Girl in the Machine
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
The Quest for Humanity

Retro Spotlight: Asellus from Saga Frontier

[Editor’s Note: October is LGBT History Month, and so I have decided to spotlight a series of LGBT characters. I didn’t realize BomberGirl was also doing a focus this month, but I’m so excited about this topic that I can’t back down. Enjoy!]

In the game Saga Frontier, players can choose one of seven characters in a large, open-ended adventure. The world remains the same no matter which character you pick, but the stories are vastly different. In all honesty, I find many of them to be forgettable. However, one character, Asellus, has remained close to my heart since I first played the game in 1998.

Her quest begins as Asellus wakes up alone in a strange castle of thorns, and after some exploration she learns that she has become a “prince” of Fascinaturu, the kingdom of the Mystic race. She was killed twelve years ago when the Charm Lord Orlouge trampled her in his carriage, but he took her back to his castle and, thanks to a transfusion of his blood, managed to revive her. Unfortunately, Asellus is no longer human; through Orlouge’s magic, she has become the world’s first and only Half-Mystic. Like all women brought to Orlouge’s castle, Asellus is destined to become his bride. Horrified by his nightmarish world, Asellus flees with the help of White Rose, the kindest of all of Orlouge’s princesses.

I find Asellus simply amazing because of her delicate position in the power structures of her world. Not only is she treated as an object by Orlouge’s patriarchy, but she also suffers from the prejudice of both humans and Mystics who are unable to accept her mixed heritage. Despite this, she manages to overcome the obstacles before her and gather together a female super-team (several members of which are Orlogue’s other wives) to slay the Charm Lord and end his cruelty once and for all.

One of the most compelling aspects of Asellus’s quest is her bleak search for her own place in the world. She must make choices about whether to hunt for the remaining shreds of her humanity or to embrace the powers and privilege of her newfound Mystic heritage. The game has three endings to reflect the player’s choices.

Personally, I like seeing the happy ending where she regains her human capacity or the bittersweet ending in which she finds a balance in her new life as a half-mystic. Maybe it’s the “cheese factor,” but I like to imagine that everything works out okay.

In the chilling “Full Mystic” ending, Asellus takes Lord Orlouge’s place as Fascinaturu’s tyrannical despot; she has taken the human girl Gina as her first bride, and the other Mystics fear the beginning of her cruel reign. Yes, that’s right. Asellus takes Gina to be her bride.

Throughout the game and regardless of the ending you receive, the local Fascinaturu dressmaker Gina always speaks of Asellus with open affection. Similarly, later in the game, we see the relationship between Asellus and Princess White Rose develop into a romance.

I find Asellus to be a refreshing change from the usual straight white male protagonist and the scantily clad, big breasted female protagonist. While her costume is somewhat immodest, it was chosen for her by Orlouge (and the game designers), so I feel that it’s unfair to hold it against her. Besides, she’s actually the strongest character in the game because she combines all of the best parts of human and Mystic stat gains. Not to mention how awesome it is to play as a lesbian character who doesn't fall prey to countless stereotypes.

I fully recommend giving Saga Frontier a try if you didn’t play it back in the day. Asellus’s quest alone makes the game worth it. It is a truly gripping story about a young woman desperately seeking a way to define herself.

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 Posted by Calabar
 5:46 AM + Link to this post

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