Friday, 31 December 2010

Female roles and how they affect the games

As it should be mentioned, I rather like it if anything in the media, be it games or books or movies, has a female character who isn't just useless. Yet, most female roles get downgraded as fetish fuel or damsels-in-distress, or maybe both. I find that rather useless, to be honest. Because I am a girl myself, I strongly appreciate female characters that actually do something, and aren't just there as a piece of enjoyment for the strong male hero to feast his eyes on. Or as something that needs rescuing, for that matter.

It seems to me that Rare is one of the few game developers who actually uses female characters in a place that could easily be filled up by a male. There are some exceptions, but most of their video game girls have strong personalities. They could have easily been male, but they weren't.

First and foremost, I'll be discussing Banjo-Kazooie.

what all female birds should look and act like.

A rather cheerful faerie-tale-gone-wrong game about a bear and a bird who save the bear's little sister from a rhyming witch. Well, Kazooie, the red-crested Breegull, is a rude, sharp-tongued bird who gives everyone nicknames yet also somehow cares about her bear buddy. Yes, her. Kazooie's a she? Why, she sure is. But she isn't very feminine, isn't she? Not at all. Back then, this led most kids who couldn't read to believe that she was a he.

While in the much acclaimed Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts (I was lying about the much-acclaimed part, sadly) she got a drastic makeover - her fluffy bird-like looks were replaced by curvy shapes and her crest got turned into curly 'hair', as well as the fact that her eyelashes, at first only visible in renders, appeared much more pronounced and feminine. While I dig this new design as well, nothing can possibly beat the old look.

I think they overdid the feminine...ness. But at least her personality is recognizable immediately. And can you blame her? I mean, just look at Banjo.

And let's not discuss Tooty, Banjo's little sister. She only appeared in one game, being kidnapped, and thus I dubbed her 'miss kidnapped and useless.' I was planning to give her a stronger role in one of my fan fictions, but she ended up getting kidnapped anyway. Oh well! Kazooie however has appeared in all Banjo-Kazooie games. Even though she fancied the Distress role in Grunty's Revenge (GBA) for a while, after that she showed to be as much as a jerk as before. And that's good. With this, I'll leave Banjo and Kazooie for a while to make room for...

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest.

Why this game, suddenly, I hear you ask? Welp, this entry would have been much shorter if it wasn't for Dixie Kong.
Yes, I do realize this render is actually from DKC3. Sorry about that.

While she just appeared out of nowhere in Diddy's Kong Quest, after being freed from a DK barrel, if one would have read the manual beforehand, one would actually see that she was actually Diddy's girlfriend. Wow. So mr. second banana, Diddy, actually scored with a girl?! Dude. Dude. And not just any girl - Dixie had proven herself to be just as adventurous as her boyfriend. Even overruling him at parts - I don't know anyone who admits they didn't spam her helicoptery-ponytail-thing. Even the guys. So, D+D went to Crocodile Isle, home of the Kremlings (who had given DK and Diddy a bad time in the first game) to kick the crap out of Kaptain K. Rool (who is just King K. Rool under a different name), who had kidnapped Donkey Kong. Yes, you heard right - the protagonist of the first game was actually kidnapped. DK. A big, hulking gorilla.

Thus, Dixie also got her own game: Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! (try saying that ten times fast.) in which she teamed up with her little cousin Kiddy Kong to save Diddy and DK from Baron K. Roolenstein. Who is actually just K. Rool in another sloppy disguise. Yeah, kidnapped again. Yet Dixie wasn't. She actually set out to rescue her boyfriend and his uncle, with a toddler. If that isn't badass, I don't know what is.

Lately, Dixie has been absent from most games. She had to cope with small side-roles in games such as Mario Hoops 3-on-3 and Donkey Kong Jungle Climber. I seem to have noticed that, what with the buyout from Rare to Microsoft, she has been turning into a Princess Peach clone. Now I don't know about you, but someone who travels a whole continent with a toddler to rescue her boyfriend, a Princess Peach clone just because she's a girl? Why, that's just atrocious!

Donkey Kong Country Returns showed the triumphant return of both Diddy and DK on a new grand adventure. And what about Dixie? Nowhere to be seen. Not even a small side-role. Nada.

Will this only be remembered by bad fan fiction? (drawn by yours truly.)

Even though she did not appear at all, Retro Studios (who handled the game perfectly I must add) had shown that DK and Diddy had a rather sweet familial relationship with each other. I mean, have you seen the ending with just Diddy? That's just too dog-gone precious. So, I've been hoping. Hoping for a Donkey Kong Country Forever. If they do it in the vein of the original part 2, Dixie will most definitely appear - and if they hopefully don't go on the whole horrifyingly wrong 'they're siblings' path - maybe she and Diddy can finally declare their love to each other.

With bananas.

D'awww. (drawn by yours truly again)
But hey, as long as I have the ability to write bad fan fiction, these two will always be together, and no game can change that.

With that said, I bring you to...

Conker's Bad Fur Day.

Such a mature game, isn't it? Mature, immature, means the same in this lifetime. Well, Conker himself is a cute little red squirrel who likes to get drunk. His girlfriend is a tall, grey-furred chipmunk named Berri who doesn't like him getting drunk. Yet these two are a couple. Kind of weird, isn't it?

Conker to the left, Berri to the right. Not for anyone under 17, indeed.

Let it be said that when I was searching for this image I stumbled across a picture of those two having sexual intercourse. I... don't think I could ever unsee that image ever again. The things I will do for this blog!

So, yeah. About Berri. Useless fact: she started out as a precious little brown-furred chipmunk with a ponytail not unlike Dixie's, albeit she was a brunette this time (it's unknown if she could fly with her hair) in a dress, roughly the same size as Conker, sans his big, bushy tail. She was going to have a starring role in the cancelled game Twelve Tails - Conker 64, that, ultimately got re-tooled into the raunchy game called Bad Fur Day. The only time she appeared in her younger self before that was in Conker's Pocket Tales, a sickeningly sweet puzzle-platformer for the GBC. In this game, she got kidnapped by a large talking acorn with a goatee, and Conker had to save her. It's true.

Omfg, an evil acorn... omfg!

She only appeared two times in the whole game. In the intro, and in the ending. She even said to Conker as soon as he found her hidden in the Catacombs: 'I didn't think you would come.' Jeez, Conker just went across  half of the Isle o' Hags for you, and what do you say? 'Didn't think you would come.'? Dude.

Anyway, in Bad Fur Day she suddenly was tall, grey-furred, blonde-haired, and somehow grew breasts. Conker definitely didn't seem to mind much. I think he liked it, even, being turned into a crafty lady's man. It didn't last long before she got kidnapped by a Cookie Monster look-a-like, though. Whoop-de-doo. Just great. She's just as useless as beforehand it seems. So she worked for a weasel mob for some reason. (it should be said that she didn't recognize Conker because he had a caveman hat on.) Yadda yadda, Conker went through the game turning more greedy and selfish by the minute, 'rescued' Berri in the nick of time, and accidentally just got her killed. By the same dude who hired her in the first place. Whoops.

After that, Conker suddenly realized that his girlfriend's death left a big gap in his life. Getting crowned king and having all the money in the land, he actually thought that 'you don't really know what you have until it's gone. Gone.

Cue to me crying my eyes out. (I cry rather easily, but, oh my gosh...)

So, we'll go to Conker's other potential love interest who appeared in...

Diddy Kong Racing

Nope, it's not Diddy if you're thinking about that. Nor Timber. No Ho Yay for you.

Rather, I'm talking about Pipsy. Pipsy the dormouse.

In all her girly glory.

She's not actually a dormouse - just some random mouse. I just think she's a dormouse, after I saw a pic of one in a magazine. It looked just like her, albeit in brown instead of yellow, but alas, that's all fanwankery on my part. As well as the fact how she's supposedly Conker's early love interest. Pipsy is a sweet but competitive girl who's actually one of the best characters in the game, with very easy handling. The manual wasn't very clear about her personality - all that's mentioned is that she has a high-pitched squeaky voice, also apparent in the game. She was probably added to not make it completely male-driven (hah, get it? Driven? As in racing?) even though that changed with Diddy Kong Racing DS, where both Conker and Banjo got replaced by Dixie Kong and Tiny Kong.

Fan fiction dictates that she developed a crush on the younger Conker (other way around, too), annoying poor Timber, because he apparently had a crush on Pipsy as well. So a fierce rivalry, a lá Donald Duck and Gladstone Gander, started between the two men. After Conker didn't come to the races anymore, she was utterly devastated. But, (fanwankery ahead!) a couple of years later, Conker suddenly returned, helping the islanders defeat a possessed Honker (more on him later, I promise). He still left either way, but Pipsy decided to go with Timber instead, saying that she and Conker are 'just friends'. D'awww.

But c'mon, ain't that just sickeningly cute? (drawn by me, again)

Both Nintendo and Rare abandoned Timber's Island and its inhabitants completely, so aside from fan fiction, we'll never know what happened to Pipsy and Timber and Bumper and Krunch and Tiptup...

Well, that was it. My opinion on the female roles in most Rare games. The DKU, at least. I was initially going to discuss Starfox's Krystal too, but I haven't played Starfox Adventures a lot to judge her.

Really, I wish that girls weren't often as useless in games.

I'd like to thank Rare ltd., Nintendo, RWP Wiki, Google Images, Youtube, and the Super Mario Wiki for all the renders. Though that one picture with hot Conker on Berri action... ergh.


  1. Awesome read. Very enjoyable. The way you write looks almost more professional than a private journal!
    I totally, completely agree with you, and I'm happy somebody feels the same way that I do. Female characters really are quite scarce in the video game world, but Rare really does (did?) a good job with adding non-useless female characters. I think even the most hardcore Nintendo fanboy would have to agree that Nintendo really lacks strong female characters, excluding Samus. Even if Rare has characters like Candy Kong, they're pretty good with balancing it out with non-eye candy only girls like Tiny and Dixie Kong.
    Also, every single thing you mentioned about Kazooie is why I love her so much as a character. Kazooie is pretty one of a kind not only in DKU but in the video game world. <3

  2. Excellent!

    Kazooie and Dixie are quite simply some of the strongest female video game characters out there. The fact that they're animals keeps them from even being considered potential fetish fuel for MOST PEOPLE (I know they are for some, but let's not go there), leaving them free to just be strong ladies. They are each a member of a duo, but compared to their male counterparts, frankly they are more interesting. Who could deny that Kazooie is the more entertaining one out of her and Banjo, and that Dixie makes the game a bit easier and more fun for you than Diddy or Kiddy?

    Rare always did have a way with strong female characters. Let's not forget that they need not all be heroes. Game villains as well as heroes tend to be male too, and a good villain is certainly a strong character; if not someone we can praise, certainly someone who deserves a certain intimidated admiration for their strength. Consider Grunty, the rhyming witch we all love to hate; especially how badass she was in Tooie, so determined to get revenge and have another chance at power that she rose out of the grave, reduced to a skeleton.

    I like that Kazooie seemed a bit more feminine in N&B. Her sassy lashes and attitude made it obvious to everyone that she is NOT a guy, while she still retained her distinctive personality.

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys!

    Yeah, I completely forgot about the villains. Sorry about that. D: Grunty is indeed awesome, I quite liked how she had a 'humorous villain' role in B-K, yet was turned into a threatening villain in B-T...

    Oh, I'll definitely write an article on villains once.
    Again, thanks for taking your time to write comments - I appreciate it!

  4. Wow this was really in depth. I agree on female roles as a whole. Although I tend to make my female characters, at least some of them comic relief in some parts. Well not all the time, but I guess female characters stand out more than male characters at times.