Skyrim EP48: Enchanting Questions Part 3

By Shamus Posted Friday Jun 27, 2014

Filed under: Spoiler Warning 326 comments

Link (YouTube)

And so it ends. The only way it could have ended.

I know the “list of 10 great female leads” is probably going to be frustrating if we left out someone you like. There’s nothing more frustrating than being ignored while you’re shouting suggestions at a video. So go ahead and post your own list below. (It doesn’t need to be ten. Just whoever you think is good.) We sort of made up the rules as we went, but by the end we seemed to have agreed that:

  1. She needs to be in a game you’ve personally played, and she needs to be a good character. So “Jane Gunhaver is dull, but the gameplay is awesome!” doesn’t cut it.
  2. She needs to be the star of the game, not a supporting character.
  3. She has to be explicitly female. So gender-select-able or gender-ambiguous characters don’t count.
  4. Borderline rule: The game should probably be good.

I was crushed to find myself hating Remember Me. Here is everything I’ve been saying I want from games: Female lead, non-American setting, cyberpunk setting, big-idea premise, experimental new mechanics, gorgeous scenery. This should have been my Game of the Year. I got everything I said I wanted. But apparently while I was making my wish I neglected to tell the genie that the game also needed to be fun to play. That’s how genies get you: They look for loopholes like that.

Stupid genies.

But fine. I guess we’ll just wait another decade or so before someone gets the nerve to go out on a limb like that again.

This abomination is Pun Pun. I’ll be honest: I understood less than half of that. Still, sounds like there might be some balance concerns in there.

And to be clear: That wasn’t a joke at the end. The game really did crash.


From The Archives:

326 thoughts on “Skyrim EP48: Enchanting Questions Part 3

  1. fdgzd says:

    Unfortunately most of the characters I can think of have been mentioned in the video, but shame on you all for forgetting Kate Archer, spy extraordinaire and general badass (No One Lives Forever).

    youtube intro video:

    1. Shamus says:

      Oh man. I’ve played those games, too. Yeah. She belongs on the list.

    2. *nod* and a highly underrated (or rather not that often mentioned game series), NOLF and NOLF2 where awesome and created by Monolith (the guys that did Alien vs Predator 2 among other games).

      At the time these games where made their game engine Lithtech which was one of the best engines at the time, competing neck to neck with Unreal, and id’s engines.

      NOLF and NOLF2 should definitely be on peoples “Games to play while they still can run on modern systems) list; one day these games will no longer run on modern systems.

      1. Isaac says:

        I’ll wait till they’re on GOG before getting them

        1. I’ve been waiting for years for Blade Runner The Game to get on GoG, still no go.

        2. Nimas says:

          ARGH. You see, this annoys me. Not because you want to pay for a DRM free version of a brilliant game series (seriously, needs to be another game in this series/HD remake), but that its unlikely to ever appear on GOG, at least for the foreseeable future.

          I actually looked into why it wasn’t in GOG a while back, and it turns out it can’t be, because currently no one has any idea who holds the copyright to the game, the paperwork seeming to have disappeared/been lost amongst others.

          1. aldowyn says:

            Abandonware is kind of sad, actually. at least that means you can torrent it guilt-free? Of course with an old game that might be a bit of a pain.

          2. Well, this wikipedia article seems pretty descriptive, and does bring some hope as well.

    3. rofltehcat says:

      They need to remake NOLF.

    4. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Kate Archer was awesome, and I am so glad I have both of the games they made. I have the third one, too, but it doesn’t count, both because Kate only makes a cameo, and more important because it was so bad it killed the Franchise.

    5. ACman says:

      Oooh! Female FPS super spies!!!

      Johanna Dark from Perfect Dark

    6. MadTinkerer says:


      (“Metroid” only has one M. Ever. So don’t even bring that up.)

      1. Piflik says:

        To be fair, Samus was male until she took of her suit at the end…she wasn’t a female protagonist, she was a female surprise…like a girl popping out of a cake with nothing on her but a bikini…

        1. Joe Informatico says:

          For the very first NES title, sure. After that, her femaleness has been canonical in the dozen or so other games she’s appeared in.

    7. ET says:

      I can’t believe that nobody mentioned Izuna! She’s like a more excitable, greedy, ninja-version of Racette! :D

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So thats how Josh went to far.I was wondering that since the first episodes credits.It was worth it.

    1. Humanoid says:

      I wish the credits this week was just a montage of murdering shopkeepers.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        A shopkeeper.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Whered Chris go?And why didnt he mention the asscreed lady from liberation?

    Also not a single one of you finished any of the metroids ever?Wow.I mean I get why Rutskarn didnt do it,since he was 12 when the last one came out,but the rest of you oldies?

    But of course,you all forgot the best female lead character ever:Revan from kotor.And no,dont say that revan can be a dude,because she cant.Revan is,always was and always will be a chick.

    1. fdgzd says:

      [Revan is,always was and always will be a chick]

      why though?

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Because of the force.

      2. Bubble181 says:

        KotOR II and TOR established her so as canon. Still falls in the “optional” category, though.

        1. Rick says:

          Revan’s canonically male, you even meet him in TOR.

          The Exile from TSL is canonically female, though.

          1. Thomas says:

            And has a canonically stupid name

          2. krellen says:

            Nope, that’s not canon. Got thrown out because Disney knew they couldn’t get away with retconning it but also knew male Revan was a stupid idea in the first place.

            1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

              Can you elaborate on this? Has Revan been retconned out entirely, or just the being a man?

              Personally, I always thought canon was backwards. Revan as a woman was always more interesting because Revan’s betrayal of Carth was more interesting that way. Likewise, the Exile as a man stealing the Handmaiden away from Atris was more dramatic.

              I realize that in canon, somehow, everything happened. That’s stupid.

              1. krellen says:

                Nothing of the Old Republic is canon anymore. Disney has declared the only canon to be the six movies and the Clone Wars 3d-animated series (not the Tartakovsky shorts).

                1. Andrew_C says:

                  Not the Tartakovsky shorts? But they were the best thing to come out of Ep I to III?

                2. Zombie says:

                  The 3d Clones Wars series was good, but the shorts were just brilliant. They completely explained why the opening of episode 3 was going on.

                  1. Felblood says:

                    They also featured an extended battle sequence built around speeder jousting and a giant bounty-hunter made of worms.

                    I love the Clone Wars shorts, but they were pretty hit-and-miss. Much like Tartakovsky’s other under-appreciated great works (e.g. Samurai Jack), it tend to just throw everything that looks awesome into the blender, without regard for the consequences to cannon (e.g. Mace Windu kills an earthquake weapon tank, the size of a city, by himself). It’s a recipe for an awesome smoothie, with extra chaos.

                    Besides, the CGI Clone Wars are clearly intended to replace, rather than co-exist with, the shorts, even if there are certain scenes they are careful not to depict in both places at once, since any differences would become the new Greedo Shoots First.

                3. Eathanu says:

                  Disney doesn’t get to make that decision just because they own the rights. That’d be like the Tolkien estate declaring that The Silmarillion isn’t canon because it’s boring and long.

                  1. Disney’s official statement explicitly claims that their canon is what Lucas defines as canon (i.e., only stuff he actually produced or directed), and reserves the right to cherry-pick concepts from the EU going forward.

                    1. Daimbert says:

                      Which is the way things were BEFORE Disney: Lucas and the films would do whatever they wanted, and the EU would try to be consistent with the films and with each other. The Old Republic stuff was EU-canon, but not film canon.

                      What it sounds like from that article is that they are going to do a lot of tie-ins and effectively a new EU from the new films, but they aren’t going to try to make that consistent with the old EU. They may take ideas from it and keep some things, but for the most part the things that covered the same timeframe aren’t going to be made consistent with the new stuff.

                    2. Ciennas says:

                      I sincerely hope that Kyle Katarn manages to make the transition: The manliest Jedi ever.

                      Few Jedi would dare shave with their lightsabers while in the heart of a dire situation, like a potential combat zone or deep in enemy territory.

                      Or at all, for that matter.

          3. Bubble181 says:

            Yeah, sorry, flipped the two around in my head. They *should* be the other way around.

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      He did mention Aveline from AC: Liberation.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        He did?Damn it Chris,why do you have to speak so soft in this gang of loudmouths?

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The first season of spoiler warning was great,because it had Randy.

    The worst season…Well me3 infuriated me the most,but thats because its an infuriating game.I guess bioshock had the most fatigue.

    As for the best season,I guess it would have to be the original fallout 3*drink*.

    1. James says:

      Best Season: Fallout 3

      Most interesting or the season with the best Commentary: Walking Dead

      Worst: Ass Creed Bore or Mass Effect 3

      Honorable Mention: Rand “the man” Johnson, for creating Chaotic Stupid

      In terms of best female leads i always feel like games with both male and female leads like Bioware/Beth games don’t count, as the sex of the character often doesn’t count and they are barley characterized anyway, just like how Freeman isn’t a good character, because he isn’t a character he’s a placeholder for the player.

      1. Ilseroth says:

        I guess this’ll be the official Worst, Best, Most interesting section

        For me I’ll agree that I think the worst *game* and season I think was Assassin’s Creed 2. While it had poignant discussions, it also brought out the most hate specifically. As opposed to say Bioshock, where while some people don’t like it, there was back and forth and discussion questioning the “whys.” by the end of assCreed2 it was generally just (completely just) loathing and contempt.

        The best season, I’d have to say was… god I hate to be a sucker but Fallout 3. Why? Because it was the first season I watched. While I had (obviously) heard of criticism for games; it was almost always for a technical standpoint. If it reviewed the story, or characters, it was a side event and immediately forgotten as part of the review.

        It introduced me to a type of criticism that specifically asks about the characters, world and how things interact in ways I hadn’t even questioned before. Prior to the review, I played through Fallout 3 and even though I am big into science, I didn’t even stop to realize that the concept of the water purifier was just straight stupid. Not to mention them method of building it.

        While other seasons may have been better paced, had more entertaining bugs or more witty banter (Or Mumbles), it was the season that introduced the concept of looking deeper into a games story and design that I hadn’t thought of… And as someone who even dabbles in game development I appreciate that greatly.

        1. James says:

          Also Fallout 3 could be hilariously broken in such amazing ways

        2. Isaac says:

          Fallout 3 SW managed to get me to appreciate games more since it allowed me to recognize flaws in my favorite games yet to still love them. However I don’t like watching that SW season because I just don’t like it when the cast rags on a game too much.

          1. For me, it was painful to hear Shamus & Rutz not know that the Smithsonian has Lincoln’s hat.

        3. Thomas says:

          My biggest problem with the AC2 season was it felt like the criticism was at cross purposes with what the game wanted to be. It was still pretty solid criticism but whilst I imagine the AC2 designers priorities looked like this:

          1. Fluid, easy free-running
          2. Recreating another time period
          3. Looking cool.
          4. Looking cool whilst fighting.
          5. Mission structure
          6. Story

          And I feel like people bought the game understanding that even if it didn’t turn out to be the designers intentions.

          The criticism was focused on
          1. Story
          2. Mission structure

          So it was kind of liking deconstructing a horse as an efficient means of transportation in a modern environment.

          Also because the delivery of the story is _so_ terrible in AC2 it was hard to even listen to the story and the story so utterly failed at engagement that it was hard to pay attention to it long enough to realise it sucked. It’s like Skyrim, the story is so bland its hard to even care enough to be put off by it, particularly as a viewer and not a player

          1. Thomas says:

            I think my favourite seasons were The Walking Dead, Deus Ex Human Revolution and Tomb Raider. They managed to feel fresh for a long time and it was easy to enjoy the good parts of those games and laugh at the bad parts as the season went on.

            Mass Effect 2 has a special place as being the season that drew me to Spoiler Warning (and this site). It was really nice to find that other people didn’t like ME2 when it seemed like everyone around me thought it was the second coming.

          2. Ilseroth says:

            It’s not like a Mario game where the story is pretty much irrelevant to the gameplay. Every piece of gameplay is directly tied to the cutscenes. They intentionally frame gameplay with cutscenes and dialogue. The person in charge may have cared more about the combat and movement design, but the gameplay is framed in a way that urges the player to play the main story.

            The sandbox activities aren’t considered “majorly important” its not like you pick up long term goals. They are distractions. As opposed to a game like GTA, you are specifically pushed to be not chaotic, so random wanton destruction is implicitly disallowed as it “desynchronizes” you.

            to be fair, this is primarily due to the Ubisoft development style. If they stopped for a while to iterate on the open world gameplay, they would rethink the story, or gameplay and plan things out. You can see that in Assassin’s Creed Black Flag. They tried more open world stuff in 3, but it fell flat, but in Black Flag they openly reward open world things as well as expanding the number of things to do as well as the quality of them. The story is still… meh, but I still have enjoyed the game a helluva lot more, primarily because I have had reasons to avoid the story.

            1. Thomas says:

              I don’t mean it’s not a valid thing to criticise. What I mean is when your criticism is _only_ of that thing it doesn’t really match up to the game.

              Criticising the story in Mario doesn’t make any sense. ‘The story in Mario sucks, Bowser never has motivation’ just isn’t at all relevant. But AC2 is the level above that where you can criticise the story, but to get to the heart of the game it’s got to be in balance with everything. Focusing on the story in AC2 is like focusing on the art design in Portal. Sure it’s an important aspect of the game, but people are going to wonder why you spent so much time talking about that and not about the puzzles or Glados

              1. aldowyn says:

                A lot of the time Assassin’s Creed seems to make a big deal about it’s story, particularly the completely crazy meta-nerrative, but no one plays it for that. I agree that basing most of your criticisms of AC2 based on story is a bit weird

                1. Sleeping Dragon says:

                  I will admit at the end of the first AC I was so into the metastory. Sure, Desmond had all the personality of a decomposing roadkill but I was really curious about the cliffhanger, and the artifacts, and the hidden puzzles… Let’s say AC2 had me frothing at the mouth, I actually rushed through that game skipping most of the side content because I was so frustrated with the story I just wanted to be done with it. In my eyes the series hasn’t really recovered since precisely because of the story, even if I really enjoyed the sea battles in AC3.

    2. The worst seasons has to be BioShock and Alan Wake, BioShock started fine but… And Alan Wake, well enough said.

      Best is probably the Mass Effect seasons, Deus Ex HR, Fallout and Fallout New Vegas. Also wasn’t “Reginald” born in Fallout 3?
      Although Fallout 3 was getting a bit “tired” near the end.

      The other seasons
      are just “meh”, no fault of the SW gang though, as it’s possibly due to either me having little to no memorable connection to the games (didn’t play, didn’t like, can’t recall, not my cup of tea, take your pick).

      Fallout 3 and New Vegas allowed a lot of hijinks and.
      And Mass Effect and Fallout 3 and New Vegas and Deus Ex HR all have a great setting or theme.

      A very subjective list I know, and I’m sure a few are shouting “but..but..Walking Dead…” yeah, sorry but there is only so much originality when it comes to zombie games or movies for me, it’s a tad dull.

      Skyrim season so far is up there with Mass Effect and New Vegas for me (awesome setting, I like the game, and lots of hijinks and great moments possible “DOUBLE DRAGON” *salutes Chris*).

    3. You can hear Randy slowly training Josh to be more of an evil munchkin. With this potions exploit, I think Josh’s path to the Dark Side is complete.

      1. ET says:

        Heh. This is pretty much the same exploit as in Morrowind, although with slightly different potions to craft. Back then, it was potions of gain intelligence you needed, since that was the stat for alchemy. Once you got up to gain intelligence +10000 for 50 minutes, it was time to break the rest of the stats/armor/etc in the game. :D

        Part of the trick was, that you needed to find about 1000 or more of at least two INT ingredients to craft all the potions. Luckily there was a shop in…the fort which had a small mage’s room and alchemy room? They sold bonemeal and something else. The other half of that, is that any items which a store stocks, only restock a set amount of those items when the 1-week timer clicked over. Except that number of items for restocking…was the maximum number they’d ever had in their shop inventory at any time. So you just bought some, waited for the restock, then sold their old stock to them, increasing the amount they’d restock with next time… XD

        1. It made economic sense. Demand was increasing, so why not order more? :)

    4. Humanoid says:

      Not technically Spoiler Warning, but I absolutely adore the Sleeping Dogs new year’s stream, and would love to see it return as a season proper.

      Also, only slightly facetiously:
      Best: Fallout New Vegas
      Worst: Fallout New Vegas Dead Money

      Also an honourable mention to Dishonored. :D

      (And a dishonourable mention to Half-Life 2, which I can’t watch on account of motion sickness)

      1. Henson says:

        That Sleeping Dogs stream was a fantastic way to spend New Year’s. Hijack a bus. Hijack a larger bus. Crash a double-decker bus into a boat; sink the boat. Swim to shore. Hijack another bus.

      2. Dirigible says:

        Dead Money had a lack of gameplay and meaningful critique, but I give it a pass for the “Fission Chips” exchange halfway through

      3. Theminimanx says:

        For those curious, the Sleeping Dogs stream can be found here.

    5. newdarkcloud says:

      In my opinion, the best Spoiler Warning season is a tie between Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. Those seasons are basically distilled everything I want from a Spoiler Warning season.

      The worst for me was Mass Effect 3. By the end of that season, everyone who was a part of it, especially the cast, was so sick of everything. It felt a lot like a season that was only done for the sake of completion. It just wasn’t that fun. I come here and watch Spoiler Warning for criticism, but I’m also here for fun.

    6. Sleeping Dragon says:

      I have trouble thinking in terms of best/worst, some seasons had more highs and some had more lows and even when the crew got tired of the game it was still sometimes entertaining in a sadistic way to watch them suffer through it.

      The season I was probably most interested in was the Walking Dead one. It was a game that I had no intention of playing (like Tomb Raider) but that I was hearing increasingly more about and I was curious how it was executed and what the whole buzz was about (unlike Tomb Raider). I thihk the season proved even more educational than if I played the game since the crew was comparing notes, discussing how the story changes and how each of them experienced it and generally revealing a lot of “behind the scenes” mechanics. It’s actually what got me more interested in the company and The Wolf Among Us.

  5. bloodsquirrel says:

    Wow, no Samus Aran?

    EDIT: Okay, the finally mentioned her. Seriously, though, none of you guys have played Metroid?

    1. Ilseroth says:

      The issue here is, as a character, she is mute in all but the most recent Metroid game; where the character is not what I’d call a good character. She is inherently weak, despite being the protagonist she lacks agency that is instead supplied by a male character who gives her direct orders and restrictions.

      The majority of the other games portray her as a silent protagonist with no real storyline other then “Bad shit is here and you have to take care of it.” Yes she is strong, but that is the only asset of the character. She literally has no lines of dialogue in most of them.

      With the exception of metroid fusion. In that one I suppose you could claim she is a character… and actually a decently strong one… I think I talked myself out of an argument. Id be ok with Samus, but only specifically the Samus Aran from Metroid Fusion; as she has dialogue and agency and acts as a proper character.

      1. Isaac says:

        Samus has a detailed backstory tho And theres wayyyyy more to the premise of the Metroid games other than “bad stuff is gonna go down”. Have you played the Prime games?

        1. Ilseroth says:

          I have played through all three of those games, in which Samus says 0 words. They have backstory but that isn’t the story in the game.

          1. Isaac says:

            Why does she have to actually speak in order for her to have a character tho. What about body language?

            1. Ilseroth says:

              Heres the thing… while she is a good Female Lead, she has no character. They even explicitly rule out Gordan Freeman for the same reason.

              Whether or not they say anything, the simple fact that there is no “Character” there, just an avatar the player takes hold of.

              As I said in my original post on the subject. The difference for say, Samus Aran in Fusion is that she had motives, and weaknesses. I specifically said that *that* Samus works. the reason why primes doesn’t is because for all intensive purposes the character could be anything and it would only change the sound of the pained grunts when you get hit particularly hard.

              It isn’t just “she doesn’t say anything” so much so as that, in the Prime series, she is merely an Avatar, not a character.

              Edit add: But keep in mind, like all things, this is my opinion on the subject. If you want to personally believe that Prime Samus is a strong female character, of course even if I provide a strong rationalization why she shouldn’t be on this list, it doesn’t matter.

              The reason why you could consider Prime Samus as being a strong character is the same reason why you could consider any silent character strong. You are approaching the situation from your own personal viewpoint. Her motivations are strong because yours are. When you fail, she fails. Thats the benefit of a blank avatar. The players naturally mold themselves to it.

              1. Nimas says:

                *cough* *cough* *cough*

              2. Abnaxis says:

                But that’s not strictly true. You forget that Metroid hails from an age where the story was included with the instruction manual.

                The book very clearly defines “him” as a badass cyborg space hunter, the last best hope for the galaxy. As far as depth goes, it’s at least as good as (say) Duke Nukem. Or what’s-his-face the halo dude.

                In particular, I always liked Samus from Super Metroid. I was very disappointed when they gave her more words in Fusion, and it only got worse from there. It wouldn’t be so bad, if they didn’t contradict what they had already established previously (not just my head-canon, promise)

                Incidentally, after all these years, I forgot the book actually referred to Samus with male pronouns. I always just figured that her gender was a surprise because of the preconceived notions in my undeveloped preteen brain.

                1. Kana says:

                  Honestly if we’re pulling in material from outside the games, Master Chief trounces Samus because he has a half dozen novels dedicated to him and his buddies. I don’t see that argument holding water.

                  Something that’s not being touched on, though. Samus was silent, but she did write down notes in the Prime series. She did have expression in those game. It just wasn’t with a voice.

                  1. Isaac says:

                    But we’re talking about female video game leads not male ones so thats kind of irrelevant.

                    1. Kana says:

                      I don’t think so, because it’s a point against Samus being characterized because of something written in the manual. It’s not a good way to say “this person has character!”

                      Chef has a lot of character. Almost none of it comes across in the games. I don’t think Samus qualifies as a good game character for material outside the game.

                    2. Abnaxis says:

                      The instruction manual came with the game. It is part of the game. It’s how like 80% of story in games used to be delivered.

                      The novel about Halo didn’t come with the game, so it is not part of the game. Also, Halo didn’t come from an era where lots of story was tucked into an instruction manual. In fact, if Halo had more than a page with a key layout for a manual, I would be surprised.

                    3. Merzendi says:

                      Then colour yourself surprised. The original Halo came with a bit of backstory on the universe and the Covenant races and weapons in the manual. And actually, the Chief had quite a bit of character shown in his cutscenes, though very little in actual gameplay.

                    4. Ciennas says:

                      And as of Halo 4 and onward, they’re making a concerted effort to show the Chief’s character during gameplay, in addition to the character he shows during cutscenes.

                      Poor Samus tried, but everybody got really mad and I doubt Samus will have any speaking lines for another decade.

                      It’s not her fault that her handlers bungled it, but they’ll just leave her speechless in the meantime to save face and not anger the hordes of fans.

                      Nintendo seems to hate actually letting their characters speak at all- they seem to much prefer stories that can be told with wordless emoting.

                      (Golden Sun seeming to be the only exception I know of.)

                    5. syal says:

                      Well, that does save on translation costs, both monetary and comprehension-wise.

                2. Cybron says:

                  I have an old NES player’s guide type thing laying around (it’s more like a Nintendo Power sort of thing, where they give you some tips on how to play the first parts of several different game). And throughout the entire thing they refer to Samus as a ‘he’. I’ve always wondered if they did that on purpose to keep it a surprise, or if the people who wrote the guide never beat it.

                  Watching that video, though, you can definitely tell it was intentional there. That’s honestly pretty impressive for the 8 bit era.

  6. Ilseroth says:

    While I knew that the crafting system was totally broken, I didn’t know about the restoration trick which is… pretty damn funny, I may take some time and fiddle with that later tonight.

    My personal method of breaking it is roughly what josh is about to do at the end… which is fortify enchanting, then create equipment that boosts Smithing. Then if he feels he has to, fortify smithing potion. You then sharpen a sword and it will have ludicrous damage.

    When I did this, without spending too much time on it, I made a dagger with 300 damage. But that was with a rather miniscule total of + 300% or so to smithing… what Josh will create will be a monster.

  7. Bubble181 says:

    Haven’t/can’t listen to the video, I suppose she’ll have been mentioned but just in case: Kreya from KotOR II.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      She is not the star of the game though.

      1. Raygereio says:

        Obviously the player is the star of the game.
        But Kreia is very much the main star of KotOR2’s story.

      2. bloodsquirrel says:

        And she’s a terrible character.

        EDIT: See post above mine for why she is a terrible character.

        1. Raygereio says:

          You’re a bad person with bad opinions! Ahem. No I’m not a KotOR2 & Obsidian fanbow. Why do you ask?

          More seriously: The player character having a lesser role in the story then a NPC does not make that NPC a bad character.

          1. bloodsquirrel says:

            It’s something that would be difficult to pull off in any other genre. In an RPG, it’s just plain inexcusable. A main character doesn’t have to be the most important person for the perspective of the game’s setting, but their journey is the center of the game. Making the player just be a tool to show off the Dungeonmaster’s super-awesome NPC is horrible design.

            1. Raygereio says:

              Making the player just be a tool to show off the Dungeonmaster's super-awesome NPC is horrible design.

              Me thinks you either haven’t played KotOR2 or are seriously misremembering it, because that’s not the case here.
              The Exile’s journey is central to the game and the plot. Said plot in many ways revolves around Kreia, her machinations and philosophy. But that does not lessen the character of the Exile.

              Kreia is not some Fable 2 style GM-NPC where every action of the player is in service of showing how super awesome the GM-NPC is. For starters the player can for example disagree with Kreia during conversations.

              1. Thomas says:

                Incidentally, I’ve always argued that Kreia’s philosophy is _not_ supported by the game anymore than anyone elses philosophy and the game is fine as viewing her as a Sith behind a sophisticated facade and I happened to stumble upon proof of that a couple of day ago.

                In an RPS interview the lead designer Chris Avellone talks about how KotoR2 was planned to have a series of clips throughout of Kreia luring people you meet to the darkside and giving them reasons to turn on the PC. Then in the final encounter she would use them as canon fodder before the boss fight with her. (She does this with Hanharr)

                That’s not the actions of someone the designer thinks you should worship. And he specifically says ‘Darkside’ not ‘morally ambiguous superior grey neutrality’.

                Kreia was designed to be an antagonist with an interesting philosophy. It’s kind of interesting that despite that in the end product some people end up convinced she was meant to be right (and often hating it) whereas others don’t.

                1. bloodsquirrel says:

                  Actually, yes, that sounds exactly like the kind of thing that a villain who we were supposed to think was SO AWESOME would do, because look how she manipulates everyone and stuff! It’s actually pretty standard “My villain is always tens steps of everyone else all the time” stuff right out of an awful D&D game.

                  1. Thomas says:

                    Sorry I was taking the opportunity to respond to the ‘KOROR 2 hates the force, Kreia is always right’ argument that floats around instead of responding to you.

                    Kreia is meant to be frustratingly competent, but it never bothered me. Sometimes it’s fun to have an antagonist who you can’t really get on top of. It could have had a better ending, but I was satisified with her ‘don’t ever show me mercy!’ freakout and knowing that all she believed in was going to turn out to be wrong. That sufficed for me

                    1. Bloodsquirrel says:

                      The only reason you “can’t get on top of her” is authorial fiat. She’s not frustratingly competent. She’s a senile old woman who the game keeps railroading us into taking seriously. If the player had any genuine agency they’d stuff her in a footlocker with some rations and tell her she can come out if she promises to only open her mouth when she has something useful to say.

                      The game never makes a convincing case why anyone would actually let her manipulate them. She’s far too obvious to be genuinely subtle or sneaky. She’s terrible at creating any kind of facade that might make someone think that she’s acting in their favor. Her philosophy has nothing in it that offers anything to anyone who would want to follow it.

                      In real life she’d just be some loser on tumblr posting passive-aggressive jabs at force users and calling the Jedi shitlords.

                2. syal says:

                  Kreia’s philosophy is basically “everything you do will fail”, so yeah, you’re not supposed to agree with it.

              2. bloodsquirrel says:

                See, there’s the problem:

                The player can disagree with Kreia, but never in an effective way. Kreia spouts out a lot of absolute bullshit and the player never really gets to call her on it. The disagreement choices usually just try to make the player look meatheaded or naive for disagreeing with her. I can’t really think of a single time in the game where you actually get a response that deconstructs her shtick and actually makes you feel right.

                The end of the game is another perfect example: Even when you’re killing her, it’s because it’s *her* plan. It’s how *she* wants things to end. You aren’t actually defeating her, she just wanted you to kill her. Even in the end, it’s got to be all about her.

                1. Ithilanor says:

                  I kind of agree with this. It feels like the ending should have allowed you to conclusively reject Kreia’s philosophy and plans, but that’s not there. To quote from a LP of Mask of the Betrayer: “KOTOR2 has too much purpose: so much time is devoted to explaining Kreia’s philosophy that the game almost forgets to ask you your opinion as well.”

                  Kreia’s still a generally great character, though, and a good example of having a female character that doesn’t fall into the usual cliches.

                2. Felblood says:

                  There are ways to get a point over Kreia, you just have to figure out the truth about her.

                  She isn’t intended to have a “superior” philosophy, she’s intended to be a foil for the Chaotic Jerk form of the Dark Side that players get access to in Bioware games. She’s Lawful Evil. She’s here to remind the player that Bioware realizes that true evil is about helping yourself, regardless of who it might hurt, not about hurting people for it’s own sake.

                  So, Kreia isn’t a wise master, guiding you to wisdom, she’s a Sith Sorceress out to manipulate you into doing her bidding, and then dispose of you. She isn’t a true-neutral philosopher, who has found the balance in the force; she’s using Sith magic to conceal her true alignment. That’s why her alignment never fluctuates at all, no matter how many reputation points you have with her. The player only falls for this trick because we were exposed to Jolie in the previous game.

                  Kreia’s goal is to get you to pursue her approval, which always seems just out of reach, and almost always comes at the detriment to your relationship with your other allies, but never seems to actually materialize. She’s trying to drive you apart, and you win by saying “Screw you old (wo)man! I’m my own person,” and going to the mall with your friends.

                  It can be useful to grind a few influence points with Kreia, but only to get the information she can provide on your other crew-members, so that you can unlock their hidden dialogues. You can earn more than enough without having to give up being an example of gentleness/brutality for your own students.

                  For example, if you accept Kreia’s force sensitivity training, you can learn about Atton’s Slippery Mind power, and she advises you to avoid him, keep the fact that you know he’s hiding something in reserve, and never trust him with any secrets. You can then immediately walk into the cockpit and confront Atton.

                  Do this and you can gain Slippery Mind for yourself. Play this second conversation right and you can turn Atton into a more powerful force using class, if you have enough influence.

                  There are a lot of ways to use the information she gives you to undermine her; you just never get to do it to her face, which sort-of means that you have to beat her at her own game.

              3. Wide And Nerdy says:

                Incidentally, I count the Exile because she is canonically female. And because she’s written by Obsidian and thus is so entertaining when played as a villain.

                Also Kreia was a wonderful addition. Between her and Jolee Bindo, pretty much everything thats wrong with Lucas’s ideas about how the Force and the Jedi should work is picked apart. If I had to guess I’d say THAT is why Kreia gets hate from some fans. She does end up being a mouthpiece for a lot of the writer’s frustrations with the mythos (and he admits that) But she’s still her own character and is an interesting way of turning the Obi Wan archetype sideways. She is so close to counting to. She’s bonded with the protagonist, she’s central to the story and you can choose to control her whenever you want instead of the PC.

                1. Daimbert says:

                  I didn’t like Kreia because none of my characters would ever want to have her around. She was way too evil for my light side characters, and too interfering for my dark side characters. And the game keeps shoving her into the face of my characters when most of them would rather she was off the ship than around them. For the role she’s supposed to have, she’s far too annoying to pull it off.

                  Jolee was better, and also less central, which would make any annoying factors less.

                  Considering that Jolee didn’t get much hate and that the EU deconstructs a lot of things about the Force and the movies and isn’t hated, I don’t think your theory works.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “This abomination is Pun Pun. I'll be honest: I understood less than half of that. Still, sounds like there might be some balance concerns in there.”

    I see nothing wrong with it.

    1. Micamo says:

      Rutskarn was actually being modest when he describes Pun Pun as “literally a god.” Gods in D&D 3E have clearly defined stats and limitations on their powers. (Such that you can totally play a campaign where your players are literal gods and have it work.) Pun Pun is basically “you kick the DM out of his chair and take his place yourself.”

    2. Wide And Nerdy says:

      The build is very easily blocked too even if the DM doesn’t want to invoke Rule Zero.

      The lizard guy (I forget his name) is away and you never met him or he’s destroyed or he finally ascended to proper godhood. Or someone beat you to it and he’s now the main villain. His agents destroy anyone who manifests similar abilities and since the build makes you omniscient (infinite Knowledge check bonuses), he always knows where to find you.

      But my favorite exploit is the peasant rail gun. It doesn’t really work if you understand the rules but its pretty funny. Basically you get thousands of peasants to ready their actions in sequence to hand a pole to the next person in front of them. Since these actions all occur in the space of six seconds, the pole can accelerate to hundreds or thousands of miles per hour. Actually, by a strict reading, it would be less than six seconds since this is thousands of actions firing between normal turns within the same round.

      1. Chamomile says:

        There is no need to actually encounter a Sarrukh. The entirety of the Pun Pun exploit revolves around shapeshifting into a Sarrukh yourself.

        Where it falls apart is that the Manipulate Form ability grants “an ability,” not “any ability.” Since the rules never define which ability it grants, just gives a few examples (none of which are nearly as broken as the Pun Pun shenanigans), you can’t really use the Manipulate Form trick to grant any ability except those examples by a strict interpretation of RAW, and by anything else but a strict interpretation of RAW Pun Pun is obviously insta-banned.

        Although you don’t need to grant abilities to boost STR and CON to an arbitrarily high number (though it does expedite the process). All the other tricks require abilities that the writers assume Manipulate Form can grant – but it can’t. It can hardly do anything.

        Concerning the peasant railgun, though, while you can’t use it as an actual railgun because no matter how much ground it covers it’s still just a thrown weapon using the last peasant’s stats, you can use the same trick along with any of a variety of infinite skeleton loops to create SkeletonNet, a service which can transport any package small enough to qualify as a medium or lesser load for a skeleton across an arbitrarily large distance in six seconds. Since an arbitrarily large number of CR1 creatures isn’t even all that useful to characters of level 11 or so or higher, it’s also not even a particularly broken exploit. There’s no reason a sufficiently light-hearted game shouldn’t be willing to allow it at higher levels, which makes it even more awesome.

        1. silver Harloe says:

          “Where it falls apart is that the Manipulate Form ability grants “an ability,” not “any ability.” Since the rules never define which ability it grants, just gives a few examples (none of which are nearly as broken as the Pun Pun shenanigans), you can't really use the Manipulate Form trick to grant any ability except those examples by a strict interpretation of RAW”

          I disagree with the last sentence – the examples are just examples, not limits. I agree with your first sentence: the limitation is in the word “an” – you say “I’m going to get Manipulate Form, and this is the *one* ability that Manipulate Form can grant me, on this character, forever and always, amen.” It grants AN ability, and now you have that ONE ability, and you can’t ever have a different one (from this instance of Manipulate Form).

          1. Chamomile says:

            The reason you can only use the examples is that the examples are the only abilities that the rules actually say you can grant. Now, because they are only examples, it is implied it can grant other abilities, but the rules never tell us what those abilities are, so it doesn’t actually grant any other abilities at all. The rules for Manipulate Form are a mess and show clear signs of being a Frankensteinian compilation of multiple different versions pasted together to ship a product. They were not remotely ready for publication, but shipped anyway to meet a deadline. Kind of like Watch Dogs.

            On the other hand, there’s no particular reason to believe that Manipulate Form can’t be used once to grant an ability, and then used again to grant an ability which is different from the first ability granted.

            1. Felblood says:

              In fact, if you commit the obviously silly act of pretending that Manipulate Form is written properly, then it would be a stretch to assume you cannot use it on the same creature twice, to grant multiple enhancements. So long as you aren’t granting any named bonuses, they stack, and the general rules hold sway, unless the ability description explicitly contradicts them.

              To be blunt, this is the Surak’s deal. He’s re-engineering races of minions with various special attacks and enhanced stats. Since this is a thematic villain power, never intended to fall into the hands of PCs, the book doesn’t bother to outline the limits of it’s power one way or the other.

              Whenever something is left vague, the vile Rules Lawyer will try to pass the most extreme possible interpretation, in his favor. Pun-Pun is basically an exercise in doing this for fun, rather than any actual profit. (No one would play with you if you actually played like this.)

      2. syal says:

        The more fun version of that is the Great Cleave Railgun. Same setup, way more casualties.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          Then there’s the bag of rats (Great Cleave a rat then cleave your foe again) except thats totally not how Great Cleave works (it would still only give you one strike on each opponent at most per turn. You’d simply slaughter all the rats in one go). Still, whoever thought of the bag of rats trick gets an A for the mental image.

          As for the encountering Sarrukh. I know it doesn’t explicitly say it in the rules but I always assume in my rulings that you have to have seen the creature you’re turning into (unless the spell or effect only turns you into a specific creature.)

          1. Scrubninja says:

            Great Cleave is not impressive by itself. What’s broken is using it in conjunction with Whirlwind Attack.

            Whirlwind gives you one attack against each thing within 5′ of you. Great Cleave gives you a free bonus attack whenever you kill something.

            So you stand near the bad guy and pour out a bag of a hundred rats. Whirlwind Attack gives you a hundred attacks, on each of those rats. Each time you hit and kill a rat, you use your bonus attack to hit the bad guy. At high levels this means about 95 bonus attacks in one round, in a game where 5 attacks is a lot.

            1. Parkhorse says:

              My favorite is the d2sader. Crusaders can get the Aura of Chaos stance, which, if they roll the maximum damage on a die when attacking, allows them to reroll that die and add it to the total. Then they take Imbued Healing with the Luck Domain, which allows them to treat any ones they roll for weapon damage as twos. Attack with a weapon that does 1d2 damage (like punching someone as a small character). Roll your 1d2 damage, and either a one or a two on the damage roll triggers a new roll, which can also only be a one or a two, which triggers another roll.. and suddenly you have a three foot tall guy walking up to a dragon, punching it in the shin, and causing it to explode in a shower of blood. It’s basically One Punch Man: D&D Edition.

            2. Lachlan the Mad says:

              While the party Druid has already destroyed the enemy by turning into a giant bear that shoots flaming bears out of his mouth.

      3. bloodsquirrel says:

        I find it funny when people try to find ways to say that the peasant railgun doesn’t work “by the rules.”

        The entire point of a pen and paper RPG is that it requires mediation between the narrative sections which aren’t driven by the rules and the mechanics-driven sections that are. Stuff like the peasant railgun is just choosing an intentionally silly place to jump in with that mediation (Allowing the object to be moved via rules which are just an abstraction, but treating the resulting velocity as concrete).

        The peasant railgun should be defeated by the DM saying “No, you can’t actually move that object more than a few peasants along per turn”.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          We know. We’re just having fun with it just like you. That said, people sometimes say “OMG, 3.5 is so broken because you can build this character that can become a god at first level.”

          And yes, a lot of the stuff people bring up about the brokenness of the game is easily avoided by a DM saying “please don’t” (compare 4th ed where the breakable stuff was stripped out resulting in a more limited game such that you have to invent more stuff yourself. Its easier to exclude a mechanic than to create one.)

          But when people mention stuff like Pun Pun or the rail gun I want to make the point that even if you’re uncomfortable with actually being a DM and imposing some common sense, Pun Pun, the rail gun, the great cleave exploit, those are easily blocked.

      4. Endymion says:

        My favorite exploit has to be the infinite chicken flaw(From #330 of Dragon magazine). You have to be a commoner to use it, but it allows 50% of what you pull out of containers to be chickens. And spell component pouches hold infinite things and are a free action to pull from. And dropping a chicken is a free action.

        Thus, infinite chickens as a free action!

        That said, some argue that for pulling the chicken from the spell component pouch to still be a free action would actually require quick draw and exotic weapon proficiency(chicken).

  9. Did anyone notice how the question was originally, “What are your top 10 games with a female lead?” and eventually morphed into “Who are your top 10 female video game characters?”

    Now the question is doubly sad.

    1. Daimbert says:

      I think it’s a bit lost now, but I wrote an article once about my top 10 favourite female characters. A lot of them were from the same games — Fatal Frame, Suikoden III, Shadow Hearts and Shadow Hearts Covenant, KotOR 1 and 2 — but it was pretty easy and my gaming isn’t all that varied. What was interesting was that when I went to think of my top 10 favourite male characters … I couldn’t do it. Or at least it was a lot harder. The reason? Since most of the main playable characters are male, they tend to try to allow the player to represent themselves in it, making the characters a bit bland. I could come up with Yuri from Shadow Hearts and Geddoe from SIII easily. Then it got harder.

      Even TOR reflects this. Give me Mission … er, Vette or Jaesa or Mako or, well, pretty much any of the female options over the male companions any day. Quinn and Khem Val are about the only male companions that I liked.

  10. Gruhunchously says:

    You guys say such mean things about Mark Meer. I don’t think he’s so bad, personally. Sometimes he can be really,er…inspiring.

    1. James says:

      then we can probably blame bad directing, or just blame Casey Hudson

    2. I wonder if it’s how he was directed in Mass Effect. He seems to have used what I’d call a “voiceover voice,” like he was doing narration for a movie trailer, whereas Jennifer Hale had a LOT more emotion and force behind her lines.

      To be honest, I didn’t notice it until I played as Femshep in ME2. Perhaps Meer’s okay but has a hard time when his work is compared to Hale’s directly?

      1. Gruhunchously says:

        And to be fair to the guy, he did get a lot better as the series progressed. I think his performance in ME 3 is a lot stronger than in ME 1. As much as we complained about Shepards dialogue becoming more restrictive and railroady as the series went on, it probably gave the actors a much more concrete framework to base their performances off of.

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          Exactly. Like I could see why people were behind Hale’s performance in ME1 and 2 but Meer was a lot better in 3 and I think Hale honestly fell off a bit.

          And I do blame direction because while Hale did emote a lot, in the third game it made her character feel a lot less consistent than Meer’s did. Like her performance would work for the scene but without any consideration for the scene that came before it or the next scene.

          ps238principal You call Meer’s delivery “narration” which is fair but I saw it as him doing the thing that every action male protagonist does where they’re stoic and emotionally dead. Its not our first impulse as men in general to be sympathetic when another man can’t suck it up and starts raging or whining or whatever. So to keep the male sympathetic he has to be in complete control of his emotions at all times. And its hard to do that without sounding dead. But I consider your take equally valid.

          And they discovered Meer’s talent for dry wit. I thought he was actually pretty funny in Citadel. He’s the only character who’s jokes consistently worked in that DLC for me. And we can’t forget that he was the voice of the “Biotic God.” (indeed I think he voiced many of the Volus).

          1. It’s not being stoic, per se. I don’t think I can recall a time where he ever really raised his voice beyond what I’d call “stern from across a room.” FemShep has some times where she’s practically yelling or angrily whispering, but I don’t hear that with Shep.

            Again, it could be what he was told to do, but I dunno. I didn’t find his performance bad or awful or anything, just different.

            A side note, I find it VERY hard for male characters to effectively pull off having a lot of range in what one might call the “traditional Captain Kirk” role. Look at the extreme example of Scott Bakula as Captain Archer in Enterprise. He could do soft spoken or jokey-officer okay, but he really couldn’t do angry well at all. Meer can, and pulls it off. Bakula just sounds petulant. Its a rare talent to have, I think.

    3. Mark Meer is pretty awesome.
      Make sure to search up the short where he stars as a soldier in the mass Effect universe some time before the games took place, very low budget, but it’s the closets you’ll probably ever get to see Mark Meer as Commander Shepard “live” as I doubt the Mass Effect movie will star Mark, which totaly sucks as I think he can easily do that role *duh*.

      1. aldowyn says:

        I also want to point out that he does a heck of a lot more than just Shepard. He does everything from Vorcha to some of the Salarians and I think some of the Volus.

        1. somniorum says:

          And Mordin Solus. In ME3. The original actor who played Mordin in ME2 didn’t come back for 3 for some reason or another, so they just got Mark Meer to do it.

          1. Eruanno says:

            Actually, IMDB lists William Salyers as Mordin in ME3…

    4. Also, Mark Meer looks disturbingly like a hard-boiled version of Steve from “Blue’s Clues.”

      Now I want to see him do a send-up of Blue’s Clues where he interrogates the talking furniture with a conversation wheel that completely contradicts what he’s trying to communicate. There should be blue and orange paw prints representing Paragon or Renegade clues.

      Someone tell Meer to make this happen. The world will be a better place for it.

      1. Cinebeast says:

        Now that you’ve mentioned this, I can’t unsee it. Frankly, it sounds like the kind of skit Mark Meer would perform, too, considering his nerd cred.

    5. Rutskarn says:

      He’s great in that sketch. In fact, I left the sketch running the background and switched to another window, and his performance was about a thousand times more inspiring than what he delivered in Mass Effect.

      1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        Seconded. But I also thought he was pretty good in ME. I never got the flat delivery. He reminded me a bit of, say, Harmon Rabb from JAG.

  11. Isaac says:

    To me the best SW season was Deus Ex Human Revolution while the worst was Alan Wake. HR was the perfect season because the main cast loved it enough to praise it but were still willing to point out its flaws. Meanwhile, Alan Wake’s gameplay was so boring that it couldn’t keep my interest.

    1. *nod*
      When a game clicks for the SW cast and the majority of viewers at the same time, that is when you get the best seasons or episodes.

    2. I think Assassin’s Creed wins for “most boring” for me. I really dislike the whole AC franchise for straying so far from its premise. Don’t get me wrong, the later games might be fun and have better elements to them, but to me, it’s as if Mass Effect slowly morphed into a game where you stole cars and went on side missions in a single city while your cousin Roman Shepard called every five minutes to see if you wanted to go see Asari strippers.

      1. Ilseroth says:

        Honestly, this is part of why I lost interest in the AC series. I liked the first game, and if I made a list of things I wanted in sequals after I played it would have been
        1. More stealth options during missions
        2. Better overworld distractions
        3. Less focus on “mysterious magic”

        All of which are pretty much thrown out in AC2(though I recently acquired black flag and I am enjoying the open world things)

        AC2 was the last AC I have finished, even though I own all of them except Liberty. The story is the key failing of all of them except the first. The first AC had a bit too much open combat situations; but they had stealthy means of approaching situations… and a justification for the absurd white robe.

        For the record I am enjoying AC4 for two reasons.
        1) Ignoring the main storyline for the most part except when required.
        2) I dressed myself in something other then the white robe.

        Honestly, I am treating the game as though it were a modern take on Sid Meier’s Pirates! With all the positives (polished combat, graphics) and negatives (Overly simplified, easy) that that generally entails.

        1. Chamomile says:

          If AC4 is the modern version of Pirates!, does that mean I can lead the Dutch to total domination of the Caribbean?

          1. aldowyn says:

            no, you conquer all the forts for the pirates, basically. At least you raise the *ahem* Black Flag.

          2. Ilseroth says:

            As I said, one of the major problems with Black Flag is that is has the over simplification of many modern games.

            You have the “fort capture” missions, but only a limited amount of them.

            you have the whole, capturing resources and boats thing, but there aren’t too many resources and you only get one (albeit upgradable) ship to pilot.

            You have a “crew” that you have to hire, but there is no morale or food mechanics to speak of (They only appear to improve time limit while boarding).

            And unfortunately the only faction available to the player is “Pirate” faction. I have met both British and Spanish ships (probably more then that, but as I can only be generic pirate haven’t paid too much attention to flags.) but I can’t join them.

            The Upside to the modernization of it is that the sword fighting is actually fun, the ship fighting is fun (if a bit easy) as well. Also, traveling around the sea is substantially more fun (especially with your crew shouting out sea chanties).

            Honestly it feels like the development crew wanted to make a modern take on Pirates! but were handicapped by time limits and the fact that it was supposed to be a “Assassin’s Creed” game… AKA: no depth allowed.

            What that means is you get to have fun with it, go around, capture ships, upgrade your ship, take down the ports, find unique ships, ect ect ect. And this is all on top of the assassination missions (which I’ll just call “Yarr go kill someone” missions) and other open world stuff.

            The downside is you don’t get to play the field, you don’t get to pick a side other then “pirate” nor do you ever have to deal with reputation really. I mean, you have to deal with pirate hunters if you are too prosperous, but never “This port will shoot you on sight” kind of stuff.

            Essentially, the big downside/flaw is that it lacks the simulation aspects of pirates… it’s gameplay is good, but it lacks depth, it lacks the depth of choice to set your own goals, it lacks the depth for you to have to worry about things like ship maintenance/capacity or crew morale, it lacks the depth of how you would deal with using different ships.

            Edit add: Also… lacks in romancing governors daughters.

      2. Humanoid says:

        I thought AC2 was a reasonably entertaining season covering a bad game. It was fun trying to keep up with what idiotic plot twist the writers could come up with next.

        For sort of the opposite, I’d nominate Metro – while I’ve never played it, I’m happy to concede to other critics that it wasn’t a bad game, but I felt it was patently unsuitable for Spoiler Warning, not least because you couldn’t actually see anything.

    3. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      I concur. There’s a lot of good in the Fallout and ME games, but it’s dispersed between lots of not much going on. I begin to think Spoiler Warning just doesn’t do games with sidequests well. The randomness and the shortness doesn’t lend itself to their kind of deep analysis -so they end up making jokes. Alan Wake is basically a content muncher, but without a good story to hold it together there’s not enough there to get a hold on.

      Half-Life 2 could be a counter-example, but I note they skip around in that game.

      DX:HR, though, has a strong, consistent story throughout, and while there are sidequests, they tend to be obviously related to the main quest. Gold, for Spoiler Warning.

      1. James Porter says:


        I have been thinking that throughout this whole season. Josh doesn’t have time to really get immersed or make any decent character because he has to keep to show moving, and sometimes one of the funnest things to do in Skyrim is to just pretend walk around the house, do a couple chores, and go off in some random direction. Because they need to keep doing things, they need to keep doing quests, and shot-gunning the main quest just is not fun.
        Makes me probably think a Morrowind season would be just as ridiculous, except even worse, seeing as that game doesn’t even have linear quests to follow.

    4. Joe Informatico says:

      I was going to say Dishonored, but I’m changing my vote to agree with you. Although they’re both good games and good SW seasons for similar reasons, I think the analysis on DX:HR was better. Probably because DX:HR’s flaws were spread throughout the game and didn’t become a really irritating issue until closer to the end, while Dishonored’s constantly kept popping up.

  12. Spammy says:

    Excuse me, but how does The Mama Badger from Shelter not count?

    Falling vaguely into the Samus problem is The Scythian from Swords and Sworcery. Although yeah, Samus should not count, as in all but two games she’s essentially a flat robot. And of those two games, one nobody played and the other everyone loves to dump on because it ruined a strong female character who really wasn’t ever a character to begin with. It ruined a fantasy everyone had of Samus.

    Shanoa from Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia was pretty cool. And Faith should count.

    1. aldowyn says:

      I approve of including mama badger.

      You know they’re making a Shelter 2? I think you play as.. a lynx or something like that.

  13. invisible dracula says:

    I think the strongest female lead is probably Amaterasu – if you can get over the hurdle of whether or not she should count :)

    1. Isaac says:

      I think she should count since she’s not actually a wolf. She’s a sun goddess in the form of a wolf.

      1. Nidokoenig says:

        Either way, she’s in lady-wolf form. Speaking of Zelda-ish games, what’s her face from Ittle Dew. I’m kinda enjoying that, though I’m only half an hour in.

  14. rofltehcat says:

    You should dump a few of those potions into a spring somewhere. Or in all the springs everywhere. Nobody would ever die ever again so nobody would care if someone went around murdering people… oh wait.

    1. If someone did that in the past and it affected all the crops, it would explain why all the food stays edible forever, even in tombs.

      You’d think there wouldn’t be any undead, though. Maybe the brewer of the potion(s) didn’t use the exploit as heavily or the Drauger are the result of people trying to kill their immortal relatives.

      So many questions…

    2. The Rocketeer says:

      This actually explains a lot. You know how the things you eat and the drugs you take eventually end up in the groundwater in trace amounts? And how this can totally affect the environment over time?

      How many potions do people throughout Tamriel drink?

      1. There’s an absolutely brilliant comic book called “Nextwave: Agents of HATE” (which I’ve mentioned loads of times before, yeah, yeah) which kind of touches on this idea.

        Basically, after Steve Rogers becomes Captain America, he has to use the bathroom. Another Nazi agent hid himself in the men’s room and collected Steve’s… “output,” as Nazi scientists had figured out the super-soldier serum would pass through his system and be salvageable.

        Things didn’t go well for said agent and his huge jar of pee.

  15. Thomas says:

    Zà¶e from Dreamfall: The Longest Journey absolutely rocks as a female lead in a non-American cyberpunk setting with a big-idea premise, experimental new mechanics and gorgeous scenery.

    1. Thomas says:

      (I genuinely do love Dreamfall, it was the game I wanted The Longest Journey to be. I did have the advantage of playing it when Dreamfall Chronicles was a possibility)

      I like Lightning from FFXIII, new Lara, and then other than that the only protagonist I can even think of is the lady from the Blackwell games and I can’t say she blew me away (she was fun though). Also the princess in Save the Queen

      To be fair about 50% of the games I’ve played have selectable protagonists or dual protagonists/unclear protagonists that cross genders (like in Heavy Rain, Indigo Prophecy, Quintessence-The Blighted Venom, or situations like FFXII where Ashe can be argued to be the protagonist).

      Still that’s a pretty disappointing list.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        Y’know, I like Lightning a lot too. The problem is, people like us a clearly in the minority.

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          That is a problem! There shouldn’t be any. *rimshot*

        2. Winter says:

          Lightning was great. She starts out as the exact dudebro supersoldier character you see in all kinds of games, but gender-flipped, and………………… kind of grows out of it. A little bit.

          Plus she punches Snow right in his stupid face and everyone should be thankful for that.

        3. Sougo says:

          Lightning in FF13 was ok. Nothing special but nothing too offensive either. It’s the sequel that’s when SE/Toriyama decided to deify her and trying to convince us that she’s a total bad ass when she’s… not. That’s the whole point of 13. The whole: ‘You WILL like Lightning whether you like it or not’ marketing campaign to crap out 2 sequels didn’t endear her to the majority of the public either.

    2. Tom says:

      I wanted to love Dreamfall, but the new mechanics and design just made the world feel stretched rather thin and empty, stunningly beautiful though it was – I often felt like I was just slogging through miles and miles of spectacular but frustratingly inert surroundings between each quite brief and isolated interaction, rather like a dreaded content muncher except with little to no combat between the story chunks, and those interactions themselves were usually not particularly intellectually challenging. I missed all the puzzles of the old game; also the first game seemed much denser in interesting lore than the new one. But, that said, it does have TWO strong female protagonists who both have actual personalities, and that’s probably almost unique. Plus there are other named female characters they talk to about important stuff and personal stuff not involving males, meaning both games pass the Bechdel test.

  16. krellen says:

    I too find myself despairing that I don’t love Remember Me. Everything about it is beautiful – except the gameplay, which is clumsy, clunky, and, for lack of a better work, “sticky”. The animations, music, and choreography would flow so smartly together if only the controls weren’t made of molasses and if the game didn’t refuse to ever let you change anything mid-stream. Capcom really needed to take lessons from the Arkham games here, because Remember Me with Arkham’s fighting controls in it would be a beautiful, near-perfect game.

    I still would love to be able to watch a Remember Me movie; I’m not convinced it’s really right as a game.

    1. rofltehcat says:

      It was one of those games everyone was looking forward to. But then it came out and everyone basically just said “meh, not as notable as people expected”.

    2. Nyctef says:

      I LOVED Remember Me. The gameplay could have been better but was enough to keep me going for most of the game – everything else was fantastic.

      I should totally play it again soon.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        Yeah. I loved Remember Me. Though I agree that the combat is definitely a mark against it.

        Otherwise, the game works fine.

    3. Isaac says:

      Arkham’s combat mechanics were pretty much perfect and they’re the best I’ve ever used.

    4. Nimas says:

      I kind of wish it was a stealth game personally.

      A stealth game where you greatly increased the number of memory hacking you could do. Thinking along the lines of altering guards memories to when their shift is, what their boss told them and the like.

      Would be hard to do without making the memory segments tedious if you could do it on everyone, but I think there is a balance possible in there somewhere.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        I was kinda peeved that there were only 4 memory remixes in the entire game. I liked those sections a lot.

    5. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      What game did ya’ll play? The customized combos, the rhythm of placing the hits, using the dodge key to flip over an enemy and continue the combo? This is my ideal fighting system (though I disliked Arkam Asylum’s system). Add in the platforming, the puzzles, and the fascinating story…

      I loved it.

      1. Isaac says:

        What did you dislike about Arkham’s combat system?

        1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

          Don’t recall. I just recall that shortly after the fight with Killer Croc I got sick of it, shelved the game, and haven’t thought about about it again for a couple years.

      2. krellen says:

        Remember Me tends to not let me dodge even when I hit the dodge button because I hit some other button at the same time the “dodge now” prompt appeared, as if it expects me to be psychic.

        Arkham will dodge when I hit dodge, even in the middle of a punch (well, Asylum did; I think they broke it later), making for far less “sticky” gameplay.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          Yeah. The dodge is honestly the biggest problem with Remember Me. And that’s a BIG problem. Since the game centers on you landing combos, dodge will let you avoid attacks while keeping your chain.

          However, if you press ANY DIRECTION at the same time you dodge, then the chain is broken because you do a combat roll instead. I’m honestly baffled by why they did it, and how it didn’t get fixed.

      3. Sleeping Dragon says:

        It seems a lot of us are getting very different things from this game since I actually thought that combat was pretty okay but the story was
        a complete mess of plotholes, stupidity and wasted opportunities.

        Which is why I’m hoping for a SW season…

    6. Eruanno says:

      I started playing Remember Me and when they introduced the combat I thought “aha, it’s like the Arkham combat system!” exceeeept… it’s a really awful clunky version of the Arkham system without any of the stuff that made it good. I gave up shortly after that…

    7. Rabs says:

      Overall, I liked Remember Me.

      What bothered me the most was the travel/platforming mechanism, that was mostly dull. Just follow an obvious path without risk/challenge.

      Combat system wasn’t perfect, but fun enough when I got used to it.

      But the universe and art was awesome… it made a lasting impression on me.
      It’s really frustrating they didn’t had a bigger budget to make more content and lively world (and more playtesting).

    8. Svick says:

      I still would love to be able to watch a Remember Me movie; I'm not convinced it's really right as a game.

      Something like

      (Surprisingly to me, this version is 3 hours, but there is also another one, that’s 2 hours, and yet another one that’s only 1.5 hours.)

  17. James says:

    I decided to dig up a thing i noted down about females leads and video games.

    i made a list of the 100 or so games i had on my steam account and others and decided to list the gender of the protagonist, and it ended up being 9, i owned 9 games with a exclusively female protagonist. and some of these are the same character twice. here is the list of though characters.

    Erin – Bleed
    Kate – Hydrophobia Prophecy
    Faith – Mirrors Edge
    Chell – Portal/Portal 2 (or as mumbles noted GladOS)
    Nilin – Remember Me (i liked it, it was flawed but i liked it)
    Sarah Kerrigan/ The Queen of Blafes – StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm
    “A Young Girl” – They Bleed Pixels
    Lara Croft – Tomb Raider [Larry Craft/Tom Braider Joke]

    And that’s it, which is just sad

    Hydrophobia and Remember Me could have been better but weren’t bad games, Chell is a non character, Faith also doesn’t get much character except some vibes from though b-movie sci-fi films with female leads. SC 2 is at its heart a competitive RTS, but has a fairly good story, but Kerrigan could have had better characterization. and Lara is a rebooted female star coming from perhaps the series with the worst representation of a female lead. so good job games industry, its still only up from here.

    side note games without a character or a non character (like Beth games and the like) came in at 64, with 40 male only

    1. aldowyn says:

      Kerrigan from the original Starcraft and Brood War. *Maybe* Wings of Liberty.

      Heart of the Swarm was just terrible story-wise IMO and did terrible things to her character.

    2. IFS says:

      Hmm let me see how many I have…

      They Bleed Pixels
      Long Live the Queen
      Eldritch (Its been a while but I think the PC is female, though she never speaks so there is the Samus problem again)

      So yeah, four games out of my list of 73. I would be able to get a few more if I count my console game collection, but I doubt it would be very many. So yeah, that’s pretty sad.

      I wonder how we should count games like Borderlands or Left 4 Dead that have multiple protagonists with one or more being female but are coop games so are intended to have multiple protagonists at the same time. Personally I’d say they should count since they have female main characters as part of the group of main characters all meant to be present at once, though I could certainly see an argument for the other direction.

      1. Nick-B says:

        I wouldn’t count them. The story is designed to make the characters interchangable. or they even don’t care, and say the same thing “Ahh, VAULT HUNTER!” regardless. Because of this, they have zero character, despite how many “AAH!”s and *GRUNT*s they give out in combat. Now, the original Siren was given character and pretty good voice-work when they appeared as an NPC in 2, but that seems to be the case with a lot of games: Makes the player an empty vessel, give the soul (whatever exists) to the NPC’s. Then have them do stupid things.

    3. Eruanno says:

      Would Ellie from The Last of Us count? I mean, she’s technically not the player character most of the time, anyway, but she’s there for almost all of the game, and I’m not sure she’d count as a supporting character either, based on her involvement in the plot…

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        I think she only counts because she had a DLC dedicated to her in Left Behind. Otherwise, she wouldn’t. After all, she’s the deuteragonist, not the protagonist.

        1. Eruanno says:

          Today I learned a new word… :D

    4. newdarkcloud says:

      Let me try:

      Nillan: Remember Me
      Faith: Mirror’s Edge
      Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
      Yuna: Final Fantasy X-2
      Lightning: Final Fantasy XIII
      Ashe: Final Fantasy XII
      Aveline: Assassin’s Creed 3 Liberation
      Chell/GlaDOS: Portal 1/2
      Princess Ellone(?): Long Live the Queen
      Jade: Beyond Good & Evil 2
      Amaterasu: Okami
      Recett: Recettear
      Red: Transistor
      Clem: The Walking Dead: Season 2
      Momohime: Muramasa the Demon Blade
      Rena: Star Ocean the Second Story
      Lillet Blan: GrimGrimoire
      Nariko: Heavenly Sword
      Kat: Gravity Rush

      Those are all the ones I can think of from the games I’ve played.

      BTW, I know there’s a rule against multiple games in one series, but I think Final Fantasy is different because each new game has an entirely new cast.

      1. newdarkcloud says:

        Oh shit, how could I forget Ellie and Elizabeth from the DLCs of Bio:Inf and The Last of Us.

        And Lenneth from Valkyie Profile. Alicia/Silmeria was pretty good in Valkyrie Profile 2 as well.

        And Alice from Alice: Madness Returns. Shame the game she was in is so mediocre in terms of play.

      2. Eric says:

        I don’t think FFXII should count. Balthier is clearly the leading man.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          But we both agree that’s in not Vaan.

          1. Eric says:

            In a perfect world, the main party of FFXII would have been Ashe, Baltheir, Basch, and maybe Fran.

            Vaan would have died in the sewers and Penelo would have been a shopkeeper.

        2. Winter says:

          I still say they should do “FFXII-2: Fran and Balthiers Sexy Fun Time Adventures” where it’s just the two of them (with random selectable guest character) wandering around doing pirate-y things.

          1. Sougo says:

            Pshhhhhhhhh There’s already a FFXII-2
            (I’m very sorry).

            1. Winter says:

              Fine, FFXII-3 then!

      3. Thomas says:

        I’m annoyed that I forgot Yuna in FFX-2. I need to replay that sometime, I’m not really sure if I liked Yuna even more or a little less than before. It’s cool to see her kicking back and having fun after all that she’s dealt with in her life but it does get a little fanservicey

      4. Dragmire says:

        Does Momohime have much of a character? I don’t recall either leads emoting in any particular way.

        Weird, my most detailed memory of that game was the food you could eat. I kept thinking, “I want to try that!”.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          Upon second thought, Momohime really doesn’t have much of a character. Hell, you’re basically playing as a male spirit who possessed her body on accident. Point taken.

      5. spotmarkedx says:

        Thank goodness someone else has played Lillet from GrimGrimoire. It was a super niche game (PS2 Fantasy RTS), but Lillet really rocked the main character role, including outsmarting devils and finally fixing problems that had been put on hold for hundreds of years by others.

        Also the ending is vague enough that you can probably interpret her final love interest as being either male or female :D

        Unfortunately some of the other female NPCs are a little more along the lines of traditional terrible female roles (“Oh, I’m so emotional since the man I love doesn’t love me back” blargh)

  18. From a gamer and a programmers point of view I see why leaving the “bug” in there is a nice easter egg, but what I don’t get is why they didn’t cap it to prevent the overflow, then again the crash reports might give nice stats on how many did do it I guess, but still knowingly letting your game have a crash but is a big no no.

    1. Ilseroth says:

      I used to Speed Run skyrim so I know a lot of ways the game is broken.

      … Let’s just say you can walk through almost any flat wall by picking up a plate, putting it against the wall and running into it.

      The game has a ton of things broken about it, including huge gamebreaking bugs.

      … Still a fun game… but its Bethesda.

  19. Max says:

    I’ll mention Terra from Final Fantasy VI as an example of a good female lead.

    1. syal says:

      Although it’s arguable which, if any, of the characters in 6 are the main character.

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        No, Terra is definitely the main character of FFVI. She just isn’t very good.

        Most of her character can be summed up as, “I don’t have feelings! And that makes me sad!”

        But noooo, it was the next game that people hit with the angst hammer…

        1. syal says:

          “An argument is a collective series of statements to establish a definite proposition, it isn’t just saying ‘no it isn’t’.”

          1. The Rocketeer says:

            Thank you for the information, but I wasn’t arguing. I was just disagreeing.

    2. Henson says:

      Yeah, I’ve always treated VI as an ensemble cast rather than having any single lead. I’d put Yuna as a main female before Terra any day.

      1. Kathryn says:

        It is an ensemble cast (one of the reasons I like FF6 so much – heavy on story and character), but I would definitely argue Terra is the protagonist of the story, even though she is absent for chunks of the gameplay. The “call” comes to her, and if she refuses it, you get a Black Belt the story doesn’t continue.

        EDIT: I just remembered that you can actually finish the game without Terra, so my point is invalid. Um…can we all at least agree that Terra and Celes are among the more-developed members of the ensemble?

        1. Deadpool says:

          Actually, even though she isn’t in the party, she still shows up in the end cutscene because her part of the plot is actually crucial…

      2. Max says:

        Well I mainly think of Terra as the lead because early in the game the plot revolves around her and everyone mentions how important she is. It probably just leaves such a huge impact that I just accepted her as the protagonist, even if her importance declines later in the game.

        But its also pretty clear that not all all of the playable characters are equally important. Really its Terra and Celes, who are far more important than any of the other characters. Terra being more important in the beginning and Celes being more important in the end. The other characters, despite being well developed, are not acting as huge focal points in the story, in the way the Terra in Celes are.

        I’m not sure I really follow the logic of discounting Terra because she shares the lead with Celes, but including Yuna, who shares the lead with Tidus.

        1. krellen says:

          Terra never felt like a character to me; she’s a walking Deus Ex Machina and there isn’t a lot more to her character beyond that.

          Celes, on the other hand, has by far the most complete character arc in the game, and is clearly the main character. (And is also one of the best characters in video games.)

        2. Phantos says:

          I feel the same way.

          It’s weird. They tried to make FFVI an ensemble cast with no one main character, and yet Terra rings truest for that role to me.

          Years later, they made FFXIII with Lightning in mind as the Main Character, yet it took two spinoff games before she became the centre of attention.

          I guess Square-Enix works in reverse-psychology or something.

        3. syal says:

          I judge a character’s mainness by what changes in the story if that character isn’t in it. Yuna’s the main character because removing her from the story effects things while removing Tidus doesn’t. Cloud’s the main character because he’s the driving force behind going after Sephiroth. Squall’s the main character because… well, let’s just not talk about 8.

          I’d argue Locke is the main character in 6 because Locke brings the majority of the main characters together. Apart from him, you can remove pretty much anybody from the group (with the possible exception of Celes) and the plot plays out the same.

      3. newdarkcloud says:

        Honestly, a lot of the later Final Fantasy games are strange because it feels like the game doesn’t really know who the lead is supposed to be.

        In FF10, Yuna makes a lot more sense as the lead than Tidus does because her and her pilgrimage are the driving forces of the plot. Something they rectified in X-2.

        In FF12, Ashe makes much more sense as the protagonist than Vaan. Heck, you could even make a strong case for Balthier. But Vaan does fucking nothing for the plot.

        FF13 is another case where the whole cast is main characters, but Lightning just happens to be the one on the box art.

        1. Henson says:

          I wonder about this. Does the player character have to be the protagonist? Can we tell a story in a game where the player sees the story through a viewpoint character who isn’t necessarily who the story is about? Or would such an approach necessitate that the story is focused on how the viewpoint character relates to or is changed by the main plot which is focused around someone else?

          I haven’t played FFXII, but given how much that game is compared to Star Wars, I wonder why we can’t view Vaan as a sort of C3PO, where the story starts from his viewpoint, and later shifts onto the real main character. Or does the way that story is told not allow for that structure?

          1. syal says:

            Players don’t want to play an entire game as the side character. Ideally you’re doing something important, and if you have the viewpoint of someone doing something mission-critical then you’re automatically the protagonist.

            I’m a fan of shifting viewpoints, though it’s kind of annoying if you get attached to a character and the game shifts away from them. Might have something to do with most games I’ve played doing it without any warning.

          2. Cinebeast says:

            I can’t speak on FFXII, having never played it, but I think ES4: Oblivion probably counts. Sure, it’s an Elder Scrolls game, so your character can just ignore the main plot if you want, but within the main quest Brother Martin is the clear protagonist. He’s the one who gets The Call and ultimately, he’s the guy who sacrifices himself to defeat the villain.

            In the grand scheme of the plot, the player just does a few errands and watches Martin save the world.

            Not a particularly well written story, but it fits your criteria, I think.

          3. Kathryn says:

            I definitely don’t think the player character has to be the protagonist. I’m just now playing FF12 (just got to the Pharos, so I think I’m close to endgame?), and I agree, Ashe is clearly the protagonist of the story; Vaan is merely the viewpoint at the beginning. And yet, I don’t use Ashe in my main party. Doesn’t make a difference to my enjoyment of the game.

            I also agree that Yuna is the protagonist of FF10. But I find Tidus to be an annoying, whiny little jerk, so I’m biased.

            1. newdarkcloud says:

              At least Tidus does something for the story of the game. Vaan does nothing.

        2. Tapkoh says:

          Originally, the main character was supposed to be a mash up of Basch and Vaan of sorts, or so I’ve read, but Squeenix changed the entire game around because they felt an “old” manly character wouldn’t sell as well as an androgynous teenager to the jrpg market. Apparently, they blamed Vagrant Story’s low sales for this.

          Kind of funny, since they later made Nier’s protagonist (for international release anyway) an older grizzled man because they felt western audiences wouldn’t relate to anyone except older macho men.

        3. Thomas says:

          I feel like the reason it happens so often in Final Fantasies is they’re trying to create a protagonist who can be a substitute for the audience, so someone who doesn’t know whats going on and needs to have things explained to them. It’s an easy way to establish the world and then it puts the player in the position of looking _onto_ the plot which gives them more tools in how to deliver it. If they want a main character to die, or go away or get kidnapped, it’s easy because the main character isn’t the player character.

          But it’s kind of cheap because it doesn’t involve you in the plot very much. And when they don’t do it doesn’t cause any problems because an ensemble cast of pre-defined characters doesn’t have to have a protagonist. The player is the party, not any individual members in it.

          1. newdarkcloud says:

            That can easily done without making such a character the protagonist.

            Alternatively, make it so that there are things that each member of the cast knows and doesn’t know, meaning that they can have moments where they explain things to each other.
            As an example, it would totally make sense for Baltheir would know a lot of Archadian society and culture, but not Dalmascan culture. However, it would equally make sense for Ashe to from a lot of Dalmascan culture, but not Archadian culture. Therefore, they can have moments where they explain shit to each other.
            Further, Basch would know a lot about Nabradia and what happened at Nabudis, but would be woefully unaware of what happened the past two years because of his imprisonment. So Ashe and Baltheir could take time to catch him up.

            All of the necessary explanation is now completely justified. Also, Fran is also kinda useless.

  20. The Defenestrator says:

    My contributions to the list:

    *Lillet Blan from GrimGrimoire
    *The Queen and Princess from King’s Quest VII
    *The collected cast of Skullgirls (although I hear they’ve added a male character)

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      Do you think some of the main characters in Odin Sphere count. I mean, half of the playable cast in that game is female, and they’re all pretty interesting and have their own screentime.

  21. Cinebeast says:

    Top female game heroes . . .

    Nariko from Heavenly Sword, maybe? Although I kind of preferred her sidekick Kai, who was also playable, but only about a third of the time.
    Now that I’m thinking about it, I haven’t played a whole lot of games with female PCs, let alone strong female PCs.

    But then, I honestly prefer games that offer gender-customization. Hmm.

  22. TMTVL says:

    Kirisame Marisa from the Touhou series, Cotton from Cotton, Giana from Giana Sisters, Pratty from Summon Night: Swordcraft Story, Konoko from Oni, Kat from Gravity Rush, Lena from Blue Rose, Colt in Monster Rancher 2 (not technically the main character, but that’s semantics), Ayane from Tenchu, Filena from Eternal Filena, Lei Kuugo from Live A Live, Lise from Seiken Densetsu 3, Bunny from Bunny Must Die,…

    And I’m not even getting into the REALLY obscure games (like the one in which you’re an antropomorphic female demon spider, no REALLY), but this is a small selection from a variety of genres and generations.

  23. yeti434 says:

    Never played Metroid PRime? Go back and play it. It was a really nice combination of FPS and exploring with some good level design.

    Favorite Season: ME2, a nice combination of love and bile. I hated that game when it came out, and found these episodes therapeutic.

    Least Favorite: ME3 Whereas in ME2 you had some interesting characters that occasionally held the flaccid gameplay up, in ME3 the characters play a lesser role so that the ruining of the reapers, that started in ME2, and the TIM are about the only things that game had going for it – so yeah, it was pretty terrible.

    Honestly, a lot of the problem with these “We have a great story” games is that the writers aren’t interested in telling you a story, but are more interested in telling you why their game is art. Bioshock Infinite is one example, a game that throws racism and a highschooler’s understanding of the universal wave function. On that topic, I saw Samus posted something about female protagonists and Ubisoft. Now, frankly, I really don’t care if my character is boy or girl, black or white or etc…unless the gender can add something to the game. In Bioshock Infinite you have to wonder why they didn’t make the protagonist black. This could of made players experience racism.

    I think a lot of these writers think “telling a good story” is “having a complex plot.” Many of the best stories have very simple plots. Take the Illiad, the plot is Trojans fight Danaans, Achilles gets butthurt, gods join in, Zues joins in, Danaans start to loose, Achilles’ friend dies, Achilles gets pissed, Achilles kills Hector, Achilles holds some games, Hector’s body is returned. Actual, this plot looks pretty mundane. Here is another example:

    Grendle invades Herot
    Beowulf shows up
    Beowulf rips Grendle’s Arm off
    Beowulf kills Grendle’s mother
    Beowulf becomes king back in his own land
    Dragon attacks
    Beowulf and the dragon dies

    And yet the story telling is superb. On that note, where the hell is the idea of wheregeld and blood feud in Skyrim? Seriously, it is a theme that is in practically anything Viking related. It could have been a good way to distinguish the Storm Cloaks (who’s society is ruled by wheregeld, family feud, verse, and love of gold and glory) and the Imperials (The Roman influence, similar to the Christian influence in Beowulf).

  24. Mikey says:

    So an armor set that was enchanted with Fortify Smithing through this method would probably allow you to take your Smithing to a hundred in under a minute, huh?

    Knowing about this trick would probably be the thing that could motivate me to do Alchemy, since Enchanting became similarly enjoyable once I got the Black Star and every random Bandit on the road became an easy Grand Soul.

    On the topic of the list, how would the protagonist rule apply to, say, fighting games a la Street Fighter or Dead or Alive where each character is the protagonist in their own short campaign?

    1. syal says:

      It falls under Ensemble. None of them can really be said to be the main character.

      If they could, I think we all know Jigglypuff would win hands down. Multiple times.

    2. newdarkcloud says:

      I’ve used this trick before to make a pair of Gauntlets that had 10000 defense power to give to my Mage character.

      I mean, it doesn’t matter b/c armor stops being useful after about 550 or so Armor Rating, but it was fun to do.

      You can also use this trick to make god-enchantments of OP-ness.

  25. Daimbert says:

    I don’t normally watch these shows, and this one will be no exception, but here are some female protagonists that I suspect weren’t mentioned:

    Miku Hinasaki from Fatal Frame, who I consider to be the best female character I’ve ever seen in a video game.
    Chris Lightfellow from Suikoden III. Sure, she’s one of three main characters, but since you can make her THE main character I think it counts.
    I’m not sure if Alice Eliott from Shadow Hearts would count. It’s debatable whether she or Yuri or both are the stars (you play the most as him, but she drives the plot more than he does).
    You could add Mio from Fatal Frame 2 to the list, although she isn’t as good a character as the other two.
    I’m not sure if the female protagonist from P3P counts; technically you get to choose, but since the S-links are redone it could be argued that it’s a different story/game when you do that.

    Those are the ones I always remember off the top of my head.

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      I don’t think Alice counts for the same reason that Ellie and Elizabeth don’t really count pre-DLC. Because she’s the deuteragonist, not the protagonist. She’s the supporting lead.

      Nor does the FeMC from P3P, because she’s just a female version of the male (canonical) protagonist, not a character in her own right.

      1. Daimbert says:

        I certainly don’t agree that Alice is a deuteragonist. In terms of the plot, she’s more important than Yuri, particularly to the ending (even more so when you include Covenant). You get to play as her in a lengthly section of the game. Unless you insist that there can only be one protagonist, there’s no reason to not consider Alice and Yuri to be the two protagonists of the game … unlike Covenant, where Yuri is clearly the protagonist.

        As for P3P, the point is that she’s NOT just a female version of the male protagonist. While the main story stays roughly the same, the story of the character — including S-links — is radically different and is actually ENHANCED for the female protagonist. It would be easy to argue that P3P with the female protagonist is the COMPLETED version of Persona 3, not the least of which would be that it allows you to find out about ALL of the members of SEES instead of just the female characters. It might be debatable, but not on the basis that she’s just a female version of the male lead.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          But even the theoretical completely version of Persona 3 is just another version of Persona 3. Not to mention the fact that she’s not even canon.

          And with regards to Alice, she is much like Ellie in the Last of Us. A lot of the plot involves her (rightfully so), and she plays a major role in the overall story (again, rightfully so). There are even major sections of the game where you play as these characters. However, their male counterparts take up by far the biggest sections of the game and also make most of the decisions regarding what the party does.

          1. Daimbert says:

            For P3P, the question is whether the game is different enough with the female protagonist than it is with the male protagonist, official canon or not. I say it is, because of how the main story changes — albeit in mostly minor ways — and mostly because of how the S-links change. It’s debatable, but it isn’t just an obvious “It’s just another version of Persona 3” argument.

            As for Shadow Hearts, as I’m playing it again right now — and have never played “The Last of Us” so those comparisons are going right past me — it’s certainly not the case that most of the decisions are made by Yuri. I’d argue that your original and even continuing arguments only work if you insist that there can only be one protagonist in a work, which isn’t clear. To me, Shadow Hearts and Shadow Hearts Covenant, combined, are the story of Yuri and Alice, tying from the bad ending of Shadow Hearts to the good ending of Covenant to the good ending of Shadow Hearts. In Covenant, as Alice is dead, Yuri is definitely the protagonist. In Shadow Hearts, about the only reason to argue that Yuri is the sole protagonist is that you walk around as him more than you do as Alice, but that doesn’t seem like a particularly good argument. Thus, I argue that Yuri and Alice are co-protagonists.

            Now, why is this worth arguing over? Because the wrangling over what it takes to be a female protagonist looks a bit dismissive, as an attempt to find a reason not to count one instead of finding reasons TO count one. This is bad, in my opinion, for two reasons:

            1) It penalizes more complicated works, or works that put in more effort in a non-standard way. It is reasonable to dismiss a work where gender a simple aesthetic choice that has no impact on the game, but P3P is not like that; a lot of work went in to make the experience radically different. It is reasonable to dismiss a game with a clear protagonist, but Shadow Hearts doesn’t have a clear protagonist, likely by design. To try to generalize the latter into the same category as the former denies the latter their rightful credit for having female protagonists just because they didn’t do it in a standard way, which isn’t a good thing if having female protagonists is supposed to be a good thing.

            2) It starts to look like trying to find reasons to hold onto a view — there are few or very few female protagonists — instead of as an objective analysis.

            Now, I don’t think you’re doing that, and do think they’re debatable. But I think they need more debate and feel that the points made here are more “easy” points than debated ones.

            1. newdarkcloud says:

              I do see your point. And admittedly, it has been a very long time since I’ve played Shadow Hearts, so my memory of it might be wrong.

              Though, I think most people agree that while there can be multiple leading characters, there must be one main protagonist. Everything I’ve looked at regarding this subject seems to subscribe to that school of thought.

  26. Henson says:

    Has anyone here played Long Live the Queen? ‘Cause that would probably be a good contender for female lead.

    Also, I wish Violette Summer had a stronger character, so I could suggest her. (Yeah, I know. Shut up, I liked Velvet Assassin.)

    1. Ithilanor says:

      I’ve played it! Elodie definitely deserves a mention.

      1. IFS says:

        Seconded (thirded?), its a great little game and Elodie is a good character in my book.

  27. Phantos says:

    I can understand not including someone like Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII, but how could you guys forget Zoey from Left 4 Dead?

    For me, the trouble with that challenge is that a lot of my favourite characters in games are side-characters, or at least aren’t the main protagonist. They’re there to bring some depth and colour to a game because the main character of these things apparently have to be mayonnaise.

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Agreed, I touch on this below, but the player character is very often neglected in this regard. The protagonists I’m most likely to bond with are either the ones where I get to customize the character and decide who he is, or characters adapted from other media (like Batman). Other than that, I much more fondly remember the likes of Bodahn Fedic or Chris Haversam than the protagonist.

    2. Rutskarn says:

      We were trying to steer around choosable female options and stick to “you’re a lady, deal with it.”

      1. Daimbert says:

        I know this isn’t what you meant, but the whole idea that the criteria for judging a game with a female protagonist is “You’re a lady, deal with it” seems to me to be depressingly common and an exceptionally bad way to go about it. If you go down the list of the games that people do remember the female leads in fondly, it’s because the character being female adds to the work. In Fatal Frame and most of the survival horror games, for example, having a female lead can help get around what I’m sure Shamus griped about at some point: the feeling that you’re playing as some hyped up super-soldier instead of someone normal and in over their head. The latter is far more frightening, and you aren’t going to get more “in over their head” than a teenage girl wandering around a haunted mansion with only a camera for a weapon. And in Suikoden III, Chris Lightfellow simply highlighted the whole idea of strong, competent, capable fighting women, and added a bit of the romantic ideal to the story that might have been harder to pull off with a male lead.

        If female protagonists feel shoved in the faces of gamers, they probably aren’t going to react well, but if they’re used to do things that couldn’t be easily done with male characters, then they might take off on their own and become the standard in at least some cases.

        1. Thomas says:

          I don’t think there really is a big push back about being female characters. I think if most people were to play a game and find out the main character was female, they’d be cool and roll with it. Tomb Raider (2013) was enjoyed by tons of people, the idea that people don’t want to play female characters I believe is just a myth amongst game executives that’s arisen because of how few female characters there are. There just haven’t been enough of them for the odds to be good that a big game would happen to have one.

          The issues are all about whether designers should deliberately be making female characters and whether the male heavy world is wrong. Asking to have more female characters makes it feel like you’re saying that the (male dominated) things people love are wrong and that leads to passion. But if it came down to playing a preexisting game that wasn’t special, just the protagonist was female, I don’t think many people would mind.

          1. Daimbert says:

            I agree with you that if a game has female protagonists it won’t sell less (although I think it won’t sell significantly more either). The push back I was referring to was more people saying that we should have more female protagonists, and my point was mainly that people seem to be missing arguments of the form “And here’s how your game/story would work better with a female rather than a male protagonist, if you have to pick only one.”

        2. Treating half of the population as a value-add or twist on the default setting of male is really limiting. Requiring women to “add value to the work” before they can be perceived as acceptable protagonists is, well, odd. (Do male protagonists require a similar calculus, solely on the basis of their gender?) At best, this is an acknowledgement of the ridiculously narrow range of concepts perceived as commercially safe.

          1. Daimbert says:

            Requiring women to “add value to the work” before they can be perceived as acceptable protagonists is, well, odd.

            It’s also not my point. My point is that there is a lot of concern over the lack of female protagonists in games, and that the arguments for it have boiled down to either an unevidenced idea that there will be more sales to female gamers if they do, or variations on “We want to end sexism in games/add diversity to games” which boil down to “Shove female protagonists into games not because they add to the game, but because of some external moral demand”, which game designers who have a particular notion of what they want to do with their game are going to react badly to, especially if they’re worried that it won’t pull it off. So I’m suggesting that a better argument and one that actually taps into what game designers should definitely care about as game designers is showing how they can do what they need to do better with a female protagonist rather than the standard male protagonist, or that they can pursue unique stories or perspectives by using a female protagonist. It’s not about requiring female protagonists to show value, but about showing that having female protagonists DOES add value in at least some cases, and that in those cases it makes more sense to use a female protagonist by default than the typical male protagonist. Survival horror seems to be the obvious candidate, but other games can benefit from it as well, I’d think.

            1. If a developer’s reaction to suggestions of inclusiveness and diversity is to be defensive and equate that desire with “shoving female protagonists” where they don’t “add to the game” then the problem, as far as I am concerned, is with the developer.

              [Edited to clarify that I am not attacking Daimbert, only the hypothetical developer.]

              1. Daimbert says:

                I think you missed my point on that again. My point was that arguing for female protagonists on the basis of inclusiveness or diversity only and NOT AT ALL on what female protagonists add to the game does come across as “Add them no matter whether or not you end up with a better game out of it if you do”. Now, to be fair, some do try to make arguments for why diversity inclusiveness make for better games, but most of those still boil down to “Because it’s good for society”. And while obviously everyone should care about society, I’m not going to blame a designer for putting their game first and making decisions based on what makes a better game.

                So, if we can point out how a female protagonist might make for a better game or a unique viewpoint, we hopefully will get more designers thinking of that (eventually) AND we’ll get better games with female protagonists, where they aren’t just a standard male protagonist with a female shell but where instead the game does, in fact, have a protagonist that’s female, with as many of the attendant issues and perspectives as possible/reasonable.

                1. I am not missing your point, I am rejecting your argument that we should not phrase our objections in a way that challenges a developer’s biases. If everyone should care about society, then that includes people who make video games, and adding diversity to games is, in itself, adding value to the game and society as a whole.

                  We’re going to have to agree to disagree, I think; neither one of us is going to change our fundamental approach.

                  1. Daimbert says:

                    Before we agree to disagree, I want to make sure that we know what we’re disagreeing about because right now I’m not sure. Everyone one of your objections seems to me to be over things I didn’t say [grin].

                    Maybe we’re disagreeing over the end goal:

                    If everyone should care about society, then that includes people who make video games, and adding diversity to games is, in itself, adding value to the game and society as a whole.

                    To me, adding diversity to video games, as an overall genre, is a good thing. But adding diversity to any SPECIFIC game, to me, isn’t necessarily a good thing. To me, there is nothing wrong with a game having only a male protagonist, as long as it makes sense. The problem we have now is that almost all games have male protagonists, even when the game would be BETTER if it had a female protagonist. I don’t, at the end of the day, want it so that we have 50-50 male and female protagonists or that all games allow the selection. At the end of the day, I want the whole idea of an overall default gender for a protagonist GONE. I want game designers to decide the gender of their protagonist on the basis of what makes a better game, and not on tradition or an overall societal view of what a protagonist should be.

                    Why I bring this up is because of this:

                    I am not missing your point, I am rejecting your argument that we should not phrase our objections in a way that challenges a developer's biases.

                    Because my view is to point out that there is actually no reason for them to have a male protagonist there other than tradition or cultural bias, because in the games I’d talk about a female protagonist would work better. That IS challenging their biases. I’m just not simply asserting it, but appealing to at least the fact that a female protagonist would work as well if not better, and would be different, or would allow for something different — assuming they wanted that — and so they actually have better reasons to go female than go male. Unless you want to argue that instead of demonstrating that bias is the only reasonable explanation we should just assert that — and I don’t think you are — then I’m still not sure what the problem is.

                    Noting, of course, that my early comments did indeed focus on the view from the designer which might have caused some confusion, and that in general I hesitate to actually claim someone is biased as opposed to missing the opportunity, which carries over in my comments.

                    1. Everyone one of your objections seems to me to be over things I didn't say [grin].

                      Grin duly noted, but the quotation marks in my earlier comments are there for a reason. You may not have meant them quite the way I interpreted them, but you very definitely used those words, and those comments from the POV of the designer are specifically what I have been responding to.

                      From my POV, I have spent my sub-thread of this derail arguing against what increasingly reads like a devil’s advocate argument for hypothetical developers holding views you say you don’t. I have also, with increasing difficulty, avoided piling on against the gender-essentialist tack you’ve been pursuing in the other sub-thread with Syal. Neither of these trends gives me reason to believe that my further participation will be any more productive than it has been to date. Thank you for the discussion, but I’m done.

            2. grahams_xwing says:

              I raised a point similar to this with Rhianna Pratchett on twitter when TR was released and she ended up with the envitable merry go round about female protagonists (and specificaly how she had tried to write a vunerable Lara). I asked if tokenism in gaming was any more preferable to the current situation. IIRC she seemed to be arguing that any increase/improvement in female characterisation was a positive thing, which is perhaps understandable.

              Sadly I fear the industry is slowly splitting in two and this issue will be one of the losers. One one hand you have your mass market AAA ‘Shoot everything until it’s dead (Even if the games not ‘supposed’ to be a shooter – looking at you Watch Dogs)’ – everything boils down to the bottom line that these companies have spent so much money on these products they simply cant fail, including the possible perception that a strong male protagonist hold sales up better. On the other hand you have the more … artisticaly motivated (a bit highbrow for what I’m trying to explain but..) games that are made for a purpose other than just £££ ($$$ for my cousins across the pond. Perhaps the latter are where we might more readily expect more female protagonists, or at least games where the gender issue is considered unimportant (like the excellently irreverant way Rogue Legacy deals with the differences between you various characters as you play)

              Realisticaly (and now refering to the wider question), do we have to accept that the common settings of games have thus far limited the opportunities for female protagonists? War/shooter titles – real life experiences have few examples of female combatants. Fantasy settings – even outside of games, female characters often cast as healers, nature attuned or occult characters, as opposed to male hack and slash Paladins, Knights or Rangers. Historical sagas = male lead characters, Vikings, Norse, Greeks, Mongol Hordes – all male dominated. Where any of these settings are used to create IPs it must be very hard to justify deliberatley breaking expectations -and doing so must be considered a risk.

          2. Atarlost says:

            Game designers should not be pushing either gender on the player unless it adds value. The default should be to selectable gender.

            That won’t get you absolute gender parity because historically inspired settings are usually male dominated, but it’s better to lack absolute parity than to have eg. female soldiers in the many historical-cultural milieus that lacked them. There aren’t as many female dominated protagonist types in genres the industry is interested in so if a flat uninteresting character has a reason to be gendered he will almost always be male.

            Or to look at the question another way, if you cut out all the ciphers and generic space marines and bro shooters how many good male protagonists are there really? No one’s served by getting a greater share of the boring protagonists.

            And where gender isn’t important the actual non-sexist thing to do is to give a choice. Regina Shepherd is not diminished by the Reginald Shepherd that Josh didn’t play.

        3. syal says:

          I think that’s more a problem of constantly making the men handsome, buff and/or confident and women more willowy and frail. Do you think that in a horror setting a teenage girl is more in over their head than a nerdy teenage boy?

          1. Daimbert says:

            Well, the thing is this: slim, petite women are not only closer to the average woman than they are to the average man, but they’re closer to the current ideal for women than that would be for a man. As your comment about a teenage male nerd proves, as the male ideal tends towards muscularity while the female ideal doesn’t. Now, this is not to argue that this is a good thing, but if you’re in a culture where when you take the average the female average looks less like a rock hard solider type, and you’re in a genre where you want to avoid that to build up a sense of vulnerability, it seems obvious that it would be easier for you to achieve what you’re going for with a female protagonist than a male one: you can build an appealing, sympathetic character that seems vulnerable without risking players not finding the vulnerability believable or considering the character to be overly and annoyingly weak.

            And as characters like Miku from Fatal Frame proved, once you do that you can still have a strong and admirable character whose traits would be admirable no matter what their gender is, which is surely what we’d want out of female protagonists.

            1. syal says:

              Constantly reinforcing people’s expectations of what men and women should be is the entirety of the problem. If your character is supposed to be a unique character (and they should be if they’re in a game that isn’t a sandbox), it shouldn’t matter what the averages are.

              1. Daimbert says:

                Other than the body image issues that can follow from chasing the female ideal, don’t we care more about personality traits than about looks? If a female protagonist looked like the average woman, she’d still be less muscular than the average man and so would still trigger the relevant physical traits, and could be shown to be a brave and active participant in the world instead of as a passive object. Wouldn’t that be a good thing?

                1. syal says:

                  No more so than a man with a bone disorder or dwarfism, or anything else that makes a man weaker than the average man. The idea that “bravery in weakness” is a female trait is not a great one to reinforce.

                  1. Daimbert says:

                    I think you keep proving my point: in order to get the same physicality as the average woman, you have to posit a man with an actual physical disorder. While that may work for some games, in general and on average games should probably strive for something closer to the average or to the ideal than that, and using a female protagonist in survival horror allows for a physicality that best allows for things like physical intimidation. A 6 foot tall monster is more physically imposing when compared with a 5’4″ protagonist than a 6 foot one, for example.

                    In short, it’s not really about “strength in weakness”, although I may have put that badly. Instead, it’s more about physical intimidation. If you’re putting someone in a position where they have to fight their way out or, perhaps, NOT do that against physically stronger opponents, it’s easier to pull that off and give yourself more options with a less physically imposing protagonist, and it’s easier to make a less physically imposing protagonist that is still sympathetic and believable and average if that protagonist is female.

                    1. syal says:

                      Allow me to rephrase.

                      Every time someone wants a “weak” character, they default to a woman. If they don’t want a “weak” character, they default to a man. This in turn tells gamers that women are weaker than men. This is worse than not having any women in games.

                      The way to get around this is to make every character a character, instead of a cookie-cutter copy of people’s expectations. If a character is suppose to be physically intimidated, there should be a reason besides “they’re a chick, so obviously.” Make them short. Make them old. Make them super-skinny. Make them something other than average.

                      Also I just noticed you never actually answered the question of whether a nerdy teenage boy would be more or less intimidated than a non-nerdy teenage girl. It’s an important question to ask.

                    2. Daimbert says:

                      Let me rephrase your rephrase:

                      If you want a less physically imposing character, consider using a female character instead, and the default should be that instead of a male character. This doesn’t mean that you can’t build a character out of that, nor that you can’t mix it up, or whatever, but consider that as the default. This, then, would tell gamers at most that, in general, women are less physically imposing than men. Which happens to be true, and a lesson that many feminists would like men to realize: how the difference in physical sizes impacts the way women look at men.

                      As for the nerdy teen, yes, you could build a game around that to get that lesser physical imposition as well. I think you’d lose a bit because it would be harder to make that character either a representation of an average person — which you should want in horror and survival horror — or as an ideal character, because of what the masculine ideal is. In short, it’s harder to make a nerd appeal to a general audience as a great main character that they like and admire. It can be done, but it would be easier to do it with an at least average female character, which is most of my point on that.

        4. Daimbert says:

          I know this thread is kinda dying, but people are really missing my point, likely because I didn’t phrase it well, so I’d like to summarize it to make it clearer. I want to start challenging designers, at least, by saying this:

          Can you at least use female protagonists in games where it makes MORE SENSE to use a female protagonist?

          As opposed to feeling like gamers and designers are being forced to play/create female protagonists like it or not, at least getting designers and gamers to notice the places where female protagonists could be easily inserted and actually make the games better and start putting them there.

  28. Wide And Nerdy says:

    I flipped this the other way and looked at male characters. I have 60 games in my Steam Library. 22 of them offer exclusively a male option. The Gordon Freeman rule knocks out half of those.

    Notice an interesting trend in the characters that are left that I actually liked.

    Marty McFly
    Batman (3 of the 11 games)
    Scrooge McDuck
    Strong Bad
    Adam Jensen (and he definitely ranks last on this list in terms of characters I like).

    Geralt was two of the 11 but I don’t like him. Duke Nukem I don’t really care for either (it was a nostalgia buy and it was on sale for two bucks and it was the old 3D game. Don’t hate me).

    If I go back to my Nintendo days, the Gordon Freeman rule applies to most of the games I played. Luke Skywalker and the Ninja Turtles are among the very few exceptions and would make an excellent name for a band.

    While there are a ton of male characters the tendency is to make them silent and extremely generic. Its mostly only when a character is brought in from another source (even Geralt) that they tend to be a well developed character.

    In contrast from what I’ve seen while there are way fewer female characters, they tend to have personalities and characterization. Ellen Page’s character (I saw a lets play of Beyond Two Souls) Clementine, Lara Croft (at least in the game I played, the most recent one) . . .

    . . . and the character I’m extremely disappointed that no one else seems to have picked. Aurora from Child of Light. I love the game and while I won’t say she has the most in-depth and nuanced character, she definitely has a character and it was a joy to play as her. I especially enjoyed the way she had to drag that sword around during combat but when it came time to attack she had a pretty mean overhead swing. She figured out what worked for her. It was cute.

    Its like when they just need something for the player to control and the character is just a thin bit of context for why you’re involved, they go male. When they actually want the player to play a specific and original crafted character with personality and backstory, thats when a female protagonist has the best chance of showing up.

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      I should mention, I would have enjoyed playing as Catwoman, I normally like her, but the very first thing she does after Batman helps her out* is leave him in a lurch while she goes to steal stuff. So I’ve just shifted from playing badass crimefighter to despicable thief. And I was not expecting that at all. I just dropped the controller and let the first wave of goons beat her up. I bought the GOTY edition and theres no way to turn off the Catwoman DLC. Its a dark mark on an otherwise awesome game.

      *-(I won’t say he actually rescues her, he provides an opening for her to break free, its not hard to imagine that she could have found another opportunity)

  29. Ed says:

    As many above me have mentioned, Lightning from Final Fantasy 13, I like, and Samus from Metroid Prime as well. I know its probably not the type of game that the spoiler warning crew is into, but I love Bayonetta as a female lead. Eirika from Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones is also a good protagonist, but she might not count given you essentially choose between her or her brother as the main character.

    1. syal says:

      For a second there I thought you said Eriko from Illbleed.

      …Anybody have an opinion on Eriko from Illbleed?

    2. IFS says:

      I’d say Erika counts as you have to play with her as the lead for most of act 1, and its not as though you have either her character or her brother as both exist in the story regardless.

  30. Destrustor says:

    Aurora from Child of Light.

    Bonus points for being an actual child for most of the game.
    More bonus points for wielding a big-a** sword, and being the only party member to do so. “You want a big tough knight guy? Have a little girl with fairy wings instead. She can do the job just as well.”

    1. Wide And Nerdy says:

      See its that kind of “in your face thing” that I find off putting.

      I took Child of Light for what it was, a fairy tale, not some in your face subversion of the male action hero paradigm.

      There are a lot of instances where this has made me hesitant to buy something with a female protagonist due to past experience and I think the SW crew has touched on it a bit. There’s a much higher chance of seeing one of the following:
      1) Some guy being a sexist pig (or worse) so that the heroine can kick his ass.
      2)All the guys in the setting are sexists and/or incompetent and/or whiny and useless (this was my only minor little nitpick with child of light, the archduke, the only male character spends the entire time in bed moaning over his lost daughter. I’d have rather at least seen him struggling to carry on his duties before finally succumbing to broken heart disease.)
      3) The ‘alpha female’ thing they mentioned where the woman goes out of her way to one up all the men. (I’m not saying she can’t be the most badass but scenes devoted to her making a point of being the most badass are annoying, let it emerge naturally through the plot)
      4) The whole hamfisted ‘women can do things too’ message. Thankfully feminists seem to find this condescending so I see it less and less. Show don’t tell.
      a) This includes the “A woman? Hows she gonna do [x]?” followed by her immediately doing x better than they could ever hope too. It was funny the first 5000 times.
      5) Guys are set up with retarded strawman arguments for the woman to tear apart (bonus points if the writer didn’t really think it through and both sides sound stupid or the guy actually has the better argument. This is far from limited to this type of story, but I try to avoid anything that looks like its gonna have this kind of BS in it.)
      6) The men are petulant manchildren (see also every sitcom from the early 90’s to the mid-00s).

      So I watch the marketing for hints of that very closely. Child of Light looked like a sincere fairy tale and Aurora seemed like a natural fit for the setting so I eagerly bought the game.

      Edge of Tomorrow is a movie example of how to do it right. Emily Blunt’s character was simply a badass. There was no need to devote scenes to proving it or remarking on her being a woman who is also a badass. She just went badass when the situation called for it (and it would have been stupid to call it out since the powered armor equalizes the troops making skill and grit more important than brute strength).

  31. Michael R. says:

    How about Venus from Space Colony? She’s a well-written character and the game is pretty good, too.

    As for Spoiler Warning, the best season, IMO, was Deus Ex. It had plenty of analysis and just the right amount of Josh’s trolling so that it didn’t get dull, but it didn’t get annoying, either.

    Worst season was Mass Effect 2. I watched the first six or so episodes, and I couldn’t stand it. It was constant hate and nitpicking (paraphrase of 90% of the episodes: “This contrivance/coincidence is a massive plot hole that COMPLETELY RUINS THE GAME”).

  32. Mr Compassionate says:

    Mass Effect 2 was the best Spoiler Warning series.

    Bayonetta is an alright lead, also she was apparently written by a lady.

    Also Samas is sort of a character, she is a bounty hunter who works for the federation which suggests character traits by itself and has a strong set of ethics. She has a much stronger will than most people (as evidenced by her resistance of the Phazon) and is known to occasionally emote (such as when Dark Samas stole away Ghor). She is part of some alien prophecy and I think her armor is alien tec, or she’s like a descendant of their’s or something?

    Either way she isn’t massively complicated but she is pretty cool.

    1. Klay F. says:

      Bayonetta is so far the only game that I know of where you play a woman who is in complete control of her sexuality and proud of it. Not only that, but she has flaws as well, and is not just some retarded Mary Sue. She is bar none the best character in the spectacle fighter genre.

  33. deda says:

    Ten female leads I like from games I have played in no particular order:

    -Yuna from final fantasy X (she is almost the main character and she becomes the lead in the sequel)


    -Marona from phantom brave

    -Recette from recettear

    -Annie from atelier annie (the ds one)

    -Shanoa from castlevania order of ecclesia

    -Aigis from persona 3 the answer

    -Ulrika from mana khemia 2

    -Marisa Kirisame from touhou

    -Samus Aran (I think at least in the prime games she counts)

    Actually, considering that most games don’t put a lot on effort in the story (and therefore the characters) and how a lot of the games that do have either silent protagonist or optional gender, 10 is a lot.

  34. Gravebound says:

    “Who here has played a Metroid game…all the way through?”

    Wow. Mumbles sounds really dismissive of Metroid. :/ Metroid was the first game I bought as a kid using my own money that I saved up. And Super Metroid is one of the greatest video games ever made. There are no qualifications to that statement; it is damn near flawless. I still play it at least once a year, and if you have never played it, you are doing yourself a disservice.

    And some female led games that weren’t mentioned that I have played through:

    Perfect Dark – N64 (really now, that one seems obvious)
    Mischief Makers – N64
    Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia – DS
    Popful Mail – Sega CD
    Shantae – GBC/DS
    Primal – PS2
    Lost Kingdoms – Gamecube
    Panzer Dragoon Orta – XBox
    Jeanne D’arc – PSP
    La Pucelle: Tactics – PS2
    Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure – PS1
    Princess Maker 2 – PC

    Now, whether the characters meet all the criteria that apparently keep Samus from being considered, I don’t know. But if Samus doesn’t have enough characterization (I guess the Nintendo Power comics/ Valiant Comics are non-canon), then most male characters shouldn’t then count against the male-to-female character ratio, because they aren’t fully fleshed out/talky either.

    (Also, would Resident Evil 2 count, since playing as Claire gives different scenarios to Leon?)

    1. Gravebound says:

      Also forgot:

      The Misadventures of Tron Bonne
      Silhouette Mirage
      Valkyrie Profile
      Fear Effect
      Parasite Eve
      UmJammer Lammy

      All on Playstation (Silhouette Mirage is also on Saturn in Japan).

      1. Gravebound says:

        Really can’t believe I forgot American McGee’s Alice and Izuna: The Unemployed Ninja…

        Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem – Gamecube
        Drill Dozer – GBA
        Magic Night Rayearth – Saturn
        Castlevania: Legends – GB
        P.N. 03 – Gamecube
        Arkista’s Ring – NES (of course, all the [lack of] characterization is in the manual. It’s just a Gauntlet clone; but I like it.)

        Some others I’ve only played a little of, can’t speak to the quality:
        Drakan: The Ancient’s Gates – PS2
        Lady Sia – GBA
        Kya: Dark Lineage – PS2
        Darkened Skye – Gamecube
        Super Princess Peach – DS
        The Little Mermaid – NES
        Valis – a lot of platforms

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          I forgot about Drakan. Which is weird, because I played a ton of that game way back when.

    2. krellen says:

      You have to remember Spoiler Warning is mostly a PC-gaming crew, and Nintendo almost never comes up in their “what am I playing” discussions.

    3. The Rocketeer says:

      I really really like Metroid Fusion and Super Metroid, but I still wouldn’t count Samus.

  35. Ithilanor says:

    Thanks for answering my question! Discussing the merits of the different seasons with regards to both humor and analysis was what I was curious about. I agree with what Mumbles said about the New Vegas season; it was definitely entertaining, but the analysis wasn’t as strong, especially spread out over such a long season. The ME2 season felt much the same way, though with better analysis. My favorite seasons are probably Dishonored, Tomb Raider, and Human Revolution, which mixed humor with analysis without getting boring. I’d actually put Alan Wake up there as well, if only it were shorter. (A problem with the game, not with the SW crew)

  36. guy says:

    I’ll put in the female main character from Persona 3 PSP. Technically that’s a case of selectable gender, but they put so much work into inserting the female option that it’s almost an alternate storyline.

    Also a joint one for Caster/Saber from Fate/Extra. Not actually the main character, but he/she is so bland other characters mistake them for an NPC.

  37. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    Let’s look at my shelf and answer the combined question “Best Woman Leads” and “Best games with woman in the lead roles.” In order of my shelf:

    1.) Kate Archer from No One Lives Forever.
    2.) Rosella from Kings Quest IV (my favorite of the series)
    3.) Valanice from Kings Quest VII (my third favorite of the series, after VI)
    4.) Karen S’Jet, Homeworld (shares with Fleet Command the lead roles in story)
    5.) Nilin, Remember Me

    Those are the only clear-cuts.

    Questionable ones:
    6.) Lady Xiang from Dynasty Warriors (especially 6, but its an ensemble)
    7.) Miriam Godwinson from Alpha Centuari (in competition with Corazon Santiago, but Santiago is a much 1 dimensional -even by SMAC standards)
    8.) Kreia, from KOTOR II (though I think Handmaiden is a better character, the story is more Kreia/Exile’s/Revan by reference)
    9.) Bastilla from KOTOR, though same objection.
    10.) Commander Shabayev, Battlezone 2 (certainly a major character, but lead?)
    11.) Aribeth from Neverwinter Nights (has the same problem as KOTOR examples)
    12.) Joan of Arc from Bladestorm (but only for half the game, the early game is all about Edward the Black Prince)

    I am somewhat hampered by the prevalence of RTSs on my shelf.

    1. guy says:

      “Karen S'Jet, Homeworld (shares with Fleet Command the lead roles in story)”

      Uh, do you mean Fleet Intelligence? Karen is Fleet Command, and I would say she’s more the lead character than Fleet Intelligence.

      1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:


    2. Jakale says:

      I was wondering if someone would mention the Sierra ladies. I’m more attached to Laura Bow than the King’s Quest women, personally.
      A little surprised KQVII ranks so highly for you. Most people I hear from about it don’t have the highest praise.

      One lady I don’t see in here yet is Monica from Dark Cloud 2. You could argue she’s part of a male/female counterpart thing and maybe second fiddle, since the guy narrates, but she shares equal screen time with the guy, is always available to run around with once she shows up, regardless of whether you play as her, and has her own separate character and motivation, so I think that counts as duel protagonists, rather than one or the other, like with Mass Effect, Costume Quest, or Legend of Mana. I don’t think she’s invalidated by the fact that you might choose never to use her in combat or town traipsing.

      1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        If we were to include the fan-made VGA remakes, the sequence would be come VGA remakes 1-3, Original 4, 6, 7, 5; then the original 1-3.

        For a game with that much instant death, the combination of finickiness in the controls, lack of pause while typing, and picky verb parser always made them frustrating rather than fun. Also, they didn’t start picking up stories until 3 (again, excluding the VGA fan remakes, which added references to the Dark Cloaks, which originally didn’t appear until 5).

        And what can I say, I’m a sucker for good heroic love stories (the basic plots of 4, 6, and 7), and as a bonus, KQ7 resolves the unfinished romantic subplot of KQ4.

    3. Kalil says:

      I was about to mention Karen S’Jet. She’s quite possibly the most stand-out female lead in my mind, although she’s a ‘lead’ in the same way the old man of Bastion is – she’s a very powerful narrator.

      Aribeth from NWN was kind of godawful on many levels. She was a character who existed entirely to fall, and they began broadcasting it from her first introduction. I never thought of her as strong, because what strength she displayed felt like it was merely a lead-in to the damseling or fridging. Sure enough…

  38. Kyte says:

    FYI the reason this works is simple: enchantments are the same school as the original spell so they’re affected by Fortify [School] spells, and Fortify spells are from the Restoration school. If you wanted to make your Staff of Fireball better, fortify Destruction.

  39. River Birch says:

    Okay lets see here Uh…
    1. Okami Amaterasu (Okami) [Goddess, To remind you all. THE GODDESS OF GODS.]
    2. Jade (Beyond Good and Evil)
    3. Red (Transistor)
    4. Skye Autumn (Sanctum 1&2) [ More in Sanctum 1 Shes’ the main, but She has a little sis in 2 ]
    5. Thief (Trine 1&2) [If you haven’t used her mainly in your playthroughs for her grapple, I call you a liar.]
    6. Midna (LOZ: Twilight Princess) [For the Fact she is your companion when you’re in wolf form and provides aid in battle, not only for her story purpose.]
    8. Naija (Aquaria – Little Indie Title that I personally like)
    9. Mi (Knytt Underground – Another Indie Platformer Title. )
    10. Recette (Recettear)

    WOOO! 10!
    And only One you might have an argument over (Mi) and the other you probably all never heard of (Najira from Aquaria).

    But if ya’ll have, Great.

    1. AJax says:

      Considering that Link is also like a Gordon Freeman kind of figure and the plot revolves more around Midna than Link, Midna’s a good choice.

  40. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Oh wow,Ive just realized that no one has yet mentioned alice from American McGee’s alice.

    Also,there is rayne from bloodrayne,but forgetting her is not as shocking.

  41. Nimas says:

    Can’t believe I forgot to mention, but this was seriously one of the best endings to spoiler warning ever :D

  42. Phantos says:

    I will say it is very strange to allow for a mute like Chell into this little challenge, but not Samus. Her reaction to the baby Metroid, the return to Zebes, and all of Metroid Fusion help paint a more detailed, interesting picture.

    A picture that “Other M” wipes its’ ass with, but a picture nonetheless.

    1. MadTinkerer says:

      Metroid only ever has one M. I don’t know why people keep getting this wrong.

      1. Dragmire says:

        Metroid 2: Return of Samus had 2 ‘M’s though.

  43. Phantos says:

    OOH! Lyn from “Fire Emblem!”

    My favourite female Nintendo character, and the first one North American audiences ever got to play as outside of Super Smash Bros. Someone else mentioned Eirika from the sequel “Sacred Stones”, also a good choice. Both believably capable characters with big hearts and bigger swords.

    Also, I just remembered The Giana Sisters have had a couple of games recently, one funded on Kickstarter.

  44. Talby says:

    Whenever the discussion of strong female characters in games come up, I have to mention the Boss from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. She is the most badass character in the game (which, in a game with a psychotic Russian that can shoot lightning from his hands, a veteran soldier that goes on become the most legendary mercenary of the 20th Century and a guy who shoots bees from his mouth, that’s saying something) and arguably one of the most badass characters in gaming history, female or otherwise.

    She’s not the playable character, but she is otherwise the most important character in the story, so I feel compelled to mention her as she is almost always overlooked. Hopefully we’ll get to play as her someday, which seems likely as Hideo Kojima said he wants to make a game starring her one day.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      The Boss was a common murderer with no ethics and no will.

      The Boss knew from the very outset that she was being used by evil people to do terrible things, and goes right along with it. She gets all of her closest friends killed and brings the world to the brink of nuclear war, for reasons she knows and admits aren’t any good. She tries to communicate as much to Snake at the very beginning of the game, because it isn’t even the first time she’s crossed that line, and knows it’s wrong. But she never considers doing anything else, because then Hideo wouldn’t have his martyr symbol.

      I’ll never understand how accepted it is that Hideo Kojima, who has some of the sickest, disturbing tendencies with awful female characters could randomly pump out one of the best. But noooo, she loved her country and was such a badass.

      1. Winter says:

        The protagonist of MGS3 went on to be a nuclear war provoking terrorist.

        The Boss won World War 2.

        Take your pick.

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          That’s no choice. They’re both reprehensible.

          And Kojima makes them both out to be infallible heroes. Big Boss’ awful crimes are more or less forgotten as everyone in MGS4 gets all dew-eyed talking about him and the Boss’ inscrutable legacies, and the entire plot is just Snake blundering around carrying out his plan for him until he’s of no more use to anyone and can just go die in peace. Inspiring stuff.

          I really missed Liquid Snake, who both acknowledged Big Boss as both the greatest warrior ever to live (until the Boss was invented) and an awful abusive amoral asshole that made Liquid into the hateful SOB that he was.

      2. Talby says:

        Interesting interpretation, but it doesn’t change the fact that she’s an awesome character.

  45. Hitch says:

    Can I buck the trend and talk about Skyrim for just a second? Specifically these last three episodes. I could help but mutter to myself, “Why couldn’t this have just been a mailbag podcast? Why are we watching Josh do all of this stupid, boring stuff?” Okay. I apologize. Those last couple minutes make these three episodes worth it. I should not have doubted you.

    There’s no point in trying to sell those potions, by the way. I’m pretty sure there’s no vendor in Skyrim with more than about 2000 gold. No matter how many times Josh murders them they won’t have more than their max gold for a single purchase.

    1. Ilseroth says:

      Well the core concept isn’t that they would be selling it for its full price value, but rather that, without even thinking about it, they can easily (and cheaply, if you saw the ingredients used)clear out a merchants money with one item. Build yourself a few of those potions and go to one of the shops with the most gold and you could get an absurd selection of gold in short order.

      Essentially, it breaks every system in the game. It breaks the economy, it breaks our weapon strength through smithing, it breaks magic as you can easily make a singular item with 100% of two spell types cost negated (endless fireballs), it breaks health because you can make an item that gives you near infinitesimal amounts of health, same for stamina (and rather unnecessarily magicka) Essentially, any ability you can enchant (which is most of them) can be enchanted to the nth degree.

      1. Hitch says:

        Yeah, I guess they just didn’t notice the value until it got ridiculous and potions were selling for a million gold or more. But using this it would be fairly quick and cheap to make a stack of 4000 gold potions which would be easy to carry and drain back all of a vendor’s gold after purchasing anything you wanted from them. But even without money cheats the economy of Oblivion and Skyrim is such that I usually end up owning everything I can waste money on and I’m still carrying around a enough gold to buy and fully furnish the most expensive mansion in the game if another one existed.

    2. Viktor says:

      You don’t use the 10 million GP potions to get money, you use them because speechcraft levels are based on how much value you buy/sell. So even if the vendor only gives you 500 GP, just selling the potion gets you up to 100 speechcraft in one go.

  46. Neko says:

    I doubt I can get to 10 on my own either, and many of them I have to look up their name:-

    Konoko from Oni
    Jade from Beyond Good and Evil
    Nikita from Inner Worlds
    Miku Hinasaki from Fatal Frame
    Angela from Seiken Densetsu 3, although that’s already into “Choosable MC” territory, if not the “Customisable MC” of e.g. Mass Effect…
    Emily Hartwood from Alone in the Dark 1 maybe, although canonically it became Carnaby that did that…

    I give up.

    Incidentally, nice Fortify Restoration cheese! I hadn’t thought to do that. I’d messed around a bit with the obvious Potion of Fortify Enchanting -> Armour of Fortify Alchemy but hadn’t considered skill in Restoration would affect things. As for Pun-Pun, he’s cool, but my favourite would have to be the Omniscificer.

    1. The Rocketeer says:

      Ooh! I forgot all about Fatal Frame! Those games rock!

      I think Rei Kurosawa is probably the best of the lot, but there aren’t any characters I don’t like in the series.

      1. Daimbert says:

        I might have thought that, too, if I ever finished 3. But to my mind it’s hard to beat Miku in the first game, wandering into a haunted mansion with any weapons — even the camera at that point — to find her brother because he was the last family she had left.

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          Overall, I think the first game ends up the weakest of the original three. But that’s not a knock against the first one, I love it! The creators just managed to hone their craft as they went.

          I think the second game had the best setting; All Gods Village is a lot cooler than the mansions from the first or third game. And nothing compares to the * . The Kusabi, too, remains one of the scariest enemies I’ve ever seen in a game, and this is from someone who was bored to tears by Amnesia.

          In The Tormented, Rei’s and Reika’s stories end up taking very interesting turns near the end. And the finale of the game blew my mind; it seems to very deliberately subvert some of the firm expectations the first two games had set for it.

  47. ehlijen says:

    Right, here is my attempt at the 10, simply because I fear I might not make it all the way through before I run out of games. (Some games are so old I can’t remember any names from it though…)

    1: Lara Croft. (Only played the remake though)
    2: Chell
    3: Raptor killing lady from Trespasser
    4: Mara Jade from Mysteries of the Sith
    5: Tanya from Red Alert? (Only named character you get to play in the first game)
    6: The major? colonel? from the box art of Incubation? (yes she is playable near the end of the campaign, though I think the mech was more memorable, in as much as anyone from that game was)
    8: Morrigan? Not the PC but playable for 90% of the game and featured in a lot of DA:O ads.
    9: ….

    And I’m out. The rest of the games have only male, selectable, unspecified or interchangeable characters.

  48. Wulfgar says:

    Cate Archer – No One Lives Forever (Just the coolest character from coolest game ever)
    April Ryan – The Longest Journey (Shame that lead female from Dreamfall: The Longest Journey is so dull and boring)
    Jade – Beyond Good & Evil
    Konoko – Oni (Why no one remembers this game?[ hey, someone here played this game too!])
    Alyx Vance – HL2 (Stop, stop, stop… just hear me out. I don’t think Gordon i character/protagonist/hero. Same way i don’t count Chell as one.)
    Samus Aran – Metroid (When she was still cool)
    Rayne – BloodRayne
    Alice – American McGee’s Alice
    Lara Croft – Tom… just kidding. I really hate her as a character :)

    UPDATE: Now I’m watching episode. We made few same points, now i feel like ripoff.

  49. Alexander The 1st says:

    Alright, let’s see if I can do this, and without lee-way, except for one rule; allowed to choose characters who aren’t the star of an entire series, at least one game in that series – I’ll trade that rule for “No silent protagonists”:

    1.)Jade (Beyond Good and Evil)
    2.)Kat (Gravity Rush)
    3.)Lyn (Fire Emblem 7 [Worth noting it’s the English debut, so there’s that to keep in mind – granted, she’s only the official leading Lord for the first 10 chapters, but she’s an important lead – if you consider that supporting, feel free to drop this and count to 11.])
    4.)Aveline (Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation)
    5.)Milla (Tales of Xillia) [Though similar to Lyn, she has her side of the story, but it’s a full path, and she is the more relevant of the two main characters plot-wise – I can try and go to 12 if needed.]
    6.)Faith (Mirror’s Edge)
    7.)Mint (Threads of Fate) [See Milla (Not certain about plot-wise-ness – I’ve only gotten so far into the game, and further on her path than on Rue’s) – attempt 13]
    8.)Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)
    9.)Recette (Recettetear: An Item Shop’s Tale)
    10.)Nilin (Remember Me)
    *For attempts to avoid the Lyn/Milla/Mint issue, here’s some more.
    11.)Topez (Page Chronica)
    12.)Wryn (Bleed)
    13.)Jodie Holmes (Beyond: Two Souls)

    Potential runner-ups that I didn’t initially list because they either *do* go past the goalposts outlined, or probably do with some argument:

    Reimu (Touhou Series – if we use Tohou Youyoumu (Also know as Perfect Cherry Blossom, a game mid-way through the series that I played first), and extend our way back to point out that in the first game, she was the only playable character, then she should count. The only reason I haven’t put her at 5 and bumped Milla down a bit is that the series has like 3 male characters mentioned in the lore, one of which I think has been the only one in game – and that’s if you count the flying turtle that appears for the first two games.)

    Samus (Metroid – silent protagonist in all but Metroid: Other M and Metroid: Fusion. Only really haven’t added because of Metroid: Other M – if it’s made non-canon, I’d put her at 4, bumping Aveline a bit lower to 5.)

    Terra (FF:3/6 – Ensemble cast essentially is a problem here – otherwise, I’d probably put her at 10, bumping Nilin off the list.)

    …That’s all that comes to mind immediately, at least.

  50. Terra Brandford – Final Fantasy 6

    *Drops mic*

    Also: Christ Josh, what’dya think was gonna happen?

  51. Tobias says:

    Intersting Idea with those character lists, when I think about it I get unusual statistics:

    Of my top 10 games there is 1 good female character acording to Shamus’ rules, and no male character:

    5 are on steam,
    5 have a story,
    4 have a clear main character,
    2 have a main character of choosable gender,
    1 is Gordon Freeman
    1 is Chell/Gladios

    SMAC,OTTD,DF,Angband,Dark Souls, HL series, EU series,Factorio,Portal series,Ufo
    I doubt I have finished 10 games that have an interesting clear main character.

  52. Dragmire says:

    How was Oni for a female lead? I’ve never played it but I hear it has a following.

  53. ET says:

    Am I the only person who thought Alan Wake was the best? :S
    I liked it a lot because:
    1. Skyrim, and a lot of the “better/good” games tend to have seasons which go loooong past the time when the crew has run out of things to do/say.
    2. It’s a very broken game, so the crew is much more inventive with their proposed gameplay mechanics and story, which could fix the game.
    3. A lot of the games which are good but flawed, tend to have the crew spend half the time heaping praise on the game. I mean, that’s cool and all, but I’d rather have more time devoted to game theory/design, story fixes, story tropes, and other game-dev type stuff.

  54. Dragmire says:

    Oh, Rena from Star Ocean 2 was pretty good. You had the choice between her and Claude to be the main character.

    How could I forget! Prier, from La Pucelle: Tactics was an amazing main character. It’s been a while since I played that game so it might be nostalgia talking.

  55. The Rocketeer says:

    Was Avelline from AC: Liberation really a good character? I see a lot of people mentioning her, but I have a hard time believing that team managed to put together a good character at all, much less in a portable side game…

    1. newdarkcloud says:

      She’s actually pretty well written with believable motivations and dialog. On top of that, she’s more than capable of handling herself in most situations and is the clear guiding force of the narrative.

      Unfortunately, the Vita version of the game was mired in a bunch of gimmicky bullshit that it didn’t need.

  56. Deadpool says:

    Alis Landale will always have a special place in my heart…

    Curse you PC Players and young players for not knowing her…

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Uuuu,phantasy star.Thats an oldie.But I dont know if she counts,because she was part of a group.I mean,they didnt mention kerrigan,and she plays major role in the starcrafts.

      And yes,I am a proud member of the glorious pc master race,but even I know phantasy star.Its just that damn important.

      1. Deadpool says:

        Nayu, Odin and Noah were all just party members. Unlike Terra and Celes where one can argue the ensemble cast thing, Alis is straight the lead here.

  57. Irridium says:

    Hey now, if Gordon Freeman can win Gamespot’s “best character ever” award then Chell can be on your list of great woman characters.

    Here’s my choices for best woman characters. Or, at least my favorite ones. That weren’t mentioned so far.

    Konoko from Oni
    Alice from American McGee’s Alice in Wonderland/Madness Returns
    Amaterasu from Okami

    Those are the only ones I can think of at the moment, and from games I’ve played.

    1. ET says:

      Hell, yeah! I can’t remember even a bit of the dialog/plot from the Alice games, but she definitely gets my vote, under the “Most Badass Character With a Big Knife” category. :D

    2. burningdragoon says:

      Well if we’re going by “Best Character Ever” internet polls, then I say L-Block from Tetris is the best female character. (L stands for lady of course)

  58. burningdragoon says:

    10 female characters I like from a game that I’ve liked, excluding silent protagonists and pick-a-hero games:

    1 – Terra/Celes from FF6 (if there was a main character it’d be one of them, since they’re both girls I say that counts as 1 at least)
    2 – Zero from Drakengard 3
    3 – Alexandra Roivas from Eternal Darkness (probably counts even if you don’t play her the whole time)
    4 – I like Lightning from FF13 well enough I guess.


    5 – Amaterasu from Okami (not quite a silent protagonist)
    6 – Ellen from Folklore
    7 – Chris Lightfellow from Suikoden 3 (kind of a stretch since she’s one of 3 main characters, but you have to play her)
    8 – One of the Tenchu games only let you play as a woman (Ayame and whoever her sidekick were)
    9 – hmmm
    10 – damn

    I could name plenty of female characters that I like and are playable or part of the main cast, but as far as main characters go, I can’t think of any more right now.

    That’s also not to say I think all of them are good characters either, but actual good characters of any sort aren’t super common, but that’s besides the point I guess.

    1. Dragmire says:

      How was Folklore in general? I remember getting really bored early on and dropping it for a newer game.

      1. burningdragoon says:

        I thought it had an interesting aesthetic and decent gameplay. For a PS3 exclusive early in life cycle, I think it’s pretty good. It’s been a while since I’ve played it so I don’t know how well it holds up today.

        1. newdarkcloud says:

          Yeah. It was definitely very impressive at the time. Not sure if it would hold up.

    2. Daimbert says:

      With Chris Lightfellow, since she is clearly the protagonist of her story sections, is critical to the overall plot, and can be made the final protagonist of the story at the end, I think she clearly counts.

  59. Kal says:

    How about the Syberias? Good adventure games and a determined, characterful female lead.
    I’ve only played Parasite Eve 2, but I’d put that series as well. Strong female lead; shooting monsters, saving guys and rescuing a small child (who didn’t actually irritate me).

  60. Thor says:

    I really liked these last three episodes. Never mind that I could watch unlimited Bethesda game Spoiler Warning seasons, but the discussion about the game (or games) was actually was a lot better when Josh was only making potions, enchanting armour, and slaying the same shopkeeper 100 times.

    I love the show and I have been watching since the F3 season, but sometimes I wish you guys would focus more on what you like about the game rather than what you don’t like. Don’t get me wrong, I want to hear about what you truly think but there must be a reason you like to play these games. Hearing a bit more about that makes for better viewing in my opinion.

    Josh is great at playing for an audience and I wouldn’t like that to change. I would just like to see more discussion like in the last few episodes, that’s all. Talk about The Original Fallout in a Bethesda game? That’s fine with me. Talk about another game entirely? I don’t mind. Hearing about the same gripes repeatedly gets a bit old, though.

    I truly mean no disrespect, I’ve been watching for years and I wanted to get my two cents in.

    Idea: A Skyrim mod special series. (Only a few episodes. Or more if you want).

  61. Thomas says:

    Tomb Raider! That was one of my favourite seasons. I think that was one that helped advance most the way I thought about a game

  62. Joel says:

    How could no one have brought up this perfect genie quote by Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz?

  63. Cybron says:

    Shiki from The World Ends With You was a pretty good character, in my opinion. Too bad she’s only with you for the first week, before she gets taken by the Game.

  64. Rick says:

    I’m actually having more trouble picking male leads that fit the criteria, because all I can think of is big dumb dude bros.

  65. Malimar says:

    I don’t think I could come up with any characters who meet those four criteria. But then, I play mostly strategy games, which tend not to have leads per se, much less female ones.

    Oh! 1. Sarah Kerrigan! She was basically the main character of the zerg campaign in Brood War, which I’m willing to call good enough. (I haven’t played SC2.) I did to think for a moment whether she’s actually any good as a character. She’s flat and awful when she’s human, but she’s got a bit of personality in Brood War (albeit slightly inconsistent one). So I’ll count her. That’s one!

    Oh, and 2. Maya, from SepterraCore! She was a little generically heroic, but she’ll do anyway.

    Another eight, though? No can do.

    Though it occurs to me, to judge the fairness of the test, to see if I can come up with a list of male leads that otherwise fit the four criteria. I can only think of three:

    1. Tassadar (as long as we’re counting Kerrigan)
    2. Kyle Katarn
    3. The Mentor from Dungeon Keeper 2 (Maybe not a “main character” per se, but Richard Ridings singlehandedly imbues him with more personality than every other video game character and most movie characters combined, so I’m inclined to count him)

    …2:3 isn’t as bad a ratio as I might have expected.

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