I’m not sure I really understand why I like character galleries. Maybe it’s because they’re just fun to look at; like an art book where you get to fill in the narrative blanks. Or maybe it’s utilitarian – you can use the pictures to showcase a character in your game. Either way, there’s a certain appeal to a collection of artwork about a character. Once you have a good set of images, all that’s left then is to properly compile and market them. Unfortunately, sometimes these little technical details are what makes a product go off the rails. Enter the Tigress, from Action RPG Counters.
A seventy-page PDF, Super Portraits – Tigress starts off quickly, waiting only for the title page and credits page before presenting the images. Each page presents one single picture, with no other text or images to distract from the artwork (notwithstanding the barely-visible watermark in the bottom left corner). We’re given about twenty-five images of Tigress in various poses and outfits; in the case of the latter, most of those are her super-heroine costume, a tiger-striped getup that has claws on her hands and feet. We also get to see her in a sports bra and tiny shorts, and in a women’s business suit.
It was at this point that I started to notice the major fault with this collection; it likes to double up on a lot of the images it includes. Many of the pictures in this section are immediately followed up with another page of the same picture, just in closer. Now, I can appreciate why this is being done – I like sexy women as much as anyone – but it seems rather needless here. Do we really need a magnified picture of Tigress doing that high kick? We can just zoom in on the first one about as much with little loss of resolution. It just really seems wasted.
Following this are a number of images that showcase Tigress, and several other characters in an old factory (or a similar location). The images are laid out in a fairly linear manner, meaning that we’re basically watching the story unfold as Tigress breaks into the factory, is surrounded by ninjas, and then leaps into battle. I quite enjoyed this section, but found my enjoyment somewhat broken up by how the images weren’t as large as the entire page, meaning that as I scrolled down I had to put up with some white space at the bottom of each image. I recognize that this probably couldn’t be helped given the restrictions of the portrait layout, but it still broke up the pictorial narrative. There was also at least one picture where she was in the same pose she was in on the title page, this time just set against a background.
All of that takes up almost another twenty-five pages. Oddly, after that, we’re suddenly thrown back out of the storytelling pictures, and find ourselves back to Tigress posing against a white background. This time, it’s a few shots of her in some rather sexy lingerie, though only for a few shots…one of which is again a close-up. Then, bizarrely, we’re taken back to the images of her fighting ninjas in the factory again. We’re literally being given the exact same images here; I did a page-by-page comparison, and it’s the same set of images over again, except the lighting and shadowing are slightly different. The only new pictures come at the end, showing her tied up.
All of that took us to the sixty-ninth page. I wish I could say that the seventieth page, the last one in the book, had some sort of great picture that made it all end on a high note, but I can’t. Every time I scroll down to that page, my PDF reader informs me that there’s an error on the page, and it may not display correctly – clear it’s not, because all I’m seeing is a blank page.
It’s a sad irony that this last page forms an allegory for this book as a whole; what’s there may very well be great, but the technical details are undermining it. The number of doubled-images, even if they zoom in or change the lighting, doesn’t change the fact that there are a significant number of pages where you’re seeing what you saw on a previous page. That’s a killer where a character gallery is concerned, because it makes it seem like the page count is being padded. Throw in that irking error on the last page, and a total lack of easy-navigation tools (a PDF with no bookmarks is, to me, inexcusable), and you’ve got a good book that isn’t playing to its strengths.