The developer of Skullgirls, the anime fighting game featuring an all-girl cast, believes those who accuse it of being sexist are displaying "misplaced and shallow chivalry".
Some critics have labelled Skullgirls' art style gimmicky and dismissed it as anime fan service because of the inclusion of "panty flashes" and huge breasts.
But developer Reverge Labs said everything in the game makes sense lore wise - and is yet to meet a woman who has complained about it.
"Our lead animator is a woman," lead designer at Reverge Peter Bartholow told Eurogamer. "She intentionally lavishes attention on the breasts herself because she thinks it's cool. All the people who seem bothered by it are guys. It's a weird chivalry intent thing that's sort of misplaced and maybe shallow, even, because they see breasts and panty flashes and they go, that's sexist, but I've yet to meet a woman who has complained about it. They're over-thinking it.
"Our characters are strong, powerful women who happen to be attractive. We don't have anyone like Cammy [from Street Fighter], who wraps her legs around your head and then beats you senseless with her Kegel muscles - or whatever is going on in that Cammy Super. There was a very conscious decision not to do things like that. None of the characters use their sexuality in any aggressive way. It's just a thing they happen to be."
The issue cropped up at German game show Gamescom earlier this year, when a gamer approached Bartholow just to tell him Skullgirls was sexist.
"I'm like, did you know our lead animator is a woman? Then he's like, that's amazing. It's like I gave him the excuse to think it was okay all of a sudden, or to admit he liked it, which really amused me and seemed emblematic of the entire situation around that."
Skullgirls is created by veteran tournament player Mike "Mike Z" Zaimont and Scott Pilgrim contributing artist Alex Ahad. The latter is responsible for the game's anime look - and the design of each of the eight characters that will be ready for the early 2012 launch window.
"While Alex obviously has some intent to make attractive women in the game, I don't think he's doing it specifically for the panty flashes," Bartholow said. "It's that if a woman dressed like this were to fight, there would be some panty flashes.
"Yeah, we have characters that have occasional panty flashes. Peacock is not a fan service sort of character. She's vaguely shapeless underneath her frumpy dress. Alex has a ton of different influences, and obviously some of them include anime. Parasoul is actually much more of a Tex Avery [American animator] homage than she is an anime thing. It's just where Alex's interests lie.
"Most of the characters who are really out there are generally the evil ones. While Painwheel is brutal, she is a scared little girl trapped inside the body of a monster. Valentine is a mid-boss - a villain character - and the fact she is more exposed than the others is related to that. She is the opposite of Parasoul, and while both are similarly stacked, Parasoul chooses to clothe herself more fully than Valentine does.
"It's obviously something people feel strongly about. It is what it is."
Skullgirls is heavily inspired by the Capcom versus games, with a game speed set somewhere between Street Fighter 4 and Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Mike Z hopes it'll be embraced by the fighting game community and played in tournaments.
The PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade game launches with eight characters - seven of which are announced. But more characters will be released as premium DLC, around one every three months. The first round of DLC characters are described as "story essential", but Bartholow confirmed plans to release male characters in the future.
And Reverge will support Skullgirls with free updates, too, based on fan feedback and the development team's wishes. An online training mode in which you can invite friends will be included in the first update if it doesn't make it into the game for launch. "If people suggest things and it seems feasible, we'll probably do it," Bartholow said.