Artery Gear and Armor Girls: a complete tag and IP-name nightmare

Posted under Tags

Right, this one's a doozy. Sorry if this is long, but there's a lot involved and I wasn't sure how to proceed on my own.

So in 2015, the Chinese developer Flashwing released 机动战姬, or "Armor Girls", on mobile devices. It was part of the same generation of CN mobages that spawned Honkai 2, Girls Frontline and Warship Girls. Sadly, it came out a few years after Honkers2 and got its lunch eaten by that game since they played similarly (2d side scrolling shooters) and thus closed after a few years. There was dissention between Flashwing's leaders about what to do for a next project - CEO wanted the old game but better, while Armor Girls' director had been bitten by the Epic Seven bug toward the end of AG's life and thought doing "E7, but Mecha Musume" would sell better and possibly grab a wider audience than another shooter, especially with Mihoyo moving on to Honkers3 and a full on 3d action game, whereas E7 wasn't a lock for China yet at the time.

To cut out a bunch of legal nonsense, lawsuits over it ended up with Flashwing split - the director got access to the 机动战姬/Armor Girls IP (e.g. the characters etc) and his group became Access Games, while the CEO got the Flashwing name and all the technical work done to date on the new game. The latter eventually became Final Gear, and now here in 2021/22, after years in dev hell, The New 机动战姬 Game has been released in China and Japan already, and we're finally seeing it in English.

Okay, fine, why am I posting, then?

So... there's a tagging problem. The new 机动战姬 IP game is called 机动战姬:聚变 in China. Or "Armor Girls: Fusion". In the old days, Flashwing was very clear about calling 机动战姬 "Armor Girls" in English alongside the Chinese name, and the Armor Girls tag reflects that, with a smattering of uploads from the old days at the back of the tag. However, the new game is very, very consistent, in every market it's been released in, as using the name "Artery Gear" as the non-Chinese substitute for 机动战姬. It is still a 机动战姬/"Jidong Zhan Ji" game - a whole bunch of the characters carry over (your initial girl is a reimagined Nio Silen, Leila Pegas/"Rela" is in the game, these characters use their original AG serial numbers, etc.) and in its home market, it's meant to be recognized as a spiritual successor to the original 机动战姬 in the same vein as the Honkai titles, taking old characters and concepts and totally remixing them in a new format and setting - but either because of the nasty history or just because they wanted a more memorable, eye-catching title, in other languages it's not Armor Girls anymore. It's Artery Gear. Very consistently, and very deliberately.

And this creates a bit of a tagging nightmare.

This whole post came about because I wanted to see what Artery Gear art had been uploaded already, and got really confused when I saw none at all, since Artery Gear has popped off at least a bit in China and Japan. The uploads so far have been sorted into the Armor Girls tag, which is why I outlined all that stuff above - from a certain perspective, that makes sense, it's all the same franchise/IP, even after changing owners, and the name's the same in China. But it's looking like the game might have a decent pop-off for the English release, too, I suspect we're going to get an increasing number of casual users coming in to upload "Artery Gear" art, probably creating a new copyright tag without thinking about it, and thus causing tagging and sorting chaos. Hell, I almost did that myself until I tried looking up by artists or character names to see if I'd missed something and realized everything above.

And this gets even more complicated because, as I noted, work from the "Armor Girls" era IS in the tag right now, and should probably be tagged that way since their original game was called that. But now there are, of course, a whole bunch of girls who are new and original to Artery Gear, so putting them in the "Armor Girls" tag is counter-intuitive!

So. What do? Should the Artery Gear stuff be split out into a new tag? Should the existing Armor Girls tag be converted into "Armor Girls (series)" or somesuch, and the newer stuff tagged "Artery Gear: Fusion" and the handful of old material "Armor Girls (original)"? Should the old tag just be converted straight to Artery Gear, since it seems like Access has no intention of bringing the old name back? I didn't want to do anything without checking about site conventions and unintentionally causing more chaos, and this is a weird naming situation.

Sorry again if this was long, there's just a lot to unpack and consider here.

While this could theoretically be a major tagging issue, we technically have precedent in terms of inconsistent gacha names with the Honkai series. The first two games were originally known in English as Zombiegal Kawaii and Guns Girl Z respectively, before adopting the Honkai moniker abroad. I say technically, because the first two games were essentially the same, so it only made sense to just use the Chinese name above all else in that specific context. But from my understanding, correct me if I'm wrong, but even back when Armor Girls was a thing, Artery Gear was as much a valid translation for it, albeit one lessened by 'Armor Girls Z Battle' being an official thing.

So, aside from just giving Artery Gear: Fusion its own tag (since it probably should get one, especially if it has characters unique to just it), we have two things we can do here: a) make a Jidong Zhan Ji series tag, and separate Armor Girls as a tag for just the original game; or b) just rename Armor Girls to Artery Gear, serving as both a series tag and a tag for the original game, so you can search artery_gear -artery_gear:_fusion for the Armor Girls-era art (keeping Armor Girls as an alias). I personally don't see an issue with just doing the second option, because of not just relative consistency, but also if what you're suggesting about the game getting a decent pop-off for the English release is true, Artery Gear is going to ultimately trump over the old Armor Girls translation anyway, so there's ultimately no reason to keep it around in tag form.

I imagine if no one else has anything to say, you could probably just do a BUR aliasing Armor Girls to Artery Gear, and after it passes, get to work on making a tag for Fusion. Same with any aliases that change the name of Armor Girls-era characters to their current Artery Gear-era translation.