It's another week of retro reviews! This week we're turning the lights down and letting the candles speak for themselves, because this one is for the ladies. With Valentine's Day around the corner, I thought it was about time to give the fairer sex a chance to shine. This week, Defunct Games will review five classic releases starring strong female characters. Think you can handle that?
CONTEST: Can you guess what games I'm reviewing? Below you will find clues for to all five games I'm reviewing. Tweet me @DefunctGames with your guesses for a chance to win a download codes and other valuable prizes. The person that gets the most right before Friday wins!
By the late 1980s, developers wanted their games to be about more than just running from left to right. They wanted to tell stories and develop real characters. You saw a company like Tecmo do this with Ninja Gaiden, turning what could have been a tedious
action game into a cinematic experience still being released on new platforms. Suddenly big, explosive action games didn't seem as mindless.
Telenet took a similar approach with Valis: The Fantasm Soldier, a cinema-heavy adventure that spawned a whole series of girl-powered sequels (and porn). Originally released on the MSX computer, Valis took its sweet time before hitting the Sega Genesis. This port dramatically improves the graphics and sound, but fails to improve the outdated gameplay. The result is a fairly pedestrian experience with a better than average story thrown in.
Time Gal [ System: Sega CD | Pub: Renovation | Release: 1993 | Score: C- ]
Full-motion video games aren't always real good about giving the player context. They're hoping that you'll be wowed by real actors or cartoon-quality animation and not stop to think about what's actually going on. Time Gal takes this a step further by constantly changing the scenery and barely giving the player enough time to catch their breath. But
even with the constant explosions, aliens and time skipping, I couldn't shake one lingering question: Who is the Time Gal?
This question isn't easily answered. At no point do they explain where she came from, what she's doing or why she can harness the power of time. Her adventure isn't well planned, as she spends the entire time running away from unexpected danger. It's as if she's simply skipping through random time periods for no reason. By the time the wraps up, I was left with a lengthy list of unanswered questions.
Alisia Dragoon [ System: Genesis | Pub: Game Arts | Release: 1992 | Score: B ]
In the world of 2D action heroes, women have to work a little harder to be noticed. It's not as easy as wearing skimpy outfits or getting plastic surgery, hardware limitations make it tough for women to skate by solely on their good looks. Alisia, the star of Game Arts' 1992 Genesis game, isn't having any of that. Who needs to be
sexy when they have a collection of killer dragons and a lightning attack so explosive that even Mortal Kombat's Raiden is jealous?
In Alisia Dragoon, our hero has finally taken all that she can handle. After two evil forces kill her father, it's up to Alisia to get revenge and, you guessed it, save the world. She does this by gathering up her squad of dragons and fighting through eight grueling stages of fantasy action. It's not hard to imagine this being the fate of the Khaleesi in Game of Thrones.
By the late 1920s, American women were finally starting to be recognized as full citizens. Thanks to the suffrage movement and generations of strong activist women that came before, the United States was about to enter a more enlightened period. Of course, none of that mattered to Annet Myer, the star
of El Viento for the Sega Genesis. Who has time for voting when the fate of the world is resting on your shoulders?
You may not know it by the title, but El Viento is the Genesis follow-up to Earnest Evans. It stars a young Peruvian sorceress on a mission to defeat a mad religious figure who is trying to resurrect the evil god Hastur. Set in 1928, Annet battles a crew of New York City gangsters and a collection of increasingly bizarre mutant monsters in an attempt to save the world.
Gloria Steinem may disagree, but I would argue that Ms. Pac-Man is the perfect representation of the feminist spirit. Here is a character who commands respect. She was able to win over the masses by not just being as good as her male counterpart, but actually out-performing him in every
way. Best of all, she didn't need to dress sexy or exploit her curves to make it big. Her talent was enough to win the day.
Released late in the console's lifespan, Ms. Pac-Man was largely ignored by the hardcore set. By 1993, the arcade market had graduated to deep fighting games like Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. Ms. Pac-Man was well over a decade old, hitting an 8-bit console at a time when everybody's attention was on 16-bits and beyond. Questionable timing aside, Ms. Pac-Man is a passable port of the classic arcade game.