Replay: The top 'femmes fatales' of gaming
by Joey Núñez
Femme Fatale. It’s French for 'deadly woman'. According to Wikipedia - also known as The Bible of the internet - a femme fatale is a "dangerous and seductive woman", who often leads men into "compromising, dangerous and deadly situations". To me, a femme fatale is a chick who kicks ass, and if you know anything about me you know I love a kickass chick.
Lucky for me as a gamer, those nerdy game developers seem to love feisty ladies just as much as I do, and I’m guessing some of you geeks can appreciate the allure of a tough-as-nails female as well. Given the rampant interest on the subject, and in no way motivated by an inappropriate obsession with these gaming gals, I have taken it upon myself to put together a little list of my favorite femmes fatales of gaming. A powerful protagonist can and will completely change your experience with a game, so take a look at this list and check these ladies and their games out, and remember: most of them could beat you senseless.
Samus Aran, Metroid
Anyone who played Metroid back in the day will remember the exact moment when you realised Samus Aran, the futuristic bounty hunter in the suit that would give Iron Man a run for his money, wasn’t a cool dude. Nope, he wasn’t actually a he at all. He was a she, and she was tougher than any man could ever hope to be.
For the two of you out there who are unaware of Metroid, here’s the 411: Samus Aran walks around in some manly looking (yet strangely flattering) body armor, is armed to the teeth with futuristic laser guns, bombs and all manner of snazzy gadgets, and can basically walk onto a planet, take out every ugly alien on it, blow the goddamn rock up and head back home in time for lunch. She’s badass and don’t you doubt it. Oh, and one more thing: as of late, Samus has taken to wearing more fitted outfits. She’s pretty hot under that manly armor.
Samus made her latest outing in Metroid: Other M, infused with 25% more badass mojo, courtesy of Team Ninja. Some fans have frowned upon how the developers choose to flesh out Samus’ back-story and make her out to be somewhat of a fragile little girl. I’ll leave you guys to judge whether Other M has a higher 'win' or 'fail' quota, as long as you don’t for a second doubt just how awesome Samus is.
Not. One. Second.
Jill Valentine, Resident Evil
Not only is she a femme fatale, she is also the infamous 'master of unlocking'. The original Resident Evil girl, many have tried to win over Jill Valentine's title but, in my humble opinion, no other digital girl has succeeded.
Jill Valentine blew out her first zombie brain - and won over the hearts of gamers everywhere - back in 1996, in the first Resident Evil. She turned out to be more than just 'the girl character' of the game, thanks to some clever design choices by Capcom. Instead of just inserting a character with breasts, meant for one Mr. Chris Redfield, into an adventure, Capcom gave Ms. Valentine her own distinct storyline and adventure. Somehow, despite atrocious dialogue and voice acting, Capcom managed to create not only a long-lasting series but also characters that would withstand the test of time.
Jill went on to star in what I still consider to be the scariest game in the series, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (available now for download from the PlayStation Store), and made a semi-triumphant return in Resident Evil 5, proving to us all that she was still the girl that a zombie wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley.
Look for her to appear sometime soon in the upcoming 3DS game Resident Evil: Revelations. Just the thought of Jill Valentine blowing out zombie brains in an awesome 3D handheld format makes me get all giddy. You should go ahead and get excited too.
Fun fact: Jill was simply not content with kicking zombie booty, and made the jump to fighting games in 2002 in Marvel vs. Capcom 2, a role she is set to reprise this year in the game's sequel.
Jill Valentine is, simply put, all that and then some.
Lightning, Final Fantasy XIII
If the last two girls on the list could be considered old-school, then Lightning, of Final Fantasy fame, is about as 'new-school' as you can get. Making her first appearance in last year’s Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning showed up with a definite bang. Benefiting from all the power the PS3 and the 360 have to offer, the visuals of Final Fantasy XIII and the lovely Lightning are awe-inspiring, and to see this girl in motion is a thing of beauty. Trust me, you don’t forget the first time you see Lightning turn her gun into a sword with nothing but a flick of her wrist. Yeah, that’s right, her gun is also a sword. Awesome.
Speaking of weaponry, you should know that Lightning has more than enough talent to sweep the floor with any of the male Final Fantasy protagonists that came before her. With military training under her belt, Lightning could just as easily dropkick you as light you on fire courtesy of some nifty magic. I should probably also mention that she has the ability to invoke the power of Odin in one of the series' trademark 'summons'.
Yeah, I mean Odin as in King of the Norse Gods. Again, awesome.
Anything but a damsel in distress, Lightning is a woman on a mission, driven and focussed; say what you will of the linear nature of Final Fantasy XIII, but Lightning had business to care of, and no town full of NPC’s was going to get in her way. If you, like me, can’t get enough of this gun-blade toting woman, fear not: Lightning is poised to make a comeback in two upcoming Square Enix games, Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Dissidia: Duodecim.
A group of Angels swoop down from the heavens, wielding celestial weapons and intent on putting an end to you. Who are you? A curvaceous, cheeky, and absolutely deadly witch. As you lunge forward with your samurai sword you quickly go from slicing the angels up into feathery bits to shooting them up with your dual guns, swiftly interchanging punches with deadly shots. You finish off your enemies with a couple of well placed bullets. These bullets, however, aren’t fired from the guns in your hands, oh no; these are shots from the guns attached to the heels of your fabulous boots.
Oh, Bayonetta: you are one crazy chick.
I’ve played quite a few action games in my day and have witnessed all kinds of ludicrous things that insane game developers the world over have cooked up in their twisted little heads. After four Devil May Cry games, a couple of Ninja Gaidens, and a few God of Wars, I’d thought that I couldn’t be completely floored anymore. Yet Bayonetta went ahead and proved me wrong...
...in the best possible way.
Sure we’re talking about an extremely solid action game, with tight controls, great visuals and incredible art direction, but what really pulls the whole package together is Bayonetta herself. Overtly sexual, riddled with clichés and an all-round badass, Bayonetta is a character who gamers, such as me, will not soon forget. If you haven’t given this game a try, please do, immediately. Personally, I can only hope that we haven’t seen the last of this pole-dancing witch.
Yes, I said pole dancing. No, it wasn’t a typo.
Chun Li, Street Fighter
The number one, undisputed fighting game vixen is without a doubt Chun Li of Street Fighter fame. The tiny little Chinese girl, with the pretty blue dress and the lighting fast legs, changed the landscape of fighting games for the better back in 1991, with her appearance as a playable character in Street Fighter II – The World Warrior. Chun-Li was the first ever playable female character in a fighting game. The first ever. If you’re wondering, now is a good time to be impressed.
Chun-Li literally invaded a man’s world, and kicked serious butt while doing it. This nimble lady let little gaming boys the world over know that it was alright to pick the girl, especially if you beat the other guys to the ground while doing it. Again, we have Capcom to thank for this one. Instead of making a flimsy, cardboard cutout pretty girl who wanted to see the world and throw some kicks, they make a Chun-Li an undercover cop with a dead dad and revenge on her mind. Armed with quick hits and Princess Leia hair, a legend was born.
Chun-Li continues to be a popular character today, and has been featured prominently in most of Capcom’s Street Fighter games, as well as in most of the spin off franchises Capcom has cooked up, most prominently the Capcom vs. games. You can find Chun-Li spin-bird-kicking her way into Marvel vs. Capcom 3 right now.
Aya Brea, Parasite Eve
I’m guessing a few of you are saying "Aya who?" right about now. Fear not, all shall be revealed.
Aya Brea was just your regular, run-of-the-mill NYPD detective, minding her own business, trying to live the good life and catch an opera at Carnegie Hall when BAM, the prima donna of the opera gets all glowy eyed and makes everyone in the room catch on fire. Spontaneous combustion is not as fun as it sounds. Of course, our heroine didn’t catch a bad case of "I’m on fire!" like everyone else; instead, she got some nifty superpowers out of it all.
And, lo, a hero is born! Aya Brea proceeded to fight said Prima Donna and the mutant creatures she created in her wake, with New York City hanging in the balance, all the while looking all kinds of foxy in her leather jacket and blue jeans. Not quite an action game, and not quite an RPG, Parasite Eve was something else. In addition to the very cool abilities Aya developed in the course of the game she also had access to all kinds of weaponry, which you could upgrade in all sorts of ways. Think Resident Evil with magic that isn’t magic but superpowers... got it?
The interesting game mechanics plus pretty blonde lead made a hit of Parasite Eve on the PlayStation back in 1998. A sequel was released in 2000, and despite being packed with more lady-killing-creatures action, we haven’t heard of Aya since.
Luckily for us fans, Ms. Brea is just about ready for her comeback. A third game in the series, aptly titled The Third Birthday, is set to mutate the mitochondria of a PSP near you this March. After over ten years, I think that deserves a great big HUZZAH!
YRP, Final Fantasy X-2
I get it. Many hated Final Fantasy X-2. The roster was reduced to three playable characters, all of whom were girls. The tone of the game was much camper and upbeat, and the story - as a direct continuation of Final Fantasy X - left some wanting more. I, on the other hand, absolutely loved this game, in no small part due to its three female leads: Yuna, Rikku and Paine.
Fans of Final Fantasy X were more than familiar with Rikku and Yuna, however no one was expecting the massive makeover given to Yuna, who went from a princess-like summoner to a gun slinging acrobat straight out of Charlie’s Angels. And then, there was Paine. A sombre, cold and all-business warrior, the only way to describe her is badass, in an extreme sense. The game made a switch back to the job system, a classic Final Fantasy battle system by means of which you can change a characters job (thief, gunner, black mage, white mage, etc.) in order to gain access to the abilities corresponding to each job. The special thing about FFX-2 is that you could switch jobs mid-battle, leading to some very flashy over the top wardrobe change animations and some even flashier strategy.
I played this game to death, and wholeheartedly recommend it to any RPG enthusiasts willing to give it a chance. Hopefully these ladies will win you over as they did me.
Rubi Malone, WET
WET was a game which, to me, was filled with promise. Poised to be a great, stylish and clever action game, the end result just wasn’t running on all cylinders and ultimately didn’t deliver. However, if there was one aspect of the game I truly liked it was the character created to star in it: Rubi Malone.
This is a list of tough ladies, correct? Well, Ms. Malone packs dual pistols, uzis and shotguns; can run on walls like nobody’s business; and there’s also that useful Samurai sword she just loves to carry around. She is a bad-mouthed, dangerous mercenary for hire, and I love her for it.
WET was just oozing with style, trying its hardest to be the game Quentin Tarantino would love to make and play. If we’re lucky the recently announced sequel will be a bit more Tarantino and a bit less B-movie.
Trish, Devil May Cry Series
Granted, in constructing my list I’ve taken a few liberties with the term 'femme fatale', but if ever there was one, Trish of the Devil May Cry series is definitely it. Covered in sexy leather and leathery sex appeal? Check. Using her cunning to lure our hero into danger? Check. Powerful enough to take us all to hell and back, and not break a sweat? Check check check.
Trish made her debut in the first Devil May Cry on the PlayStation 2 way back in 2001. Created by the evil demon Mundus to look just like Dante’s mother, and imbued with enough strength and power to take our hybrid demon/human hero on, Trish was central to the story, as she served as the bait, foe and eventual ally of Dante. At the end of the first game Dante finds himself with a new partner, and we find ourselves with a new femme fatale to love.
Sadly Trish has found herself with a downplayed role in the series, and we craving fanboys have always been left wanting more of this blonde bombshell. Playable as a secret character in the disappointing Devil May Cry 2, and making scant appearances in Devil May Cry 4, it's left to be seen what Trish’s fate will be in the reboot of the series, known simply as DMC.
Lara Croft, Tomb Raider Series
It’s no secret: I love Lara Croft with a passion. Dig deep enough around the site and you’ll find my ode to both Lara and her franchise around here somewhere. And honestly, what’s not to love? There’s the lovely British accent, the acrobatic prowess and handy dual-wielded guns, the archeological knowledge. She isn't too difficult on the eyes either.
Lara Croft has been a staple of the videogame industry since she made her debut in the 1996 Tomb Raider. In an era when 2D gaming was still king, Tomb Raider not only took part in the 3D gaming revolution, but also changed the landscape of female characters in gaming. Lara Croft, just like most of the other women on this list, is tough, unapologetic and very kickass, whilst at the same time maintaining her femininity and charm.
With the recent Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, the folks at Crystal Dynamics proved to us all that Lara Croft was a compelling character even when you take a Tomb Raider game and turn it on its head. I harbour a deep hope that they’ll be able to pull that off again with the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot/prequel.
So there you have it, boys and girls; my top ten gaming femmes fatales. I’m sure that I’ve left hundreds of amazing characters off the list, but these ladies just float my boat and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Sound off in the comments section and let us know who your favourite femmes fatales are.
Labels: 2011, Bayonetta, Columns, Devil May Cry, Dissidia Final Fantasy, DMC, Final Fantasy, Joey Núñez, Metroid, Parasite Eve, RePlay, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, The Third Birthday, Tomb Raider, Wet
- Joey Núñez
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