These games wouldn't be the same without the female-led narratives at the heart of each one.
For every iconic female protagonist like Lara Croft or Samus Aran, there's an underappreciated heroine (or villainess) that deserves recognition. Women are getting more and more representation in gaming, but we've got to look back and appreciate some of those that didn't get the recognition they deserve the first time around.
With that in mind, it's time we give them the praise they deserve as part of our celebration of Women's History Month. Here are a few of our favorite women who understood the assignment, so to speak, and moved each game along in ways that only they could.
Chrono Trigger (Lucca)
Lucca was one of the formative influences on me as a girl. She's one of the first female video game characters I remember that was valued for her intelligence instead of her brawn or sex appeal. It's her invention, the Telepod, interacting with Marle's pendant that serves as the catalyst that makes time travel possible. She makes the Gate Key that's used to open time portals throughout the game and rescues Crono from Guardia Castle after he's imprisoned.
Without Lucca, time would have continued as usual, and the world would have been doomed to fall to Lavos in 1999 AD. She was also a major behind-the-scenes player in Chrono Cross as she served as Kid's surrogate mother. It seems like Lucca is rarely highlighted as an iconic female video game character these days, but she'll always be near the top of my personal list.
Mischief Makers (Marina Liteyears)
Mischief Makers is a cult classic that was overlooked when it was first released on N64 because it was a 2D game in an era where 3D was the new hotness. Marina is a sassy joy, and at the time the game was released, there were woefully few female characters in platformers.
Marina stuck with me over the years because of how quirky Mischief Makers is and her anime aesthetic. In a time when anime fever was just a tiny flame in the US, playing as an adorable shoujo girl robot was a special experience.
Metal Gear Solid (Mei Ling)
Metal Gear Solid is full of overachieving women, but Mei Ling just doesn't get enough love. For one, she was the only one that bothered to check if "Master Miller" was actually who he said he was. She backed up Snake and Otacon throughout the series and is one of the reasons they had the materials and info to fight against the proliferation of Metal Gear technology.
Mei Ling's finest moment comes in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. By this point, she's captain of the USS Missouri, which plays a key role in fighting Liquid Ocelot aboard Outer Haven. She's a fantastic Asian American female role model, and I love her.