Girl in the Machine
Monday, April 7, 2008
The Horror Heroine Effectiveness Scale, Part 1

As I'm sure you all know, we here at Girl in the Machine frickin' love Survival Horror games. They've twisted our minds and given us goosebumps since the golden days of our youth, and in the end we just can't get enough. There's been a recent drought of Survival Horror on the consoles lately, and as we try to cope we've put together a handy dandy scale of our favorite (and most hated) ladies of horror. It's the Horror Heroine Effectiveness Scale, ranking the capability of female protagonists so you don't have to!

How it works: For the next few weeks, I'll be serving up two rankings every Monday. Since this is a scale, we'll be going from number 10 -- the absolutely least effective SH heroine out there -- all the way to number 1 -- the greatest of the great. I hope you all enjoy this little feature, and don't forget to check out our first scale, the Scale of RPG Heroines!

Let's begin!

10. Fiona Belli

Appears In: Haunting Ground (PS2, 2005)
Horror Effectiveness: Flailingly Useless
Rationale: I wish I could say I picked up Haunting Ground by mistake. Perhaps I was distracted by something shiny, or just aching for a horror fix, or maybe my eye was gushing blood and I desperately needed to slap something over it. In any case, not only is Haunting Ground a frustrating trainwreck of a game, its heroine, Fiona, just can't keep herself from pissing me off every five minutes. HG began as an iteration of the Clock Tower series, so its gameplay mechanics are pretty much the same: a big scary guy chases you, and you run like the motherfucking dickens. It doesn't help Fiona's case that she's trussed up in a shirt closely related to a sausage casing, or that the game developers lovingly animated her disproportionate pair of mams to go sproi-oi-oing every time she takes a step. I'm being perfectly serious here, by the way -- the boob physics are so over-the-top that she could be walking on a trampoline.

No wonder it's so difficult for her to get away. In every cutscene, Fiona whimpers and trips over her own feet and backs herself into every possible corner she can find, completely ignoring the ample radius of empty space surrounding her attacker. The smartest character in the game is her German Shepherd companion, Hewie, who could probably qualify for MENSA compared to Fiona's squealy panic and overwhelming idiocy.

The Bottom Line: If you were trapped in an abandoned castle with her, you'd be better off getting help from a blobby patch of green mold stuck to the wall.

9. Jennifer

Appears In: Rule of Rose (PS2, 2006)
Horror Effectiveness: Pitifully Incompetent
Rationale: Rule of Rose is a horrible, awful, terrible game, but it has a lot of style and the plot is deliciously insane. As far as its protagonist goes, I think this picture of Jennifer pretty much sums it up. Our heroine spends basically all of the game hunched over in numbed horror, knees knocking, her eyebrows drawn up as if they're being tugged by fishing line. The lightest of blows nearly cripples her, causing her to stagger back in a recoil that takes, oh, about five minutes. Ah, but Jennifer fights back! Yes, armed with her deadly dessert fork, she throws an arm over her eyes and stabs blindly at the air, hoping against hope that she'll maybe nick something just a little bit. Don't worry, though -- she soon upgrades to a fruit knife!

Okay, so eventually she gets her trembling hands on a magnum, but, as far as aim goes, you'd be better off trying to throw a basketball through a horseshoe, not to mention the gun can only hold one bullet at a time. And our poor unlucky heroine just can't get a break, what with fainting like a delicate Victorian noblewoman every other cutscene. Like Fiona, she's accompanied by an intelligent canine pal (this time a Labrador Retriever named Brown), and I have a sneaking suspicion that the dog is probably better off on his own.

The Bottom Line: If you were trapped with her on a flying zeppelin full of little demon girls, you'd be better off ditching her for the dog and saving all of the biscuits for yourself.

That's it for today! Stop on by next Monday for Part 2 of the Horror Heroine Effectniveness Scale!

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