Posted on July 2, 2012 AT 07:19pm
As games have aged over time, more and more females are being brought to the forefront of the scene, be it as main characters or strong supporting characters. Well, strong might not be the right word for some of them. Either way, there have been many games that have brought a new look to a female character while others desperately need that kick in the rear to either regain that oomph or get it in the first place! Before we go on, let’s go over what I mean by a “reboot”. For some, it’s a completely new game. A few years on the shelf and they come back looking like a brand new woman. For others, it’s a simple hop from one game to another in a series. With so many strong series out there, finding that one game that changes everything for a female character can mean a lot. Let’s look at five for each in no particular order for each section.
Five Women Who Have Benefited From a Reboot
1 – Zelda, from the Legend of Zelda series
While she had always been that person to rescue, Princess Zelda was never the end, just a means to it. The first handful of games, you journey out to rescue her as the hero Link, but her role as the generic damsel in distress soon changed. In Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Zelda was merely a child when you first meet her before the proverbial shit hits the fan. As events unfold, and Link is trapped in the Temple of Time for seven years, our young princess because the mysterious Sheik, a young man who does his best to help lead Link in the right direction, all while maintaining his, or really, her, disguise. After that, Zelda began to take a more active role in the games, becoming your traveling companion in one, even if she was still just the damsel in distress.
2- Samus, from the Metroid series
Before we get into this, I want to lay one thing out on the table: I hate, hate, absolutely HATE Other M. It took an amazing, strong character, and degraded her down into a tool for a male supporting character. She was stronger as a silent character than she ever was with a voice, and a horrible one at that! Does that sound like an extreme feminist take on it? Probably, but I know there’s some truth to it.
Samus has always been a strong female character, one of the firsts. Many were surprised by her reveal at the end of her first game, Metroid. While the games were simple, Samus’ personality began to grow. A strong, fierce female who knows how to get the job done. I faintly remember playing Metroid Prime, and I loved the way Samus did everything. When the sequels followed , I fell more and more in love with Samus. Even when she could have had a team, she was extremely independent, and relied on herself in the end. Having larger, grander games did Samus a big favor, and we could end up loving the bounty hunter for who she was.
3 – Lara Croft, from the Tomb Raider series
Another first in gaming, Lara was one of the first female protagonists in most gamers’ lives. Strong, smart, and with a sense of adventure, it was no wonder that Lara soon became such an iconic figure. Sadly, though, as the years passed, her character degraded down into the stereotypical stoic female who doesn’t have time for anyone in her life. The internet didn’t exactly help her either, all the naked photos and Photoshops just adding insult to injury. Now with a new game, and a very sexy new look, Lara is making the comeback from these horrible times. The trailers for her upcoming game shows just how human she is, and how strong she still is, despite everything that’s thrown at her.
4 – Ivy, from the Soul series
Ivy, Ivy, Ivy. My sweet gods, Ivy, you evil temptress. Always strong and a fierce fighter, Ivy Valentine gave up the life of wealth to seek out what she wanted in the world. A brilliant alchemist and an even more tactical combatant, Ivy had a lot to offer the Soul series as a character. Sadly, she was slowly undermined by the fact that she ended up wearing less and less each time she appeared. Soul Calibur IV was no exception; bound in thin lines that were psuedo-bondage, any character traits that the woman had went right out the window. Enter Soul Calibur V. Ivy returned as a mature character, not only wearing a bit more, but was able to show off just how much she knew after all these years of study and research. She was dead sexy still, but knew how to present it. It’s amazing how one game can change a character.
5 – Female Shepard, from the Mass Effect series
Now before you ignore this one, hear me out. For the first two Mass Effect games, male Shepard had been the figure for the series, and while you could play as a female version of Shepard, she had no definitive face. While Bioware has pretty much said only the actions of Shepard are cannon, not the gender, male Shepard dominated the scene. That was until Mass Effect 3, where fans voted on the look of the official FemShep. It was also the first time she was featured in a full CGI trailer for the game. Once she was official, the FemShep revolution took off. I mean, who doesn’t love a biotic sniper in love with a turian?
Five Women Who Deserve A Reboot
1 – Bayonetta, from Bayonetta
Most would argue that Bayonetta is the epitome of female empowerment and sexuality, and they wouldn’t be too far off with that statement. Yes, the dark haired gunslinger seems to be the perfect model of the dominant female. Full figured, dressed in a extremely tight outfit, powerful, knows what she wants, and only relies on herself to get the job done. But her character might be beyond the point of no return with her hypersexuality, and one thing could tear the whole “female empowerment” away from her without many seeing it. Many times she’s seen with lollipop in mouth. Most would consider this as an incredible tease, her way of asserting her power over others, namely males. One thing has to be taken into consideration: that item becomes something she -needs- in the game. All of her recovery items come to her in the form of a lollipop. Yes, while there are other ways to recover health and magic, and recovery items are optional, the simple fact that she’s constantly sucking on a phallic item to make herself better strips away the alpha female role from her.
I say drop the lollipop or sever the connection to her recovery items, get rid of the one torture attack where she causes the female enemy to climax to death, and… maybe just tone down the sex a bit. You can still be sexy and sexual without going overboard and that’s what this one needs. And bad.
2 – Yuna, from Final Fantasy X
This might be a surprise to some, but I swear it is in Yuna’s best interests. Get any and all thoughts of Final Fantasy X-2 out of the way; this isn’t about that. Anyone who has played through Final Fantasy X knows that Yuna is an incredibly powerful character, though, sadly, because of her role, she becomes the macguffin in the game, constantly being kidnapped or harmed in order for others to get their way. This is fine, but the player sees all of this through Titus’ point of view, leading most to believe the game, and the story, is about the blonde haired blitzball player. Wrong. Yuna, in every sense of the word, is the main character of the game while Titus is nothing more than an observer, a foil even to how vastly different their lives are. Yuna has known nothing but sacrifice throughout her life while Titus has had it easy, playing a sport and becoming popular because of it.
Possibly focusing more on Yuna as a playable character might have helped allow this truly strong woman stand out among all the chaos of the game. Toss in a side of “Shut the Hell up, Titus,” and Yuna’s lead role might have been more recognized.
3 – Rubi, from Wet
When I first saw Rubi, I was in love. I wanted to get my hands on the game and go kick ass with my new buddy. Her style and design screams, “I’m hot and I will kick your ass.” Even her stance that everyone sees is her almost offering herself up for a free hit, as if daring the enemy to come and try. The game when into the console and the disappointment began to flow. This is one of those cases where the character suffered from the failing game’s attempt at being innovated, like Faith from Mirror’s Edge, except here, Rubi’s character is hurt drastically to the point where all the things that make her an amazing character don’t seem to shine that bright.
What she needs is a good shooter game, one that Wet could have been. You can still give her the slow mo action shots, but kill most of the quick time events, and let Rubi’s personality shine through. And her sword, because that’s kinda badass too.
4 – Aerith (Aeris), from Final Fantasy VII
I was really trying to avoid anything from Final Fantasy VII, mainly due to the fans who foam at the mouth for the game. Either way, Aerith kept coming up in my head over and over. Why? She died in the game. A character dying isn’t a reason for a reboot, far from it, but it’s how she died and the fact that there are many, MANY hints that her story was cut short due to time constraints on the game. I was never a fan of her; the whole bubbly, sweet, naive girl falling for the main male, ugh, my teeth hurt, but I did feel like she was short changed. Let’s go over a few things about her death. One, nothing changed from her death. The Holy materia that was lost did jack shit against the meteor, Cloud brooded harder, and the world kept going. Two, many portions of the game seem to have been change to accommodate an early death: the final battle has an extra ledge that no one is standing on, splitting the parties up for Bizarro-Sephiroth leaves one team with only two members, instead of the full three, and the best weapon you can get for her (while she’s alive), her Umbrella, has a higher attack than her actual best weapon. There are just so many holes one has to question, was she a filler character or was her story cut.
What this ancient needs is her whole story brought to light. You can keep with the whole kind gentle heart becoming the savior or playing some angelic role, Tales of Symphonia did this well with Colette, but give us the whole story, make her important! Her death was meaningless when it happened, and if that’s all she was meant to be, a pin cushion of the disguised JENOVA, then so be it.
5 – Rayne, from the BloodRayne series
Vampires have always been a fun concept to play around with, and there have been many famous vampires in videos games, a few of them, of course, being female. While some have been antagonists, Carmilla from the Castlevania series for example, even fewer have been on the side of good, or at least not trying to kill the other good guys. Rayne is no exception, except she’s actually a dhampir, or half vampire. With two blades, an arsonal of weapons, and a body that can kill, she tears her enemies apart without a single thought but sadly, her, as a character, is lacking. She was dull with a side of psychotic, and nothing really more while the games were fun for the hack and slash, and as long as you didn’t take them seriously.
While the second game has her hunting down her half siblings, I think a bit more of her back story in a game would have the perfect touch. Let us see what lead up to her joining the Brimstone Society, not just the intro of the first game, maybe even little Rayne and her kicking ass of others.
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