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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Distressed Damsels

The age old excuse plot of video games, one that's nearly as old as time itself. It's a super simple story method to use as a driving force to get the hero from point A to Z. Girls gets kidnapped. Boy rushes off to save her. But what of the pearls the boy faces to save said girl? What of the girl in question? Those are the things I'd like to touch upon in this special feature as we talk about five damsels that have at one point or another been in distress.

Princess Peach - Numerous Mario Games

Let's start this thing off with the poster woman for video game kidnappings. Making her debut in Super Mario Bros. in 1985, Peach was the entire reason that Mario and Luigi were off on a quest. Bowser abducted her and the Mushroom Kingdom most likely could not have been run properly in her absence, but considering how many times she's been taken from her castle sine then, I'd say the citizens have found some way to manage. Peach practically invented the whole "save the princess trope" that still exists in the Super Mario series and video games today. See the image from Super Mario 3D Land up at the very top? That's this little lady doing business as usual, as Bowser's hostage.

If she's in a game that doesn't involve multiplayer brawling or tricked out go carts, you can lay a good $10 on the table that she's going to be facing abduction. At, least this is usually the case. On a few occasions she isn't the one that needs saving. In Super Mario Bros. 2, gamers were given their first chance to step into her pink heels and play as royalty. And this girl was rocking some sick floating physics. Other than Luigi, if you wanted some serious air time, this princess was the way to go. She was also playable in Super Mario 3D World, where she retained her awesome floating powers. In Super Princess Peach, Bowser made one of the smartest moves in his villainous career by kidnapping the girl's rescuers, Mario and Luigi, forcing Peach to take on the role of a savior. Perhaps she got a taste of everything she puts her man and his brother through whenever she gets snatched up.

So, you may be wondering, "If she can hold her own in a brawl and has mad float game in the few Super Mario titles she's playable, how is it possible that she keeps getting captured?!" I think that's a fair question, but at the same time, it's been heavily speculated that the Mario games are all played out as if they were on an acting stage. Super Mario Bros. 3 opens with the rising of a curtain and closes with the curtain's decent. This would explain why Mario can duke it out with Donkey Kong in the Mario vs. Donkey series and then invite him to the numerous cart racing sessions that are held. Likewise, Peach can be tossed around from being a hero to a damsel that is incapable of saving herself. You could argue that the later role makes her seem weak and that would be a hard argument to counter since she's had to be saved far more times than she's been placed in the player's hands.

I admit that the journey to save Peach has almost always been a labor of love with all the sights and wonders to behold, but over the years, there's been this growing, nagging thought in my head that could be summed up in one word. "Again?!" Everything you're going through is ultimately to save a woman that will unquestionably be whisked away by a dragon-turtle thing that has a thing for human girls. Granted most characters in the Mario series are flat with little personality to speak of, it's a little bit disheartening to have Mario's love interest more often than not simply exist so Mario can have someone to save. Needless to say, her presence is video games is far more tolerable when  she's playable. That isn't to say that I hate Peach or anything. But if I had to pick one female from the Mario universe that I liked best, Peach probably wouldn't even get an honorable mention.

Amy Rose - Sonic the Hedgehog Series

Those Sonic fans that came into the games before Sonic CD may be wondering why Amy Rose is even here. After all, she's only been in distress two times, which is a freaking compliment compared to the gal we just got finished talking about. Still, Amy and Peach do have one thing in common: they were both kidnapped in the game that introduced them.

I think it's save to say Metal Sonic probably already grabbed most gamers attention from the get-go. He was on the game's cover and he was just dripping with that evil cool look. He got even more awesome points from me when he kidnapped Amy in the first act of Collision Chaos. Up until this point in the game, all Amy has done is chase after Sonic and cling to him like a lovesick, obsessed fan. So when Metal Sonic swooped in like a boss and took her away, I couldn't help but feel a huge sigh of relief. Maybe I'm the only one who feels this way, but I've found contact with Amy Rose to be like a noose around one's neck.

I honestly think Sonic would have been better off if he never saved Amy in Sonic CD. Seriously, what did Sonic get from rescuing this damsel? A stalker girlfriend that chases him down to the ends of the earth. Is it any wonder Sonic never stays in any place for too long? When he saved Amy, he dug his own grave. I personally wouldn't not have minded one bit if Amy retained her role as a distressed damsel.

Princess Prin Prin - Ghosts 'n Goblins Series

As much as Peach gets captured, annoying as the mere thought of having to save her, knowing she'll be a victim of imprisonment again sounds, as much crap as she puts you through, it is nothing and I mean NOTHING compared to what Arthur has to deal with to save his woman, Princess Prin Prin.

The first time Princess Prin Prin is taken away from Arthur, the one who is sent off to do the lady snatching is none other than Satan, who works for Astaroth, the big bad of the original Ghosts 'n Goblins. You know you're in the stew when the devil himself is answering to someone even more sinister.

Simply put, you have to endure far too much crap to save Prin Prin. Ghosts, demons, zombies, ogres, just about every monster and supernatural evil entity you can think of has been sent out after Arthur in droves. These are some durable, evasive creatures to boot. Sure, the Hammer Brothers can be pretty aggravating and Lakitu has been a thorn in my side since the late 1980s, but they don't have anything on Astaroth's army outside of high ranking, iconic status. I've lost more lives and gotten game overs just trying to make it past these mooks than I have to the game's bosses and time limit.

If the map is to be believed, it looks like you're making your descent into hell. You start above the surface and as your adventure progresses, you get deeper underground to what looks to be a sort of spruced up version of hell. And let's be real here, do you honestly think villains like Satan and Astaroth are gonna be chilling out in caves? Marching down to hell to save your girl. What could be harder than that? Having to do it twice. Your first trip through these games is usually all an illusion and in order to truly save Prin Prin, you have to beat the two times. I would LOVE to capture the look on a first time player's face that had no knowledge of this after they went through all that trouble. It's easily one of the sickest, most twisted things you can do to a dedicated player.

Just what does Arthur see in Prin Prin? Is she a wonderful cook, because that's always a big plus. Is it the blue hair? Blue has always been my favorite color so props to her for not being another blonde in mid-evil times (I love blondes, by the way), even if that isn't her natural hair color. Perhaps he loves her so much that he's willing to go to hell twice over to win her back. While that is ever so touching, that is still far too many complications for any relationship. If Arthur knew what lied ahead of him and if he had any sliver of sanity, he would have ran off to the left side of the screen instead of the right after Prin Prin was taken. But hey, they say love makes you crazy.

Princess Elise - Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)

Released as a 15th anniversary game for the titular character, the hedgehog's HD debut has gone on to be one of the worst video games in the history of the medium, having the dubious honor of sitting side by side with filth like ET for the Atari 2600. The game is infamous for a number of reasons, chief among them being the awful story and the bugs and glitches that just scream rushed-to-market title. Then you've got the "romance" between Sonic and the human female lead of the game, Princess Elise, which, may not have been reason enough to earn the game the reputation that is has received, but it certainly was one more strike against it.

If I'm not mistaken, Princess Elise holds the records for being captured the most times in a single video game. Most women that get taken away in this medium only have it done once per game. Elise? If the number you guessed was higher than three, give yourself a cookie. Even Peach isn't that bad.

I don't have much to say on the inter species romance side of things. That's a debate I don't even want to dip my foot into so I won't even go there. The real head scratcher for me is that Elise managed to be taken prisoner so many times in one game. That right there is unspeakable levels of pathetic. That goes far beyond being incompetent and having useless guards. You think she would have conjured up some way to defender herself. Or at the very least, take off those heels and attempt to feel her would be captors. Elise is the definition of useless.

Marian Kelly - Double Dragon Series

Punched in the gut and then thrown over the shoulder of some thug trying to prove something and then hauled off. That's how one of the most popular beat 'em ups of all-time started. Brothers Billy and Jimmy Lee fight through wave after wave of brawlers to save Marian and after they take down the final boss, what happens? They start fighting over her affections. Wait, what?

Brothers. Family. These two went through so much in life and banded together to save this girl, only to turn on each other and fight to see who gets her? The eff? Worse, she just stands there watching, eager to see who wins like she's proud to be some prize. There's a word for this kind of woman. I believe the one I'm looking for rhymes with twitch. None of the other woman listed here deserve that tile more than this one. If Billy and Jimmy were thinking clearly, they would have shoulder tossed Marian in a dumpster and went out for some cold ones. Not a single tear was shed by me when she was gunned down at the start of Double Dragon II.

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