#10: Nightshade (PS2)
I nearly replaced this game with Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria due to Hibana's very skintight attire and supermodel physique.
When Sega decided to revamp Shinobi, gamers saw a fast-paced stylish game with a somewhat spotty camera and a steep difficulty curve. This naturally drew many hardcore players to the shadowy ninja. For me, it wasn't until the release of Nightshade that the new formula really gelled, and better still we got one extremely awesome character out of the deal. Hibana can do everything her predecessor Hotsuma could and more, only with her own graceful style. The challenge is still there, requiring the player to have nigh-perfect timing, and Hibana doesn't shy away from the demons or need any rescuing, she just kills it and moves on like the professional she is.
The newest game of the bunch is also a cult hit whose fans have long been demanding a proper sequel.
Mirror's Edge features a unique take on the FPS genre, in that it focuses more on the natural movement of the human body utilizing something known as parkour instead of focusing on combat. Faith, the main character, is a highly capable runner who carries messages and other vital information over the rooftops and new age skyline while doing her best to avoid capture. She is soon embroiled in a thriller style story full of twists and nail-bitingly tense moments of human physicality. The trademarks of her design are so recognizable all one has to do is see her shoe imprint or tattoos to know which game character is referenced. Though sometimes difficult to track her body's relation to the environment, Mirror's Edge deserves kudos for doing something original and showcasing a female with a naturally proportioned, though athletic, body.
Love it or hate it, this tale delves into the human psyche like few ever have.
Rule of Rose feels very much like a private school adventure horror set in the Lord of the Flies. While not the strongest in gameplay mechanics, Rule of Rose set new standards for what content can be in a video game, mixing psychological terror with a creepy perversion all its own. The main character Jennifer is not as physically strong as some other characters on this list and therefore relies on reflexes, wit, and one very helpful and loyal canine to survive a land ruled by examples of every psychoses in the book. If nothing else, this game will make you react.
Wait, isn't this a lot like #8? Well, yes and no, and its on the list for a different reason.
Sometimes games make a character so tough and so well-equipped that aside from a few sight frights and throwing wave after wave of extremely armored and accurate enemies at them is the only way to provide tension. And sometimes a game comes along that only needs one deranged cleaver-wielding singularly minded deformed maniac to instill an urgent terror. Building off of the much acclaimed Clock Tower series that came before it, Haunting Ground places players in the shoes of one seemingly frail kidnapping victim not yet recovered from a traumatic car wreck. Fiona starts off in a somewhat revealing state, covered only by a thin sheet which could draw some ogling, but is better considered as a metaphor for just how vulnerable she is. Many enemies do not even harm her, but instead raise her sense of panic or alert much more fatal enemies. Fiona also relies on a loyal rover to help her find paths, items, and distract enemies, but in the end the reason to play this is that it carries on the grand tradition of the truly terrifying video game and as such is only second on the Playstation 2 to the game Siren.
#6: Cy Girls (PS2)
A ninja and weapons expert with two separate play styles can jack-in to a virtual world that has Matrix-like qualities.
It doesn't matter greatly if one chooses the cool-under-pressure Ice or the versatile and agile Aska, there will be much butt-kicking ensuing. Ice uses a cover shooting mechanic similar to what has been seen in Metal Gear, but she has many moves all to herself particularly the cartwheel dodge shot and the ability to shoot while prone before getting up after her momentum has run out. Aska on the other hand focuses on wall-running, flipping, and slicing things to ribbons with her katana or perforating enemies with kunai. There is action and style to spare that can only be played to be appreciated although I suggest watching some gameplay videos even if you never play it. Lastly, aside from unlocking more characters, costumes, etc, and both main characters having their own distinct stories and motivations, there is a core feature wherein characters dive into cyberspace, bend the laws of physics and essentially hack their way through security systems by performing superhuman, Matrix-esque maneuvers.
#5: Primal (PS2)
From the makers of Medieval, comes a story about a girl, who has many demons.
Jennifer Tate is a goth-styled rocker girl with a unique tattoo on her back and an even more unique origin. Following her boyfriend into Oblivion after he is abducted, she meets and unlikely ally named Skree who happens to be a gargoyle and is integral to puzzle-solving as well as being a conduit for energy storage and humorous banter. Oblivion is separated into large, distinct realms themed after their demonic inhabitants: water, fire, etc. And as she progresses Jen will learn to unleash the beasts within, literally taking on the physical traits and powers of each of four types of demons. Jen is neither cliche in her character or her design and still stands out to me from all other female game characters. Her moves in combat are smooth and brutal, and her animations for everything else are more functional than suggestive. She is a very sexy woman and for all the best reasons.
#4: Oni (PS2)
What happens when Bungie and Rockstar get together to make an anime-inspired action game? Awesomeness.
Likely inspired by anime like Ghost in the Shell, if not completely so, and a main character named Konoko (real name Mai Hasegawa) sporting purple hair, Oni decided that not only could you make a third-person shooter, but that you could seemlessly blend it with a Final Fight type of beat 'em up. There was literally no pause between shooting an enemy with one of ten guns one split-second and jump kicking or throwing him off of a building the next. Environments may have been a little on the wide-open-but-sparse side, but the gameplay was anything but lacking. Konoko gained new abilities and improvements as she defeated enemies and looked fashionable doing it. See, this is one of those games that takes place over several days and Konoko changes costume accordingly, just a nice touch. But more importantly, Konoko was a very human character, dealing with a bad situation and a brother who worked for the other side, and her character shone through even more since her support consisted primarily of an android with artificial intelligence who becomes more and more empathetic as the story unfolds.
A treasure on N64 from Treasure.
Billed as a side-scrolling puzzle/platformer, Mischief Makers was one of the bright, colorful, and exciting games developed early in the N64 life cycle which wasn't made by Nintendo. Up there with other favorites of mine on that system (the Goemon series) Marina Liteyears vaults her way through an adventure both distinctly Japanese and globally endearing. Though she is his "maid", it is apparent that once Prof. Theo is kidnapped, Marina is somewhat more akin to Mega Man in design and purpose. Without ruining the story suffice it to say that zaniness and a wacky cast of npcs and villains abound. Not since Donkey Kong Country had I seen a more likable group of characters and while the action frequently became frantic, and sometimes ended with a restart, it was exactly what I expected from Treasure and a heck of a fun romp.
Playing second fiddle to the more exposed Jak & Daxter, the spunky Kya has more to offer than any gamer should miss.
So if you awakened in on an alien world, after being sucked through a portal your half-brother unwittingly opened, find him missing, are surrounded by furry aliens, and find them and yourself attacked by anthropomorphized lupines, what would you do? Well, Kya probably has you beat. She'll ride air current like something out of a Tony Hawk game and jump on a board to go down organic half pipes. She'll ride a mutant dinosaur ostrich thing to catch a speeding train and leap aboard. She'll turn her hair jewelry into a boomerang, she'll learn martial arts to put a champion to shame, and when she lands that knockout blow her game will enter a slow motion pan to display the impact and deformation of her wolfy foe's face before using her hidden inner power to exorcise the canine and restore the friendly alien native (known as a Nativ natch) back to form. The restoration has a benefit as well since more Nativs in the village means new shops and upgrades to Kya's arsenal and abilities. She'll then learn to wall jump, climb slippery surfaces, and more all of which she'll need to restore the planet, save her kin, discover her true origin, and make it through alive. This is by far one of the best platformers of its generation and certainly should not be missed.
#1: Koudelka (PS)
A game from SNK that isn't a fighter or Metal Slug?
Barely snagging the top spot from Kya on my list is this fantastic, creepy, and deeply layered gothic-horror turn-based rpg. Developed by Sacnoth, known for the Shadow Hearts series and published by SNK (known for King of Fighters, Samurai Shodown, and Metal Slug) Koudelka comes riding on her horse one night in 1898 to a lone and foreboding Welsh monastery. This setting was a prison for heretics and political enemies horrifically killed and now serves as a haunted, demon-infested abyss in which Koudelka and companions who join her party along the way (a preist and a treasure hunter) must find a way to overcome and cleanse if they ever hope to leave. Koudelka is a psychic and can use her powers in battle as can the other members, and each becomes more proficient with a type of weapon the more they use it. Battles are turn based, but also allow for limited grid-based movement of the character no further than the lead enemy position with distance having an effect on potency and accuracy this lends itself to decidedly strategic gameplay. The rest is sprinkled with exploration and Resident Evil style puzzles along with character interaction. Koudelka hits all the right notes as a game, as a story, and as a character. If you can find it, play it.
While there are any number of games that deserve to be on this list and it is completely subjective, I feel that these games give not only a wide spread of genres and gameplay, but feature some of the most memorable ladies in gaming. I hope this scratches the itch any gamer may have should they go searching for a game starring a female or a simply a memorable gaming experience.
List by Sohogojo (04/02/2014)
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