Since 8-Bit Girl and SuperPhilip selected their favorite female protagonists in gaming, why shouldn't I have a go at it? In various mediums lots of women are often viewed as sex objects or damsels that are in constant need of being rescued. Sadly, the gaming industry is no different. But there are women out there that can hold their own and bust heads just as well as the men, in some cases, even more so. Here's my top five pick of female protagonists in gaming. Some of the names on this list will no doubt be predictable, but I like to think some might surprise you.
5. Joanna Dark (Perfect Dark Series)
Making her debut on the Nintendo 64, Joanna earned her code name "Perfect Dark" for her high marks in training, which netted her perfect scores across the board. She proved to be just as skilled in real combat, taking out waves of dataDyne flunkies, saving the President of the United States and blasting Skedar aliens to save the Earth. All that was just in her first adventure. If she's making ETs smoke on a regular basis, I would not wanna be looking down the barrel of a gun held by this lady. It's worth noting that unlike a few others on this list, Joanna is a normal human being. She posses no enhanced strength, boosted intellect or super powers of any kind. Yet she's willing to face impossible odds and come out on top. She's a strong female lead that doesn't come off feeling forced. For these reasons, she's one of my favorite female characters in video games. I must also give credit to Eveline Novakovic, for voicing Jonanna Dark in the first N64 game. She was primarily known for her work at Rare composing soundtracks for games like the Donkey Kong Country Trilogy but she really helped bring Joanna to life.
4. Terra Branford (Final Fantasy VI)
When we first meet Terra (Tina if you live in Japan), she's a mindless slave, doing the Empire's bidding in a quest for power. Once her freewill is restored, all she can remember is her name. This amnesiac woman is both blessed and cursed with the long lost ability to wield magic, which is why both the Empire and the Returners want her on their side. As more of her story unfolds, it is revealed that Terra is half human, half Esper, the Esper half of her being enables her to use magic. Because she spent most of her life enslaved to the Empire, she struggles to understand certain feelings and emotions as well as coming to grips with her powers and who she is. In battle, Terra is highly skilled, being one of the most powerful magic users you'll have in Final Fantasy VI. On top of that, she can morph into her Esper form to deal even more damage. These really aren't the reasons why I think Terra is so awesome. What I dig about Terra are her inner struggles with self acceptance and understanding of love. Early in the game she's unsure of herself and wonders if she's even capable of feeling love. By looking after the orphaned children of Mobliz, Terra learns what it means to love and is determined to free the ruined world from Kefka's reign. Terra travels a long, harsh road to self assurance and when all is said and done, she stands tall.
3. Celes Chere (Final Fantasy VI)
Another character from Final Fantasy VI? The fact that I'm choosing two characters from the same game says something about how endearing the cast to this title truly is. Celes starts out as general for the Empire but grows disgusted with Kefka's poisoning of Doma, which gets her tossed in jail, awaiting execution. She probably would have met her end had Locke not freed her, another of my favorite characters from FFVI and someone whom Celes shares character development with. Her initial joining of the Returners has her acting somewhat cold, which belies her gentle nature. A strong magic user, Celes can also belt out some mean opera as evidenced by the highly memorable opera scene. Her time spent with Locke helps her learn how to trust and because of their growing mutual feelings for each other, she is deeply hurt when Locke thinks she betrayed him and the Returners to the Empire. In the World of Ruin I would always end up feeding Cid bad fish and he would die, which prompts Celes to attempt suicide by throwing herself off a cliff. She survives and by finding a seagull with one of Lock's bandannas, she gets the strength she needs to keep on living, find Locke and the other party members and take Kefka down. General, fighter, singer, girlfriend. Wow, Celes is talented. Like Terra, Celes' journey is what makes her a great character, not her magic powers.
2. Chun-Li (Street Fighter Series)
She can defy gravity with her Spinning Bird Kick. Her legs are as fast as E. Honda's hands. She's the strongest woman in the world. Make her mad and she'll rip your balls off. Or was that Issac Washington from House of the Dead: Overkill? Well, I'm sure Chun can rip valuable body parts off as well. The first playable female character in the Street Fighter series, standing out in Street Fighter II was a true feat because the game had so many standout characters. Up until this point, the only girl I played with in a game was Princess Peach in Super Mario Bros. 2 and while her floating ability was nice, Chun-Li could do so much more. She was beautiful and incredibly strong. Yeah, sometimes those thighs look like they were left overs from Frankenstein's creation but I would never say that to her face because I like breathing. It's always so satisfying to pick Chun and mop the floor with people.
1. Samus Aran (Metroid Series)
A typical first choice, I know. The American instruction booklet went out of it's way to mislead players into thinking Samus was male. Anyone that finished the game in under an hour was in for a shock when the armor came off. Samus was in fact, a woman. I knew this before hand because I never beat the original NES Metroid and by the time Super Metroid hit the scene, it was a common knowledge what Samus' gender was. Still, I can only imagine the jaw dropping looks on gamer's face when it was revealed that Samus, the lone fighter that eradicated tons of alien creatures on a hostile planet was a woman. True, she has her power suit to aid her and it gets tricked out with some amazing abilities like the Screw Attack and Wave Beam, but Samus herself is still a cunning warrior without it. In Zero Mission when she was stripped of her suit, she managed to evade her alien pursuers long enough to reclaim it and dish out some much deserved payback. I've yet to play the Prime Trilogy or Other M despite owning them all, so the only games I've seen Samus do the most talking in would be Fusion. So personality wise, I can really only gauge her on her actions. But they say actions speak louder than words and well, Samus has seen a ton of action so, there ya go. Samus also has fierce mama bear tendencies. When Mother Brain killed the metroid hatch-ling that saved her life in Super Metroid, that had to be one of the most brutal no-holds bared beat downs I've ever seen. Samus is awesome personified.