Girl in the Machine
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The Scale of RPG Heroines III

Part Three

Welcome to the finale of our special three part series on heroines in role playing games. We’ll be exploring the highest points in this post. Keep in mind that this is a scale, not a “top ten” list. For example, Yuna's place in the ten spot indicates that she’s not exactly our role model here. Our mysterious woman in the number one spot is, by contrast, a video game messiah and everything you could ever hope your children might be.

Let’s not take ourselves too seriously, okay?

3. Celes
Celes is a strong woman—as a general within the Empire, she has proven both her strength and her wit. In combat, she is a competent fighter and a skilled magic user. Her Runic ability is not only defensive, but the MP she regains from absorbing enemy spells fuels her own. In other areas, she acts with kindness and compassion, resolutely working for the forces of good. And she can sing an aria pretty damn well, too!

Celes most noteworthy characteristic comes from her realistic reactions and inner strength after Kefka rises to power. Cid revives her in the World of Ruin, she finds him sick and weakened. Reversing roles, she then cares for her new uncle and does her best to nurse him back to health. If the player does well, Cid survives to reveal that he has built a raft and sees her off as she begins her journey anew.

More interestingly, if the player fails to heal Cid, he dies. Celes, believing that she may be the last person alive in the world, casts herself from a cliff in her despair. I’ll never forget seeing that teardrop glitter as she stepped over the edge—I mean, here I was in the third or fourth grade, and I was playing a character who just tried to kill herself! When she washes up on the beach and finds the seagull with Locke’s bandana, she realizes that she is not truly alone. Hopeful and inspired, she then takes Cid’s raft, setting sail into the unknown; after landing, she gathers the adventurers together for an assault against Kefka. It is through her force of will and determination that the part reunites for the final confrontation.

And this is just a small thing, and totally my own opinion, but I’d argue that Celes is far more important than her love interest, Locke. I mean, you can beat the game without even getting Locke back in your party. And Final Fantasy XII’s “History of Final Fantasy” feature claims he was the protagonist! What? Maybe they should’ve taken a closer look at…

2. Terra
Terra has to be one of the most interesting women in RPG history to date. Her journey for self discovery moves me every time I play the game.

Even as a young lil’ gay boy, I identified with her outsider status. The human world tries to manipulate her at every turn, whether it’s the Emperor Gestahl or the leader of the Returners, Banon—Terra becomes their tool. The esper world cannot truly accept Terra, viewing her as tainted by her human mother. Despite the cruelty she has endured throughout her life, Terra overcomes her past. She not helps to raise the orphans of Mobliz but also protects them from invading monsters. When Celes & Co. attempt to recruit her, Terra initially refuses. She insists on remaining in her new home, perhaps the first place where she has felt welcome.
For BomberGirl’s feelings on Terra, check out her article, “Some Words on Terra Branford.” She has expressed Terra’s virtues far more eloquently than I can.

1. Lenneth Valkyrie
I adore Lenneth. She’s my videogame idol. Where to start? I love everything about her: her armor is appropriate for battle, providing a combination of protection and mobility. Because she can equip both swords and bows, she has tremendous versatility on the battlefield. Her voice actress is strong and beautiful.

Initially cold and subservient, Lenneth makes a remarkable turnaround as the game progresses. Once a tool to the gods, she rebels against their plans, survives Ragnarok, and ascends to the top of the pantheon. Rising from an enslaved seventh-level goddess to All-Mother and Creator is quite a feat! Also, when Lenneth combines with Lezard’s homunculus, she becames part elf—this means that, unlike the other gods, she has the potential to grow, and so her status at the end of the game is only the beginning of her power!

Conclusion? I’d go straight for Lenneth. She's practically perfect.

Each woman’s placement on this list was a collaboration between BomberGirl, PlasmaRit, and me. The highly subjective opinions, however, are mine alone. If you just can’t accept what I said about your precious idol, I regret to inform you that my opinion probably won’t change. Sorry—but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to listen to you! Do you think this scale is totally out of balance? Right on? Let us know!

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