Female characters tend to fulfill one of two roles in video games: the helpless woman that needs to be saved or the weak sidekick. It is rare that a female character is ever the heroine of the story and often when a female character is the heroine, her story is derivative or uninteresting. There are exceptions to this rule and those exceptions tend to be some of the most interesting and exceptional characters in video game history. The following are the ten best female heroines in video games.
10. Aya Brea (Parasite Eve) – Aya breaks the mold right from the start. She is a police officer and her first act of the game is to protect her male date from being killed. Throughout the game, she continually proves she is tough, going toe to toe with giant monsters in fights that would challenge Kratos from God of War. The only reason she doesn’t earn greater respect is that she is a little bit too much of a clone of the tough female characters from the Resident Evil series.
9. Lenneth (Valkyrie Profile) – Role playing games almost, to a number, have male protagonists, at least as the main playable character. The main reason for this is that males are simply the larger demographic for the genre. Valkyrie Profile discarded this convention by making the main character not only female, but only 14 years old. This teenage girl then proceeds to fight gods with as much zeal and power as any male protagonist from any other role playing game.
8. Etna (Disgaea) – Technically, Etna is only a sidekick. But, unlike most female sidekicks, she is far from weak and, due to the unusual mechanics of this game, can potentially be one of the most powerful characters in the game. More importantly, she is a recurring character in the series that constantly seeks to become the main character. And, if you play exactly the right way, she actually succeeds. This is very appropriate for this cool, witty, sassy character that basically steals the show every time she is on screen.
7. Jade (Beyond Good & Evil) – Imagine Lois Lane on an alien world without Superman nearby. This is almost a perfect description of Jade from Beyond Good & Evil. She is a tough photojournalist that takes on a corrupt government in order to save children. And, she does with only one weapon of note: a camera. Few female characters show that much courage and gumption.
6. Alice (American McGee’s Alice) – A lot can happen in a decade. In the case of Alice, after her adventures in wonderland, her parents were killed in a fire and she ended up in an insane asylum. The deterioration to her mind also transformed the mental construct that was Wonderland into something much more frightening. This grown-up Alice is a lot more vicious and cold-hearted than her younger self. She is practically an anti-hero, massacring the twisted versions of all of her old friends. It may not be a pleasant take on the Wonderland mythos, but Alice is truly portrayed in a unique and exciting way.
5. Jill Valentine (Resident Evil) – Jill is the first female heroine of the survival horror genre. But, unlike female character in horror movies, she doesn’t constantly run and eventually die due to her own stupidity. She fights back with a vengeance. Clearly the inspiration for Aya Brea from Parasite Eve, Jill is a police officer that faces the sudden zombie apocalypse with cool and calm. She is smart and lethal, a combination which is rare in video game heroines.
4. Ms. Pacman (Ms. Pacman) – The original video game heroine is still one of the most classic. In truth, Ms. Pacman is basically just Pacman with a pink bow on her head. The reason she is so impressive is that her game is considered by most video game enthusiasts to be significantly better than the original Pacman. She is the first ever proof that video gamers will play a good game regardless of the gender of the protagonist.
3. Lara Croft (Tomb Raider) – In conjunction with Jill Valentine from Resident Evil, Lara Croft basically created the concept of the powerful gun-slinging female protagonist. Unlike Jill, Lara did it while wearing a tank top and booty shorts. The sexier model proved important in terms of popularity and Lara Croft became a household name, unlike Jill Valentine. This female version of Indiana Jones has since starred in nearly a dozen more video games, all of which continually portray her as athletic, lithe, and lethal.
2. Kerrigan (Starcraft) – Technically, Kerrigan is only the protagonist of this game for about the first third of the game. After that, she becomes the antagonist. But, it is her time as the protagonist that makes her such a beloved character and makes her popular as the villain. Despite limited storytelling, Starcraft makes her an interesting and appealing character almost from the start. Her apparent death is as traumatizing as it is surprising and her return is monumental, even if she has become the enemy. Kerrigan has all of the attraction of Ridley from Aliens, for nearly the same reasons and her few scenes as a true hero are some of the best in the game.
1. Samus (Metroid) – No female protagonist even begins to compare with the much beloved Samus. Part of what makes her so impressive is that, in the original Metroid, nobody actually realized she was female until the very end of the game. Wearing a bulky gender neutral space suit throughout the game, gamers just assumed, like most protagonists, the she was male. Upon defeating the game, the designers included the big reveal. Samus was actually female. Gamers were shocked and then thrilled. Samus has only grown in popularity and she consistently ranks as one of the best characters in all of video games, going toe to toe with her male opponents. A female space warrior with a huge gun for a fist just hits all of the right buttons for cool.