The era: Mid-to-late '90s
The games: Tekken, Battle Arena Tohshinden, Heavy Metal: Geomatrix, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil
The babes: Nina Williams, Sofia, Slash, Lara Croft, Jill Valentine
Stage in evolution: Almost back to a 2600-era level of ugly ambiguity. Polygons and 3D tech finally brought us fully-realized lady shapes, but they looked so, so strange. The first few tries gave us the broad-shouldered Sofia and monstrously misshapen Slash, plus the grotesque Nina Williams. Yes, they were clearly girls and guy gamers, afraid to look uncool by playing old sprite-based games in the '90s, fawned over Nina despite the fact that her jagged chest was sharp enough to pierce Wolverine's adamantium skeleton.
But, as the tech grew, so did the mistresses of gaming. Jill Valentine emerged as perhaps the most sensible design of the period, being both tough and sexy without shedding her clothes at the first sign of trouble. Rough around the polygonal edges, sure, but feminine enough to make fanboys latch on for years to come - same goes for Rinoa from Final Fantasy VIII. And then some Lara Croft girl came along and proved that every girl needs a back-breaking rack to succeed.
What these games taught us: Girls are frightening creatures composed of geometric nightmares. But they've got boobs, so it's not all bad.