In Honor of Women’s History Month, Nintendo is highlighting some of everyone’s favorite female characters such as Samus Aran, Rosalina, and Toadette. Paving the way for diverse and interesting female protagonists in video games, Nintendo has picked a few of their popular leading ladies that merit this recognition for the month that honors outstanding women. Please see the descriptions and images below for some background on these iconic female characters that have been an important part of Nintendo through the years.
Nintendo shows their support in celebrating Women’s History Month with Rosie the Riveter themed posters starring female characters. March is Women’s History Month and these posters are meant to engage more female gamers, as females make up almost half of the gaming demographic.
There are seven posters including well known and recognizable characters such as Samus Aran (who many might call, “Metroid”) and Rosalina. Other characters include Tetra, first starred in The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Lucina from Fire Emblem, Bombette from Paper Mario, Toadette, and Bayonetta.
In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, Princess Zelda was actually a tough and spunky captain of a ragtag group of pirates. Tetra saves Link from Ganondorf’s clutches, and later helps Link defeat Ganondorf for good to save the world.
Rosalina is an interstellar observer, protector of the Lumas and friend to Mario in Super Mario Galaxy. She is mother to the Lumas, who are little star-like creatures capable of becoming new galaxies!
Toadette is a recurring Toad character in the Mario series. These days, she’s a plucky treasure-hunter in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, who puts on a brave face to find rare goodies and save Captain Toad from the monstrous and greedy bird, Wingo.
Samus Aran shocked the video game world at the end of the original Metroid game by revealing her gender and changing the way we think about video game characters in the process. Video game protagonists need not be male in order to be strong. Samus is a space bounty hunter in an armored suit, outfitted with a powerful blaster on the arm and extreme heat resistance.
Lucina is an unwavering warrior with a strong sense of justice and commitment to her family. Her power, determination and wisdom gained from watching the destruction of her world are priceless strengths as one of Fire Emblem Awakening’s many playable female protagonists.
Bombette is a Bob-omb who joins Mario on his quest in the original Paper Mario for the Nintendo 64. As a member of Mario’s diverse team of fighters, she has an explosive fighting style and isn’t afraid to get physical with her body slam and powerful bomb attacks.
Bayonetta is a sassy and incredibly stylish witch with pistol-stilettos and a vendetta against the armies of angels and demons that hunt her. She’s a force to be reckoned with, an ally to her best friend and fellow witch Jeanne and doesn’t take flak from anybody.
Surprisingly, Princess Peach and Princess Zelda (as opposed to Tetra or Sheik) are not included in these posters. Perhaps it’s because they often play the “damsel-in-distress,” rather than the heroine or strong female figures. Other characters that aren’t included are Brittany (Pikmin 3), Palutena (Kid Icarus) and maybe even the Wii Fit Trainer, but perhaps they just aren’t as recognizable or as iconic yet. Interesting enough Sheik isn’t included, whereas Toadette is. Although Toadette has feminine characteristics such as pink long hair—mushrooms, Toadette and Toad are both genderless. Birdo is another exception whose gender is not clear in the series but also carries feminine aspects.
Criticisms to female characters in video games are that many are not considered the main protagonist. Here at least Samus and Bayonetta are the stars of their own games. The majority of female characters need to be saved such as Princess Peach or at times Princess Zelda. Other characters are viewed as oversexualized and at least the inclusion of Bayonetta here signifies that she is a powerful, clever and sexy character. Then there are female versions of male characters (dubbed Ms. Male Characters) such as Toadette, Bombette or even perhaps Dixie Kong.
I really must commend Nintendo on Animal Crossing, a series that does not have a traditional narrative where players can choose between male or female avatars. In Animal Crossing, the player can access cross-gender hairstyles, clothing choices, and still have your in-game gender expressions validated by other villagers. In Tomodachi Life, despite not being “officially” allowed to have same-sex marriage, it still is possible if you change the Mii’s sex, and it is another simulation game where you are able to wear cross-gender clothing.
All of that being said, I am glad that Nintendo is celebrating Women’s History Month and attempting to engage more female gamers. I have a feeling that Nintendo will include more female lead characters in their future games. Nintendo and other developers should branch out and target other demographics, especially women as it can give the player more insight into different perspectives. There could always be more female leads.
Character descriptions from The Mary Sue.