Lately there has been this back and forth argument of sexism and oversexed female protagonists. Some people find the humorously voluptuous features of the amazon or sorceress characters in Dragon's Crown offensive, this of course leads me to believe that the people complaining haven't played any of Vanillaware's older titles which have female characters that have these features. I'm all for it, I don't like staring at the backside of a male character, nor do I enjoy playing as a male hero as much as I do female heroes. I'm not white, and I'm also not 17, but I have a high level of love for the soft and curvy female anatomy and character.
Rewinding to a time when video games were new to me, I was probably the only 5 year old that I knew that had more than 40 NES games, and oddly enough, not one of these games featured a playable female protagonist, except maybe X-Men, I never owned Mario 2. My mother was the top dog when it came to video games, playing all the way through Zelda II and Castlevania 2, with no game genie, using an NES advantage. This was inspiring and put the thought in my mind that girls play video games too. Seeing as how my mother was a pro-gamer, I wondered why there weren't any female protagonists in video games. My dad played games like Metal Gear, Golgo 13 and NARC.
I remember watching my dad play Golgo 13 on the NES, I never understood the game but he did. There is a scene in the game, where you get to sleep with some of the women you encounter in your adventure. My dad took pride in playing this game as it was his testosterone pumped, dudebro FPS/Action Adventure game. I asked what they were doing in the window, and he responded with, "They're doing the nasty."
Meanwhile, I had fun playing Ninja Gaiden II, Contra, and Zelda II, and the occasional Ninja Turtles and Battletoads. The games I played featured damsels most of the time or dudes solving problems by punching them in the face or blowing shit up. However, there was always one thing floating in the back of my mind, "why aren't there more girls to play as?" This question was answered with the advent of the SNES, again, there weren't many games for me to choose from when it came to female characters, but being able to play as Princess Peach in the remake of Mario Bros 2 after missing out on the NES port was pretty damn awesome. X-men: Mutant Apocalypse, allowed me to play as a pear shaped Psylocke, it's also when I understood button motions for fighters. Donkey Kong Country 2 and 3 was always played using Dixie Kong unless I absolutely needed to use Diddy, or Kiddy Kong. I would always play as one of the two female characters in Secret of Mana when my cousin came over, and Super Metroid also had a female protagonist. Celes and Tina(Terra) from FFVI are also my two favorite RPG heroines of all time, next to Lucca and Ayla from Chrono Trigger.
The Sega Saturn brought about Virtua Fighter 2 and while I might have used Pai and Sarah, my true main character was Lion. Fighting Vipers I would use Picky, Grace and Candy(Honey). Wipeout was also a game I played much on the Saturn, but I would always pick the cars with female pilots. Virtual-On would be played with Fei-Yin and Temjin if I started to suck. Nights was another favorite of mine, I liked Claris' levels a lot more than Elliots, be it music or design, her levels were better in my opinion.
Then the PS1 era came about, two of the four games I got for the Christmas that I got my PS1 were Parasite Eve and Resident Evil: DC. I love PE and currently have it on my PS3 and Vita, RE on the other hand, I never liked, but powered through it as Jill until I couldn't take the terrible gameplay anymore. Xaiyu was one of my favorite characters in Tekken 3, and Morrigan, Felicia, Lei-Lei(Hsien-ko), and Akira from Darkstalkers and Rival Schools were also my main characters.
When Dead or Alive shipped for the PS1, what drew me in was the boobie physics. I would crouch just to see the breasts jiggle. I remember having a friendly match with my old man, and I used one of Kasumi's throws in which she jumps on the opponents face and throws them. My dad responds with, "you letting me smell that pussy huh?" I laughed, and thought "what does it smell like?" Regardless of that thought, the unlock-able costumes all the female characters had were three times that of the male fighters. The hardest part of that game was unlocking Ayane, which required you to unlock everyone's costumes including Raidou's, and finishing arcade mode nearly 100 times to do it can burn you out.
Then the PS2 era came about and things kind of took a turn for the worst, Beyond Good and Evil and Primal, two games I never played, featured female protagonists as tough as Samus and Lara Croft. While I missed those, Final Fantasy X and XII gave me a little hope but in the end, were commercial games aimed at a "specific demographic." Suddenly, more female protagonists were becoming increasingly objectified. FFX-2 was made in less than a year and SE knew it would sell because it had sexy female heroes in it. Penelo was created for the sake of drawing in the teenage kids of that era to the Final Fantasy brand and Princess Ashe took a backseat and Vaan ended up being the main character of FFXII.
Dead or Alive was using sex more than ever to sell Xbox consoles, they even added rape to the stale plot just to show how Ayane came about. No, there was nothing edgy about it, last generation was straight up pandering when female characters came about. Even Nightshade(Kunoichi) the sequel to Shinobi on PS2 was pandering and emotionally weakening obviously capable ninja's because they were female, although in that game's defense, it isn't uncommon to read up on a story about samurai and ninja and seeing female characters swooning over men 20-40 years older than them. That still doesn't excuse SEGA from making Hibana and Hisui so weak in comparison to Hotsuma and Joe Musashi. This is something that would be revisited in the next generation with Mass Effect.
This generation gave way to a bunch of unfashionable, cardboard copy's of great male hero's of video game past, and writers too lazy to create a main character, so they gave the user the ability instead. Character creators are a god send to me, they allow me to create the ideal female hero I've always wanted, and whether she has scripted dialogue like in Saints Row or Mass Effect, it doesn't change the fact that I can create an awesome female hero. But then Borderlands allows me to take a pre-existing female character and go to town with all the cool abilities, the Mechromancer is another awesome addition, but the difference here is that in the first game, Lilith was the only character I liked but she didn't have much about her as the plot and characters weren't written to where you could be arsed to care. The second game changed that and made the other male characters fun in both personality and appearance. Regardless, as I am now, I only have eyes for women in video games, I will play a game with a male hero and enjoy it, provided it's a good game, but if I had a choice in gender, I will always pick the female.
Enter Mass Effect, I have a little issue with Mass Effect and it's writing. Jane actually runs slower, and doesn't hit as hard as John. The other issue is that John is a jerk, Jane can be a bitch, but is overall, easier on the ears and eyes to boot. The sex scenes that I had only seen done in a licensed NES game, were back, and this time they made more sense to me and were better detailed. They had romantic and humorous dialogue and while it isn't the pinnacle of a well written sex scene found on shows like the L-Word, Queer as Folk or Sex in the City, it was a step forward in video game writing. But if anything I would rather not allow my Jane to have sex with any of the men in the games, except maybe Jacob, but then I was a little turned off when he mentioned that I need sex.
Now that this generation is coming to an end and female protagonists are becoming more prevalent and relevant, it almost seems like some of the games that are out or releasing are trying too hard. I liked what I've seen of Remember Me, but it almost feels like the developers are trying too hard to make you like or be interested in the new female hero. The same can be said about the new Tomb Raider, there was nothing wrong with Lara Croft except maybe her anatomy and that was already rectified 7 years ago. Elizabeth might be an interesting character in how she helps and relates to the hero of Bioshock: Infinite, but her paradoxical and slightly incest relationship with the hero is also a big WTF to me, at least I didn't have to tell her to go hide in a dumpster.
Regardless, male or female, if the protagonist isn't visually appealing, I'm not gonna like playing the game, thankfully most female characters have enough style and when tasked to bear their fangs, are awesome.