Inquisition was for Dragon Age. There are both positives and negatives to this change. While the games have such depth to them, at times it can be a bit overwhelming for people who are only interested in the games story and characters. You must devote yourself to the game to truly experience it.

All in all, while I feel like the gameplay portion of Mass Effect has only benefited from this new direction, the characters and story have not. Too much depth was wasted on certain things, and I can only hope that BioWare and EA have learned that huge and expansive games with an intricate story and world don’t always mesh.

I give Mass Effect Andromeda a 7.5/10.


Thanks for reading this huge review guys. I hope you enjoyed it! Keep an eye out for more great content from NWG.

–Mod Aria/Sam

First Impressions: Mass Effect Andromeda with Mod Aria!

So it’s been a few days since the release of Mass Effect Andromeda, and I absolutely have to talk about it. Mass Effect Andromeda is a huge game that is packed full of great experiences any BioWare fan will love greatly. But I just wanted to take the chance to highlight some of the things I love about the game as well as some of the things I think need some work. Warning: I’m talking about characters, romances and gameplay. Read with caution!

Story/Characters:

The story seems to be the exact opposite of the original Mass Effect Trilogy’s. Instead of dealing with alien invaders, you are the new alien in a strange galaxy with some races that are friendly and some races that are not so friendly. While the player felt like they had power as Shepard, a Council Spectre and N7 operative, you feel kind of powerless as Ryder. They’ve been tasked with something they weren’t prepared for, and you’re just as nervous as they are going into things.

But it’s really your crew that makes it easy to endure. The group you assemble is eager to help, excited for new adventures and are all incredibly intelligent. And BioWare always outshines many other RPGs in regards to creating well-rounded and diverse characters. Each has a quirk that makes them unique. Most are fun and humorous. My favorites: the angaran Jaal, a new race to Mass Effect, who loves his people and wears his heart on his sleeve. And Vetra, a crafty female turian who has a soft spot for your plight.

And while they were mum on the romance element, it seems most of the people aboard the Tempest are pursuable. It seems the only non-romanceable Tempest members are Lexi, Kallo and Drack. Though my squad is full, I’m still inching through the game, so I’ve yet to discover what other great characters are waiting for me (hopefully ones I can date).

And, as a staple for BioWare, there is amazing racial and LGBT representation. I’ve run across several homosexual and non-straight characters as well as a DMAB trans woman and another moment with echoes of gender fluidity. I cannot stress enough how important these moments are for minority gamers.

Gameplay:

You like Dragon Age: Inquisition? Andromeda’s not much different. The areas (or “planets” here) are open and vast. You could spend a long time just exploring and fighting enemies. I feel like the scale has been pulled back a bit, but I don’t mind that. Sometimes I felt Inquisition was a big game just for the sake of being large, and that can seem like useless padding. They’ve cut back on random quests like discovering points and such. They’re still in the game, just not as frequent. The animations are similar both in and out of combat, though the camera is a bit more even than Dragon Age: Inquisition’s, and there’s no tactical mode.

Your squad is much more useful than before. You can do awesome team attacks to help take out baddies faster. And the wide array of powers available to Ryder is great. I was kind of upset that they had replaced the class system, but you can go through the whole game with just leveling biotics (which is what I’m doing) and you’ll do fine. It’s not like Skyrim. It’s just giving the player more control over what they can have. Plus, the profiles help keep you to a class if you really want the benefits from them.

The customization is also very fun. You can make your armor color whatever you want, the character builder is just as detailed (though I’m still sad that the hair options still leave much to be desired) and you can mod pretty much any piece of equipment. I do feel like I’ve got a lot of control over personal aesthetics. I love that.

Critiques:

Combat triggering is a bit annoying; I could have someone shooting at me, but my gun doesn’t automatically pop out so I can start shooting. I have to do that, which can get frustrating when I’m being swarmed by enemies.

On console, it can be difficult to remember what button you need to press to get what you need, as every button is important for something. Because of that, it’ll take you a moment to remember which button is your scanner, which are your powers and what the difference is between sprinting and jet dashing.

While I see why they brought a vehicle back, (and in the end, I’m glad that they did) the handling on it is still very difficult. It’s big and clunky, so you must take extra care not to drive it off a cliff. Admittedly, it is fun to drive off a cliff sometimes.

Many complained about the animation quality and weird faces, and I can see why they might be concerned. However, the animation problems some have experienced, I have not seen on PS4. I will say that the lip synch needs a bit of work, and there are occasional graphical glitches. But, frankly, the same errors were seen in DA:I. So if DA:I’s glitches didn’t bother you, you won’t be phased by Andromeda’s. It’s still worth noting the imperfections however.

The only other critique I have would be that angaran females seem to look more human than angaran males. They have full lips, curvy hips and other cisgendered human female features. And that can be frustrating; not only does it make no sense, but it’s blatant pandering to cisgendered heterosexual male fanservice. You get the idea here.


At the end of the day, I think Mass Effect Andromeda has been a wonderful experience for me so far. I’m excited to keep adventuring in the game. Ideally, I’ll write a more detailed review of it once I complete the story and the galaxy map. Stay strong and clear!

–Mod Aria/Sam