Though the biggest gaming news from SDCC may have been the announcement of The Last of Us movie (possibly starring Arya Stark, no less – I can only imagine the crossover fiction), there were enough exciting tidbits to keep our tanks – running low after the smorgasbord that was E3 – running. Let’s take a look at some of the more important announcements, and the women featured in them.
On Monday, Nintendo announced the addition of three new characters for Super Smash Bros. Wii U, two of which have never been in a Smash title before now. Check out the trailer below to watch the earth-shattering entrance of Captain Falcon, Lucina, and Robin.
Captain Falcon, who has made previous appearances in all four Super Smash games, is a easily recognizable face (and punch, for that matter). Lucina and Robin are less familiar but more important – after all, no one was doubting the inclusion of Falcon for a second, but the inclusion of not one but two female characters was a surprise. The two Fire Emblem: Awakening characters are the 9th and 10th playable female characters to be included in the game (not counting Jigglypuff or the female Ice Climber), a record for the series. Yes, it’s fantastic to see Sakurai and his team stepping up to the plate in terms of better gender representation, but you might be wondering just who are these women anyway? Well, Robin is the Grand Master (a combination of mage and swordsperson) that you play as in Fire Emblem: Awakening and, like in many games, can be chosen to be either a male or female. The inclusion of a female skin for Robin in Super Smash is a reflection of this choice. Lucina, however, is a bit more complicated – and she, along with some other interesting women, is who we’ll be focusing on today.
There’s a lot of negativity – much of it well-deserved – surrounding the industry’s portrayal of the female gender in games. I myself recently wrote an article criticizing developers for not including more women in their stories. But there are many times when video games get it right, when they write a great story with some strong, believable girls in it. Of course, there are the well-known examples of bad-ass video game women: Samus, Lara Croft, Sarah Kerrigan, Zelda, Fem!Shep, Alyx Vance, Lightning, to name a few. But there are others that are not acknowledged as often, but are just as deserving of praise. Lucina is one of those, and today we’ll talk about her story and the stories of five more Game Dames (as I personally like to call these awesome characters). Because as much as it is necessary to criticize what is being done wrong, it is also necessary to celebrate what has been done right.
Continue reading The Lesser Known Women: A Look at Time-Travelling Daughters, Wolf Gods, and More
It’s dawn. A hawk glides past the inspiring edifice of Notre Dame and over restless crowds of revolutionaries. Four figures emerge from the smoke of gunfire. They have three things in common: they’re all Assassins, they’re all fighting on the side of “liberté, égalité, and fraternité”, and they’re all male. In Assassin’s Creed: Unity at least, the ‘brotherhood’ part of the Revolution’s maxim apparently counts more than calls for ‘liberty’ and ‘equality’. The upcoming title in Ubisoft’s ever-popular franchise comes with a new option for four-player co-op, but the four characters are really just one; all consist of variations on the protagonist Arno Dorian. A common question thus returns to the conversation: when introducing an option for players to customise their protagonist, why was a female not available for that choice?
Every year, I start my E3 journey with a confident estimate of how much it is possible to cram into a two-hour live presentation. Every year, I totally forget that I started with an estimate, revel in the glow of gameplay trailers, and then, realizing I’ve forgotten my estimate, decide scientifically (judging by the exponential growth in giddy levels) that it’s been blown out of the water. E3 2014 has not broken this pattern. The presentations of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo all satisfied and surprised their respective audiences, though there may have been a few unexpected bumps along the way (I feel for you, Conker fans). Without further ado, let’s see what each has brought to the stage thus far:
It’s that time of the year again: speculations abound, rumors fly, and the big names vie for the position of top dog…yes, it’s almost E3! Arguably the biggest event of the industry is fast approaching (June 10-12), and it’s never too early to begin rounding up all of the exciting possibilities that may await us at this year’s expo. So here follows the confirmed, the hearsay, and the wild ideas that I desperately hope for when I can’t sleep at night from Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo:
In just a few short months, the next installment of the beloved Mario Kart franchise will be releasing, and it just might bring back the glory games of the no-holds-barred, best-friends-will-become-your-enemies racing game. But this title isn’t just the same ol’, same ol’ – the newly-released trailer has highlighted a bunch of new features and revamps of old elements that I’m itching to try out, and you should be too. Here’s what and why:
When the NPD released its February sales report on Friday, many people may have been surprised to learn that Wii U sales were up 25% from this same time last year, with around 100,000 units sold since the beginning of the month. Nintendo reported that this jump was largely a result of the success of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, which sold over 130,000 copies from its release on February 21 until March 1, making it the month’s 4th highest-selling game on an individual platform.
Why is this a surprise? Disappointment and looming financial disaster have been plaguing the Wii U since its release in November 2012. To date, its only sold 5.61 million units worldwide, a sad statistic considering the fact that 5.3 million PS4s have already been sold since the console’s release three months ago. In January, Nintendo revised its expected Wii U sales from 9 million consoles to 2.8 million, as a key hope for the system – the 2013 holiday season – resulted only in more discouragement. In fact, the Wii U has done so badly since its release that it has cost Nintendo the entirety of its 2013 profits. In concept, the Wii U seemed like a fascinating upgrade to its outrageously successful predecessor, the Wii. The GamePad brought with it a lot of integrative possibilities for gameplay and the time seemed ripe for upgrades to classic Nintendo franchises, like Super Smash Bros. So, what went wrong? Continue reading What Does 2014 Hold for the Wii U?
When the original Super Smash Bros. was released in 1999 it had a roster of 12 characters, only one of which – Samus Aran – was female (For the purposes of this article, I won’t be considering Jigglypuff as a female role). Super Smash Bros. Melee more than doubled the roster but only added two new women to the list, Peach and Zelda (four if you count Zelda’s down special move, which allows the player to transform into the Princess’ alter ego, Sheik, and Nana from the Ice Climbers duo), and SSB Brawl actually saw the female to male ratio decline, rather than increase: only one new female role, Zero Suit Samus, an alternate version of an already existing character, was added.
If we count Zelda/Sheik and Samus/Zero Suit Samus as single characters and discount the presence of Nana, then we’re left with 8% representation in SSB, 12% in SSBM, and 8% in SSBB. Those wouldn’t seem to be encouraging numbers for the ratio in future SSB titles.
I think it is necessary to begin this review with an admission: while I love the Zelda franchise and will ruthlessly defend Majora’s Mask against anyone who badmouths it, I’ve never played A Link to the Past. Does this discredit my review of A Link Between Worlds? I don’t think so, but if you’d rather read a strict comparison between the two rather than an exploration of ALBW itself, then this article is not for you.
That being said, from what I know of ALTTP I can understand how people who have played it may find that ALBW is re-treading too much old ground – some reviewers were disappointed when they discovered how much they knew their way around the overworld – but I think that the re-designed dungeons and new mechanic of wall-merging (more on that later!) puts enough of a spin on the game to offer something for new and old players alike. For me, this Hyrule was completely fresh and I loved it, which perhaps speaks to how devoted most players are to ALTTP: if the excitement I felt exploring this world is anything like the excitement others have felt for ALTTP’s Hyrule, then I can understand the hype.
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts revealed the nominations for its 11th annual Games Awards early Wednesday morning. Unsurprisingly, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us and Rockstar’s GTA V picked up the most nominations, with The Last of Us receiving ten nods and GTA V nine. Both are nominated for Best Game, Game Design, Performer, and Story.