When Capcom announced that they would be releasing Ghostbusters Puzzle Fighter for mobile devices, there was something that I took a bit of an issue with. No, not that the game apparently doesn’t follow the established Puzzle Fighter formula — that’s an issue for a different time.
Rather, it had to do with the the aesthetic. Generally speaking, I think the art is well done; however, what irked me was the portrayal of the female Ghostbusters as scantily-clad and overly sexualized.
As it is, I’ve got no problem with “sexy” Ghostbuster outfits like the ones you see sold or shown off online, or fan art depicting characters as such. If that’s your thing, more power to you — it’s just a fandom thing (even if the former might , and that’s alright.
My problem comes in having an official product doing the same thing. Moreover, my problem is that it’s not true to the franchise and characters that this product is supposed to be officially representing and depicting.
The two main culprits here are Janine Melnitz and Kylie Griffin. Both are depicted in the game as full-fledged, proton pack-wielding Ghostbusters, which fits with some pre-established franchise lore. What doesn’t fit and isn’t as full-fledged are their outfits; unlike the male Ghostbusters, who of course still have the regular coverall garb, the ladies are so scantily-clad that even those who might wear the aforementioned “sexy” versions of the costumes might blush — to say nothing of the impracticality of those heels.
See, one of the things here is that this isn’t Janine’s first time as a Ghostbuster — far from it, in fact. As seen above, the classic Real Ghostbusters cartoon saw her don two different pieces of busting attire: One being a carbon copy of Peter Venkman’s brown duds as part of a fantasy fulfillment story, and the other being the more toyetic pink attire that Kenner would place her in for her figure. Kylie, meanwhile, was originally introduced as a member of the team in the sequel series, Extreme Ghostbusters.
More recently, the IDW comics saw the formation of a new team of Ghostbusters when the original four were missing in action. Unrelated to the cartoons and instead following the continuity established in the two original movies and Ghostbusters: The Video Game, Janine takes charge of the operation and, among others, brings in a rebooted version of Kylie to form a new team. And how did they dress?
That’s right: They were dressed pretty much exactly like the men. And really, when you’re dealing with focused, non-terminal, repeating phantasms/Class Five full roaming vapors and the like… well, let’s face it, that’s messy work. You want coverage… and some shoes that have an actual grip, too.
As an aside, Special Agent Melanie Ortiz is the third member in the center there; she, along with fourth member Ron Alexander, have not been mentioned due to my not having seen them in screens released thus far.
Interestingly enough, the New Ghostbusters comic storyline did address the issue somewhat, though not quite so outrageously:
Paranormal Contracts Oversight Commission liaison Jack Hardemeyer cited “research” and had the three women on the team wear coveralls with shorts for a press shoot before Janine convinced him to renege the mandate or be outed as sexist. As it turns out, writer Erik Burnham notes on of the change on his blog:
And now we get into why the ladies are wearing shorts: so I could show, once and for all, why that was silly. You get nicked up running around without protective covering!
But it’s not just a comment on the impracticality of shorts (for women or men) in Ghostbusting; it’s also my small dig at decisions made by company bosses of any stripe who have never had to do the job their decision changes.
In short, the whole thing just seems really untrue to the franchise. Sure, there are “sexy” bits here and there — just ask any Sigourney Weaver fan, I’m sure they’ll tell you. But the Ghostbusters themselves are generally not a part of that, whether they’re male or female. One could argue that this is akin to putting flames on Optimus Prime, or giving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles gaping nostrils, or saying this is Cobra Commander, or that this is Jem. Or for another example, could you imagine an in-character Batgirl just casually swinging around Gotham in enormous spikes and showing as much skin as possible?
It just doesn’t really mesh.
Fortunately, Capcom has said in a statement to Pocket Gamer that they “will be revising the character art with more modest Ghostbusting appropriate attire.” We’ll have to wait to see just how far they decide to close that gap, but for what it’s worth, it’s good to know that they at least heard and listened to the matter at all.
As for these designs? They’re better off staying on deviantART and in the “sexy” department of your local party store.
Update: Just a few hours after posting this piece, word got around and came back to me with the news that apparently the changes have been made. The following images come from Proton Charging on Facebook (while Capcom’s own press site has no such updated imagery):
It’s not a full look at the character, but it does show some improvement. What do you think?