There has been a ton of discussion in main stream media, blogs, social media, and forums over having more female characters taking the lead in video games or at least having female characters who aren’t your stereotypical “the girl needs saving by a strong, buff male” type. When games then try to spruce up classic video game characters from established franchises to breathe new life into them and to get with the times, then you have every reason to get excited about the possibilities and potential to have female characters who aren’t just there for the male character to save or end up with by the end of the game. This is why catching a glimpse of Princess Zelda in action for the upcoming game for the Wii U in Hyrule Warriors, as a princess who can take care of herself and fight as well as Link, is an exciting and refreshing thing to see for a video game.
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never played much of the Legend of Zelda games. More like I haven’t really played any of them. If you’ve been following my blog or writing in general when I talk about video games, I’m a latecomer to gaming in general. My roster and experience with games isn’t much, but I’m catching up here and there. I’m getting my hands on games I should play and I do have a few Zelda games in my backlog of games to play at some point. What I lack in terms of gaming experience with classic franchises, I make up in what I do know about the characters or formula for those games, thanks in part to always being surrounded by friends and family who have been long time gamers.
I always knew the Zelda formula is the same as the Mario formula––main playable character is a male who has to fight his way to save the princess. There’s barely any difference between each new game that comes out for each established and well-known franchise. Maybe sometimes the princess may offer some sort of help or support for the main character, but the princess characters (or any female character in general) largely stands on the sidelines as the male protagonist gets to handle all the dirty work and have the most fun. This formula tends to get old and stale pretty quickly.
When a trailer for Hyrule Warriors was recently released showing Princess Zelda as a playable character doing some serious damage in the game, without the help of Link, my first reaction was, “OH MY GOD! I WANT THIS GAME!” I don’t even have a Wii U, but the release of this game along with some other new ones coming out for the console is making a really strong case for me to finally consider a purchase of one soon.
I’ve always been drawn to games that give you the option to play as a female or a game where the female has a prominent role in the story. Strong, confident, and independent women who are far more than just a pretty face is much more interesting to me than the bland, helpless female whose only role is to play the damsel in distress and look pretty. The fact that Zelda finally has a turn at becoming a force to be reckoned with in battle and can still be a princess while doing it is exactly what more games need––women who don’t always need a man to fight her battles. My kingdom is under attack? Send me out into battle and let me fight and defend it to the death. Why wait for Link to do it?
More information is coming out about other playable characters for Hyrule Warriors and they’re largely female, which is worth noting. If companies like Nintendo are starting to see the value of having female characters that weren’t playable before or didn’t have a chance to shine in games, it’s a good step in the right direction.
There are plenty of female gamers out there now and it’s time we have better female characters in games who aren’t playing into the same old stereotypes. It also sends a positive message for younger and future generations of gamers that says every female, princess or not, is capable of doing anything just as well as a guy can. Do I need to be saved? No, I can save myself while doing it in style. Actually, let Zelda save Link for a change. That’s a game I’ll sign up and play.