Character Design Analysis: Gill
To celebrate the re-release of Street Fighter 3: Third Strike-Online Edition, I figured I'd re post an article I wrote for Capcom Unity on to my personal blog. If you're a fan of Capcom characters, this is a fun quick read!
Thanks for reading this post!
Through lots of observation, discussion with knowledgeable friends, and a little research, I wanted to share some insight into the design of Capcom’s great character designs.
In Capcom’s games, its only logical that most gamers, companies, and website reviews focus on the gameplay. It makes sense--the product IS a video game after all. However, design (a passion of my own) is truly helpful in creating such wonderful games. Capcom is particularly noted for employing some of the most elite designers in gaming history. Think of a fighting game character...often times Ryu or another Street Fighter comes to mind. It is the power of an appealing design!
Capcom’s design team is noted for creating characters with universal appeal. This particular feat is impressive. Creating a sound and structural drawing can be taught; while it isn't necessarily simple- with practice and dedication you could create a solid techincal drawing. However, making a drawing appealing...is less easy. Appeal isn't taught. It tiptoes upon a fine line of subjectivity...but when mastered, its apparent. You know it, you love it.
Capcom character designs, namely designs in the STREET FIGHTER franchise have this appeal.
Let's look at Gill for a moment.
Gill, is the boss of the Street Fighter 3 series of games. He is the emperor of the Illuminati, and unlike prior and future SF bosses, his motives were not purely evil. Methods are one thing while intentions are another. It seems that this character wanted to create a Utopian society through the use of the Illuminati, and was very blunt about his position as a God in the new world. Like a biblical figure, Gill leads everyone to his utopia via his ending art below. Note that multiple Twelve's fly in the sky like Angels- likely a reference to his Evangelion inspired design.
This boss was an interesting design choice. It was very...surreal for the street fighter world. Crime lords, dictators, prideful Muay Thai fighters, brutish pugilists, and serial killing nobles were the bosses of the past. This character is a bit special, as he is of biblical, other-worldy proportions. Parting the ocean like Moses parted the Red Sea, Jesus-like resurrection, and creating the wings of a seraph are far more powerful capabilities than that of preceding bosses.
From the technical standpoint, Gill is also notable for being a two colored character that was not mirrored when on opposing screen sides. The first SF3 game, "New Generation" was the first SF game on the new CPS3 board. To show off technical capability...Gill was two colors. It may not sound dazzling now, but this is definitely hard work. No need to use symmetrical letters (i.e DeeJay’s MAXIMUM pants) on CPS3. Additionally, the element of his attacks also changed. Pretty cool stuff.
Akiman (Akira Yasuda) is a genius designer. Akiman created the majority of all the Street Fighter characters, and Gill is no exception. Akiman truly shows his love for art through this design. Its safe to say that Gill was of similar inspiration from the boss of Forgotten Worlds (another character that he created) Predominately blue, red when attacked, wings, and a “middle of the earth" stage fused with Egyptian and classic Greek sculpture. Very similar to Gill's stages through the SF3 games. You can see a video of the boss fight here:
Both the Forgotten Worlds Boss and Gill share a common reference.
Gill is inspired by this painting of Prometheus, by Kupka. Take a look at this: the fusion of red and blues, the wild yellow hair-as if almost ablaze... yet ultimately beautiful and fantastic at the same time! Its an imposing character! Very daunting.
Prometheus is great character to incite as boss like. Like Gill, he can very easily be seen as a hero or villain. In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from Zeus, and is a " champion of mankind" likely referring to qualities of humanism and triumph over deities and super-humans. He is very intelligent, maybe infamously so- and is tied to creation myths of humanity. Again, this is relative to his intentions of creating a new world in the SF3 games; forging a new world with flame. The theme of taking Godlike power into human hands is something that unites the actions of both characters.
Prometheus also has ties to his brother(s) in mythological accounts. Its possible that this fact inspired the creation of the character Urien, Gill’s power hungry brother and president of the Illuminati.
Classic masters and their sculptural works also influenced Akimans design choices namely the idea of giving Gill (and Urien) the idealized male physique, as noted by sculpture. They aren’t TOO large, (think Zangief) or too svelte and muscular (think Guy.) Gill and Urien are a very distinct build-they are quite idealized.This probably had an impact upon the fighting style as well. As the attacks that gill (and Urien) use are variants or derivations of Greco-Roman wrestling techniques. Nothing really set in any other style,as you’ll notice that Gill really just uses force, with competent defensive technique. He merely covers the vitals. And then either charges at you, or uses a great deal of force within one move! This is where the animation really shines through, you can really feel these attacks.
Another interesting note would be the similarity to Gill’s stages and Prometheus’ story. The Gill stages in New Generation and Third Strike reference classic art. The New Generation stage is Mediterranean, featuring columns among the molten sea and an ascent to skyward heavens. Third Strike has an Egyptian boat and fantastic architecture.It seems mainly Greek or roman- as the building has fluted Ionic columns, triangular pediments, a domed ceiling, and Greco-Roman structures within the background. Note the Illuminati crest on the floor, and the Eye of Providence repeated upon the ceiling. The Eye of Providence, as seen on everyday dollar bills in the U.S, is seen as a very powerful, all-seeing and all-knowing sign of power and intellect. In this stage- its everywhere.
This eye could also represent the Egyptian "eye of Horus" which symbolizes restoration of life, protection and wealth.
Gill's arena in Second Impact closely resembles another of Kupka's works. The "Voice of Silence II." You can see the similarities below.
So there’s a little insight into the design cues within this character. There is a lot I probably haven't noticed, but I hope this bit was informative enough. I think the old Capcom design team did some amazing work, its good to look just beyond the obvious and really see why the design is so fun!
Be sure to play SF3, and support pixel based fighting games. They truly are a work of art.