Unnecessary Protagonizing: An Open Letter to Capcom

Dear Capcom,


You don’t know me, and I don’t know you.

The funny thing is: I actually remember you from LONG ago.  I think my earliest memory of y’all was in the early 90’s when I first laid eyes on a Street Fighter 2 arcade machine at one of the (many) Mexican restaurants in Texas.  I obtained a quarter, and in seconds, I was flailing away as E. Honda, Sumo-Supreme.  Of course, I was not that much of a fighting expert, so I didn’t get too far in the game.  But I remembered the game quite well.  I would always maintain an interest in the Street Fighter games, and each time I went to an arcade, it was a pretty good bet that the first machine I’d check out was a Street Fighter one.

Over the years, I’d be acquainted with your games in one capacity or another.  Mega Man, Resident Evil, Devil May Cry… I was slowly but surely becoming aware of the heavy hitting franchises that helped define the gaming industry just as much as Mario.

I had never really thought much about the various re-releases that some of your IP’s had, such as Street Fighter and Resident Evil.  To me, I figured “Hey, business is business.  No harm in that!”

Enter: Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3.

Now, despite my early years of always wanting to play Street Fighter, I am not good at fighting games.  I don’t invest in fighting games at all, these days.  It’s a completely different world to me, kinda like the EA Sports games in another corner of the market.  However, when I saw what this Ultimate edition was to contain, I couldn’t help but feel that it might have been a bit too little to justify a physical release.

But someone else has already covered that, so I’m not going to go into it.

No, I’m here writing this because of a recent release that I feel must be discussed.

This is about:

Before I go further, let me explain a bit about my experience with the game.

First off, I have played the first game.  I got it brand new when it was super cheap at Wal-Mart.  I had played a bit of it while in college, and I was very intrigued by the premise as well as the gameplay.  I looked forward to playing this game.  When I did, however, I was met with a couple of… frustrations, we’ll call them.  Some were from the programming, and a couple others… well, OK, it was primarily programming.  Aside from the weird third person action, I hit a snag when it came to progressing with the story.  I followed along the path, trying to get used to the action and the way to get things done in the game world when I hit a brick wall in the form of three escaped convicts in a government-issue jeep.

And I was a level 3 hammer trying to bring them down.

I’ll let you come to the conclusion on how well that worked out.

This, coupled with my inability to feel comfortable with the controls, prompted me to sell the game to Gamestop.  And that ended my adventure with Frank West.

I wouldn’t look back to the series until Dead Rising 2 had been out for quite some time.  On a whim, I decided to get a copy from Gamestop and see if I fared better in this game than its predecessor.  I was surprised in how much easier it was to get things done (though it was still not entirely perfect), and I even got farther than I did in the first game, thus giving me more fun to be had.  And I had sympathy for Chuck Greene and his quest to clear his name from the false accusations of causing the outbreak, as well as keeping his daughter safe.  I was so engrossed in this game that I also purchased Case Zero and Case West, looking forward to the meeting between a long-gone protagonist, and the new blood in the series.

And it was fun.

So, for the record (slapping myself now for having made that joke) : I do not dislike Frank West.  My issue was with the programming of the first game.  Frank West is a pretty cool guy.

That does not mean he can simply replace any main character like it’s nothing at all.

I understand that the purpose of this game was to be “fan service”, but how desperate do they have to be to want Frank West back in the protagonist seat?  Especially when there was already a good protagonist in Chuck Greene, who was doing fairly well in his own version of hell?  This also goes back to the argument that people brought up for Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3: what is the point of a mass retail game if there’s not much you’re going to change?  Now, I understand that there was quite a bit more that was added to Off The Record than UMVC3, but it still doesn’t answer the question of why it felt necessary to create a game based on a “What If…” scenario.

Despite my initial reaction to the existence of the game, I had kept a cool head and simply decided that I wasn’t going to get it.  I had gotten Dead Rising 2 for about the same price as a new retail copy of Off The Record, so I didn’t see a point in having what ultimately amounted to 2 copies of the same game.

And then I saw this:

I won’t lie to you, Capcom.

I feel insulted.

Look, I get it: you like Frank West.  He’s great.  The fact is: I’m not as crazy about him as you are.  I think he’s all right, but I genuinely like Chuck a little bit more.  I feel he has more personality than Frank, thanks in no small part to his daughter.  I could have understood if you decided to scratch him completely, but you decided to make him a psychopath.  That… just seems wrong.  I mean, what does that say of the people that liked Chuck such as myself?  Are we to simply switch over loyalty and compassion to Frank, and kick Chuck to the curb with a “Sorry Chuck, but you’re evil, so we can’t like you anymore”?  Why does he even need to be vilified like that?

But that was nothing compared to the thought process I had when I watched the end result of the psychopath battle with him.

I think it’s about 2:50 in the video.  Go ahead and watch it.  I’ll wait.

Seen it?


That line from Frank West after Chuck died?

That was the point where any respect I had for Frank instantly vaporized.  Any empathy, any understanding, any likability; just FWOOSH!  Gone.

In your quest to further the status of Frank West as a protagonist, you’ve instead succeeded in making him a cold-hearted joke.  And not only did you insult the folks that like Chuck, you also rubbed their noses in it and made a crack at their expense.

In fact, this makes me wonder why you did this in the first place.  Is it because you didn’t have faith in Chuck from the very beginning?  Or was this a statement about Keiji leaving Capcom, considering that Chuck’s jacket still has his (backwards) name on it?  Is it really that bad?  Or maybe it was a joke gone wrong?

– – –

I mentioned at the beginning that I had known you from long ago.

But after this, I can’t say that I actually do, anymore.

I know times are tough.  But the people out there ultimately decide your fate.  It’s been established that they like your games.  I’m sure the people that like them outweigh the people that don’t.  But if this practice of re-releasing the same game with minor tweaks for $40 keeps up, then that scale is going to go the opposite direction of where you want it to be.  And that’s not counting the backlash that might be gained for your treatment of your own characters.

Whatever is going on, I hope y’all get through it.

Because I unfortunately will not be supporting you in the foreseeable future.  It doesn’t comfort me in knowing that you can consciously decide on a game concept like Off The Record, and believe that people will unconditionally accept it.


– I ~ J


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