What’s up everyone? After a ridiculously long hiatus, the big body boss of KPB returns with a new column for the FGC masses. Welcome all to Palette Swap: Minorities in Fighting Games.
(Title credit goes to Aphro Dynamek, the official voice of KPB and editor-in-chief for our site.)
I started this column because I wanted to get some dialogue going. If you are anything like me, big, tall, chocolaty dark & handsome then you're a person of color who, over the years, has always searched for that character in all video games (and related media, like anime) at large that properly represents your culture and ethnic background. As an FGC fan turned advocate, I feel that’s even more of a reason for this search considering my personal involvement with the community. A lot of us who play fighting games tend to take a personal liking to some of our favorite characters for many a reason. Some just care about the gameplay or fight style, others look into a character’s origin and story, and it could also be just a look that captivates us. I do feel, however, that cultural representation in the FGC can be a little deeper and could make for different favorites if they were done more consciously & often. With that said, I’d like to explore some of our favorite characters of color and get an idea on how far we have come in ethnic presence & what’s possibly on the horizon.
Alrighty. If you’re still with me, I’ll go through some steps on how this series will work. A lot of the characters that will be presented will be introduced with a mix of fact & personal theory based on my life experiences. As an open-minded man of color living in the melting pot that is NYC, I have been around my fair share of ethnic backgrounds on some of the most intimate levels, so it is my own belief that my theories will be fair & educated. There may be those that will disagree, and if you do, then I encourage you to let it be known to me as to how you feel. I will most certainly provide contact information for you to do so.
I will grade each character in 5 categories with S Tier being the best/most accurate/appropriate all the way to D tier being the worst/most inappropriate. (S, A, B, C, D)
They go as follows:
- Appearance & Design: Are they dressed appropriate for fighting? Any stereotypes involved? Does it make sense?
- Playability: Is the character boring to play or watch, are they cheap or “broken”, easy to use or do your palms bleed?
- Storyline Credibility: Is said character crucial to the background story, or are they considered a joke or fill-in?
- Realism: Could you actually see a real life representation of this person? Or are they too wacked out even for gaming standards?
- Overall Presentation: An average of the previous grades
What you won’t see much of during this series is what’s considered the “majority”. That includes, but isn’t limited to, characters of Japanese origin. In a fighting game, you’d be hard pressed not to find a Japan representative due to the fact that most FGC titles are created by the Japanese. I will refer to them when outlining my character grading. Other Asian cultures will get their moment, however, as I definitely recognize some of their misrepresentations over the years.
Now, without further ado…
Some information retrieved from the Capcom Database Wiki page.
Fact: The prodigal preacher’s son A.K.A. “The Fighting Clergyman”, Boman Delgado is an exchange student from the US attending the fictional International Japanese high school Pacific High in Capcom’s cult 3D fighting game series Rival Schools. With a love for God and peace, Boman is aware of his power and stature, praying to his lord and savior after every unavoidable skirmish for forgiveness. He also has a goal to unite relations between the U.S. & Japan. His allies include Roy Bromwell & Tiffany Lords, whom are fellow classmates and American exchange students whom also serve as his best friends. In Project Justice, Ran Hibiki & the Chairperson help his investigations of an incident taking place during the Inter-school Athletic Competition.
Theory: Based on his name and initial appearance, Delgado seems to be of African descent with a possible Latin heritage. He’s possibly Dominican, if one were to assume in today’s society. Google defines the surname "Delgado" as a Spanish and Portuguese nickname for a thin person, or Spanish for “slender”. Latin definitions also include “dainty” or “exquisite”. Of course these meanings don’t readily define the person Boman is, as he displays examples of a devout Christian. Let’s see how his grades fare.
Appearance & Design (Tier: B)
Boman is a student first at Pacific High and he exudes that sentiment with a neat ensemble of a school crested blazer with shirt & tie and slacks. He does appear however to be wearing athletic footwear of some sort. Something possibly influenced by a Nike or Asics design. I couldn’t picture that as staple of uniform wear at a seemingly prestigious high school for international students, but when you stand at nearly 6’5 (200 cm) with a build just as imposing as his devotion to God, I don’t think he gets many invites to detention from the hall monitors. His hairstyle choice also leaves some questions to be answered. It’s not every day that you see a hulking man of a teenager, fearful of the Lord, sport a fiery blond mohawk. At that age, however, rebellion is displayed in some fashion. Maybe he was a Birdie player in Street Fighter Alpha. Default victim of the big lip/nose syndrome Japanese designers fall in love with coupled with hair and footwear choices aside, Boman seems to be a model student.
Playability (Tier: B)
Boman is considered low tier by the competitive community, but not the worst. As a boxing styled fighter, I’m sure closing the gap between himself and his opponent is always the main objective. Rival Schools never did feature a totally effective zoner when you have sidesteps and tends to reward the smarter offensive player as opposed to the overly aggressive one. He does pack power and lots of combo strings, not to mention moves like the God Defense to help him get in. I’d attach the minus to that B if I were doing grades that way as he tends to be a big body which equates to more hurt boxes.
Storyline Credibility (Tier: C)
Although Boman is the central figure in the Pacific High School story path of Project Justice, his investigative motives are, at best, much overlooked for the bigger problems & characters involved doing the exact same things. On a lighter note, you do feel his sense of goodness as you advance through the Pacific High story and it does manifest an importance to have good friends to count on when you are in trouble.
Realism (Tier: A)
His mohawk was probably the only thing preventing me from giving him an S as it’s not typical of an acolyte such as himself. As a Christian, I understand that there are people in the world who choose not to fight, but will if they have to, repenting for their sins at the end of the day. Also, it is not crazy to believe that a physical specimen such as Mr. Delgado can be involved in things like Philosophy and the Choir and not just be scouted by “rival” schools (Get it?) like the athletically gifted student body of Gorin High School.
Overall Presentation (Tier: B)
Boman is a good character model representing something closer to what is possibly considered more of a social norm among the emo, flashy, crazed, narcissistic, and duly noted misanthropes that line the cast of the Rival Schools series. He only suffers from minor design flaws and a near uselessness outside of moral lessons when it comes to story progression. Nonetheless, stereotypes do not plague this character of color and, as former WWE wrestler C.M. Punk once said: “Your arms are not long enough to box with God”, or at least a man of God representing Pacific High.
The team at Capcom did a decent job portraying Boman. There isn't a lot of negatives that surround this character, other than his personal impact on the overall story of Rival Schools. I would like to see this character as the median barometer for which all characters dissected in future installments of this series are compared to.
There you have it. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. I definitely would love some feedback, so I will leave some contact information at the end of this. And I'm already onto the next one. Here's a sneak peek.
Remember, everyone... love the skin you're in.