Fortunately, developers have been better about incorporating female leads into video games. However, not all have achieved the popularity of Lara Croft or Bayonetta.
With this list, I wanted to highlight some of gaming's most forgotten female leads. Although they might not be as rememberable as others, they all played their part in making women more prominent in gaming.
Image source: PlayStation.com
Laura (D, Enemy Zero, & D2)
Laura was actually created by the late Kenji Eno to be gaming's first digital actress. Eno's concept was to have Laura appear in each of his games, but always playing a different character.
In D, Laura played the role of Laura Harris. She's a college student who is called upon by the police to assist with her father, the director of a local hospital, who has gone insane, killing numerous patients and members of staff. Through a series of mysterious events, the game has the player exploring a dark castle to uncover the mystery of D.
The Sega Saturn follow-up, Enemy Zero, has Laura taking on the role of Laura Lewis, a crew member of the space ship AKI. Borrowing a little too heavily from Alien, Eno's sci-fi survival horror has Laura taking charge as she blows away invisible alien beings with her very slow charging gun.
Laura's final role was in D2 for the Dreamcast. Here, she plays Laura Parton, a survivor of a plane crash in the middle of the Canadian wilderness. Of course, things are not all they seem and, as with all Eno's games, things get weird really quickly.
It's unfortunate how Laura is not as well known being as she is the first, and only, of her kind. However, Eno's games have often had a somewhat niche audience. Regardless, Laura is a big part of, not only gaming history, but a huge leap for the female video game protagonist.
Image source: Retroware TV
Nilin (Remember Me)
In a recent article, I cited Remember Me as an ironically often forgotten video game title. Unfortunately, the same can be said about its protagonist, Nilin, the skillful and tough memory hunter.
During the events of Remember Me, Nilin is on a search to regain her lost memories. She joins up with the Errorists, an underground group of individuals who are opposed to the artificial creation of memories known as Sensen technology.
When the game was released, the character of Nilin was praised for being an interesting and original character. The game's creative director, Jean-Maxime Moris, strived to create a character that was not heavily over-sexualized or stereotypical.
Although Remember Me was not a commercial success, there is a possibility we might see Nilin again. Fingers crossed!
Image source: Cram Gaming
Sarah Bryant (Virtua Fighter series)
To be honest, it is hard for female characters to remain prevalent in fighting games. There are so many series with a lot of characters looking remarkably similar.
Sarah Bryant is the perfect example of the forgotten female fighter. Not only did the Virtua Fighter series itself take a hit against the likes of powerhouses such as Tekken and Street Fighter, but its tough brawlers are often mostly forgotten.
Unfortunately, Sarah never could compete with the popularity of other badass female fighters. However, Sarah as one of the first 3-D fighters ever created along with the other Virtua Fighter cast.
However, Tekken ultimately managed to reign supreme over Virtua Fighter, leaving Sarah to be forgotten unlike her look-alike Nina Williams.
It's okay, Sarah! We remember you!
Image source: Giant Bomb
Vanessa Z. Schneider (P.N.03)
A GameCube exclusive, P.N.03, was Capcom's answer for a unique third-person sci-fi shooter starring the sexy, rhythmic mercenary, Vanessa Z. Schneider. Despite being helmed by Shinji Mikami, the game was a huge commercial failure.
The player controlled Vanessa as she stylishly defeated rogue robots with enhanced attacks from her Aegis suit. If you think that sounds familiar, then you're right. With P.N.03 being failure, Mikami actually reused ideas from this game for the third-person action shooter, Vanquish.
Although Vanessa may not have gotten her chance to really shine, it's clear that she served as a source of inspiration. Bayonetta may have even taken some cues from her!
Image source: Game Pop Up
Aya Brea (Parasite Eve series)
Designed by legendary design, Tetsuya Nomura, Aya Brea might be the more well-known female on this list. She's a strong, yet sensible New York City police officer who has some very interesting DNA.
Although Aya is often over-sexualized in the series, especially the recent entry 3rd Birthday in which her clothes tear away through incurred battle damage, she is still one of the more intelligent and strong female protagonists.
Often characters, such as Aya, are criticized for being nothing more than eye candy for gamers. However, the girl is tough. Aya has taken down her numerous share of mutated monstrosities and just happened to look good while doing it.
You go, Aya!
Image source: Game Informer
Honorable Mention: Shantae (Shantae)
The cute half-genie, Shantae, is the star of her own platforming series. Although not as popular as Mario or her other platforming buddies, Shantae does have a unique style all her own.
Although she is somewhat naive, Shantae can take out enemies with just a whip of her awesome ponytail.
Hey, Nathan Drake can't do that.
Do you have any favorite forgotten female characters? If so, feel free to leave a comment!
Image source: iDigitalTimes