It's no secret to us that GamesRadar is frequently seen as taking an objectifying stance toward women in videogames. However, the truth of the matter is that we greatly love and admire our digital heroines, no matter how sensibly dressed they might be. Tough, capable women in strong roles are something games definitely need more of, and we applaud when those characters are done right.
These, unfortunately, are not those characters. These are the women whose very presence, for a variety of reasons, annoyed the shit out of us. Maybe they were a useless kidnap-bait albatross around our necks, or maybe they just made a point of getting on our case until their voices sounded like panes of glass being shattered against a chalkboard. Whatever their problems, we'd sort of prefer to never have to hang out with these ladies ever again.
Annoyed us in: Mass Effect (360/PC, 2007)
When you first meet Ashley Williams, the horrific slaughter she's just survived will instantly win her your sympathy. That sympathy, however, will slowly erode over the next few hours, as she proves herself to be irritable, suspicious and embarrassingly xenophobic around all your cool new alien buddies. It's sort of like having Michelle Rodriguez's character from Lost following you around all the damn time, what with the getting in people's faces and angrily jumping to conclusions.
Some of the annoyance is offset by the fact that you can carry on a (tacked-on, plot-irrelevant) romance with her, and that you don't even have to keep her in your party for it to play out. But even assuming you want your character to have PG-13 space-intercourse with this irksome henchwoman, the fact remains that it's not easy to like someone who's dedicated herself to the idea that - with all these awesome new aliens to make friends with - humans should only hang out with other humans. That's just boring.
Above: Keep doing what you do best, Ashley: standing around looking annoyed
Oh, and as others have previously observed, she has the same name as the hero from the Evil Dead movies. Yeah, think about that while you carry on your imaginary dialogue-tree romance.
Annoyed us in: Mickey Mousecapade (NES, 1988)
If you've ever gotten mad at a useless sidekick you were supposed to be protecting, now you know who to blame. Twenty years ago, Minnie Mouse set the template for all the irritating hangers-on to come by following Mickey everywhere, being mostly useless (until you found the power-up that enabled her to toss throwing stars, anyway) and easily confounded by ladders, with a tendency to fall off and get stuck until you directed her back up. She'd also have to be taken into account when making a jump over one of the game's many bottomless pits. If Mickey made it and she didn't, both mice would die.
Above: Get ready to see this all the time. Thanks, Minnie
Apart from doggedly following Mickey and mimicking his every movement, Minnie had one other talent: getting kidnapped. Every so often, you'd find a hidden "bonus" that resulted in Minnie getting carried off by some flying thing. When that happened, you'd have to find a secret panel (by throwing ninja stars until they clinked against something) that led to a room full of golden statues. Touch the right one, and you'd get Minnie back. Touch the wrong one, and you'd have to hunt for another secret panel. Not that we were in any hurry to get her back; losing her immediately made the game feel less constricting. In an age of gaming when there were few female protagonists, Minnie stands out as one of the few who was actually better off as a damsel in distress. How sad is that?
Annoyed us in: Resident Evil 4 (GC/PS2/PC/Wii, 2005)
Rescuing the president's daughter is the only reason that Leon S. Kennedy has braved the instant-death nightmare that is Resident Evil 4 - but once he meets her, you might decide it was a wasted effort. Weak and defenseless, Ashley isn't totally useless - unlike some of the other sidekicks on this list, she'll follow orders and stay out of your way - but she's mostly useless, and mostly useless isn't much fun to defend when creepy kidnappers show up and try to carry it away every few seconds.
Above: Ashley in a rare moment of semi-helpfulness
All this might be excusable if Ashley was at least resourceful, but no - she cowers when she should run, she runs when she should stay behind Leon and she all too often falls victim to her former kidnappers' attempts to murder her. Even the not-brief-enough sequence in which you play as her is spent mostly barging around with a flashlight and bumping into things. Trying to keep her safe when she herself makes it so difficult builds up a lot of ill will, so it's no real surprise that things like this exist:
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