man in black t shirt playing guitar

Top 5 Game Girls: A Personal Judgement

Last Updated on March 1, 2024

Girls. They come in all sorts of appearances and they get everywhere. People, animals… my house is full of them and they really take over the place. I have long made it quite clear that they can take the house and fill their boots but my study is my space, so don’t go touching things. But like any girl, this sentiment translates as wandering in while I am writing and starting a round of darts.

‘It’s okay, I won’t disturb you,’ they say.

‘It’s already happened,’ I’d reply.

But the trouble is that girls are great. A terrible distraction, but very good all the same, and in all scenarios; life, clients, media and even occasionally music. I kid you not. I can’t think of any examples at the moment, but I know that I have come across them.

And games. Very definitely games. I don’t know when the first girl arrived in a game but they were there by the time I saw Chun Li on an import Super Nintendo. A lot of them have come and gone since and by deploying the same rule as my Top 5 Guys list almost all of them didn’t make it; they must play in congruity with their appearance. The whole package, which rules out your favourite JRPG gal, because however lovely, they control only to move the story. In purely mechanical terms Tifa is no different from press buttons for as Cloud.

That’s fine, but I have already made the rule and if anyone is going to stick to it, it ought to be me. So no Tifa. But we do have a ninja…

5. Taki, Soul Calibur

Ninjas in games are always cool, and credible female ones are even more exotic. Credible like Taki of Soul Calibur with her red leotard, shin pads and twin short swords. As sharply outfitted as she is darting-fast, Taki makes sense top-knot to toes; shifting quick feet with an overall sense of weight that is set to coiled spring, all the while deploying the only thing cooler than a meticulous girl with one sword… a girl with two of them. And between your inputs and the animation, she knows how to swing them. There are other female fighters in Soul Calibur who are more extravagant, but none who expressed their style so on point.

Namco had been a dab hand at correctly outfitting their girls already with reds, other brights and roundhouses. They gave us Jun of Tekken 2 for instance, and I almost went for the flower power option of her artful posturings, but frankly, Taki would cut her to pieces and make next to no fuss while she was doing it. Good for her, and we’ll stick with the fighting for now.

4. Chizuru, King of Fighters ‘98

Allow me to say it again. SNK and art direction. Need I say any more? Perhaps you were expecting me to plump for the bubbly exuberance of Mai? She’s another top-tier choice but Chizuru, introduced as a playable character for the first time in this edition, almost transcended the genre.

Described by my wife as a cold ninja nurse in appearance, Chizuru is high of heel and witch of sleeve with a simple two-tone white and black colouring and a dash of red lining. Not exactly dazzling, but then combined with her style, Chizuru becomes the very best of the part zone-occupying, part puppet-fighter archetypes; so by zone-occupying I mean that wherever the second player is located on the screen, she can be right upon them the next second, sending out copies of herself and generally treating the entire stage like it was a field with her the mines and other artillery that are going off everywhere.

Demure, cool to the point of aloof and utterly fixating to begin mastering. What would become of SNK would go on to ruin most of the above, as like most other 2-D fighters that became 3-D, they couldn’t translate the hand-spun charm of its aesthetic into an unnecessary new dimension.

Girls are a terrible distraction in all scenarios; life, clients, media and even occasionally music. I can’t think of any examples at the moment, but I know that I have come across them.

But while she was cool, Chizuru was the peak of 90s import femme fighter. And now still sticking with the fighting…

3. Cammy, Super Street Fighter 2

Apparently not considered a decent member of the roster until later games, I always thought Cammy was an absolute doll from our first moment. She didn’t play like Guile or Ken Doll, she was entirely different, decked out in attire that was somehow military and somehow not even a night-dress. Not great for defence, but you can see how she gets about in it.

And can get about she does, her legs like pistons of animation with twin blonde plaits flicking to and fro. She may not have been decorated with honours amongst the pros upon arrival, but the feline sense of how she fought was just more fun to me, with the features of her appearance playing out in minor animations the way that it so perfectly did back then.

Underused but perfectly executed in the Street Fighter 2 Animated Movie, Cammy was never going to win the tournament but you’d always have the most fun flashing about with her on the way to losing. She’s even managed to come third here. That’s my girl.

2. Lara Croft, Tomb Raider

It all started so well; the pop-punk attitude of Tank Girl grafted into all the Indiana Jones gameplay that Core Design could muster. And muster they could. The right girl, the right settings to put her in and the right time of technology to even attempt doing it. Tomb Raider was born, and as the cover stated, it was “Starring Lara Croft.” Over the course of the entire game, Lara earned that title.

We all remember her look; born out of both design and the limitation of tech to run her while she ran about in her vest and hot pants combo with backpack and boots. No costume changes, not for the first game. Lara was standard issue and all the better for it. It let her actions better speak for her character, and she was full of actions from the starting gate; jogging, jumping, swimming and shooting her way through cuboid after cuboid of level design. She was designed for her world and was at the centre of it.

Perfect character stuff. But there remains another who was even better at it and with even more guns. Let us not be coy and instead hand the trophy to the woman who knew it was hers to begin with.

1. Bayonetta, Bayonetta

When Platinum Games’ Bayonetta arrived in her self-titled game, she came for all of it; the moon on a broomstick with guns attached to everything.

Part antiquarian witch librarian and full cosplay domme, with a gaze that already caught you looking and enough pantomime to go on with not just a smile but a complete song and dance number over. High camp and high ballerina gun-fun in the highest of heels. There would need to be a lot of gameplay to go with all that front. And after about two minutes of bouncing around with butterfly double jumps and high-kicking kinetics, you realise that Platinum Games had not just brought her to life, they made her intuitive to play.

In a sense, Bayonetta was a simple arcade-style brawler-shooter that had you moving from zone to zone and clearing a path. In execution its linear focus allowed them to play out a combat system of near-infinite complexity. Sort of like what SEGA did with Virtua Tennis. Pressing any button made something cool happen, but learning a proper approach let our star pirouette through more moves and combos than Virtua Fighter, with more sumptuous special moves than anything.

Bigger than her stage, but all the time a twisting part of it, Bayonetta takes the title because nothing will stop her from taking it.

About the author

John is a writer and gardener. He comes with various 90's Sega attachments and is the author of The Meifod Claw and other works. His favorite tree is a copper beech and he would like his coffee black without sugar, thank you.

Leave a Reply

Discover more from RetroGamerBase

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading