Well, I mean, I didn’t do it, but …
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a gamer, so this escaped my attention until yesterday. The hugely popular multiplayer online arena combat game League of Legends has gone magical girl.
So I saw an advertisement for something called “Star Guardians.” The ad consisted of a brief but intriguing video involving lush artwork and decent animation depicting a team of five magical girls fighting monsters, followed by a website address. I said to myself, “What is this?” Then I followed the link.
And then, about thirty minutes later, I said to myself, “No, seriously, WTF is this?” In spite of the probably expensive advertising campaign, they didn’t exactly make this thing accessible to outsiders.
The link offered in the ad took me to an extremely heavy website that’s breaking my six-year-old computer even as we speak, and after scrolling through a lot of cool art, I came to what I thought was the payoff: based on the ad and the artwork, I really hoped for maybe a fifteen-minute short film with a simple magical girl story and loads of pretty stuff to look at. Instead, I got a two-minute music video. It is quite pretty, but the music suxx:
There’s also a Japanese version, in which the music is better:
Although it’s not what I was hoping for, the music video does have a plot. You’ve got a team of schoolgirls with magic powers, and they fight Cthulhu when they’re not in class. They have a falling out with one of their teammates, a rebel who plays by her own rules. Down one member, they get in trouble during a monster battle, but then the wayward teammate shows up again, and they do what it is that magical girls do—which is kill people and break things … with friendship!
Just ask Lyrical Nanoha:
After a lot more kicking around, a few more YouTube videos, and a helpful wiki, I think I finally figured this out. It took me about an hour and a half, so I’d call this a major advertising fail on the part of Riot Games and their League of Legends franchise. This isn’t simply because I’m a non-gamer, either: I mean, I first learned of Overwatch from a cool advertisement, and it took me all of thirty seconds to figure out what that was.
Basically, League of Legends is a strategic online multiplayer game where you try get in the other guy’s base and kill his d00des before he does it to you. It’s like laser tag or capture-the-flag, except where you sit in front of a screen in a darkened room and eat Cheetos instead of running around and getting your exercise. And if any gamers are gonna ragequit on me for saying that, c’mon, man, lighten up. You can make fun of me next for my girly cartoons, and then we’re even.
The game has these characters called champions, who have different stats and different personalities, and then there are also “skins,” which change aspects of the characters. These five Star Guardians featured in the music video are skins for five of the champions.
Although Riot is now pushing this hard, the skin that turns the character Lux into Star Guardian Lux has been around since 2015. As the name and the sailor fuku-esque outfit imply, she’s sort of a parody of Sailor Moon. The character references a few different magical girl franchises: she has a “recall” (which means teleporting the character back to home base, I think) in which she makes gestures resembling moves from Sailor Moon’s transformation sequence, and she does a victory dance that is taken move-for-move from one of the Pretty Cure shows.
They just added the other four Star Guardians this month, so now you can have a complete magical girl team. The resemblance to the sailor scouts from Sailor Moon is, of course, obvious.
Anyway, the over-heavy website has a quiz you can take. It’s one of those dumb online quizzes where you answer five or six questions and then it compares you to a fictional character. So you can find out which Star Guardian you most resemble. I’m Lux, by the way. If you take the quiz, you can get an icon, but the opportunity expires tomorrow, on the 20th. I don’t know what the icons are for, but if you play League of Legends, I assume you want those, so act now.
Just kicking around the ‘net a bit, it looks like at least some fans of League of Legends are less than pleased with this development, and I can’t blame them. Fanboy that I am, even I have to admit that “just add magical girls” is not a recipe for awesomeness. As already stated, I don’t know League of Legends, but a quick glance suggests that the Star Guardians don’t really fit the overall aesthetic.
I assume, since they’ve been advertising this in places like Crunchyroll, that they’re hoping to get people like me, weeaboos who don’t game, to try League of Legends. Well, at least in my case, it didn’t work, since I spent an hour and a half in deep frustration before even figuring out what these so-called Star Guardians are and what their relationship to League of Legends is in the first place.
On the other hand, Riot might be on to something here. The Star Guardians aren’t exactly fresh and original, but they could be fun. I especially like the image of them falling into the atmosphere like shooting stars, like a magical girl version of a Starship Troopers drop. I would be interested if they planned to give the Star Guardians their own spinoff, maybe a dungeon crawler or fighting game or adventure game or something. Do they still make adventure games?
In any case, I’m all for more magical girl video games. Precious few exist on this side of the Pacific.