My Female Gaming Role Models: Samus Aran

Galactic Federations, Space Pirates, and Mother brains, Oh My!

If you haven’t played any of the Metroid Series, stop reading, fire up that emulator, and go!

Just kidding.

Seriously tho, you should.

I was actually introduced to the Metroid Series a few years ago by Ezrah (my fiance) with Metroid Prime for Gamecube. The mix of sci-fi with puzzles and a “fill in your map” (I absolutely love filling in maps… I could probably play an entire game just about filling maps).

Since I didn’t actually grow up with Samus Aran, I can’t tell you how she inspired me growing up. What I can tell you is how bad ass she is.

Let’s start with the very beginning. A very good place to start….

MetriodNintentoCase  The original box art for Metroid gave no indication as to the gender of the protagonist, or if it even had one. All the box art tells you is that you are purchasing a side scroller monster shooting game. The main character could be a robot. In fact, according to the manual….

MetroidManualpg7

Samus is introduced to us as a male cyborg space hunter. Progressing through the game, the player has absolutely no reason to believe otherwise. There are no specific gender markers that make you question Samus’ gender identity in anyway.

Once you get to the end however, you are given the big reveal…..

MetroidEnding

image cred: gameradar.com

Samus is a female! Above is one of three ending reveals depending on your progression of the game. Now, before we start thinking about the “sexiness” of the costumes, remember one thing: A character being seen as “sexy” does not, and should not, diminish his or her accomplishments. Having “multiple endings”, as multiple as you can get with a Nintendo game, is a business decision on re-playability. She was also the first of her time. Not only was her game the first of its kind, bringing two genres of  video games together in a unique way, she was the one of the first main female protagonist. What the developer’s did was marketing genius.

By showing off her abilities first, by the time you realize she is even female, you have already been through the whole Planet Zebes and saved it. There is no discrediting her capabilities or her motives by changing her gender. With a reveal at the end, you take away all stereotypes about females that could hinder one’s ability to relate to the character. Metroid probably would have not had the success it did, without this revolutionary idea. It may have been dismissed as another great Nintendo game if her gender was male, or may have been dismissed all together if her gender was revealed sooner throughout the plot.

Samus has a lot to be proud of. The Metroid series has sold 16.69 million copies over the years, and was blessed with the title of “the first playable human female character in a mainstream video game” by the Guinness World Records 2013: Gaming Edition.*  As a mascot of Nintendo, her games and her legacy will live on for years to come.

I fell in love with the Metroid series (trust me, there are some gaming series’ I don’t love.) Having played Castlevania, I had the same excitement of filling in the maps, and finding all the loot, while battling monsters and such. As a lot of other people, I loved morph ball. As the gender of a character isn’t really an issue for me, as far as being able to relate to them, Samus being a female was an added bonus, just as Lara Croft, being…well… Lara. As I’ve said before as well, Samus being considered a “sex symbol” (which was not there original intention) in no way takes away from her contributions as a space hunter. To say that sexualizing a female is a bad thing, is weird to me, as long as its not her primary function. (No, I haven’t had the pleasure of playing Lollipop Chainsaw…)

Did you play the original Nintendo Game? What was your reaction to the big gender reveal?

Have you recently been introduced to Samus? What do you think about her as a character, or the games?

Please make sure to check out other installments of My Female Gaming Role Models, and tell your friends!

/bow

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My Female Gaming Role Models: Rinoa Heartilly

Rinoa Heartilly as drawn by Ezrah

Rinoa Heartilly as drawn by Ezrah

Now, before you’re completely turned off because *insert prejudice against Rinoa here*, just hear me out. I know a lot of people didn’t like Rinoa, or Final Fantasy VIII for that matter, but I will tell you exactly why I have no idea… why. Ever since the opening scene of Final Fantasy VIII, I was in love. I remember getting home from the store, running into my bedroom with my sister, turning it on, and just being in sheer awe. I don’t know how many times mom called us to dinner. We couldn’t stop watching. “Hold on mom I have to save it!” I think this was my childhood catchphrase when Playstation came into the picture.

As I played through the game, I related to Rinoa more and more. From the first time I saw her until the end of the game, she spoke to me. She was my video game counterpart. My soul mate, if you will. I don’t know if you’ve ever had that one character that could have been you. More than any other character you ever encountered? Maybe it’s Lara, Quistis, Celeste, or Princess Peach. Whoever it happens to be, you understand what I’m trying to say. If not, I will do my best to explain.

The Dance

When I think of Rinoa, I think of persistence, free spirit, optimism. Her introduction was perfect. Walking up to Squall, telling him he will like her, dragging him onto the dance floor, and in record time, teaching him how to dance (I kid). This was the part of her that she wanted people to see, confidence.

We meet her again in the town of Timber. She is the princess of the resistance against the Galbadian army, and you find out her goal at the dance was to get to the headmaster. She wanted to hire SeeD forces to help liberate Timber. In her naive optimistic view, all they needed were some mercenaries to follow out their plans, and the rest would fall into place.  Her narrow view of how the world works, and her passion to save it, are only the surface of her, and stem greatly from her military brat upbringing and rebellion against her father. In changing her last name, moving away, and offering no connection to the Galbadian Army until absolutely necessary, she shows her feelings for her father in a very realistic way. Having come from a military family myself, this drew me to her.

My father was, and still is, your typical retired military man. As a teenager, he would protect me from the dangers of the world the only way he really knew how, by not letting me in it. It wasn’t until college when I had moved out of the house, that I was truly able to become my own person and find out who I truly am. Looking back I realize now that he was only doing what every parent does the best they know how: Protect their child, however his tactics and methods were firmly rooted in his military upbringing. Even in the face of danger, her passion for her friends, what she believes is “right”, and her defiance against her father, fuel her to try and help them defeat the sorceress (how she doesn’t run into Quistis’ team is beyond me).

In her quest to help, she comes to a very scary realization. She is not as strong as she believes herself to be. When she was attacked alone, she didn’t have the confidence to handle what was being thrown at her. This may seem weak to some people, but I saw this as a very real side of anybody, and a lesson to be learned about people. She gave off a sense of confidence, because with others around her, she was confident. When left alone to her own devices, she didn’t have another person to be confident with, therefore, the confidence was not there. Many times in life, we are most ourselves when we are alone. The person we show to people is the outside layer that we would like to be, or how we would like to be seen. This being true of Rinoa, she seemed to believe this to be true of Squall as well.

Even when faced with a cold and unemotional Squall, knowing her own feelings for the world, she refuses to believe someone can be this person that he puts off. Squall has an amazing ability to keep people at a distance, and guard his emotions. Coming from an orphanage, this must have been common practice his whole life. The people he relied on as a child are no longer available to him as a young adult, and he sees this as a sign that everyone will eventually be left alone. Refusing to believe that is all Squall has to offer, Rinoa does her best to break through his barrier, finally succeeding when he realizes he may never hear her again. Things that he found annoying, he missed, and in true Squall style, decides that he, alone, can save her… maybe. 

Even though her absorption of sorceress powers was an accident, she embraces it with dignity, volunteering to be cast away in fear that Ultimecia may strike again. Knowing this will forever keep her alone, she looks to Squall, who initially accepts her decision, but then chooses to save her, vowing to forever be her Knight. In the end, as he is overwhelmed by the time compression, she is the one that finds him. She doesn’t think of a time period, or a place to return to. She thinks of him. As they have grown individually, and together, throughout their journey, as long as they have each other that is all that matters.

Rinoa, to me, has always been an inspiration to face your fears head on, but hope for the best outcome. There is always another side to the story, and things always will work out in the end. Be confident in yourself, no matter what, and do not be afraid to look for help if you need it. These are the things she has taught me. 

Whether you love her or hate her (or somewhere inbetween) let’s open the discussion! What did you think about Final Fantasy VII, or Rinoa specifically? Has she inspired you in any way? Good or bad? Who is your video game soul mate? Is there a character that has spoken to you?

 

/bow

 

My Female Gaming Role Models: *Guest Post* Why was Coco Bandicoot so Cool?

I’ve been wanting to do a post about Coco Bandicoot, however someone already did it! So without further ado, Why was Coco Bandicoot so Cool? by  InvaderC8!

Woah!

That one word sums up one of the best series from the Playstation: Crash Bandicoot. Released in 1996 by Naughty Dog, Crash Bandicoot changed the foundations of Action platformers and was one of the highest selling games that year. It was about Crash, who started out as a normal Bandicoot, until Dr. Neo Cortex took him and was genetically enhanced to help him take over the planet. However, Crash was too carefree to be able to lead an army, so Cortex tossed him from his fortress, and decides to use Crash’s girlfriend, Tawna for his experiment. With time running out, it’s up to Crash to get through Cortex’s three islands, stop him from taking over the world and save his girl. But I’m not here to talk about Crash, even though he’s the star, and deservedly so, I’m here to talk about his little sister, Coco.

Coco B

From her introduction in CB2 and on, she was a kindhearted genius who loved her computer and helped out Crash when he was in trouble. However, after Crash Team Racing [the fourth game in the series], Naughty Dog gave the rights of the series to ”Radical Entertainment”, who decided “You know what Coco is missing? She needs a bratty attitude and have her make generally useless inventions! Oh, Oh, and, lets use her as a damsel in distress!” *sigh* You were so awesome in the beginning, Coco, and Naughty Dog won’t be able to come to the rescue. Well, with that disappointing thought in mind, I figured to do an article on why I thought she rocked in CB2 and CB: Warped.

Coco first appeared in “Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back” and was established as Crash’s little sister. What happened to Tawna? Your guess is as good as mine. Anyways, in the first few seconds we see her, we quickly learn her characteristics: She’s intelligent, loves her laptop and is more level headed then Crash. On his way to get her a new battery when her Laptop one dies, Crash gets caught by Cortex, who proclaims that he actually needs Crash to help him collect Crystals. It seems that the world is going to be destroyed by a force that will be generated when all the planets align, so he created the Cortex Vortex to protect it. However, it needs Crystals to work, which is where Crash comes in. While he is a good guy, Crash isn’t exactly the brightest bulb in the room, so he goes with it without hesitation. Luckily, Coco doesn’t believe a word Cortex says, and hacks into his computer to try and figure out what his true motives are, which we find out late in the game….

[Skip video to 3:12:45 if it doesn’t jump on it’s own.]

With that knowledge, Crash goes and takes out the vile Doctor. See? Without his sis, Crash would have unknowingly doomed us all to worshiping Cortex. This was a nice introduction for her, and she was a valuable asset to the storytelling, but it’s in “Crash Bandicoot: Warped”, where she truly comes into her own.

Please go to at Why was Coco Bandicoot so Cool? by InvaderC8 and continue reading about Coco!   

Thank you for the first guest post on “My Female Gaming Role Models”!

My Female Gaming Role Models: Sniper Wolf

 I finally understand. I wasn’t waiting to kill people, I was waiting for someone to kill me. A man like you. You’re a hero.

My introduction into the Metal Gear franchise was none other than Metal Gear Solid for the Playstation and I became obsessed. I mean hook your Playstation up through your VCR and record yourself playing with all the cut scenes so you can watch it over and over and over again, obsessed. I loved the story, the tactical espionage, the tragic back story to all the characters, the conspiracy theories. I loved it all. Except for Meryl, I could have done without her. Still can. I can’t quite pinpoint what it was, but something about her just rubbed me the wrong way. I never really empathized with her, she more annoyed me then anything else.

Then there was Sniper Wolf. A tragic heroine in her own right. I always thought her and Snake should be together, walking off into the sunset. She develops a deep emotional attachment to her targets until either one of them is dead. Sorry Otacon, but I don’t know if you ever really had a chance. Her love for animals, specifically the huskies she takes care of, is so telling of her personality. I doubt she could have the same empathy for a human. Her ability to be alone, and still, for days, even weeks, fits her codename, along with her insane sniping skills. She will always hold a special place in my heart. I never really saw her as a villain. I always felt that she was going along with the motions to feel alive, waiting for her best match, waiting for the person that will end all her suffering. I wonder if she paved the way for the beauties in MGS4.

I believe Wolf is a strong female character. I never really looked at her as “sexy”, although I suppose her uniform is not very practical in the snowy fields. I know my bewbs would get cold. Perhaps that adds to her feeling of numbness from the world around her. There is no place in society for damaged people. After all she went through, joining Liquid makes sense. Being a sniper makes sense. Dying to the hands of Solid Snake makes sense. I feel she is using them for a purpose as much as they are using her for her skills. Her emotional attachments to her targets is a sad truth to her love and want of death. however, she only welcomes death at the hands of someone skilled enough to actually take her down, not wallowing on her existence waiting for someone to take her out.

Sniper Wolf’s romantic last battle, and tragic ending, will never ever leave my gaming heart. Even with new games and new characters, Sniper Wolf stands out above all others.

My Female Gaming Role Models: Yuna

“It would be so easy…to let my fate just carry me away…following this same path my whole life through. But I know…I can’t.

What I do, I do…with no regrets.”

In this post, I’m going to talk about inner strength which I believe is just as powerful as physical strength. Yuna from Final Fantasy X is the embodiment of inner strength, resilience, and sacrifice for the greater good. Her journey to save Spira from Sin was emotionally demanding as  well as physically draining for her. I can’t imagine the turmoil she struggled with internally to continue on her path, no matter how it affected her. Not only that, but she tried to never let her inner conflict affect her outer appearance. She took the term “Always look on the bright side of life” to a completely whole new level.

I will admit when I first played Final Fantasy X I was very skeptical to a lot of the new changes that this title brought. Tidus’ voice acting was enough to make me cringe. Trust me, his character I could have done without. I also looked at Lulu and Rikku as the stronger female types, and Yuna as more of your typical white mage type. Oh great another blah female support character, at least Rikku can steal, and Lulu is a black mage. The more I worked through the story, however, the more I came to realize that Yuna was the strongest in the group, with her determination to sacrifice herself for the greater good, and to do it with a smile on her face. She has so much grace and determination it is a wonder she is not also in the discussion of damsels in distress. She herself is a damsel willingly walking into distress with no expectation of any of her male counterparts to save her. In fact, she tried very hard to exempt them from the same path. She was even going to marry Seymour just to help bring peace to Spira! (I hate that guy!)

Her ability to strive to see the good in people, whether or not it actually exists is another trait that I applaud her for. Even with the racism regarding the Al Bhed, and Wakka’s very strong opinion against the “savages”, she knows that they all want the same thing! Her decision to reach across the thresh hold, again for the greater good, adds to her character significantly. I also liked the realism in Wakka’s racism, since he had no idea that Yuna is half Al Bhed herself! (As a half Korean, I completely related to this aspect of her, especially since you wouldn’t be able to tell such a thing just seeing me walking down the street.) Even though religion was her driving force in the beginning, she defied this indoctrination that she had embraced for so long. To realize your beliefs are false, and to gain strength through that realization is a hard thing to do. Any lesser person would have been in shambles. I think religion is something that everybody struggles with at one point or another in their life. Having your entire belief system turned upside down must have been a very rude awakening.

Yuna is proof that you don’t have to be a Damage Dealer to be considered strong, or a strong character, or a strong female character. Her support and love for her friends and her determination to do what is right, no matter what that actually is, her compassion for others; theses are all traits that make her an amazing role model for any female, girl or woman.

What are your experiences with Yuna? Do you consider her a strong female character?

/bow

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