Archive for the ‘Game Heroines’ Category

First appearance – Tekken, 1994, Namco

Ah, the Williams Sisters… Cain and Abel in stilettos! This grudge match has lasted for decades and whenever they weren’t at each other’s throats it’s only because they’d been cryogenically frozen.

Nina and Anna

Why do they fight? Nobody knows – it’s just what sisters do. There’s no scratching or hair pulling either, only gut punching and bone breaking. Now THAT’S sisterhood, or at least it is in my experience. But as all sibling rivals know, there’s a fine line between love and hate. Families often fight because they’re so close and the Williams family is no exception.

Nina’s a Tekken veteran, having been in every game to date plus her origin story in Death By Degrees. Her career as an assassin keeps bringing her to the Iron Fist tournament as there’s always a juicy contract on at least one contender. Anna is her younger sister, primary antagonist and sub-boss. Often she finds herself recruited as bodyguard to Nina’s latest target. When she wins, she adds insult to injury with a celebratory bum waggle. Both are skilled in Aikido and Koppo (or “Bone”) martial arts. With the right button combinations they can trap opponents in a series of locks, breaking their limbs with enjoyable crunchy sound effects. They’re Irish according to the manuals, but after Namco introduced dialogue into the game I wasn’t so sure…

COULD YOU SPEAK UP THERE GIRLS? I CAN’T UNDERSTAND YOU WITH THOSE THICK OIRISH ACCENTS!

That’s a MINOR deviation compared to the Tekken movies. In the live action film, the sisters played Kazuya Mishima’s hit squad/concubines. Typical of most video game movie adaptations, they pretty much got the costumes right and nothing else. Earlier on, in the 1997 Tekken anime, Anna was killed by a dinosaur. No, I didn’t make that up.

Just like the game... except for the part where it's NOT.

Just like the game… except for the part where it isn’t.

Can one sister live without the other? The backstory to Tekken 3 tells me that they can’t. After failing to assassinate Kazuya, Nina is forced to become a test subject for Mishima cryogenic labs; hence she is the only recurring character who hasn’t aged physically. So, what becomes of Anna? Funnily enough, she actually volunteers for the same procedure.

Her reasons for doing this are a mystery. Maybe the threat of a rival who could awaken anytime – fit, healthy and murderous as ever – made her paranoid. The shallowest explanation is that she couldn’t stand the thought of ageing while her older sister remained fresh and youthful. Yes, Anna loves being glamorous but that’s one hell of a step to avoid wrinkles! For whatever reason, it seems that Nina’s absence would prove unbearable to Anna, to the point that she’d rather freeze herself than live without big sis.

I like to think that they care for each other deep down but just have a funny way of showing it. Both mourn their father, as evidenced by the graveside scenes where the occasional truce occurs. They have no living family (besides Nina’s biological son Steve Fox – even then, her maternal instincts only go as far as ‘not killing him’) so this loss is something that only they share. Maybe seeing each other reminds them of this pain. Maybe lashing out at one another is the only way they know how to deal. Or maybe once again I’m reading way too much into the backstories of fictional characters from old Beat ’em Up games… who can say?

(Quick sidenote: Nina’s theme in Tekken 3 has a totally sweet bassline and you should give it a listen. I’ll just leave it here.)

In any case, their feud never amounts to much. If it were simply a matter of bumping each other off, surely someone would’ve succeeded by now. There’s been a number of twist endings where one sister sneaks up on the other, only to play a silly prank. Plus Nina was defenceless in that cryochamber – if Anna truly wanted her dead, she only had to pull the plug. But she doesn’t – instead she joins her sister in cryosleep and they live to battle another day.

Besides, these women are warriors. Offing each other in anything short of a fair fight would be bad form. Not only that, it would deprive the victor of their only worthy adversary. Sibling rivalry is their driving force – it’s what they live for. Well, that and tasteful PS1 sideboob…

I don’t normally do this, but massive shout-out to my sister Jen – ace Nina-player and brilliant person altogether. Thanks for all the support and I’m glad we managed to get past all the childhood punch-ups!

First appearance – Final Fantasy VII, 1997, Square

tifa-retroIn the Nineties, one genre that saw a mass emergence of female characters was the Role Playing Game. Mages, summoners and warriors could be found battling their way through epic worlds as both sexes took up their staffs and swords. Few have had the same impact as Final Fantasy VII, which spelled success for Sony’s new Playstation console on release. Boasting three discs and full motion video cutscenes, the game is credited with opening up the Western world to the Japanese RPG. Most notable was the emotional engagement of the player as a love triangle emerged between three of the main characters – Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockhart and the mysterious flower girl Aerith Gainsborough. While Cloud is the hero and the fate of Aerith culminates in one of the most tragic sequences in video game history, Tifa is arguably the most complex, engaging and relatable character. She’s certainly a longstanding favourite among fans of the series.

In Final Fantasy VII Tifa runs the Seventh Heaven bar, a front for the terrorist group AVALANCHE of which she is an active member. Her actions as an eco-terrorist may be morally questionable yet they do show her to be ethically minded with strength in her convictions. Prior to the events of the game she encounters her old friend Cloud, who is suffering from memory loss. Tifa takes him into her care and gets him involved with the group allowing her to keep a watchful eye on him, gain support for her cause and give him a sense of purpose. As events unfold they embark on a mission to defend the planet from Sephiroth. The CGI film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, set two years after the game, sees Tifa reunite with her friends to save the world again while helping Cloud to relinquish the guilt of his past. She’s also appeared in other titles including the Vincent Valentine spinoff Dirge of Cerberus, the Disney crossover Kingdom Hearts II and the beat ’em up Ehrgeiz. Her characteristics don’t change – she’s always courageous, fiercely loyal and an powerful ally who can provide emotional support as well as watching your back in battle.

tifa_punch

Tifa’s design is something of an anti-love interest, meaning there’s nothing delicate or girly about her appearance. She’s the fighter of the group, armed only with steel capped boots and boxing gloves and no matter what the opponent – dragon, monster or mechanical titan – she’ll run up and start smashing it with her fists. Her limit break has her unleash a chain of devastating martial arts blows on the enemy, learning extra moves as she levels up. Likewise her dress-sense reflects her no-nonsense attitude and you won’t find any floaty pastel pinks in this girl’s wardrobe! Clad in plain blacks and whites (sometimes with red boots – “the better to kick you with, my dear”) her costume was made with mobility in mind rather than prettiness, readying her for action rather than passivity. By sheer coincidence this minimalist outfit happens to leave very little to the imagination… not that this has harmed her popularity! She graces many a list of the ‘hottest babes in gaming’ etc but this doesn’t cheapen her image. Her sex appeal stems from her strength, spirit and her unerring ability to kick ass.

What’s compelling about Tifa is tifa-portraitthat while she is practically a super woman in terms of fighting prowess, her emotional vulnerabilities are all too human. She is in love with Cloud, who barely notices as he is besotted with Aerith. Even when Aerith is gone, she casts a long shadow in which Tifa seems doomed to follow. Despite this Tifa does not treat Aerith as a rival but as a comrade, putting her own hurt feelings aside for the sake of the group. Some might argue that she is weak, solely motivated by the pursuit of her adolescent crush and conforming to the stereotype that a woman’s goal in life is getting a man. Not only does this do her a huge disservice (she was passionate about environmentalism, martial arts and ran her own business long before Cloud was back on the scene) but it also implies that she operates on purely selfish motives, which is far from true. Her relationship with Cloud (much like materia) is a double-edged sword as she becomes very close to him, frequently acting as his confidante, yet the constant sense of rejection begins to torture her. She endures it nonetheless and always acts in her friend’s best interests, not to mention saving his butt on more than one occasion. As his oldest acquaintance she is often the only person who can fully understand Cloud’s past and piece together his broken memory, which is necessary to help him escape Sephiroth’s control. In Advent Children Tifa continues to aid Cloud, both in battle and by encouraging him to move on past his regrets. By this time she appears to have laid her own feelings about Cloud to rest but her frustration in dealing with his emotional issues is often apparent. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the hero of Final Fantasy VII would not have gotten far without his childhood pal.

tifa-vs-aeris

Inevitably many elements of Tifa’s design contrast with the traditionally feminine Aerith to establish a practical ‘hands-on’ woman as opposed to the princess archetype. Just look at their careers at the start of the game – one sells flowers for a living, the other runs a pub. Aerith uses magic rods and healing spells in battle, Tifa uses her fists. However, there are more subtle differences between the two, which their music themes illustrate perfectly. Composed by the legendary Nobou Uematsu, the Aerith theme is tragic and moving (the first three notes alone are enough to make fanboys weep) but there is something hauntingly bittersweet about Tifa’s, conveying a sense of loneliness but also peace and optimism. It reflects her complex emotional state, something she’s often heavily guarded about, and is one of the most enduring and recognisable melodies of the acclaimed soundtrack. Aerith (while still likeable) is often distanced by her ethereal fantasy image, unlike Tifa who is more down to earth. Tifa’s the kind of person you might meet in real life rather than the one you made up in your head, which definitely feels like a step forward in terms of character development.

As an RPG the player’s social interactions shape the some of the events. The player’s responses in conversation affect the way Cloud relates to his companions, resulting in a ‘date’ scenario at the Golden Saucer with the one he has bonded with most. Each of the scenarios involves an intimate one-to-one conversation on an amusement ride while watching a fireworks display, giving some more insight into the character’s hopes, fears and motivations. If this happens with Tifa then you’ll see her struggle as she attempts to tell Cloud how she feels about him, choking on her words until the moment passes her by. Touching as it is to see the two friends having fun together, that last scene is quite heartbreaking. But hey, if socially awkward scenes with the ladies didn’t float your boat you could always take Barrett out instead!

Not only can Tifa take care of herself, she’s compelled to help others first. She’s an emotional character but one who’s strong enough to deal with her feelings, channelling her rage into fighting spirit and putting melancholy thoughts on the backburner when there’s work to be done. In short, Tifa may be a tough cookie but she still has a heart of gold.

 

Chun Li
First appearance – Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, 1991, Capcom

Chun Li profile

While the first Street Fighter game came and went without much notice Street Fighter II: The World Warrior rewrote the book on beat ‘em ups and revived the fading arcade scene. However it wasn’t just the stunning graphics, fluid controls and introduction of combos that were revolutionary. The game introduced a new challenger to its then impressive eight player roster, Chun Li, who became an instant idol in gaming. Capcom’s bold move challenged many preconceptions – boys would not play as a female character, girls would have no interest in fighting games or that it would be too uncomfortable for players to see a lady getting punched in the face. Their risky venture was a complete success and Chun Li would go on to appear in almost every subsequent instalment and media spin off. Several dozen street fighting girls have appeared since and virtually every tournament fighter that followed SFII included at least one woman, though few could hope to rival Ms Li’s popularity. She not only made her mark on the Street Fighter franchise, she kicked open the doors for countless other game heroines.

Chun Li kikoken

Chun Li (‘Spring Beauty’ in Mandarin) went through several drafts following Capcom’s decision to include a female fighter. She began as a small, cute girl in traditional Chinese dress as a sharp contrast to the beefy street brawlers she’d be up against. Later the designers experimented with a wholly different direction, showing a distinctly ‘harder’ character in militia garb. (Did Capcom recall this concept when they created Jill Valentine of Resident Evil? Just a thought.) Eventually the original design was revisited with the all-important addition of combat boots, wrist spikes and modifications to the dress to allow for her trademark kick moves. The result was one of the most iconic characters in the fighting genre.

Chun Li ending 1

Chun Li’s tale was one of loss, vengeance and justice. Her father (an Interpol agent, like herself) was murdered by M. Bison, leader of the crime syndicate Shadaloo. Distraught but determined, she tracks Bison down to the tournament and enters undercover in a bid to face her father’s killer, avenge his death and finish the job of taking down Shadaloo. It’s a far richer back story than most of her tournament rivals, out “to show the world that [insert fighting style here] is the greatest”. Beat the game and you’ll see her take an emotional moment at her father’s graveside, acknowledging that her mission was a success and laying his memory to rest. The glory of winning the tournament doesn’t affect or corrupt her at all – instead she makes a well earned return to the carefree life of a young, single woman. It’s a satisfying and uplifting ending to her story.

Chun Li ending 2

Getting there is no easy ride. To truly harness Ms Li’s power, namely her speed and agility, requires nerves of steel and the reflexes of a cat. Considerably outweighed by her opponents (well, we think so – her profile stats usually list ‘Weight’ as ‘She won’t tell’), one heavy punch to the gut can do critical damage to her energy bar. Winning a round as Chun Li takes time and patience as you’ll spend as much time dodging attacks as landing your own. In the end it’s about outwitting the foe and there are few things in this life more enjoyable than a David vs. Goliath style victory as you knock another lumbering juggernaught to the ground. She’ll celebrate the win with a dignified bow or by jumping up and down and laughing ecstatically. Copying the latter in the arcade was fun but not so good for your street cred.

character_header_chunli

Sadly, the big screen has not been kind to Chun Li. There was the laughably bad live action movie released in 1993, which changed her from an Interpol agent to a television news reporter and at one point got her dressed up in a pretty Chinese dress for no good reason whatsoever. It made about as much sense as the decision to cast Jean Claude Van Damme as the all-American Guile. While this film avoids harsh criticism on the grounds of sheer silliness, there’s absolutely no excusing the shambolic effort that is Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li. Why they would attempt to reboot a movie franchise that bombed fifteen years previously is baffling enough, how they could screw it up so badly is beyond human comprehension. It took itself seriously as one of those dark, gritty origin stories that everyone tried to do afterBatman Begins. Although it kept in the dead Dad stuff (sort of), Chun Li became a Chinese-American concert pianist (was the Interpol work really too dull?) up against an Irish M. Bison and his dastardly property development scheme. It’s every bit as bad as it sounds. Chuck in some appalling special effects (particularly the Spinning Bird Kick) add a cringeworthy sub plot with Chris Klein (who DOES get to be an Interpol agent) and throw in fleeting references to Ryu and the forthcoming tournament after she kills all the bosses – seriously, she actually snaps Bison’s neck – and that’s the supposed “Legend” of one of the greatest women in gaming history. Utter nonsense.

Chun-Li_animated_movie

Chun Li is unimpressed with these live action Street Fighter movies

Thankfully Chun Li has been better represented through anime. Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie stayed faithful to her original back story and teamed her up with Guile, which made sense as he shared her vendetta against Bison following the murder of his war buddy Charlie. Despite the cheap effort at fan service in a gratuitously long shower scene, the movie does a far better portrayal of her character and is one of the better adaptations of the game. She also appears in the Alpha series, set prior to the events of World Warrior, and her sixteen year old self features as one of the main protagonists in the Street Fighter II V series, along with her teenage buddies Ken and Ryu. While not strictly canon – this time she’s a tour guide as well as a martial arts student – it’s still an entertaining series and she’s fun to watch, particularly when she’s being chastised during training for booting her opponent in the nads.

Chun Li kick

What was great about Chun Li was that she was all things to all players – she had a serious mission, was tough as any other fighter but was still ultimately likable. She managed to be feminine without being overly girly and took her lumps in battle as one of the guys. Nobody has since managed to take her crown, not Ryu’s fangirl Sakura or Cammy, the brainwashed blonde with her swimsuit permanently wedged up her backside. Twenty years later and there’s no question, she’s still the strongest woman in the world.

Here’s  something I’ve been meaning to dig out for a while now – a series on Game Heroines I wrote for the (sadly defunct) Pixel Nation magazine. I’ll be posting the rest piece by piece over the next week or something (I don’t do too well with self-imposed schedules!) So here’s the intro and the articles on Chun Li and Tifa will follow shortly-ish. The original article on Lara Croft that was the basis for this series is already on the blog. I’ve also got a second batch that includes Samus Aran, the Williams sisters from Tekken and some other round-ups of classic characters.

I might do more of these in the future if I feel inspired – suggestions are more than welcome! Also I’ll be returning to The Femshep Experiment (yeah, it’s been a while!) and looking at one of my favourite characters in the series, Thane Krios.

“Confessions of a Girl Gamer” (originally written for Pixel Nation, 2012)

I’ve been a gamer all my life. From platformers and arcade shoot ’em ups to text adventures on the BBC Micro (“It’s okay” I’d tell my teachers, “It’s educational”) I was into anything and everything. It took me a while to realise that I was actually a bit of a freak – video games had been declared “boy’s toys” and somehow I’d missed the memo. Most likely I was too busy racking up a high score on Galaxian to notice. The judgemental looks I got from boys, girls and grown-ups alike didn’t put me off but something else bothered me. Somewhere on my umpteenth effort to help Mario save the princess I started asking myself some questions. Why did the girls always need rescuing? Why didn’t they have their own adventures? Why couldn’t the princess save Mario for a change? After all, the Eighties had given us heroines in other media like She-Ra, Cheetara and Ripley (even if I wasn’t supposed to be watching Aliens at my age). Games were still in their relative infancy and it would take a little while to catch up.

Chun Li

One Friday afternoon on an after-school arcade trip with my Dad I tried out a new game, Street Fighter II. My world changed that day – imagine my delight when, lo and behold, I saw a girl on the character selection screen. After picking Chun Li my Dad gave me a few words of advice. “You’re not the strongest but you’ll be the fastest” he said. “Try to take them by surprise, give a few quick hits then get out of the way.” Wise words indeed as I won two fights in my first go. What a revelation! Not only did I have a new favourite game, it had a girl in it and she was awesome. Using my guerrilla tactics I found I could defeat almost anyone. I’ll never forget the baffled faces of teenage boys as a skinny nine year old in pigtails stepped up to the machine, nor will I forget the look of shock and humiliation after Chun Li and I had given them a right good thrashing.

Lara Croft artOther female characters came and went over the next few years but none of them made quite the same impact. Then along came Lara Croft – her face was everywhere you looked and she seemed to be enjoying A-list celebrity status despite the obvious drawback of not actually existing. Bizarre as the whole ‘Cult of Lara’ thing was it still put her game in my radar. Tomb Raider blew me away with its 3D worlds and I remember thinking that this was the future of gaming. While I still found the pin-up image to be tacky and a bit pathetic I made my peace by disassociating it with the in-game character. “You can keep the Lara who poses for calendars and sells Lucozade” I’d say. “My Lara goes treasure hunting and fights dinosaurs.”

Later in my teens, I fell in lTifa Lockheart artove with RPGs. I’d never realised that game worlds could be so richly detailed, not to mention the stories and the characters, many of whom were female. I’d seen a lot of cool girls do a lot of cool stuff but with games that weren’t exactly dialogue heavy there was only so much you could read into their personalities. RPGs delivered the goods in terms of stylised fight moves but you’d learn just as much about the characters off the battlefield. I’d even feel emotionally connected, seeing them through their highs and lows and relating elements of my own life to their abstract, often surreal experiences. The line between games and art was definitely blurring. Not being much of the ‘hearts and flowers’ type I’d feel more at home with the tomboyish characters and there was one who I particularly admired. She was down to earth, emotionally mature and showed strength and bravery that I found genuinely inspirational. Put it this way, whenever I’m renaming characters in Final Fantasy VII I always give my own name to Tifa Lockhart.

Times have changed and it took more than a few kick ass chicks and warrior maidens to break the mold, so here’s a tribute to some of the greatest. They may not be perfect (who is?) but their impact on the gaming world and beyond can’t be denied.

Why don’t we see many mother figures in video games? As someone who’s so interested in how female characters are portrayed in general I’m surprised this didn’t occur to me sooner. In this video, I attempt to account for their lack of presence up until this point and argue that it’s high time we saw some hero mums in gaming.

Of course, maybe it’s already happening and has escaped my notice. Know of any good examples of motherhood being represented in games? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear about them!

Here’s the link to that episode of Extra Credits I mentioned. I’ve been watching a lot of these guys lately and they’ve definitely given me food for thought on several game-related topics. Hopefully my video isn’t too much of a rip-off!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1qndga6SNU

It can be said without a shadow of a doubt that Lara Croft is the most recognisable female in the world of video games and also that there’s no character who divides opinions further. On one hand she’s hailed as a trailblazer for showcasing women playing an active role in games (as opposed to the traditional post of ‘kidnap fodder’) yet this is undermined by her portrayal as a virtual reality sex object through the marketing campaign that surrounded the original Tomb Raider. 13 years, 2 movies and 7 sequels later (8 if you count the anniversary reboot) the controversy continues, particularly among girl gamers.

Laras

Lara Croft was the brainchild of Toby Gard who worked as part of a miniscule developing team on the groundbreaking Tomb Raider game. Upon realising that his original protagonist – an archaeologist bloke with a hat and whip who recovers ancient artefacts from trap-filled environments – might have borne just the tiniest resemblance to a certain other fictional hero, Gard’s character underwent a complete overhaul including a change of gender. That’s right guys – that pixellated sweetheart you’ve known and loved all these years used to be a man. Awkward, I imagine, for anyone who owned a Lara Croft calendar in the nineties. Gard soon had a new design to present to the company; a ballsy, gun-toting South American woman named Laura Cruz. A few redrafts and a name change later and Tomb Raider had a fairly unconventional star for an action game – British, upper class and a lady of course. Lara Croft was conceptualised as a strong and fearless heroine; never losing composure under pressure especially when said pressure includes fighting packs of wolves, mutants or the odd T-Rex. Script writer Vicky Arnold gifted Lara with a marvellously dry wit, making her charisma as sharp and as deadly as her shooting skills. Tomb Raider was an instant hit on release with much of its success attributed to the popularity of its central character. This occurred during the height of the nineties ‘girl power’ craze which may well have contributed to Lara Croft – a tough independent woman in a man’s world – rocketing to stardom.

Despite being a pioneering figure in gaming Lara was not universally admired, in fact she was often despised outright. Many believed that Tomb Raider’s leading lady was famous for only one reason (well, a pair if we’re going to be more specific. Oh come on, you can only talk about her for so long before making a terrible boob pun). Legend has it that an accidental slip of the mouse during the design process left Lara Croft with her trademark gargantuan funbags, a mistake that the design team decided to stick with. After all, the concept was that of an exaggerated female form rather than an effort to emulate reality (“We couldn’t draw good humans” Toby Gard explains on the commentary for the Anniversary edition, one of several reasons why most of the enemies in Tomb Raider are animals). Having a heroine who was easy on the eyes certainly did the team no harm from a marketing perspective, particularly with a target demographic of teenage boys and young men. All of a sudden Lara was wearing a bikini and putting on her best come-and-get-it pose for posters and lad’s mags. This hardly enamoured her to a generation of girl gamers sick of seeing female characters playing submissive roles. Action heroine or not, Lara was marketed as eye-candy – created by men for men to play with. The anger geared at Croft’s portrayal was not exclusive to the female audience, demonstrated when Lara’s own creator left Core prior to the release of Tomb Raider II as an expression of his disgust with the way his character was being portrayed. Gard had taken a great deal of pride in pushing the boundaries with his powerful female lead but had to concede that he’d lost creative control. “I just wish that when she was taken out of my hands” he would later tell The Mirror “they hadn’t made her boobs so big”.

Lara2013

In addition Lara Croft has been portrayed by a number of human actresses and models over the years. Voice actors have been used throughout the game franchise and inevitably shape the character, with Judith Gibbons being particularly memorable as Lara in Tomb Raider II and III by emphasising Croft’s aristocratic graces. Official ‘Lara Croft models’ have been employed to appear at conventions and promotional events, arguably doing little more than bringing the wet dreams of teenage boys to life. Nell McAndrew infamously posed for Playboy while working as a Lara Croft model and was fired as a result, with Eidos Interactive ordering that the copies of the magazine featuring company logos and Tomb Raider references be withdrawn. However, the association was already in place and as Lara was being officially represented by McAndrew at the time she became tarred with the same brush. By the time the magazine was withdrawn the damage to Miss Croft’s reputation had already been done. Fortunately, Lara regained her credibility and on the big screen no less. The heroine was portrayed in both Tomb Raider movies by Angelina Jolie, who proudly stated in interviews that she had performed her own stunts. In doing this she captured the spirit of Lara Croft – brave, bold and with an insatiable thirst for action.

As with any adaptation, changes were made that were not always favourable to fans of the source material. Lara’s back story was rewritten from the original game manual for the film adaptations in a way that arguably stifled her independent nature. In the first Tomb Raider games Lara has been disowned by her wealthy family for her choice of lifestyle and survives by writing about her adventures. The films claim instead that she becomes an archaeologist to follow in her father’s footsteps and she craves nothing more than to be able to make up for the time that they lost due to his untimely death. While this certainly adds an emotional angle to Lara’s character it is debatable whether this is necessary to an action hero, plus ‘daddy’s girl’ Lara can prove slightly nauseating. Croft Manor is also populated in the films with a supporting cast of tech boys as opposed to the early games where Lara lives alone save for a decrepit old butler (who served no purpose except for the fact that the player could lock him in cupboards for a laugh). Again this diminishes the lone wolf persona that helped make the character so appealing in the first place. These story elements have since made their way into the Tomb Raider canon where efforts have been made to gradually sculpt a more realistic in-game character, physically as well as emotionally. However, much of Lara’s attire remains skimpy as ever and so the debate over whether any self respecting action heroine would go adventuring with quite so much flesh on display continues.

Lara Croft has undeniably been a virtual reality pop culture icon for over a decade now. She’s a role model to some, a polygon rendered bimbo to others and a little bit of both in the eyes of many. It looks like as long as she’s raiding tombs in hotpants, the jury is still out on this one.

Originally posted on The 405, 8th November 2009