Rebel princesses, space warriors, dark spies, avenging Amazons, many were the roles played by women in video games. In the 1980s, 90s and 2000s, their presence grew in quantity and relevance, and today several characters stand out in the imagination of the gamer community.
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This means that several games from the past have protagonists, who, although important for this evolution, ended up forgotten by the general public. Then the Game On rescues the story of some of these heroines.
Princess Kurumi (Ninja Princess)
Although the standard hero of the 1980s was a muscular military man, Sega already in its early days dared with characters outside of this scheme. Released for arcades in 1985, Ninja Princess puts the player in control of a cute little princess. Contrary to the classic archetype, princess Kurumi escapes a kidnapping and, in the best “one-woman army” style, turns into a ninja and sets out to recover her castle that was taken over by the villain Zaemon Gyokuro.
Ninja Princess is a vertically scrolling shooter, in which Kurumi has to shoot down enemies coming from all directions in levels of increasing difficulty. Ninja Princess won a Master System conversion, but unfortunately Sega replaced its princess Kurumi with a generic protagonist. Even so, Ninja Princess is important because it marks one of the first works by Rieko Kodama, one of the most important game producers in Japan.
Alis (Phantasy Star)
Sega again deviated from the norm by casting a heroine to star in an epic RPG. Phantasy Star tells Alis’ quest to avenge her brother’s death and defeat the powerful villain Lasic. In a technically incredible adventure for the time, with graphic and sound quality superior to the classic Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, Alis needs to gather a group of heroes and travel through three planets so that her mission can be successfully completed. Phantasy Star is one of the most famous and emblematic games designed by Rieko Kodama, who thanks to games like this one, has become one of the references of female game design in Japan.
Alisia (Alisia Dragoon)
The Mega Drive games library is full of games with a lot of action and a high degree of challenge. Although not as well known, Alisia Dragoon is one of the best games of its kind. The protagonist Alisia is a warrior with several magical powers that can be expanded during the campaign, in addition to the ability to summon dragons, and considering the stages full of enemies and epic battles against super powerful bosses, Alisia will have to use everything she has available to win in the end. Launched in 1992, Alisia Dragoon gained fame over the years, especially when one of the game’s developers, Gainax, became very famous because of anime such as Evangelion and Nadia.
Sayo-Chan (Pocky & Rocky)
In 1992 Natsume bet on a vertical shooting game well out of the standard of the time. Out of the spaceships and futuristic settings, in traditional Japan, yokai folklore and the protagonist Sayo-Chan, a friendly priestess who has “ofudas” (paper talismans) and a “gohei” (a kind of wooden stick with strips of folded paper used to ward off evil spirits) to prevent Black Mantle, a great evil spirit from invading the world of the living.
Kiki Kaikai (Pocky & Rocky in western versions) was relatively successful on the Super Nintendo and gained a sequel to the console. After years of disappearing, Sayo-Chan returned to video games with “Pocky & Rocky Reshrined” released for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
Joanna Dark (Perfect Dark)
The phenomenal success of Goldeneye 007 practically forced Rare to make a new shooter. However, EA got the rights to the James Bond franchise, which made Rare bet on an original game. Out comes the most famous secret agent in the world (ironic, isn’t it?) and in comes Joanna Dark, an agent who operates under the title Perfect Dark.
Joanna Dark becomes involved in a plot that contains disputes between large corporations, whose backdrop is an ancient war between alien civilizations that have secretly infiltrated Earth. Nintendo 64 success, Perfect Dark gained a sequel to Xbox, which did not have the same success. There have been rumors of a sequel for a few years now, but Agent Dark’s fate is still unclear.
Jade (Beyond Good & Evil)
The product of much experimentation on the part of Ubisoft’s developers, Beyond Good & Evil is a curious milestone in videogames. Its protagonist, Jade, is a rare breed in video games: an investigative photojournalist, and the game’s campaign blends puzzle-solving, photography, infiltration sequences, and Zelda-style fights, all into a surprisingly cohesive game. Despite not having significant sales, it gained a “cult” status over time, and has already been considered one of the best games of all time by several specialized vehicles. Still, Beyond Good & Evil only got an HD remaster for PSN and Xbox Live Arcade in 2011, and its announced sequel has yet to get off the ground.
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