June 11, 2007

Characters Done Right: Goombella of Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

Filed under:Characters Done Right, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 8:43 am

I’m currently playing the first GameCube game I’ve ever purchased, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, and I love it. Don’t get me wrong, the game isn’t a bastion of progressiveness: there’s a sentient computer “in love” with Peach that watches her shower and every other word out of a character’s mouth is “craziness” and “this is LAME!” But, most of Mario’s party members are female, and my favorite is the first to join, Goombella. Plus, fighting on stage is really fun.

goombella from paper mario and the thousand year door

Goombella holds a soft spot for me because she’s a smart, feminine university student (in the sciences, too!) and that knows everything about everyone. She gives Mario clues when you’re stuck on the game, and is just as tough as any character in battle. Goombella by no means a sexualized character yet is proud of her cuteness, but it’s her brains that ultimately get her and Mario through the game.

Unfortunately, Goombella doesn’t seem to care much for female solidarity: she calls another party member Floozie and says that she’s way cuter than Vivian, another woman who joins your group. Still, she’s a fun and lovable character that sets the tone right off in a game that is turning out to be a lot better than I thought it would.


June 10, 2007

Characters Done Right: Midna, a feminist hero

Filed under:Characters Done Right, Legend of Zelda Series, Videogames, Wii — Lake Desire @ 9:56 am

I complain enough about videogames. (I’m finally spelling that word without the space.) I think it’s about time I talk more about those characters who are done right: from heroes I really want to be to little nuggets of delight that jump out of a game I’d never expect to find them in.

midna feminist hero legend of zelda: twilight princess

The first subject of my praise is Midna from Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Midna, servant of Zelda and later revealed to be the ruler of the banished Twilight Realm, meets Link when she rescues him after he’s been transformed into a wolf. Midna becomes Link’s guide and friend, and he ends up serving her through much of the game (while he’s also helping other powerful women like Zelda, the Zora queen, Telma the Barkeep, and the goddess).

Midna is an example of how a princess-in-peril can work as a plotline while that princess is the biggest player, the most active agent, of all parties involved. She’s not an invisible force in a tower somewhere, she’s with Link on her entire journey and the player utilizes her own powers as much as she uses Link’s.

Twilight Princess overall has really stepped up characterization from the old Zelda games, so I found Link rather likable in this title, but I easily saw the story through Midna’s eyes. I felt like I was her, on the back of her trusty wolf-Link mount. Midna is feminine but not sexualized, petite and imp-like but still a woman. She’s smart, cheeky, and initially is ambiguously motivated.

Midna is so important that she’s the game’s namesake, the Twilight Princess; the game is about her, and she’s definitely worthy of the spotlight. I predict that Midna is going to become the descendent of Beyond Good and Evil’s protagonist Jade as an iconic feminist videogame hero. When folks as me for game recommendations with strong women, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is going to be the first out of my mouth.