The Rockstar Cover Ladies
Alright, this one's a technicality I admit, but it's also REALLY annoying.
How many times have you looked at the cover of a game and noticed, "Oh hey! There's a hot chick in the game - maybe the protagonist gets to have sex with her!"
Or if you're not even interested in the inevitably awkward polygon humping that got cut out of early builds like they were the fat in a George Foreman grill, at least wondered who they were and when they would appear in said game, only to boot up the sucker up and lo and behold, said distaff demographic draw ends up NOT ACTUALLY BEING IN THE GAME?
Well if you're playing anything by Rockstar Games, it's pretty much EVERY TIME.
Seriously, looking at these missing ladies makes me want to put out an ad on a milk carton:
This lady from GTA 3, I think she appears in like, the first mission maybe?
In Vice City, that's either a beach babe or maybe a hooker from the game, I guess. Though in 80's Miami that delineation might be pretty thin depending on the amount of Cocaine you have on you.
Oh! My favorite! Not only because she totally NEVER shows up, but also because she set a precedent followed by the missing lady from GTA 4.
But it's not just limited to Grand Theft Auto! Remember this lady from all the Red Dead Redemption ads?
That town in the background: Armadillo. Armadillo DOES have the occasional prostitute or two, but not this prostitute. Believe me. I checked.
Technically, these women don't actually appear in the games they're featured in, but I'm going to come out and point out, this is exactly why they're so useless. Because nothing is more useless than something that doesn't even exist!
Obviously these lovely lasses are on the cover to lure the male gaze, but it just doesn't makes sense when you consider the fact that most Rockstar games usually have attractive women in them that will show up for more than a mission at the most, or at least at all!
And this isn't something that only Rockstar commits. It's a trend that's so common there's a gorram TVTropes page devoted to it!
So yeah, thanks Rockstar, for nothing. Literally. I mean it's not even like you've gotten better at it either:
That's not any of the murdered women from what I can tell, nor is it Elsa, the main female NPC. WHY IS SHE ON THE COVER?
RUNNERS UP - THE EVONY AD LADIES. Look, I like looking at porn stars on my computer as much as the next guy, but in an ad for a strategy game that has none of them at all? What the hell?
So, if you're one of the folks who went out and picked up El Shaddai: The Ascension of the Metatron which is a title so long and filled with obscure Judeo-Christian terminology that it doubles as a Dan Brown novel, you'll notice that the hero, Enoch gets some mission support from a host of angels. One of them is a pre-villainy Lucifer, but the other four are the Archangels Micheal, Uriel, Raphael and Gabriel.
Who for some reason are all swans. Yes, this game was made in Japan. Why do you ask?
Now, with a support team like that you'd think Enoch's mission would be over and done with faster than a Chick Tract loses sanity. After all, they're freaking angels. Michael alone is well known to walk around with a flaming sword of +7 Ultimate Apocalyptic Annihilation, and I'm pretty sure Raphael can chuck a mean sai or two.
Wait, wrong Raphael.
But noooooooooo. Seems the man upstairs wants a "Human" to take care of this particular crisis of faith, so Enoch, even though he's immortal and can leap thirty feet into the air while killing demons with his lightsaber bow, receives no "direct" help from his Halo-Force Five.
Yup that definitely sounds like the God I know, inconsistent and convoluted.
No wait, scratch that. Lucifer ends up as your save point, so he has a purpose. Uriel becomes your super attack. Raphael and Michael talk about background information and bring up current relevant plot details.
Which just leaves Gabirel. Who, have I mentioned yet, is portrayed as a woman in El Shaddai?
Unlike in Constantine where Gabriel was played by Tilda Swinton
You see, Gabby here becomes your primary adviser on what's "dangerous" in any given area. And she is always, 100%, completely, totally, and like that girlfriend I dumped, late.
You'll be running along one of the game's acid tripping levels and start tackling one of the platforming sequences, hopping from one moving block over a death pit to the next while dodging floating mines of vileness and when you're about a third of the way there, then she warns you that "This area is dangerous. Be careful."
Or you'll have collected one of the game's collectibles - hobos who offer you scripture, which society has trained me to ignore - and are heading back to the main path, and then she'll mention to look around for a secret area.
You know it's actually quite fitting. I mean, she ends up about as useful as actual prayer.
Now that's what I call a Gabriel BURN!
Yeah I know I'm going to hell. If not for the blasphemy then at least for the puns.
RUNNER UP - AGENT HUNNIGAN from Resident Evil 4. Yet another omniscient "advice lady" in a game about as useful as abstinence counseling.
Aside from the never ending sense of depression that stems from wasting your life in a virtual playgrounds while your actual body turns into rejected Slim Jim meat, the worst part about video games have got to be escort missions.
But for the uninformed, well wait, why are you reading this? Oh OK, then.
So here's a common setup for most games:
Move from point A to point B while avoiding death. Pretty standard right?
Now here's the standard escort mission:
Move from point A to point B . . . while trying to protect a suicidal lemming who's idea of "sound defensive strategy" is flinging themselves towards the mean men with the pointy sticks as if they were Twilight Fans and the sticks had pictures of Robert Pattinson on them.
Of course "pointy stick" is a rather accurate descriptor for Robert Pattinson himself, but I digress.
Yes, trying to protect the functionally retarded in gaming is the cause of more headaches than asking your girlfriend for sex. Escort missions are what happens when when you touch yourself at night, if you do so with a cheese grater. Escort missions are what happens when you get drunk and impregnate a farm animal: it was a bad decision to put it in, and no amount of explanation will make it less embarrassing to talk about.
So it's to Resident Evil 4's credit that the game is bearable, let along awesome, despite being comprised of 90% escort mission. But that's because the game mechanics are good. What isn't, is who you end up escorting.
Meet Ashley Graham. Unlike a lot of "Escortees", she is neither carrying important information, an energy source or prototype weapon, or any other sort of plot-based MacGuffin. No, she's just the President's Daughter, and kidnapped by terrorists. So her entire importance in the game has nothing to do with her - hold on I have to stop myself from laughing - "character", but because her daddy is important.
But what's far worse is that the little personality Ashley does have manages to be both horribly annoying and frustratingly full of herself. She whines, she complains and she whimpers for help - all *headdesk* worthy enough qualms - but she also maintains that everybody has the hots for her, despite her glazed eyes that look like she's got an Oxycontin addiction and ears that could probably let her glide to a smooth landing.
Oh and let's look at that "unique" character design for a moment. Seriously Capcom? That's just a sleeveless sweater, another sweater and a Catholic schoolgirl mini-skirt. That's so easy to cosplay that my grandmother could do it on accident. Heck, that's the simplest mundane costume since I went to Halloween as Sawyer from Lost.
Sawyer Costume - Step 1 - Be lazy and don't shave. Step 2 - unbutton a longsleeve shirt for the first couple buttons. Step 3 - call people "freckles".
And to top it off, there's a section where you actually get to play as Ashley, whereupon you discover that she's about as capable as a Salvation Army recruit in an actual battle.
"Should I ring my bell harder?"
Heck, Ashley is so unattractive, useless and unfathomably idiotic that at the end of the game, when she offers to let Leon have her way with her, he pretty much laughs in her face.
So yeah, Ashley Graham: dumber than a box of hair and about as useful. And you have to protect her at ALL COSTS.
RUNNER UP - EMMA EMMERICH from Metal Gear Solid 2. Just as annoying an escortee, but you can also just knock her unconscious and drag her to where you need to be. Also she is thankfully killed soon after so she stops being annoying shortly thereafter.
Ever have a bro that gets hung up on relationships so much that their girls become the only thing that they’re about? It’s as if their special lady friend managed to suck out their personality and all their free time like that brain bug at the end of Starship Troopers
Even when their special lady friend isn’t around, all these guys can do is bitch about their problems with her. Or talk about their plans with her, which are really her plans for him. Or take offense at jokes you know they would have been fine with before, but because they think she might get hurt or offended by them, all of a sudden they become more taboo than cracking wise about 9/11 first responders.
These dudes are pitiable, sure, and if they’re your best bud from grade-school you might be willing to be their emotional drainage bucket, since these dudes are trying to vomit out all of the nagging their ovarian anchors have drilled into them like a Drill Sergeant with a grudge. But other than being best friends since before you thought a girl’s no-no place as anything other than the repository for cooties, there’s no excuse to bring this stuff up amongst "the guys". If we're grabbing a brew and watching MMA, or playing poker, or whatever, we do not want to hear about how the old ball and chain is bringing you to meet her mom; that kind of conversation has about as much place in your poker game as Michael Vick does at a PETA rally.
So in Gears of War 2, when Dominic Santiago started talking about his wife, Maria, constantly it broke this rule of thumb, but hard. Dom! The relatively upbeat and down to earth guy from the first game, is turned into nothing more than a blathering numb-nuts who won't shut up about someone the player has never met, nor ever had any reason to care about till then.
Seriously, he could not shut up about her. He talked about Maria so much you'd think you think this was Silent Hill. Or West Side Story. Or he was about to go a voyage to India with his other wives Nina and Pinta.
I mean she's pretty, but not "talk incessantly about her till you want to chainsaw off your ears" pretty.
So then, after pretty much an entire game's worth of pining and complaining, you finally find her in a refrigerator and she's about as functional as dividing by zero.
Yeah, it turns out the much vaunted Maria's been lobotomized by the locust and looks about as appealing as one of Fallout's Ghouls. It's actually kind of sad and sappy and all that, and Dom puts her out of her misery making it even sadder in a gameplay death moment handled far better than some . . .
And if the point of Maria was to include this poignant, depressing moment in the game, to give the humans who look more like mack trucks some humanity, I wouldn't have stuck Maria on this list.
But that point is made like, every third cutscene in Gears of War. We get it, the world is screwed, humanity is doomed, and our heroes are fighting a losing battle for scraps. So while the scene sort of accomplishes that, its drowned out by all the other stuff in the game reinforcing it.
So what is the REAL reason to include Dom's lost love?
Hmm? I wonder? I mean Marcus and Dom are just TOTALLY friends and totally ONLY DO HETEROSEXUAL things together. Like hanging out all day and being sweaty. Or jamming their phallic objects into enemy men. I mean it's NOT GAY because like Dom TOTALLY HAS A WIFE, and Marcus wants to bang the one chick in the game (that only shows up on the radio).
Yeah she's a beard. Totally jammed into the plot because Cliffy B probably saw stuff like this:
And was like, "WHAT? GAY? HELL NO! It's only a game where you spend a predominant amount of time staring at your huge burly, heavily muscled man's ass in low, tight camera angles! THAT'S CRAZY!"
So they stuck in Maria, a non-character in terms of gameplay, plot, and for the most part, impact, until literally seconds before she dies. One who is apparently only designed to annoy the hell out of the player since they come to associate her with the worst and more boring parts of a character who used to be bearable and light-hearted. And since plenty of those same rumors still exist and are prevalent, didn't even serve her intend purpose of making Dom "straighter".
Yeah, probably would have been better to not include her.
Oh and further proof: what happens after one beard dies?
Easy! Just grow another!
RUNNER UP - NAOMI HUNTER in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots where Naomi serves to pretty much un-gay Otacon (from his relation ship with "Solid" Snake) while only seeming capable of making an already too complex plot far more convoluted than it ever needed to be with the occasional idiotic betrayal. But she was at least a character for a lot of the game and also did a few useful things before she succumbed to Ocelot's Chronic Backstabbing Disorder (which is apparently communicable).
Now I know what you're going to say, "Who the hell is Momoko?"
You see, In the world of fighting games, there are two telling factors about how much relevance a character has: their ease of play (how good they are), and they're general popularity (how flashy they are if a guy/how hot they are if a girl).
Momoko here is a bouncy teen fighting game character from King of Fighters XI. One of the less popular fighting game series here in the West since it's not called either Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, or has a "versus" in its title. Everybody plays those games.
Less popular series like KoF though, they don't get as mush attention.
In fact I'd say the less popular you get in the fighting game community the more your fanbase is dominated by either:
A) The Japanese,
C) Japanese Perverts (see section A)
How else would you explain the existence of Arcana Heart?
An entire game full of anime jail-bait.
This is a genre where any and ALL women are sexualized so much and so often you'd think that the character designers were paid extra for every square inch of skin they can reveal. It's as if they're goal in life is just to see if cosplayers have a sense of shame. They have competitions to see who can create the best combination of revealing and impossible with bonus points if it looks like something that belongs in an S&M dungeon.
A competition that Ivy Valentine obviously wins.
The point is, the quickest way to find out if a fighting game character is liked, is to look for the porn. But it took like, NINE pages with the safe-search off for google to generate any p0rnography featuring Momoko. That's practically no p0rn at all, and she's underage!
Drawing p0rnography of underage fighting game characters has replaced bowing as Japan's national pastime it's so common. If a disapproving mother finds her son drawing underage p0rnography in Japan, they yell at them only if the proportions are bad, lest they get an -A in Henthai class. I'm pretty sure if you sneeze in Tokyo, kind passers by hand you Kleenex with a 'screaming eleven year old girl' print rather than 'floral'.
So why dose Momoko receive so little "attention" from the public?
Well, this chick is as sickly sweet and cute and bubbly as artificial sweetener, and just as cancerous. Because she's bloody awful. In fighting game terminology they like to say "she's difficult to master", but what it really means is that she sucks more than a black hole shaped like Monica Lewinsky's mouth.
I mean you all know how Dan Hibiki in Street Fighter is a joke character only meant to be played to humiliate your opponent into admitting he has a smaller penis than you, right? Well Momoko Out-Dans Dan!
When you're worse than this waste of cranial space you've got problems.
So in Momoko we have a character so unplayable that they might as well have let her character slot read "Forfeit", and so unbearably cutie-pie that I'm pretty sure if you cut her in half she'd form into a My Little Pony and a puppy and both would make you cry pixie stick tears.
RUNNER UP - YURI SAKAZAKI, also from King of Fighters but in her early appearances in Art of Fighting she was just another kidnapped girl needing rescue. However she did eventually train and become semi-decent due to the Zelda Paradigm (explained in the next entry, so click that link!)
Samus (in Metroid Other M)
I'm going to talk for a second about a lady who's not on this list. Her name is Zelda.
You see, Zelda is a Nintendo Princess who started out as useless as most of the rest. She was only there at the end of the game and never did much of anything other than needing rescuing (just like a certain other someone we haven't gotten to yet).
But as time went on, Zelda evolved a bit. Maybe it was the fact that Nintendo became more mature. But since that's about as likely as an officially licensed Mario Brother sex toy called the "Plunge-Her" (because they're plumbers you see), I'm not betting on it.
So in all likelihood, it's because someone over at Nintendo HQ hit his head on the question block that contained his paycheck (because that's how it works there I'm pretty sure), and in the middle of their resulting concussion, they realized that they might want to give the character the legendary series is named after a little bit more to do than just sit around counting Octoroks while waiting for her pointy-eared boyfriend to arrow Ganon and unite the triforce.
So Zelda started getting more development and cooler stuff to partake in. She learned a spell of bind greater boobs and dressed like the ninja warrior (and rocking harpist) Shiek in Ocarina of Time. Or sailed the seas as the worlds least effective pirate this side of Cutthroat Island in Wind Waker. Heck, in Twilight Princess she even has a Xena moment and just tries to take down the big bad herself and armed with a sword!
Heck, in Spirit Tracks she even possesses huge suits of armor and goes to town!
This is the Zelda Paradigm for women in gaming. Starting as a useless Catherine Earnshaw, and growing into a confident, interesting and multifaceted Jane Eyre. Or if the literary reference is a bit too much . . .
She went from this:
And seems to be getting ever closer to this:
But ON THE OTHER HAND There is Samus Aran.
Arguably the poster girl for kick-ass women in gaming, Samus has been handling Space Pirates and energy-leeching doom-jellyfish all by her lonesome since 1986. She's killed so many parasitic crabs she could double as an STD clinic. She once blew up a planet because it was the only way to be sure. She is totally awesome.
And she knows it too.
Or at least was.
Because then there's Other M, which goes out of its way to basically take pretty much everything anyone could have liked about Samus and turn it into a protracted dumb blonde joke.
We learn she acted like a petulant child while in the military. We learn she wants to be a mommy so bad she responds to distress signals with idiotic names like "Baby's Cry". We learn that she apparently doesn't know what an emotion is, has never met one, or seen one, or has heard of one when she starts monologuing with a performance that sounds like the actress just came down from Thorazine.
Scratch that. It's as if the actress was coming down from Thorazine and was Heather Graham . . . in Lost In Space.
And then there's Adam. Oh boy.
Throughout the game, unlike every other Metroid game, Samus takes orders from Adam Malkovich. Her former commanding officer. This includes multiple instances of getting into deadly situations where she won't turn on (or to use the game's terminology, "authorize") weapons and equipment that would saver her life until HE says to do so.
REALLY? Samus? Why?
You just went from this:
And turned into this:
Or even worse is when she fights Ridley in the game. An opponent that she has fought and killed SEVERAL times prior to this, but when he shows up in Other M and basically does his song and dance boss introduction she freaks out faster than a NAMBLA member meeting Chris Hansen, curls into a ball and shuts her armor off while she cries like a child. . . only to be saved once a big, strong man jumps into the picture, even though they both know he's pretty much committing suicide to do so!
Seriously. This happens. To Samus Aran, who was once cold and calculating enough to willingly exterminate an entire species because they posed a threat to Galactic society and peace. That level of hardass should only be reduced to childlike tears if she was forced to execute her mom or something, not because she's facing a recurring boss for the (at that point in the timeline) 5th time in her life.
So while Samus in general is easily one of the best characters, let alone women, in gaming, for Other M she simply grabbed the idiot ball and ran with it into the intolerable end-zone of stupidity.
RUNNER UP - JILL VALENTINE in Resident Evil 3 where the tube top she wears apparently stops the blood from circulating to her brain at times. Among other things, she seems to think Brad will respond after he has his face impaled, unquestioningly works with Umbrella Mercenaries because one of them is a cute latin lover type, and then the most basic: SHE DOESN'T EVACUATE RACOON CITY when she notices the beginnings of the outbreak occurring despite the fact that she had already encountered zombies. But it's less severe and she makes at least a few decent decisions too, and is the first RE character to learn how to, you know, dodge.
L The List