10 Female Game Characters Who Evolved Beyond Their Fanservice Beginnings
Video games have been around for almost fifty years now, and for a long time, sadly, most of the main heroes were either human – for example, Mario, Pac-Man and Link – or inanimate objects like the paddles of pong or various spaceships in games like Asteroids. So the reveal that badass space bounty hunter Samus Arin in the original NES metroid the game was actually a gg-girl came as a legit surprise at the time.
Unfortunately, when women were first introduced to video games, they were often objectified or used as a tool of exploitation. Fortunately, times are starting to change. For example, characters that were originally created for titillation (colloquially known as “fan service”) have evolved into compelling or interesting characters in their own right.
ten Lara Croft gets more dimensions in her reboot
From the very first game of the popular grave robber series, there was no doubt that Lara Croft was a badass. However, there’s no denying that it was also used as a fan-service eye candy for the (perceived) predominantly male audience of the mid to late 90s. This was confounded by its anatomically unrealistic design and the various “sexy” magazine spreads that featured her throughout the era. However, in 2013 Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics rebooted the franchise and achieved the success that many sequels to the original games failed to achieve. This rebooted version of Lara Croft was more naturally proportioned and a more well-rounded, vulnerable, and interesting character to boot. Even better, she also remained a certified badass.
9 Bayonetta is badass and shameless
Bayonet is a third-person hack-and-slash game starring the eponymous Bayonetta – a scantily clad witch who uses her hair and magical weapons to slay monsters in style. But where the character really shines is in her unabashed confidence. She is strong while remaining feminine and sexy too.
Bayonetta’s appeal is further enhanced by the campy tone of the games themselves. They remain fun and shy while avoiding exploitation or outright objectification.
8 Rouge The Bat isn’t blind to character development
Debut in Sonic Adventure 2, red the bat is an admittedly controversial choice (but not as controversial as Sonic kissing a human princess in Sonic ‘06). Still, there’s no denying that Rouge’s design is more evocative than his female mates on Sonic’s team, for obvious fan-service reasons. However, despite this, Rogue has an interesting history as a mercenary anti-hero turned hero, which grows as a character throughout the series. Therefore, this makes her more than just eye candy or furry fetish fodder.
seven Chun-Li goes from symbolic character to central character
Defining what “fan service” means often leads to didacticism, where some players say it just means unnecessary titillation. However, “fan service” is arguably also defined by female symbolism. For example, there’s no denying that Chun-Li was a formidable opponent when she first appeared in street fighter 2, so it is far from useless. However, she was also the only fighter in the game (before Super Street Fighter 2 added Cammy). This, combined with her revealing attire and often paused “spinning bird kick” move, makes her inclusion fit the definition of female symbolism. Luckily, her story was compelling enough that later games and media made Chun-Li a central figure throughout. street fighter story. So much so that she became a literal main character in 2009 Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li.
6 Mileena the Misunderstood Monster
Both Mileena and Kitana debuted in Mortal Kombat 2 as female ninja assassins. Unlike fighters Scorpion and Sub-Zero, who also changed their palette, Mileena and Kitana donned revealing costumes. In later games, while Kitana was allowed to retain some form of royalty, Mileena’s costume essentially became a non-existent pink bikini. However, these later games also fleshed out Mileena’s tragic backstory as an unwanted clone of Kitana, who rejected her, while Mileena only ever wanted her pseudo-sister’s love and acceptance. .
Even Mileena’s monstrous actions in Mortal Kombat X, where she becomes a Shao Kahn-like despot, happened because she felt inadequate and unloved during her reign, so she used her position to gain his favor posthumously. Moreover, in her MK11 ending arcade (where her outfit became much more practical), she reveals that once she received a god or titan power to control the flow of time, she uses it to create a family that simply loved her for who she was.
5 Tifa invokes many layers
Like many of the female characters on this list, Tifa from Final Fantasy VII is a competent fighter. She attacks what are essentially kaiju with her fists. However, there’s also no denying that she’s an attractive female character who wears short shorts and a cropped tank top while battling monsters, soldiers, and literal angels. This despite characters like Cloud and Barret who are conversely decked out in armor and pants. Nonetheless, Tifa Lockheart is so much more than a pretty face and mighty fists. He is also a caring three-dimensional character who grows throughout the long and arduous journey.
4 Liara T’Soni is not just an option
Liara T’Soni of the Hugely Popular Mass Effect The sci-fi series seems – at first glance – your stereotypical “fan service” persona. Unlike the others on this list, Liari is a character that the player can have sex with in the game. She belongs to an alien species called Asari, who fuse with their partner’s mind to make mating as enjoyable as possible. However, Liari is more than just a disposable sex object. She is one of the most interesting and compelling characters in the entire series. In fact, the romance subplot is entirely optional!
3 Princess Peach, more than a damsel in distress
Princess Peach started out as your prototypical damsel in distress. She was a pretty, little princess trapped in a tower by an evil villain who must be rescued by the hero of the story (in this case, the short and burly Mario of Super Mario Bros.). However, despite its humble beginnings, Peach has established itself in various successive sequels and spinoffs. First, she became the most useful character in super mario bros 2, then one of the fastest pilots of Mario Kart, and finally a formidable adversary in Super Smash Bros. Melee. As a result, Peach became someone who was willing to get her hands dirty, and she was all the better for it.
2 Ms. Pac-Man does everything better than Pac-Man
Pac man, released by Namco in 1980, is one of the most iconic arcade games of all time, maybe even “the” most iconic. But then, two years later, Mrs. Pac man was released in North America (originally as a mod kit), to great acclaim and success. One of the things that made Mrs. Pac-Man more alluring than the original was the alluring, leggy artwork on the arcade machine itself.
However, beyond its marketing potential, Ms. Pac-Man was more than an appealing, gender-swapped Pac-Man. His game puzzles were more difficult and varied, with many considering them superior to his Pac-Man counterpart.
1 2B finds true humanity
In the critically acclaimed sci-fi RPG Nier: Automata, the fan-service design of player character 2B was a deliberate choice by designer Yoko Taro. He said in an interview that he “just enjoys hot girls in games”. However, despite this (somewhat disturbing) fact, 2B easily overcomes his creator’s original intentions and becomes one of the most fleshed out, human characters in video game history (despite, you know, being an android).
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