In a medium full of bland muscular characters with less personality than a wet sack of turds, Frank West, the decidedly average looking star of the hit game, Dead Rising was a welcome breath of fresh air for most gamers. Curiously, the guys who designed Frank in the first place made him so average looking specifically to appeal to the west.
For those of you who haven’t played the game and are looking at the image above thinking “that guy doesn’t look particularly unattractive or overweight, in fact he looks quite trim, I bet he works out on weekends.”
We should point out that, that is promotional artwork of Frank from the first game, as in, it’s supposed to be a stylised representation of the character not representative of gameplay, here’s what he looks like in-game.
Again you could say that though Frank looks a little rough around the edges (to be fair that’s probably because of stray pixels), he doesn’t look that bad, hell he even looks kind of handsome if portly men with popped collars and closely cropped hair is what you’re into. The important thing to note though is that Frank doesn’t look like your typical video game hero, in fact, more than anything, he pretty much looks like an ordinary dude. The kind you’d want to grab a beer with and just shoot the breeze.
And that’s exactly the kind of impression the designers behind the game wanted you to have of Frank, with them going out of their way to make sure Frank West looked as normal and doughy as possible to make him a more appealing character to a Western audience. More specifically, to quote Keiji Inafune, one of the guys in charge of the design process for the game, about designing Frank West:
“we didn’t want to make your specific Anime, nubile, 18-year-old Japanese character”
Hilariously, Keiji initially told the designers working on Frank to make him both “fat” and “ugly” to subvert this trope. As you can probably see in the artwork pictured above, Frank is neither overly unattractive or overweight in any picture, this is because his appearance was dialled back slightly to make him more “gritty” and believable as a hero. Though he retained his everyman appearance to keep his Western appeal.
When the second Dead Rising game was released and Frank West was included as a bonus character, the same design team apparently said “screw it”, because in that game Frank was not only noticeably overweight, but he’d also lost his rugged good looks.
Though we can’t prove it, we’d bet anything that this is what Frank was supposed to look like before they dialled it back out of fear it’d annoy someone that this is what some guy in Japan thought the average Western male looked like.