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The Top 7… Tasteful game heroines

1 – Samus Aran | Metroid

Before Lara Croft, before Alyx Vance, before there was even an argument about women in games, Samus Aran was in deep space blasting aliens into bloody stumps. She’s the most feared and respected bounty hunter in the galaxy and remains one of Nintendo’s most popular and bankable stars.


Above: Though she shows a lot of skin 

When Samus first appeared in the original Metroid, players assumed the person inside the yellow armor was a man, just like every other character on the platform. Eventually, word of mouth spread that a secret ending (and cheaty passwords) revealed Samus as woman, instantly propelling her to the top of a very short list. Even though she loses her clothes as a reward for excellent playing, her in-game persona is all business, suggesting a girl who works tirelessly but still knows how to kick back.


Above: Samus’s various end-of-game depictions, plus the blue Zero Suit 

For a sense of scale, consider how long Samus has survived when compared to everyone else on this list. Five of the other girls are from the past eight years. Aya Brea goes as far back as 1998. Samus, on the other hand, has been at the forefront since 1986 – that’s 23 years of consistent ass kicking.

Most heroic moment: Every game ends with Samus saving the day, but our favorite single moment happens at the end of the criminally obscure Metroid II. After killing the Metroid queen, Samus closes in to finish off the final larva and rid the universe of Metroids altogether. For whatever reason, the sight of the baby blood sucker is too much, and Samus lets it live. Believing Samus to be its mother, the baby Metroid lovingly clings to Samus as she escapes the planet.

If you don’t know the ramifications of this act, we won’t spoil the surprise. Just know that it leads to the best moment of Super Metroid (and therefore one of the greatest gaming moments of all time), and affects the rest of the series from here on out.

We didn’t come to this conclusion lightly. Four other heroines embody the best of videogame girls, and if we had chosen three years ago to do Top 11s instead of Top 7s, they’d be here for sure.


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61 comments

  • ThundaGawd - January 17, 2011 6:50 a.m.

    Agree with the list, but shouldn't Sheva from RE5 be in the honorable mentions as well? (True, the superiorly awesome Jill Valentine is already mentioned, but Sheva knew how to get sh*t done nonetheless) also, Shannah and Rose from Legend of Dragoon should get mentions. Shannah is born as the "moon child" which makes her the key to resurrecting the god of destruction who would then cause the apocalypse. While as Rose is over 10,000 years old, having fought and survived the first war between humans and winglies, then being forced to kill thousands of innocent people in order to hunt down and kill the equally innocent "moon Child" every 400 or so years in order to prevent the apocalypse.
  • MyriamD - January 5, 2011 8:25 p.m.

    If they rebooted the article, I'd want shout outs to the recent Lucy and Rebecca from Assassin's Creed (always dressed modestly, always both compassionate and badass), and actually, you know what? The wholesome nature of games like Harvest Moon makes for a lot of pretty cool girls, too. The whole series should get a "good job" head pat.
  • PatHan-bHai - February 23, 2013 11:22 a.m.

    yep...there are no boobs in Harvest Moon
  • mistervirtue - December 24, 2010 6:19 a.m.

    Sheva from RE5 was totally tasteful ingame.
  • guiarherodrummer1998 - November 28, 2010 3:36 p.m.

    where's Echo Tesla from the newest Guitar Hero?
  • sdmitch16 - August 21, 2010 8:35 p.m.

    Funny they called Samus the most tasteful female in gaming. Another site said before Zero Suit appeared in games, it was just like playing as a guy and had no effect thoughts of women. Then with ZS she was just another vixen. She's esp. sexual in SSBB.
  • Cosmis - August 20, 2010 5:29 p.m.

    I don't think it's a coincidence that so many Valve heroines made this list.
  • mrmorozov987 - July 8, 2010 6:04 p.m.

    Elena and Chell, yes!
  • pandasrock - December 21, 2009 9:11 p.m.

    to be honest i prefer bill then louis then zoey then francis
  • guiarherodrummer1998 - December 16, 2009 2:17 a.m.

    Having a girl as a heroine in a game is a great idea! It attracts men because, well, its simple. Man sees woman and goes "Ooh!" It's basic domestic logic.
  • PinkHairSasuke - December 11, 2009 12:33 a.m.

    Once I clicked on this I was thinking to myself, "Samus better be on here." Then there she is as #1! I agree that she should be #1 on the list.
  • Spritle101 - November 23, 2009 4:03 a.m.

    I agree with Hamsfork at Kotaku; the first one of Faith looks like a Japanese man with a stuffed bra. The wider eyes & larger breasts make the character look significantly more feminine. (I'm a girl, & if I say she looks like a dude, I mean it).
  • MyGameName - November 22, 2009 6:35 a.m.

    Of course, the manual of Metroid refered to Samus as "he".
  • soren7550 - November 21, 2009 2:43 a.m.

    Where the hell is Joanna Dark? She's so much better than everyone else on this list!
  • bugmenot - November 15, 2009 11:30 p.m.

    this list needs more april ryan.
  • allthegoodnameswheretaken - November 14, 2009 9:54 a.m.

    I miss the NOLF games =(
  • usmovers_02 - November 13, 2009 9:17 p.m.

    What about Liara T'soni? She is SO the sexiest alien in Mass Effect and she doesn't even try. All she does is act intelligently and do what she can to do some good in the world. No slutty aliens here.
  • GameManiac - November 13, 2009 3:10 a.m.

    I KNEW it! I knew that Samus was going to be #1 the INSTANT I clicked to see this article! And was there REALL any doubt?
  • galogen - November 12, 2009 8:36 a.m.

    Who is the woman on picture on the right of Lara? I didn't see that game before.
  • pikachu2000 - November 11, 2009 11:44 p.m.

    You know what they all say: Sex Sells. Video games are an escape from reality and having a girl with curves, a chubby appearence, and scars will most defintly not fit the company's bottom line. There is a reason why we don't see too many "real normal" girls in games: They are very boring compare to the sexy ladies dominating the gaming world.

Showing 1-20 of 61 comments

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