A new fan-made documentary details the gender confusion surrounding Capcom's most infamous beat 'em up antagonist.
Despite its legions of fans and three-decade-long history of building some of the finest games in the industry, Capcom has long been plagued with a single question: Is Poison a man or a woman?
For those of you left scratching your head at that query, here's a bit of a primer on the dilemma: In 1989 Capcom released Final Fight, a game that would go on to be a smash hit and effectively create the "beat 'em up" genre. Yes, games of this type had existed previously (Double Dragon, and River City Rampage, to name two), but it wasn't until Final Fight that the subgenre became codified and other developers began churning out similar (usually inferior) copies.
In one of the earlier stages of Final Fight players encounter a midriff-baring punk girl -- or at least that's how it seemed. Knowing that the censors would pitch a fit at seeing Mike "Mayor Of Earth" Haggar piledriving a woman into the cold, unforgiving concrete, Capcom instead claimed that Poison (and her palette swap Roxy) were both hiding a secret underneath their tight leather miniskirts. Both characters were, in fact, "newhalfs;" a Japanese colloquialism for transgender people who were, at the time, famous in the country's club scene.
When Final Fight came to the Super Nintendo in the US, the company opted to switch out both Poison and Roxy with male characters, in a seeming attempt to appease the more rigorous Nintendo censorship guidelines. When the game was later released in its original, unedited form, gamers were baffled by the "ladies," leading to years of speculation aimed squarely at Capcom that survives to this day.
With Poison set to appear in the upcoming Street Fighter X Tekken, a Capcom fan using the YouTube handle "MegatonStammer" took it upon himself to dive into the controversy, and the result is the nearly-20-minute long mini-documentary embedded at top-right. It sources information from many of Capcom's designers and producers, and while I won't spoil the conclusion, let's just say that the controversy lives on.
The video is recommended for any fans of Capcom and its long-history of virtual violence. I've been a huge fan of the company for decades and was well-acquainted with the Poison debacle, and yet I too learned a lot of interesting facts from watching the clip.
While it doesn't wrap the mystery up in a nice, neat bow, it does offer a host of factoids you can drop at your next gaming-themed dinner party. You guys all have those too, right? I can't be the only one who gathers erudite friends around a delicious meal to discuss the sociopolitical implications of Command & Conquer: Red Alert or the inherent nihilist rhetoric in Bubble Bobble, right?