I Just Magical-Girled Your Steampunkish Sword and Sorcery Game

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:

14wftrk

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.

I'm in your base ... and that is one big d00d.
I’m in your base … and that is one big d00d.

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.

  • Are you aware of the various tabletop roleplaying games centered on or including magical girls? I’ve been trying to catalog them, and I think that I’ve got most, possibly even all, of them now. I should probably write an article for my gaming blog, which I haven’t really been keeping up.

    • Nope, not a gamer, so I’m blithely unaware, but not surprised. If you do write that up, send me a link.

      And if you have a list of the tabletop games particularly dedicated to magical girls, I’d be interested in knowing what they are.

      • The earliest, I think, was Teenagers from Outer Space, which was basically an unlicensed Tenchi Muyo RPG with all the serial numbers filed off.

        The biggest one for years was Big Eyes, Small Mouth, which also had a pair of supplements (covering the first two arcs) for Revolutionary Girl Utena. There was to be a third, but the company went out of business in 2005 before it could be printed. BESM was a general anime RPG, but had specific details designed to cover magical girl among other genres. In addition, the rules were tweaked and rewritten to specifically cover Sailor Moon as The Sailor Moon Roleplaying Game and Resource Book (the introduction also gives a thorough overview of magical girl stories up through its publication in 1998, ending with Cardcaptor Sakura and the third Himitsu no Akko-chan series). There was one supplement for that, The Complete Book of Yoma, Volume 1.

        In 2006, an unfinished game called Tokyo Heroes appeared as a free PDF. The author seems to have been unsatisfied with that one, though. The same author then started work on a more specifically magical girl game called Magical Burst which currently exists as three prototype versions, version 4 (at the link), an earlier version 3, and version 5 alpha. When he was having a writers’ block period, he tried a different tack and came up with Magical Fury, another take on magical girls. Magical Fury has a PDF-only supplement available too. I believe that his game based on Maid RPG, Schoolgirl RPG, also supports magical girls, but I haven’t seen it and could be wrong. So, yeah, I guess that Ewen Cluney really enjoys the mahou shoujo too.

        Green Ronin did a supplement for Mutants and Masterminds called Mecha and Manga that specifically covers magical girls, among other anime/manga concepts.

        There’s a game called Sparks (aka Sparks of Light), which is about magical girls.

        A company called Seraphim Guard has released a game called Heartquest, which exists in two versions, one based on FUDGE (link goes to a bundle deal that includes a supplement) and the other based on Active Exploits Diceless. It’s a generally shoujo game, which of course includes magical girls.

        There is a French RPG, Lycéenne JDR (“High School Girls RPG”) which has a magical girls supplement. It is currently only available in French.

        There is a “playbook” for Dungeon World and FATE Accelerated Edition called The Princess, which covers the type.

        The final item I know about at this point is a supplement for the White Star sci-fi RPG, which is based closely on Swords & Wizardry White Box, a game designed to be very much like early versions of D&D. The supplement is called Star Sailors.

        The ones I don’t know much about right now include OVA: The Anime RPG, Heroine, and Panty Explosion Perfect. I don’t know if any of them cover magical girls as they stand (though Panty Explosion Perfect seems pretty clearly to deal with magical girls as far as I can tell), but they seem like possible candidates.

        • Looking on Amazon, I see that both Heroine and Panty Explosion Perfect are available there in print versions as well.

        • The earliest, I think, was Teenagers from Outer Space, which was basically an unlicensed Tenchi Muyo RPG with all the serial numbers filed off.

          I personally don’t consider Tenchi Muyo a magical girl title unless we’re talking about Pretty Sammy or Magical Girls Club, but this is not an opinion I hold strongly.

          I have heard of Big Eyes, Small Mouth, and I happened to have seen Magical Burst more recently. Magical Burst looks to have been specifically inspired by Puella Magi Madoka Magica. I know it’s awesome, but I’m getting a little sick of that title, simply because it’s everywhere. I mean, sheesh, it’s been five years already.

          “Star Sailors” is a hilarious title for a supplement; looks like they aimed the file at the serial numbers, but missed.

          I happen to have a copy of one somebody sent me, Tinker’s Damn, which is a simple RPG designed to be convertible to most anything you want to play. It’s specifically anime-oriented and could be made to accommodate magical girls with probably no trouble.

          But I haven’t played a tabletop RPG since high school.

          • Sure, but TFOS covered magical girls as well as the kitchen sink, much like Tenchi universe. Though looking around, it seems that it was actually an unlicensed Urusei Yatsura RPG. Please forgive my mistake. By way of explanation, I haven’t seen a copy of the game in years.

            While you were commenting, I edited my comment to include a note about how Magical Burst is pretty clearly based on Madoka.

            I vaguely remember hearing something about Tinker’s Damn, but don’t know much about it. I’ll look into that one.

          • Please forgive my mistake.

            No worries. I don’t think we’re discussing anything so vital that a few mistakes are a problem. Urusei Yatsura, depending on who you ask, is the granddaddy of the harem genre, and Tenchi Muyo definitely drew on it.

            Myself, I’m not really sure why Tenchi Muyo is considered the first true harem comedy when Oh My Goddess! predates it by quite a lot, but the latter title I think is usually seen as just a magical girlfriend title even though it would seem to contain all the harem comedy tropes.

    • Hey, you know what would be fun? Getting some people together and trying to run one of those games online through the blogs.

      • Tin Can

        I’d definitely be game for something like this.

        • I don’t know if anyone would be interested, but it seems to me that Jake and the Dynamo could translate well into an RPG. You’ve got a city of adventure where you can go pretty much anywhere and explore any cultural group or part of town you like, and be any sort of magical girl you want, or even be a civilian or non-magical soldier if that’s your bag.

          It’s pretty much designed for the murder hobo with a penchant for sparkles and lace.

          • Tin Can

            The heavily-armed expeditions to the ruined world beyond the city to recover lost bits of human culture are what would make this setting really appealing to me. Kinda like a Night Lands RPG but with a more sporting chance of coming back with body and soul intact.

          • You’re over fifty miles from the city when your supply line is cut off. You’re running short on juice boxes. You have to keep the archaeologists away from the magical girls. You only have twenty news reporters to use as monster bait.

            What do you do?

          • Tin Can

            Die horribly, but until then, assuming open terrain, ration juice, march homeward in a formation with most of the girls (each with her own ablative reporter, picked from the ones with enough sense to stay quiet and not distract her) as front and rear guard, remaining reporters traveling in a ring around the archaeologists, with one girl (preferably the one most suited to protecting a mass of noncombatants) at the front of this inner formation w/ myself. Gross lack of professionalism & misplaced priorities among the archaeologists will be dealt with by demotion to ‘reporter’.

            If we somehow make it to nightfall with this setup, I guess I’ll re-evaluate based on what happened during the day and who we have left. No signals to the city unless we have a means of doing it without attracting hostile attention.

          • Tin Can

            Oh, and don’t say things like “ablative reporter” in front of the reporters.

          • Sounds sensible to me. Hm, maybe you should be writing this story.

            I could kind of see this working as an RPG. The girls lose juice points the more they use their magic, and have to have juice boxes or they’ll turn back into their alter egos, which gives away their secret identities and makes it easier for the archaeologists to pester them for their phone numbers … yes, that sounds like the basis for some intense gameplay right there.