The Pathetic Princess

Because the name of the blog is ‘Not Peach’ I figured that my first post should be about why.

I want to start out acknowledging that yes, Peach has a game where she is the hero.  It is called “Super Princess Peach”, and is a DS game with reviews which average somewhere in the sevens or a high C.

super princess peach box art

Oh my, this isn't like baking a cake at all! I hope it isn't too hard.

In other words, it’s an average game for a wildly popular handheld console.   Unfortunately, the game is frustratingly easy and has Peach solving problems with various strong emotions.  Like crying.  The push forward for this character is to have her cry to solve her problems.  Rescuing Mario or not, Peach hasn’t changed.  It’s a girl game which patronizes its audience instead of trying to understand it.

But even still, why the Peach hate?  Zelda gets rescued often, as does a thousand other female characters.  It’s part of the culture of games. Though it is part of the culture of games, Peach isn’t the typical damsel in distress.  She is so much worse.  Empty headed, Peach can’t claim an original or intelligent thought.  She divides her time between, I assume, collecting pink items and making cake.  She is a digitized stereotype.  No, Mario isn’t all that complicated, but he is loyal, brave, and strong.  He doesn’t spend all day watching sports and porn like a male stereotype would place him as doing.  And what makes Peach worse is seeing some of her video game counterparts like Zelda.  Yes, Zelda has been rescued many many times.  But she is a figure we can respect because she is wise as well as beautiful, and when she helps Zelda, she does so in pants, though she’s pretending to be a guy.

Zelda Dressed as Sheik

Zelda, she's like one of those women during the civil war who wanted to fight so badly they dressed as men.

She’s a support character, yes, but not in distress.

I am not saying we should stop rescuing ‘the princess’.  It’s been used so many times because it works.  Rescuing a loved one is a strong emotional motivator for progressing or kick-starting a game.  If Kaidan Alenko, my video game crush, was in trouble, I’d certainly be motivated to stop at nothing to save him. (This is actually a mission in ME1 but I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t played.)  What I am advocating is to make those princesses into real characters or at least not mindless wimps.  Like in the game “Shadow Complex”, where the main character is following his girlfriend into a cave and goes to rescue her after discovering they’ve stumbled into some sort of underground facility or angry soldiers.

shadow complex cover

Fun and not degrading to women.

The girlfriend, Claire, takes charge and wants to explore.  Jason, the main character, follows to find that she’s been kidnapped for being there.  It isn’t her feminine empty-headedness that gets her kidnapped, and the roles could have easily been reversed had Jason gone first.  Her kidnap is the reason Jason can infiltrate to rescue her, it warns him of the danger.

Of course, I also want to see chicks rescuing guys.  Everyone loves a kick-ass lady protagonist, and it’s not only women who get kidnapped or get in trouble.  The story needs to change, evolve if you will, but not necessarily get discarded.

Further reading here

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