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Thread: Quality Games About Girlz and Womenz

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    Alright, it's time for a couple new additions! This time we're going retro, at least in feel.

    THE GIANA SISTERS (series)

    Dating to 1987, The Great Giana Sisters for the Commodore 64 is among the oldest female-centric games I've ever played, but don't let the age of this franchise deter you: Giana Sisters has become a cult classic series for very good reasons!

    The origins of the first game date back to a certain game creator's intention to port the original Super Mario Bros. to the Commodore 64 shortly after its NES release. Most all games back then (as today again actually!) were multi-platform titles, so this was a very common thing and Nintendo had acceded to it before, as with the original Donkey Kong's multi-platform release. But with Super Mario Bros., the big N opted to retain an exclusive franchise in what marked the beginning of a pattern not only for Nintendo, but also for many other first party developers over the subsequent two decades. Anyway, unable to port Super Mario Bros., it was decided to instead release an original platforming game similar to Super Mario Bros. on the Commodore 64, as to provide Mario with some real competition. The Great Giana Sisters was the result and, yep, it's very similar to the original Super Mario Bros. in many ways (and it's reminiscent title is only one of them). That's actually really good news though because Super Mario Bros. was a revolutionary classic! Although perhaps not consciously, what the developers successfully showed with The Great Giana Sisters was that there was never a good reason why the classic 2D platformers or modern retro reprisals thereof had/have to revolve around male protagonists. And the game starts to really stand out from Super Mario Bros. by the end when it gradually introduces its own original styles of level design. (Story-wise, you're trapped in a dream world and trying to wake up by collecting enchanted items, but the story is as minimalistic and unimportant as it was in Super Mario Bros. and most other games back then. It's just an anecdote really, in case you need a reason to play.)

    Anyway, Nintendo successfully sued and got the game pulled from store shelves for being too similar to Super Mario Bros. That was a really remarkable development back then because game makers just didn't do that at the time! It angered a lot people and ensured that the Giana Sisters cult following has been rather spiteful of Nintendo over this for a very long time. Fret not though: desiring a sequel, fans took matters into their own hands and released a whole range of "new" installments by altering their copies of the original game to change the level designs and such like this. Eventually Nintendo got over its copyright protection obsession during the Nintendo DS and Wii era and allowed The Great Giana Sisters to be released for the Wii Virtual Console and also for an official Nintendo DS remake to come out in 2010 before a Kickstarter-funded official sequel for the PlayStation 3 came out more recently. The video review below covers all three of these official games and also discusses some of the aforementioned fan mods. I'll give you a hint though: all Giana Sisters games are excellent 2D platformers that are at minimum on par with the classic Marios, which really shows that there's no excuse for this genre's long history of being so one-sidedly centered around the adventures of male protagonists. If you, like me, started out on classic 2D platforming (the original Sonic the Hedgehog was my first video game and the title that got me into gaming in the first place!), love that genre, and want to have a nostalgic experience with it that doesn't carry over the sexism, this game is for you!

    And speaking of retro-style gaming:


    In recent years, the question of why Link from Nintendo's classic Legend of Zelda series can never be female has been raised after fans of the franchise caught a glimpse of the new Link from the upcoming Wii U Legend of Zelda game and felt that the new one looked feminine. Franchise creator Shigeru Miyamoto quickly stomped on that illusion, clearly saying that Link was still male, but also that Link's gender is actually irrelevant because he's supposed to be personality-devoid blank slate character upon which the player mentally projects themselves. This latter part though begs the question of why Link is always male then if the character's gender is irrelevant to the Zelda series! You see what I mean?

    Sword & Sworcery EP is a clearly classic Zelda-inspired (very retro style) indy fantasy adventure game released for computers in 2011 that uses a female protagonist known as the Scythian. The Scythian goes on a quest to save the world by collecting the three pieces of a mysterious triangular object known as the Trigon, which is obviously a play on the Legend of Zelda series' Triforce. The game play is generally similar to the oldest Zelda games as well and has the player exploring and solving environmental puzzles, and also occasionally engaging in timing-based combat with monsters, to complete their quest. However, Sword & Sworcery EP is set apart from the classic Zeldas in ways other than simply the gender of the protagonist: the game also has a weightier storyline, one of the best and most truly atmospheric video game soundtracks ever released, and, in an unusual twist, has the player actually lose strength progressively over the course of the adventure instead of becoming stronger (which actually makes a lot more sense than the prevailing trends in gaming, which revolve around becoming as powerful as possible, increasing in strength over the course of the game by defeating enemies). All of this and more is spoken to in the video review below by Anita Sarkeesian wherein a general discussion of the game itself is a natural part of explaining what makes the Scythian one of the best female characters in the world of games.

    Bottom line: these games with give you the nostalgia you seek without repeating the "classic" gender roles featured in most all the games of yore.
    Last edited by IMPress Polly; 07-04-2015 at 01:35 PM.

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