I ♥ Tracy


Oh, poor Battle Arena Toshinden. One of the first 3D fighting games, and the first 3D fighting game with weapon-based combat, it was popular for like two weeks until Tekken pushed it off the map. It's a true shame, as although it was nothing spectacular, it had... okay, I know nothing about the series. I played it, like, once. I really only knew of it because of Earthworm Jim appearing in the PC version and because the horrible boxart could be consistently seen on the shelves of Electronics Boutique during the 90s. It's no surprise I didn't really seek out the series given how I'm terrible at fighting games, but even from just a few glimpses, one character immediately captured my attention, and my heart.


The first thing that always grabs me about a character is their appearance, and Tracy looks absolutely ridiculous. I mean... how do you even define her looks, let alone cite a theme for it? The Street Fighter cast at least have the benefit of having some theme to their wardrobes, such as Chun-Li's modified Chinese dresses, Zangief looking like a bear and M. Bison being the pure visual representation of a man with no lesser goal than taking over the world (with a mighty fine hat, no less).

But Tracy... it's like two patches of fabric to constitute a top and shorts, and then the rest of her outfit consists of belts, straps and protective gear. But somehow, thanks to a simplistic palette (two colours is still a palette, right?) and some inexplicably cool-looking goggles and a bandana, I'd almost dare say it looks stylish. She doesn't really look like she has a proper theme, mind you - if I had to guess, she looks a  promoter of cycling protection equipment, but even that's a stretch.

But one of the many reasons that Tracy is awesome is that she's a police officer.

No, seriously. A New York police officer, to be precise! Now, I know nothing about America, despite the fact it's essentially the centre of the world, and I know even less about the world of policing and crime stopping - but I'm pretty sure police officers, no matter where they are in the world, don't carry around a pair of humongous fluorescent pink tonfa. Nor do they wear 'uniforms' that expose 80% of their skin. The only real indicator she is a cop is through the use of an oversized sheriff's badge on her miniscule vest, which I suppose is all she has to indicate she isn't merely an escapee from either the loony house or the red light district. Maybe her uniform is from another state's police station. Definitely not Detroit, that's for sure; if I know one thing about America, it's that the only police officer in Detroit is RoboCop.
Note to everyone: Draw Tracy as RoboCop. It would be the most incredible thing ever and I would love you long time.

What's even better is that she's crazy. Her in-game biography explicitly states that she allows criminals to attack her first so she can beat the shit out of them in the name of self-defence. If she actually looked like a proper police officer and merely displayed the simple intent of arresting ne'er-do-wells, that'd almost be justified, but Tracy does not look like a sane human being. To me, I can only imagine her provoking everyone, be they professional burglars, jaywalkers or simple bystanders into fighting her, just so she could whoop their asses. I mean, her bio in the second game explicitly states she uses self-defence "as an excuse to exert maximum lethal force." Maximum lethal force. That just strikes me as hilarious and awesome. It also appears to be a rather cynical outlook on American justice by the Japanese developers, but the image of this crazy police woman just going around, provoking strangers into fights just amuses me greatly. Non-canon, without a doubt, but amusing.

Naturally for someone like Tracy and her proud American traditions of beating people up, by sheer law of the universe she has to be paired up with someone who is the true and utter opposite of her, and that is Nagisa Iwashiro, a Japanese cop who prefers to do things by the book and in a sensible, law-abiding manner. When I first heard this I was expecting a horrible, horrible, boring character who would be Yawnsville incarnate, and admittedly no one could stand up to Tracy and her crazy antics, but, hey, he's got a sword and a gun! I mean that's got mean something, right? He's even beating up Michael Jackson Ten Count in this screenshot. That's bound to be redeeming in some manner or way, yeah?
Okay, Nagisa is pretty boring.


One thing that's interesting about Battle Arena Toshinden 3 is that every character has a clone; they play similarly, but have a few changes to make them subtly distinct from the original, and are portrayed as different characters rather than just cloned recolours or whatever. Tracy's clone is Rachael, apparently a sibling who was separated at birth and grew to hate her sister and she works for the bad guys and... something. In all honesty, it sounds terrible. What little I know of the plot (nothing, really) is pretty silly as it is, but evil twins or separated at birth plots are just easy streets on the path to frustrating me.

I've yet to see anything with evil twins or the separated at birth concept that that isn't terrible, and to drop that scourge upon Tracy, an otherwise fine character who works well alone, just irks me, y'know. Also, no hat. Half the appeal of Tracy is the ridiculous mandatory usage of a baseball cap to indicate just how American she is, and a mere headband just doesn't cut it, buster.


If I were to be so bold, I would say Tracy is deserving of her own game; one to truly call her own, as the highlighted protagonist. Her attitude is already video game-supporting material as it is - encountering people, determining whether or not they're hostile, and then ignoring that and beating them up anyway. Heck, take any game, replace the main character with my favourite psychotic impractically-clothed police officer and it'd be better.

Gumshoe? Make anything she bumps into get pummelled to death (which means the game effectively plays itself). Dynasty Warriors? Earn bonus points for police brutality (which is all the time). Funky Fighter? Just throw her in there, it'd be just as manly as ever. I'm certain you could shoehorn her into something like Bejeweled and the game would become fifty times more awesome and needlessly violent. Seriously, she's the universal video game character.

And yet her sole appearances are in games that aren't very good.

There ain't no justice.















Many thanks to kyo_obscure of the Battle Arena Toshinden LiveJournal group for having such fabulous artwork scanned and available!