?In the immortal words of that kid from Kindergarten Cop, boys have a penis, girls have a vagina. Even in the fantastical world of videogames this is a universal truth, though much more so for the girls of the digital world than the boys. After all, male videogame protagonists can look like… well, just about anything. But the female of the species — whether human, demon, alien, robot, or whatever — has always needed the proper curves, nooks and crannies to provide a bit of sex appeal, pander to the lonely teenage nerd demographics and boost the game’s sales.
Once in a while, however, some videogames would occasionally call for one of their ladies to exercise a bit of discretion when it comes to letting the players know of their true gender identity. It could be part of the plot, it could be just to surprise the players, or it could be to prevent fanfic writers from writing filthy, filthy FFF about them (not that this has ever worked, unfortunately). Whatever the reason, sometimes game character designers have hidden their female characters’ femininity — and hidden it a little too well, resulting in shock, perhaps a bit of sexual confusion, and the following eight characters.
8) King, King of Fighters
?King started life as the waiter-slash-bouncer to the Art of Fighting series’ secondary antagonist, Mr. Big. As the series progressed, this Muay Thai brawler’s role shifted in gradual steps from villain to ally to Robert and Ryo, primary protagonists of the series, as well as the rest of the Sakazaki clan. Nowadays we could find her chillin’ with Yuri and Mai of the female team in the King of Fighters games, which was a huge step forward considering how she was presented in her debut.
Nothing in her first game’s battle stance, special moves, and even defeated sprite animation indicated that King was a woman underneath that waiter garb she sported all the time. In fact, the only time the player can discover that “dude” was a woman was if they K.O-ed her with a super move at the end of the final Round. With the proper timing, her top would be ripped to shreds to reveal a pink bra underneath, all the evidence needed to prove that “he” was indeed a “she.”
7) Black Baron/Penelope, Sly Cooper
?Black Baron was an ace player in one of the most dangerous sports in the Sly Cooper universe: league-sponsored aerial dog-fighting. This pilot was the reigning, undisputed champion of the ACES tournament that was held yearly in Holland, which also happened to be started and organized by this “man” with the epic mustache. The Baron also happened to be the persona of Penelope, the Cooper gang’s gadgeteer and team support.
Penelope created the disguise, complete with the mustache, as a way to get around the league’s age restrictions. Her skills with machines contributed to the creation of the Baron’s signature gunship blimp that practically destroyed every single contender’s bid for victory… that is, until Sly was proven to be the more cunning of the two, and ended the Baron’s reign in the ACES tournament by unmasking her.
6) Silhouette, Destroy All Humans
?Silhouette was the leader of the secret organization “Majestic,” operating behind the shadows of the United States, that was bent on conquering the world at all cost, including performing horrific experiments on aliens that crash-landed on Earth in order to harvest their knowledge and technology. She was as smart and as lethal as they come, going so far as to manipulating President Huffman and, by extension, the United States government to further the Majestic’s goals of World Domination. She crossed the line when she tortured Crypto 136 to death via implied mutilation and thus earning the wrath of the protagonist, his brother.
There was no telling if Silhouette was truly a patriot as she mentioned to be during the final confrontation or merely a deluded psychopath. Her reason to conceal her identity (which she cryptically hinted she had to do “to put up with politicians playing grab-ass all day long”) agreed with the former, while her actions and ruthless disposition leaned closer to the latter. Still, whatever her true psyche and name might be, this is one woman to be feared both in and out of her disguise.
5) Vandal/Karrie Norton, Dead Space iOS
?Vandal came to the Titan Station under orders from the Church of Unitology to vandalize (hence the codename) mining equipments on The Sprawl. Little did she know that the Church was planning on converting the resulting trapped individuals into Necromorphs. Little did they know that they were about to unleash a woman’s wrath.
Much like Silhouette, Karrie sported a voice changing device in her gear, thus deceiving both the players and other individuals she encountered in-game. Her identity was not revealed until after the very last boss fight, where she was gravely injured and left a warning along with an S.O.S to anyone who might traverse the place after her. It’s a shame that her fate remained unknown at the end of the game, as all that’s left of her during the final shot was her helmet and a trail of blood.
4) Samus Aran, Metroid
?It’s hard to believe today that Samus’ real identity was as shocking as it was difficult to discover. When she first debuted in Metroid in 1986, her Power Suit concealed just about any indication that this was indeed a woman braving through the perils of the planet Zebes. The misleading manual descriptions certainly didn’t help, and even after achieving the fastest time needed to complete the game and reveal what was underneath her helmet, there were many players who could not believe that Samus was a woman.
Today, the knowledge of “Samus is a Girl” is standard knowledge for videogame nerds everywhere. Lest they forget, Nintendo would be happy to remind them by providing her with the Zero Suit attire option in every iteration of her game, as well as in any guest star appearances she might be making. Still, the moment of her unmasking was a classic moment in videogame history, and it remained true today as it was in 1986.
3) Hooktail, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
?With her fearsome guise, it might be easy to mistake her for a male. Even one character proclaimed that “he” swallowed the poor victim like “he” did with so many others who tried to challenge “him.” The plot, however, revealed otherwise and presented to us this ruler of the castle named after herself as a natural born lady.
As the first real boss of the game, Hooktail was vicious and unforgiving to any player that challenged her unprepared. Even better, she was the easiest of the dragon trio of bosses, with her sister Gloomtail placing in second and their (presumably older) brother Bonetail placing at first. Still, with enough preparation on the player’s part, the wrath of a dragon is still no match to that of a plumber’s.
2) Justice, Guilty Gear
?As a Command Gear and a Final Boss for the first game of the series, Justice came with an arsenal of special and super moves that would make short work of the players if they didn’t know how to deal with her. As a character, Justice brought debate among series fans as to the true identity behind that mask. Fans even debated whether or not it was a mask that she was sporting, and whether or not it was actually a robot instead of a man or a woman.
Series creator Daisuke Ishiwatari intervened and finally brought the debates to rest by stating that Justice was indeed a woman. Successive tie-ins in the form of novels and drama CD even stated that she was most likely the mother of Dizzy, another female boss character, and was even strongly hinted to be Aria, love interest of main protagonist Sol Badguy that he presumed was deceased. Whatever Justice’s real identity may be, there was no doubt that she had the players fooled big time.
1) Anima, Final Fantasy X
?Anima first appeared before the players as an enemy Aeon in battle, but could be optionally obtained by the players later in the game. As an enemy summoned during the battle with Maester Seymour Guado, Anima would wreck the player’s party with its Pain and Oblivion attacks that dealt damage clocking in on the high four digits if they had came unprepared. As an added bonus, her fearsome visage was more than enough to strike fear into the heart of first-time players to make them realized that they were technically fighting against an old woman.
The story behind Anima’s identity tied directly with Seymour himself, a half-breed that resulted from a marriage between a Guado and a human woman to promote peace between the races, and ended up with unrest and banishment of mother and child. Believing that it would bring acceptance for her son, Seymour’s mother sacrificed her life to the summoner Yunalesca to be transformed into his personal summon, the Aeon “Anima.” Little did she know that it only fueled her child’s hatred for the world, and gave us the players the most frightening personification of a mother’s love.