Lost in Blue

I just picked up a copy of Lost in Blue for my DS this week. It’s a game I’ve wanted for a while, but was having trouble tracking down a copy — it’s apparently a limited run.

The River

Lost in Blue is an RPG set on an island, and you take the role of a young boy — Keith — who has washed up on shore. After he finds a girl (and steps on her glasses), Keith must provide shelter and food lest the pair die. Which, having played a few days of the game, seems like an inevitability. Skye and Keith are really weak kids.

I mean, every couple of hours, they’re hungry to the point of death.

So, I’ve died a lot. Maybe I’m not comfortable with the limitations placed on the exploration. I set out across island much like I adventure in FFXI; I’m more interested in features of the landscape (and covering every inch of the island) than I am with the hunting/fishing/gathering mini-games. That isn’t to say the survival tasks aren’t fun — I actually enjoy making fire quite a bit. After you strike up a spark, you have to breathe into the DS’ mic to start a flame. It’s novel, it’s charming … and blowing into a game system is something I haven’t done since my NES started flickering. Now, several gaming sites have grumbled about the alleged misogynist content in Lost in Blue. See, Skye can’t fend for herself. She can’t even walk out of the cave without holding your hand. And she stays at home and cooks. Oh, and makes baskets. Keith, on the other hand, heads out into the wilderness and catches fish. Or climbs on stuff. To be honest, I don’t mind it. The game is not positing that Every Girl is like the one in LiB; she’s just this girl, and this is how she behaves. I’ve met a lot of women like her — if they were caught on a deserted island, that’s what they’d do. They’d stay in the cave. So fine, let me head out into the wild and look at the trees, and rub my fingers in the grass. I’m pretty sure that my role-playing of our male protagonist isn’t an indictment of all mankind. It’s just this guy, and this island.

Now take a look at the packaging for Lost in Blue in different territories. Japan

The Japanese package (top left, dummy) doesn’t focus on the male and female protagonists; they are nearly anonymous figures holding hands across a river on a CG island. The French, English, and American covers place the relationship in the limelight. Skye and Keith are equals on the French package, but Keith’s active role is implied both by his equipped bow and Skye’s nervous stare. In the British version of the game, Keith is helping Skye onto a set of dangerous rocks. Finally, on the American cover, Keith poses in the foreground while Syke stands around behind him; the key art is the same as in the French packaging, but the size of the characters in the frame is a foreshadowing of their roles.

Firstly, let me say that I’m really happy that Konami redid the art for this package. That Japanese box is almost the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. It certainly implies a busy game, which Lost in Blue is not. LiB is a slow, strange demo of the DS’ features. And I really like the American cover — both of the children look forlorn, which is appropriate for any game with Lost in the title. Even if your game was called Lost in a Really Fast-Paced Adventure, I’d hope the box-art would feature a desperate protagonist admist a blur of activity.

While I find these changes interesting, I wouldn’t label any of these packages misogynist. I often find feminist critique very defensive, as if the role of women is always victim. I’ve found plenty of places to be an empowered female in my life, and I certainly don’t mind taking care of a girl once in a while. Some girls are like that, after all.