On March 8 we celebrate International Women’s Day 2021. Needless to say, there are some kick ass women in games as well. We all know Lara Croft, Princess Zelda and many more. But what about the more underappreciated characters? Maybe they faced some backlash in the past, maybe they didn’t get the attention they deserved. Let’s take a look at 5 of the most underappreciated women in games!
Abby (The Last of Us: Part 2)
First of all: Abby is awesome! Not only did she have to overcome a traumatic event from a pretty young age, not only did she survive in an unforgiving environment, she also helps protect her own little community of people from the infected and other dangers in the brutal world of The Last of Us: Part 2.
Now, not everyone loves Abby and that’s ok. The developers created a world that is morally ambiguous, just like how the real world can be. Abby isn’t perfect and is driven by revenge (just like Ellie, the game’s other protagonist), and some of her actions (we won’t spoil anything) deserve scrutiny. However, she doesn't deserve the extreme reactions and the backlash she has received since the release. Abby is a strong, independent woman, who despite all the hardships she had to face still has the ability to love and care for others. And that’s true strength.
Daisy (Super Mario)
If you want to talk about overlooked women in games then look no further than Princess Daisy from the Super Mario franchise. Everyone knows Princess Peach and most people do know of Princess Daisy, but how come she’s always just a side character? Her first appearance was in the 1989 game Super Mario Land. Due to the simple graphics of the time, she didn't look too different from Peach herself, prompting some journalists to believe she was just a new name for Peach, rather than a whole new character.
As the years went by she appeared in 81 video games. Notable roles include Mario Kart, Smash Bros and Mario Tennis. However, she still hasn’t been the main protagonist of her own game and we still don’t know that much about her, other than she being the princess of Sarasaland and Luigi apparently liking her. Remember Pauline from Super Mario Odyssey? She used to be Mario’s original love interest, now she’s the singing mayor of New Donk City. That’s what we want for Daisy!
Birdo (Super Mario)
Talk about growth. Birdo started out as an antagonist in Super Mario Bros 2 for the NES in 1988. Since then she has become an ally and playable character in all sorts of franchises, including Mario Kart, Mario Tennis and Paper Mario. She’s fierce, knows how to stand up for herself and is not afraid to throw a punch if needed. Also the still looks pretty unique in the world of Super Mario, even after all these years.
Here’s the best part, though: Birdo is a trans icon. Nintendo doesn’t really talk too much about it anymore, but we know from official handbooks that “Birdo” is really a girl with the name “Birdetta”. You don’t hear the name Birdetta much, since Nintendo doesn’t use it at all. And yet she’s always depicted as a female character. Hey Birdo, we are happy for you and so proud!
Jade (Beyond Good and Evil)
Beyond Good and Evil was released in 2003 and let’s be clear here, if this game was released during the golden age of social media, its protagonist Jade would be one of the most popular female video game characters of all time. In the game, you take on the role of journalist Jade, who has to uncover a planet-wide conspiracy. Her biggest weapons against media propaganda and fake news (topical!) are her wits and her camera. Jade is a great role model for both girls and boys alike.
Futaba (Persona 5)
Mental health can be a touchy subject in general and is rarely talked about in video games. Futaba Sakura is a character from Persona 5 (Royal) who shows the immense struggle of mental health issues. She blames herself for the suicide of her mother, doesn’t leave her room and is certain she is going to die because of it. In her desperation, she asks the Phantom Thieves to steal her distorted heart and “heal” her. Now, we won’t go into further details (seriously, go and play Persona 5 on PS4, it’s really good!), but the amount of time the developers take to depict mental health struggles is admirable and deserves more recognition. Just like Futaba does, one of the strongest female characters in games.