Girl in the Machine
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
The Scale of RPG Heroines

Part One

Welcome to a special three part series on heroines in role playing games. We’ll be exploring the high and low points together, hopefully appreciating the humor and seriousness that each candidate has to offer. 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?

10. Yuna
If we looked at one aspect of Yuna, she might have scored higher, but the combined effects of her two distinct personalities have landed her in the ten spot. In Final Fantasy X, she has a heart of gold, if nothing else. She’s accessible to the average player, and she’s a bad ass with her aeons. Unfortunately, as the folks at Wing Heart Productions have pointed out, apparently Yuna is part Siberian husky. She blurts out everything, bows spastically, and is otherwise constantly overeager to please. Her resolve towards her quest is strong, but in general she lacks a backbone. Every time she gets that dejected look on her face, I want to shake her and shout, “Speak up for yourself!”

That’s all in the past now, though. In Final Fantasy X-2, she’s toughened up a bit and has learned to stand up for herself… sometimes. She’s still the same sweetheart, and I can’t lie--some of her Dresspheres are exceedingly fabulous (Floral Fallal, anyone?). It’s a shame we have to stare at her skanktastic Gunner Dressphere through all the cutscenes. Perhaps the Garment Grid and Dresspheres were developed to save Yuna from this tragedy? We may never know the truth. But really, isn’t this supposed to be a so-called “girls’ game?” Who was this character designed for, then? That, and things like “disasteriffic” and “oh poopie!” make me wanna hurl. More than anything, it’s Yuna’s motivations that make me squirm. The entire game is primarily motivated by her search for Tidus (Dismantling Vegnagun is hardly a priority until the end of the game!).

9. Colette Brunel
For some reason, few people have played the Tales of Symphonia series. Let me give you a quick rundown of Colette’s story. Ahem… “I’m the daughter of an angel! I’m going on a quest to martyr myself and regenerate the world! I love doggies!” … and that about sums it up. Yes, she really does get a bonus “title” if you talk to all the dogs in the world.

What’s Colette got going for her? I love that her design is appropriate for her pilgrimage. She has a modest coat that looks like it would keep her cool in hot climates and warm in cold ones. Like Yuna, she’s kind and has a good sense of loyalty. Other than that, I have to wonder what goes through her head. She’s excessively ditzy and klutzy. I’m shocked that this is the best Sylvarant’s education system can muster for its Chosen One. She knows her hymns, prayers, and a few myths here and there. The clumsy girl literally crashes through walls on multiple occasions throughout the game (in the classroom where the game begins, for instance). At least the other characters don’t accept it as completely normal. She has some bad ass spells and fights with a pair of chakram, but for some reason her special attacks involve sqeaky piyo hammers. That certainly takes the edge off.

Some of her titles (a system used to modify stat bonuses when leveling up) from the game include: Klutz, Maid, Turbo Waitress, Ironing Board, and Oblivious.

8. Shion Uzuki
Shion’s got a few good things going for her: she has compassion, and as head of the research and development department at Vector Industries, she’s a genius. Shion’s greatest strength lies in her refusal to budge on issues concerning Realian rights.

Concerning Shion’s intellect, the “oblivious genius” thing really annoys me. It’s a poor reflection on smart people--as if their intelligence automatically makes them ignorant of romantic advances. Granted, Allen isn’t exactly the best at expressing his feelings, but damn. I’m pretty dense, and even I would’ve figured it out before she did. It doesn’t help that her space cadet quality is further enhanced by her voice actor and the way she dramatically swings her arms from side to side as she runs.

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 feel free to defend your favorites or bring up points I forgot in the comments section! See you next week to discuss spots seven through four!

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