It’s the final week of Women’s History Month, and you didn’t really think we’d leave out the ORIGINAL badass woman in gaming, did you? Not a chance!!
Picture this: It’s 1986, and you’re a young person getting ready to start playing what is probably the most anticipated game of the year (gaming was still new back then, after all). You load up your cartridge of Metroid (yes, kids…cartridge gaming was a thing back then), and you see that you are taking on the guise of this badass space bounty hunter with a cannon on your arm. A freaking ARM CANNON! In that day and age of gaming, that was intensely badass. Then, after you sweat & curse your way through an average 13.7 – 15 hours of dungeons, bosses, and secret-hunting, you finally destroy the Mother Brain. If you also managed to achieve the highest echelon of endings, you were shown an additional scene in which Samus removes the iconic armored suit which has become synonymous with the character, and…SAMUS IS A WOMAN!
From all of my research into that moment in gaming history, it seems that reactions to the big reveal were relatively mixed. Everything from “Didn’t really care” to “Huh. That’s cool”, and all the way to the unfortunately immature, “OMG BOOBS!” comments have been shared on various forums around the internet. Ever since that moment, however, Nintendo has never attempted to hide Samus’s gender. It’s just common knowledge that the character is female, and she just seems to keep getting more badass with every Metroid iteration.
Many of today’s gamers may have been too young at the time (or not even born yet) to understand what an impact this kind of reveal would have on the face of gaming. However, Samus Aran actually paved the way for all of the ladies in gaming that you’ve read about here on PCU this month, as well as so many more ass-kicking women in games. Once gamers came to realize that a female character could be as strong & fun to play as a male character, more and more developers began to kick around the idea of having female protagonists in their games. Look at things this way: without Samus, there might not have ever been a Jill Valentine, an Aveline De Grandpré, or an Aloy. Samus’s gender reveal was a seriously groundbreaking and innovative moment in gaming.
Whether it was due to, or in spite of the gender reveal, Samus Aran also quickly built an almost cult-like following after the release of the original Metroid on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Here was a female character who fought hordes of progressively more vicious alien creatures in order to save her world from annihilation. Moreover, she did it completely alone. No co-op partner, and no NPCs giving her hints on how to best to approach a dungeon or boss. While she did get weapon upgrades, and upgrades to her now iconic Morph Ball ability, players still had to figure out how best to utilize these tools through trial and error (and a lot of failing, in some cases). Once they did, however, almost nothing could stop Samus from kicking a lot of ass all over the planet Zebes. Samus is, was and always will be the OG of badass women in gaming.
We know that this is not a full list of all of the great female characters in gaming. We just wanted to share with you, dear readers, a few of our favorites. On a more serious note, it’s 2017, and we are still seeing a lot of objectification of not only female game characters, but also of female gamers as well. It’s the opinion of us here at Pop Culture Uncovered that since there are several gamers out there of our generation who are now raising gamer daughters, we should take a moment to think about how we want our children to view one another. Do we want them objectifying & over-sexualizing each other, or do we want them to see the value that all people can offer in a lifetime? It’s up to us to make that choice.
There you have it, dear readers! Five of our favorite badass female video game characters ever. From Senua to Samus, these ladies are groundbreaking and strong, and really show the importance of women in gaming. Which of our picks do you like the best, and who are your all-time favorite female badasses in the world of video games? Let us know in the comments!