Historically, girls have struggled to find prominence as the main characters of video game titles. The “fairer sex” is sometimes unfairly portrayed as somehow weaker, more fitting in a damsel-in-distress role, or relegated to cheap eye candy.
Then again, females are often targets of this same treatment in the real-life world, or even in other media, such as movies and music. Video games could stand as a bastion of exception to this gender mistreatment, but probably have not yet met their full potential to do so. Despite these hurdles, certain females do stand out as strong characters.Samus Aran
Appearing in the Metroid series of games, Samus is an intergalactic bounty hunter who battles aliens with a cannon for an arm. Perhaps that should be repeated, for emphasis: Samus Aran is a butt-kicking bounty hunter who viciously slaughters horrifying creatures with a bazooka attached to her shoulder.
The charming Asian choice of Street Fight connoisseurs, Li shows off acrobatic kicks in high-flying fashion. Against mutated monsters and maniacal despots she holds her own in a brawl, while managing to look good doing so without simply showing as much skin as possible.
The Perfect Dark protagonist, Joanna is a secret agent ala James Bond albeit in female form, who later turns mercenary bounty hunter. With an array of guns ranging from classic silencer pistols to fly-by-wire missile launchers, Dark is the woman for the job, if the job requires the covert assassination of several heavily armed men in a nearly impenetrable fortress.
Mario’s love interest usually gets kidnapped by Bowser, but in the Smash Bros and Super Mario RPG releases she can beat baddies on her own! Maybe the most telling sign of Peach’s strength, though, lies in her willingness to continue loving Super Mario despite his habit of constantly placing her in harm’s way.
While some girls have wielded firearms in pursuit of their game’s goals, few have done so with the disciplined effectiveness of and steel nerves of Jill. The fact that she does so while battling hordes of reanimated monstrosities in Resident Evil is merely a bonus.
Honorable mention: Vela
Starring in the obscure and vastly underrated Nintendo 64 action space adventure third-person shooter Jet Force Gemini, Vela is the blue-haired swimmer with a knack for triple-rocket launchers and specialized explosives. Donning her jet pack for later stages of the game, she is the only selectable character capable of reaching certain areas of the galaxy. For this, she is immeasurably valuable and, by necessity, explosively powerful.