Friday, June 18, 2010

Top 7 Pre-Fifth Generation Women Protagonists in Gaming

Before Lara Croft, Beyond Good and Evil's Jade, and Alyx Vance gamers were not given many women lead characters in games.  Perhaps it was the traditional Japanese views on women, thoughts that gamers wouldn't be interested in playing as a woman, or that there was not a strong enough female audience to garner the need for strong women characters.  But alas, I came up with seven pre-fifth generation (fifth generation is PS1, N64, Saturn) strong women protagonists in video games.

7. Princess - Super Mario Bros. 2.  While my disdain for Super Mario Bros. 2/Doki Doki Panic remains unaltered, I have to put her in here for no other reason than, without her, some of the jumps would have been unbearable.  The Princess goes from helpless victim to a long jumper who would make Carl Lewis jealous.  Question 1, if she could jump so far, why wouldn't she just have jumped over Bowser in Super Mario Bros. 1?  Question 2, how old is the Princess since she was able to nearly double in size from Super Mario Bros. 1 to Super Mario Bros. 2 - that is one helluva growth spurt.  The Princess showed that even perfectly prim and proper ladies such as her have no trouble picking up a jumping snake and throwing it an unfathomable distance.

6. Tyris Flare - Golden Axe.  The big amazon whose father and mother were murdered by Death Adder uses her magic to take on the multitude of enemies in Turtle Village (Turtle Village, couldn't come up with anything better?).  Why she needed to be in a bikini to do this, not quite sure?  Perhaps she comes from the imagination of a developer like Mouse's dream girl in the red dress from The Matrix.  Either way, her inclusion is important since she was created as a powerful and necessary character being given the greatest amount of magic.  On top of that, when she dies, her shrieking, 'ahhhhhhhh!!!' is both frightening and hysterical.

5. Yuko Ahso - Valis III.  Yuko was in all of the Valis series but Valis III on the TurboGrafix CD-ROM was a personal favorite - especially the American CD-ROM where the acting of the characters is hysterical.  Talk about no inflection in the voice whatsoever, too funny.  The warrior of Valis wielded her sword, took on some tough enemies, and used magic with the best of them.  And when someone dared to call her a 'chick', given rather boringly, it was met with an equally boring, 'get outta my way if you don't want to get hurt'.   Any questions?

4. Nei - Phantasy Star II.  I have talked on more than one occasion about the developer's of Phantasy Star II crushing my soul when I was younger by killing off one of the coolest RPG characters of all time, Nei.  There are other RPG women that could have fallen into this category - Ayla from Chrono Trigger, Mara from Dragon Warrior IV, and Terra from Final Fantasy III come quickly to mind but Nei embodies everything you could ask for when working through an RPG.  She is powerful as hell, her storyline is interesting from the beginning, and her death is a complete shock and climactic moment in the game.  If you don't agree and think one of the aforementioned ladies deserve this honor instead, too bad, this is my list!

3. Ms. Pacman - Ms. Pacman.  Whenever I read lists that discuss important and interesting lead characters in games, I am amazed that Ms. Pacman is always ignored.  While her husband is better known by name alone, the wife is the one who was in the much better game.  She was faster, the boards changed from level to level, and the ghosts didn't follow set patterns.  If Donky Kong is the grandfather of arcade classics then Ms. Pacman is the grandmother and easily belongs on this list.

2. Chun Li - Street Fighter II.  Of course she is going to be on here.  She was my favorite character in Street Fighter II and her swift kick was, in my humble opinion, the only way to whoop the ass of opponents.  Not convinced?  She had a movie starring Kristin Kreuk made about her.  Name me another female character pre-Tomb Raider to have that honor. 

1. Samus Aran - Metroid.  Anyone that was alive in the 80's and was able to beat Metroid in the time allotted to find out the big secret behind Metroid knows why she is number one.  Up until that time pretty much any gamer I had ever met would have assumed that whoever (or whatever) behind the Metroid armor had to be a guy.  We were trained to think that way for one basic reason - we had no basis of comparison.  Try to think of one female video game character that bombed, missiled, jumped, and shot through a game before Samus.  I bet you can come up with about, oh...50 male characters.  Samus crossed the ass kicking line among the sexes and shown that Bill and Lance weren't the only ones that could take out some aliens.  Why did she need to be in a bikini when we found out - who knows?  And, who is going to question her apparel?  Any woman that big a bad ass does not deserve to answer your petty questions.

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