Despite their puzzlingly ardent affection for him, Capcom can’t seem to pin down just what the fuck Dead Rising hero Frank West actually looks like. Over these last four years, Frank’s gone through more faces than Michael Jackson, and with Capcom devoting themselves to putting him in every game they make (because apparently they think that we love him too) the disparity is starting to get a bit silly.
Frank’s character was designed by Capcom with the intention of capturing the look and attitude of the American everyman. (Frank WEST, get it?) Of course, this is nothing new in game design…and neither are the decidedly mixed results. For ages now, Japanese-made games have had the fun side benefit of being demented funhouse-mirror reflections of American culture. Whether it manifests in a loving, well-researched and well-understood parody (Deadly Premonition) or an almost unbelievably ignorant and arrogant treatise (the Metal Gear Solid series, sorry), it’s always interesting to see how ‘the other’ percieves us, or at least how they think they can sell us games.
So, here’s Frank West’s first appearance, in the official art for Dead Rising. As far as the Japanese vision of an American tough-guy goes, Frank is pretty conservative here. He’s realistically dressed with an average build and his face wavers somewhere between Woody Harrelson and some kind of mix of the two Dillon brothers. He’s a little neanderthal-y, but otherwise acceptable. An inoffensive start overall.
Upon actually playing the game, you’ll meet a very different Frank. This one looks like a cross between a frat-boy and a linebacker, with spiky hair, a dick nose and shoulders you could fit about seven heads on. There’s kind of a strange ‘really-realistic-yet-kinda-not’ aesthetic that permeates the whole of Dead Rising, and I find that it is perfectly encapsulated in Frank’s immaculately designed body hair. In addition to his photo-realistic hirsute-ness, his rounded features and loping gait have endeared him to the video gaming public as even more of a caveman than he was in the art, but in the end I think that I appreciate this version the most. Probably because, you know, it’s THE WAY HE’S ACTUALLY SUPPOSED TO LOOK.
The first of Frank’s questionably numerous guest-starring roles was in the quirky Wii fighter Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. Shinkiro, Capcom’s best in-house character artist, got his chance at Mr. West here, and the result was kind of blah. Shinkiro’s definitely got his own thing goin’ on, but he’s usually very true to the established characters he works with. That pic on the right (which is a tiny little section of the game’s box art) is kind of endearing, but he doesn’t really look at all like his previous appearances. Also, please note how exaggerated his popped collar is getting.
As usual, Shinkiro’s character art was roundly ignored when making the in-game models, and Frank came out looking like a retarded Niko Bellic played by Shane from The Walking Dead. I haven’t played a whole lot of TvC so I’m not sure if it’s a plot point that he had his nose broken five times since Dead Rising but…damn. I’m also unclear as to why he has such prominent 5 o’clock shadow given that he was smooth as a baby’s ass throughout his 3-7+ days in Willamette Mall. Good job guys.
A little later, Frank showed up in Lost Planet 2 as a secret character. Thankfully, it seems like they just updated his character model from Dead Rising a bit, and went over it with the ‘next-gen’ filter, which pretty much just means making him shiny as hell. Looks a little strange, but better than being replaced by a Serbian guy.
For Frank’s next appearance he…turned into a blonde guy? Oh wait, that’s Chuck Greene. Ironically, the only recent Capcom game Frank West ISN’T in is Dead Rising 2, which instead stars this studly motocross racer. They managed to calm Chuck’s proportions down to a fairly human level but, apparently just to balance things out, decided to put all the cro-magnon business on his face. Thanks guys. It could be worse though. He could have looked like a horrifying Aaron Eckhardt/Chris Cooper mutant-hybrid.
Which brings us to the recent announcement that the otherwise omnipresent Frank M. F. West, esq. would, in fact, be making an appearance in Dead Rising 2 via a $10 DLC pack called Case West. Fantastic! But which of his many looks will they go with?
I’m sorry, are you fucking kidding?
So…it seems like Capcom decided to update the look of one of their favorite characters by apparently basing it on some tabloid photograph of Dan Aykroyd on a coke binge in Vegas sometime in the late eighties. And how many years have passed since the events of Dead Rising again? Because I feel like it was less than 20. New Frank’s face seems to say otherwise, though.
So that’s all of them. But hey, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is just around the corner. Can’t wait to see what he looks like in that. Oh, who am I kidding, they’ll probably just reuse his model (and entire moveset) from TvC.