Asbel... I'm not sure yet. All I know right now is that I don't like his main outfit. It's like Final Fantasy drank too much and pucked all over him. Actually, that's how I feel about a lot of the designs. Too many (mismatched) colours, too many buckles, too many ribbons... There's just too much going on.Digression
JRPGs -- and many other Japanese games, and anime too -- are in serious danger of fatal zazz saturation.
Some zazz is good to have. Think of it like putting sugar in coffee. A sugar cube or two makes a cup of coffee less bitter, while some zazz adds flavor to a game and its characters. But just like you can ruin coffee by pouring in too much sugar, over-zazzing your game makes it irritating instead of bland. Remember back when anthromorphs with 'tude were in vogue? Sonic's 'tude levels were within acceptable parameters, and it's still hard to deny the appeal of his Sega Genesis incarnations. But then you also have Bubsy the Bobcat, who was pumped full of more focus-group tested 'tude than any single piece of intellectual property should ever be asked to contain, and if anyone actually remembers Bubsy, I'm sure their memories are not pleasant.
Here's an example of the progression of zazz saturation: a timeline of SNK fighting game flagship characters.
Terry and Ryo look like two guys out of a martial arts flick. Iori and K' look like they're from an anime. Alba and Luise look like they're from a Japanese fashion magazine. I understand that with so many other products on the market, designers have to make their franchise and its properties stand out, but it's starting to get ridiculous. Other examples include the gulf between the characters and aesthetics of Mobile Suit Gundam and Gundam SEED, Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) and Shadow the Hedgehog (2001), and to cite a stateside example, the differences between the 2D Prince of Persia titles and The Two Thrones. Style over substance.
- Final Fantasy IV: But I sure do miss the 90's