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Old 06-20-2012, 03:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Unsung Heroines

When the subject of important video-game heroines comes up, certain characters are always discussed: Metroid's Samus Aran, Street Fighter II's Chun-Li, and maybe even Princess Peach. But they weren't the only standard-setting female leads the game industry had to offer in its formative years.





REIKA 'TIME GAL' KIRISHIMA

(Time Gal, 1985)

The first video-game heroine? Hmmm. Probably Ms. Pac-Man. The first video-game heroine who was an actual human, represented by more than a mass of dots? That'd be Reika 'Time Gal' Kirishima, star of a laserdisc-based arcade game from 1985. Like Dragon's Lair, Time Gal's debut is played through traditional animation, with the player using very simple controls to guide Time Gal through dangerous periods of history. She'll contend with gladiators, outrun T-rexes, and, like the hero of Dragon's Lair, die many times before the player memorizes the proper pattern.

Some would argue that Time Gal isn't so much a game character as she is an anime emissary. It's fair to call her the creation of Japan's 1980s animation scene and all it embodied, good and bad. Much like Lum from Urusei Yatsura, Time Gal skips merrily through the space-time continuum, and she does it all in a rather impractical bikini. If not entirely positive, her place in history is notable all the same. That place was marginalized after the 1980s, but she returned as a playable character in the 2008 shooter Castle Shikigami III.





TOBY 'KISSY' MASUYO

(Baraduke, 1985)

Metroid's Samus Aran gets most of the credit for being an early and prominent heroine in video games, but she certainly wasn't the first. A year before Samus made her mark, Namco's 1985 arcade shooter Baraduke featured a stout astronaut of unclear gender, with only the name 'Kissy' as a hint. Like Samus, Kissy removes her helmet at the game's end to clear up the matter. The game's ending screen confuses things by saying 'You are a brave man,' but it's apparently addressing the player.

Kissy would never attain the same celebrity as the credit-stealing Samus, but Namco would remember Baraduke's lead. She was later renamed Toby Masuyo and given a place in Namco arcade lore. In this canon, she married Dig-Dug, and the star of Mr. Driller is their son. Her last appearances were in two 2005 titles; she's an action heroine in the gooey crossover sundae of Namco X Capcom, and she's Dig-Dug's rather possessive wife in Dig Dug: Digging Strike.





LUCIA

(Wing of Madoola, 1986)

The NES library had plenty of women in need of rescuing, even in early offerings like Kung-Fu, Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Kage. It was so pervasive that many young NES owners must've sat back and asked 'Hey, why aren't there any games where the girl saves the guy?' Such a game was actually lurking in Japan as early as 1986, and it was Sunsoft's The Wing of Madoola. A side-scroller with a few RPG extras, it sends a young warrior named Lucia into a battle to free her homeland. It's routine NES plotting with the typical roles flipped, but Lucia still saves a prince at the end.

The Wing of Madoola is still remembered in Japan, partly on Lucia's account and partly for the brutal challenges set before her. The enemies are vexing, the continue system isn't documented in-game, and the whole thing is unbeatable unless Lucia emerges from the last boss battle with a good stock of magic points. All of this was spotlighted in an episode of Game Center CX, and The Wing of Madoola would've been just as frustrating had Sunsoft inflicted it on the English-speaking world back in the 1980s. But it would've been different, too.

As it went, NES owners in search of role reversal had to wait for 1991's Wurm: Journey to the Center of the Earth, in which underground explorer Moby commandeered a drilling hovercraft in a search for her missing boyfriend and his crew. It didn't end happily.



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Old 06-20-2012, 04:38 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Unsung Heroines

Miria, the chick from The Guardian Legend
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Old 06-20-2012, 07:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Unsung Heroines

The great Stanley Chow homaged Yie Ar Kung Fu, where Fan could have inspired Chun Li for Street Fighter.

A great fighting game by Konami.
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Old 06-20-2012, 07:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Unsung Heroines

Quote:
Originally Posted by masayume View Post
The great Stanley Chow homaged Yie Ar Kung Fu, where Fan could have inspired Chun Li for Street Fighter.
Sounds to me like it's a Scottish title. "Ye' are Kung Fu!"

Anyways, it's a really obscure game, and it was past the NES era, but I always figured that Umihara Kawase had a unique main character in the fact that you played a small girl.

Umihara Kawase - Super Nintendo
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Old 06-20-2012, 09:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Unsung Heroines

You play a girl in Monster World IV on Mega Drive. Really awesome platformer.
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Old 06-21-2012, 02:38 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Unsung Heroines

There is also an original SNK game that features no less than the greek goddess Athena (Athena - Arcade/Coin-Op). Later she appeared also in "Neo Geo Battle Coliseum"

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Old 06-21-2012, 03:10 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Unsung Heroines

Well it's a good thing she has that shield to protect her. That bikini isn't covering much.
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