Glorious Girls of Gaming – Princess Zelda 

  

By Joshie Jaxon

Princess Zelda, much like Princess Peach has been around since the early days of the NES. Also like Peach, she was the damsel who needed to be rescued during her franchise’s inaugural adventure. Not to mention she was originally a brunette, or maybe a redhead, sprites are hard to identify. However, the similarities to Peach end there. We’re gonna explore how this princess took her destiny in her own hands. Let the geeks begin! 

As anyone who played the original Legend of Zelda back in the day will tell you, there’s no real plot to the game itself. Without reading the manual, all you know about the game is that you’re a tiny green guy destroying monsters. Now, it’s true, you could watch the small opening credit if you let the title screen sit for a while, but without it, you don’t really have a clue that there’s a princess that needs rescuing. We’ll excuse any shortcomings of NES era gaming, as the games themselves were some of the best ever made, launching several enduring series. However, Zelda was an eight-bit character back then. Get it? Moving on. She spent all of the Adventure of Link asleep in the starting castle. Since Link doesn’t swing that way, I’m guessing the thought to kiss her never crossed his mind. As such, Zelda was a damsel in distress for her second outing, while Peach had been given temporary playable character status in hers. Don’t worry, Zelda is about to take the lead. 

  

While she did have a better role than damsel in Link to the Past, it was Ocarina of Time that really allowed us to get to know Zelda and see her shine. Young Princess Zelda was suspicious of Ganondorf, and asked Link to look into it, teaching him her lullaby. However, just as kid Link returned from his initial quest, he gets to watch Impa ride off with Zelda as Ganon pursued them. She did manage to share her titular Ocarina on her way out of town. Link seizes the Master Sword and gets transported to the future, and learns of Ganon’s reign. The mysterious Sheik tells the young hero that Zelda is safe, but in hiding. At each dungeon/temple, Sheik uses his harp to teach Link a new song, and offer him information. Even as a teen, I wondered if they were going to show signs of a possible same sex attraction, but alas, Sheik was merely Zelda’s drag king persona; which confused the hell out of Link’s master sword, if you know what I’m saying. Anyhow, Zelda shows that she has the power of the Triforce of Wisdom, and is captured by Ganon. Unlike a standard damsel rescue, once Link beats Ganon’s first form, Zelda says she’ll help against the second. Skilled with a bow, and able to use the power of light, she allows Link the use of light arrows, and channels her power to hold Ganon steady while Link delivers the final blow. In the final moments of the game she sends Link back so that he can still have a childhood. How sweet of her. 

  

Not really present in Majora’s Mask, Zelda did get to play a significant role in the events of the Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess. Once again we get a princess in disguise, in the form of Tetra. Tetra is a pirate, and takes Link on her ship in a quest to retrieve his sister. She loans him the use of her pirate stone, allowing him to communicate with her, and the King of Red Lions. Towards the end of Link’s quest, we discover that Tetra is actually Princess Zelda. Much like her incarnation in Ocarina, Tetra-Zelda has light powers, and is just as skilled with a bow. Once more, she assists Link, allowing him to stab Ganon in the head, turning him to stone. Can’t get her hands dirty, after all. Or can she? Twilight Zelda uses her power to heal a critically injured Midna, allowing Link to save not only his world but the Twilight Realm as well. Zelda reappears in the end, because let’s face it, these are her legends after all. 

  

Skyward Sword gave us our greatest version of Zelda yet. Hear me out. Not only has this Zelda known Link since childhood, she has her own purpose in the story, rather than just being a convenient plot point. While Link is going through the game trying to stop Ghirahim, Zelda is with Impa trying to prepare and purify herself to be a vessel for the goddess Hylia. She’s actively questing to do what she can to help save the world. She’s not captured. She’s not asleep. She’s not in drag, or an amnesiac. What’s Peach doing? Being taken, again, playing go-carts, sports, partying, etc. Zelda is working to become a freaking goddess. Even though Zelda isn’t the exact same person in each game, the developers have worked very hard to make her different and unique as time passes. The Mario series seems to go with, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. The Zelda series takes risks with each new entry. They even killed her off, technically, in Spirit Tracks. Even without a body of her own, Zelda is useful, and required to beat the game. That entry was actually her legend. She’s the co-star, not just the female lead. 

  

Now, like Peach, Zelda has stepped into the Brawl universe, and even brought her Sheik persona with her. This is one princess that kicks ass and takes names. I’ve not had a chance to play Hyrule Warriors outside of Best Buy, but I know that Zelda is at the forefront of the action. From her initial appearance in the NES days to now, Zelda has become a hands-on warrior princess, lookout Xena, willing to do whatever it takes to protect her land and people, and to me, that’s pretty glorious. 

  

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Glorious Girls of Gaming – Princess Peach, aka Princess Toadstool

  

By Joshie Jaxon

Greetings, geek fans. When working on new material, I realized that I hadn’t done a Glorious Girls post in forever. I decided, what better way to get back to it, than to dive in with someone that gamers new and old would recognize, Princess Peach. Let’s the geeks begin! 

Originally called Princess Toadstool here in the states, she was the damsel in distress that Mario was supposed to save in the original Super Mario Bros for the NES. Back then, games had manuals to help flesh out the story, since the cartridges had limited memory. If you never read the manual, then you had no idea why Mario was running around stomping things until you got through the first castle, and discovered Toad waiting for you. Say it with me now, “Thank you, Mario, but our princess is in another castle”. After questing through eight worlds, we finally get the genuine article. Rather than the appearance we know today, she was a redhead, and wore a white dress. She kept the hair for another game or two, but changed into her signature pink dress for Super Mario Bros 2, where she was a playable character. Personally, I preferred to play as her, because of her ability to hover in the air, which saved me from death on more than one occasion. By the final game on the NES, Super Mario Bros 3, Princess Toadstool was kidnapped again. However, this time she was able to send us touching letters, and power-up items. I’m glad the Koopa King allowed to to send mail. For that matter, if she had things like power wings and such to send, why didn’t she just use them herself to escape? Ponder that, I’ll touch on it again later. 
  
The Super Nintendo era brought us Mario’s next console adventure, Super Mario World. Once again, Peach is kidnapped. Nintendo knows, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, just tweak it. So, even though the power-ups and locations may change, the only thing that can motivate Mario to want to play through a game is if he’s got a gal to save. Pauline, Daisy and Rosalina can back me up on this. He’s either saved them by personally rescuing them, or by completing tasks to get things going. Where was I? Oh yeah, save me, Mario! Save me! And he does, and it all goes well until the next time. The SNES brought us another chance to play as the princess, in the form of Super Mario Kart. Peach got addicted to racing, and she’s been doing it ever since. Which gives her at least a slight sense of accomplishment, seeing as how she’s always getting kidnapped left and right. In Mario 64, she was even held captive in her own castle. How humiliating to not even use any hidden exits to free yourself. Oh wait, bimbo blonde girl in the main series. I forgot. How careless of me. The thing is, I want to like Peach, I really do. She runs an entire kingdom, and deserves some respect. I just can’t get past her lack of defenses. Alright, Bowser gets her once or twice, you fortify and prevent it from happening again. Sadly, she, or her advisors, just never learn.
  
I could comment on Sunshine, Galaxy, Galaxy 2, New Super Mario Bros DS/Wii/Wii U you see where I’m going with this. I’ll summarize; Bowser takes Peach, Mario travels through roughly eight worlds to save her, repeat. However, she was given one chance to shine on her own, Super Princess Peach. In a twist of fate, Bowser takes Mario. Maybe he was trying to get him out of the way of future Peach-nappings. This time around, Peach needs to save Mario. Yay! Feminism! Girl power! Oh, wait, they didn’t give her fire flowers, a cape, Yoshi, or FLUDD, they made her a slave to her emotions. Yes, seriously. Joy, Rage, Gloom, and Calm are her arsenal. Joy makes her float, Rage makes her burn, Calm restores health, and Gloom makes her cry. Way to reinforce women using tears as a weapon, guys. As if that weren’t sexist, and disempowering enough, the object she retrieves from Bowser is called the Vibe Scepter. Hand to freaking god, not only did Bowser take Mario, he took Peach’s vibrator. Have that image in your mind as you look at the cover art for the game; Peach, using said scepter as she has a Mario kidnap fantasy. 
  
Moving on, we’re gonna focus on a more empowering incarnation of Peach, the fighter. The Princess has been part of the Smash Bros series since the beginning. Finally, Peach is able to fight back against not only Bowser, but Mario, Luigi and Yoshi too. She wields her Toad subjects as weapons, as well as her signature parasol. She is a lady, after all. There is a story mode in Smash, and she has the chance to be the one to take down Master Hand. Finally saving the day with the help of no man. Aside from that, Peach is a staple in the Party series, as well as the various sports games that are out there. I’ll give Nintendo credit, although she isn’t the most well-rounded person in their universe, she gives young girls, and boys, a female character in what is usually a male-dominated industry. She can go-cart, golf, play tennis, baseball, soccer, etc. just as well as the boys do. I personally don’t use her unless I have to, because I prefer my female characters to be more warrior than princess. However, that doesn’t stop me from finishing my Mario games and making sure she’s rescued. I can’t just leave her there. She’s certainly not going to save herself. Or is she?
  
My absolute, hands-down, all-time favorite version of Peach is from her Princess Toadstool days. There’s a little known gem of a comic called Super Mario Adventures. This story is great, and so is the art. I may do a separate post on it just to do it justice. Essentially, Bowser turns Mario and the Toads to stone. Princess Toadstool ain’t having that, and chases after him. Atta girl! Sadly, she still winds up captured, but in the greatest twist ever, she saves herself! She kicks some Koopaling ass, and gets away. Mario, not knowing she freed herself, and based on past precedent we can’t blame him, gets caught trying to save her. Then Princess Toadstool has to get back into the castle she escaped from to try and save her would-be hero. The story has it all. I won’t spoil the rest. As I said, I’ll do another post. I just love that at least on paper, not only did they make her a competent ruler, but a woman as well. There was no waiting around to be rescued, she did it herself. That’s the sort of a lesson a recognizable character like Peach should be showing more often. 
  

In conclusion, Peach currently holds the honor of being the female character with highest amount of game appearances, at a whopping total of 78 to date. Thanks, to multi-series repeats like Mario Party, Mario Kart, etc. In fact, she was the only female racer in that opening game. Despite being portrayed as clueless, Peach Toadstool really is competent in a lot of ways. Perhaps it’s her security detail that needs an overhaul. No longer a simple damsel in distress, Peach has expanded her skill set, if not her mind, to show that pretty women can be just as capable as men, and to me, that’s pretty glorious. 
  

Glorious Girls of Gaming – Jill Valentine

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-by Bevianna Bones

What’s better than a badass broad packing heat, slinging knifes, and mowing down zombies, demon dogs, neo Nazi wannabes (aka Albert Weaker), and giant foliage? That same badass babe, but just add in the fact that she’s also the master of unlocking, and she’s unstoppable!!

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“Here Jill, take this, you might need it…it seems that you, THE MASTER OF UNLOCKING, should take it…”-Barry

Let’s not be twisted here,for purposes of this post I’m referring solely to the games and not those abominations of “movies”. Honestly, I couldn’t sit through enough of them to remember if she was in any of them, so my disclaimer as we go forth is again, I am solely referring to the digitized lady here. Don’t want any RE dweebs out there to challenge some sort of cannon or something I missed in the horrible atrocities of cinema. I didn’t watch them, as no one should have.

Jill was introduced to the world in the original PlayStation Capcom classic, Resident Evil. A game that hails many accolades. It was ground breaking at the time, as really the first big survival horror title. Up until that point, all we pretty much had was the Alone in the Dark series of the old PC/Commadore days. It was also one of Capcom’s first franchises that was out of its CPS1/CPS2/CPS3 (that stands for Capcom Play System) game engines, that up until the “3D” graphics capabilities of the PlayStation hardware, Capcom pretty much adhered to. Remember how much you loved Final Fight/Cads & Dinos/AvP? Well that’s because they all are the same engine running the show. It harkens back to the same premise as Quake/Heretic/Hexen…dammit, seems I’ve run onto a whole lot of useless information again. But you get my drift. This was a whole new model for Capcom. Except for the character model herself, as I’ve always found Jill to look an awful lot like Cammy from Street Fighter. Maybe they are sisters…and with a few minutes and an unfiltered Bing search, I’m sure that I could find me some cosplay pron to back my theory.

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Perhaps it’s on account of the rather saucy hat…

While the original RE is known for many things, perhaps the most important to gaming, and most special is that of its remarkable use of full motion video (as earlier discussed in the 3G post regarding Newsreader aka Elena), and its truly poignant voice acting. Particularly that mostly of Ms. Valentine’s. I’ve included a link below. Enjoy

Resident Evil’s Bad Voice Acting. Jill Edition: https://youtu.be/KPdJgD4xKSM

Oh my…oh…oh…oh my. That was indeed magnificent and an inspiration to tenth grade drama actors everywhere. But aside from all of these wonderful things the original RE brought us, (and sadly was “fixed” in the remastered versions) who is Jill Valentine? 

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Who…me?

One of the only remaining survivors of S.T.A.R.S. Alpha team, Jill survived unspeakable horrors during the Mansion Incident in Raccoon City, with her partner Chris Redfield; all the while maintaining her position of the master of unlocking.  After the “incident,” Jill eventually went on to become an operative for the BSAA, where she maintained a partnership with Chris, until another “incident” took place involving that dastardly scum-sucking neo Nazi himself, Wesker, where she tackled him to save Chris and pushed Weaker, and herself, out a window. You go little Joan of Arc you! All of this comes out in one of the side quests in the gold edition of RE5. Which is actually about the tenth installment, but that’s another story. So anyways, Chris assumes Jill is gone and always carries the void of losing his partner, until he traverses the globe to uncover yet another evil umbrella corporation plot to biochemically destroy the world and comes to find out that Jill herself is being used as a pawn in their sinister plan

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“Wait..wh..who are you? Jill?! You seem so different…where is your lockpick and saucy cap?..!..wh..wh..what is that giant glowing red module on your chest? I could have sworn that wasn’t there before”-Chris

It doesn’t take Chris long to arrive at the conclusion that the giant glowing red thing on Jill’s chest is the source of her mind control. I’m assuming that he has played every video game ever made and understands that an enemies weakness is the glowing red spot on their chest. Way to go Capcom on another inventive plot device. Chris releases Jill and together they take down Wesker and Umbrella. And scene.

Wait, isn’t that basically how all these games end? How may times is this Wesker guy gonna show up?? Seriously? Well I suppose that’s a topic for another day; but for today, let’s celebrate the gloriousness of Jill, Master of Unlocking, Destroyer of Scripts. She will forever be one of the most badass gals of games, no matter what the reason you love her for.
-BB

Glorious Girls of Gaming-Samus Aran

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by Bevianna Bones

Greetings readers! What a glorious day it is! So glorious in fact, that we should take a moment to reflect on one of the most glorious gals of gaming of all time!! The last time I wrote a post about a glorious gal, newsreader…aka Elena…there were a few cynics out there that didn’t seem to find her quite as glorious as I do.  Shame on them for not being as well versed in obscurity as me. That, friends, is not my fault. And frankly, if we only took the time to highlight well known pieces of pop culture, what fun would that be? Who learns from that? No one. But it made me think about all the times that the masses may have been waylaid by pop culture. So today I decided that we should celebrate the very first Crying Game moment of video games and talk about not only the time everyone was shocked by the secret ending, but also the most badass bounty hunter ever to grace our consoles. No not Baba Fart…the one, the only, the iron maiden herself, Samus Aran.

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First let me just clairfy, for some that may not know who I speak of, her name is not Metroid. Metroid is the name of the game, and the name of an alien species in the game. The final boss of many, if not nearly all, of the games. Think facehugger meets jellyfish. The real stuff of nightmares. In the same case that folks think Link is named Zelda, most folks think Samus is named Metroid. This may be enough for an argument that Nintendo needed to market it’s lead characters better, but that’s a topic of discussion for another day. So for a final bit of clarity, I have included the images below.

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Standard Metroid.

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Smoking hot Samus Aran in the Zero Suit. Nintendo came up with her so we would finally all understand what was under the Varia Power Suit…as the following was not necessarily enough for some people.

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Wait?! What?! They brought a girrrrl in here???!

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Obscure reference to one of our earlier articles 🙂

Now that we’ve got her name straightened out, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The fact she’s a girl. Back in 1986 when Nintendo released the original Metroid on the NES/Famicon, it was pretty much unheard of that any kind of videogame, marketed primarily to young boys, would have a female protagonist. Girls don’t play games, and when they do, they have their own games!

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Nintendo knew this, and didn’t want to let the pussy out of the bag, so to speak, so not once throughout promotions, press releases, the instruction manual, or anytime during the game did it ever say that the hero, Samus was a female. It also didn’t say directly she wasn’t either. Not was actually ever said, but the industry, and our culture being driven by predominatly male influence, we, the gamers all come to the assumption that the character is naturally a male; just as dogs are boys and cats are girls.  Imagine the shock, awe, and dismay when upon completion of the game, we were treated to…

Yep. Samus is a girl. Eat it. Nintendo had huge success of Metroid, and it spawned several sequels. Metroid II: Return of Samus was released for the original (yes the many shade of green) Gameboy, and then Super Metroid for the SNES. For all the youngsters out there that I might be speaking gibberish to, think Castlevania:Symphony of the Night meets Mario, meets Star Trek. And if that’s not enough to get you to try out the franchise, play Metroid Prime, originally released on the GameCube (and the sole reason I owned one). This game not only redefined the franchise, but it was an inspiration to many, many games to follow.  Like Bioshock? Like Fallout 3? Like Dead Space? If you haven’t played it, you need to, as it is easily the greatest game ever to hail of the franchise, it’s hands down the best game experience the GameCube had to offer…(my opinion includes the once exclusive release of Resident Evil 4)

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Prime opened up the depth of the universe and allowed us to learn more about Samus, and her past.  She was born on a mining planet that was invaded and destroyed by space pirates; an orphan, she was raised by the Chozo on the planet Zebes who infused her DNA with that of the Chozo to build resistance to many environments, trained her as a warrior and bestowed upon her a Power Suit comprised of ancient artifacts of the Chozo. Now a bounty hunter employed by the Galactic Empire, Samus and her Gunship embark on a variety of missions to save the universe from Space Pirates, metroids, and other nefarious entities.

Other games in the franchise include, Prime 2: Echos, Prime 3: Corruption, and Metroid: Other M, released on the Wii and left the same kind of distaste in one’s mouth that Alien Resurrection had for that franchise.
Samus has also appeared in all of the Smash Bros. Titles as a playable character, and one of my top three faves; along with Zero Suit Samus as an unlockable in Melee.

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Well guys, all this talk about her and I feel the need to dig out my GameCube and, start over a play through of Prime. The only other game that competes with my soul for the title of Best Game Ever.  The other being Final Fantasy7. But that’s a topic for another Glorious day.

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BB

Glorious Girls of Gaming – Newsreader

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-by Bevianna Bones

Ahhh, the precious memory of one of the most glorious gals of gaming of all time. Newsreader. Yep that’s her name, it’s sad really because she is so much more than a generic title. It’s like if we called Jill Valentine the Master of Unlocking instead. Every game should have a crazed Russian woman telling you what to do. Imagine if Navi had a thick poorly done Russian accent…that would have been amazing, and that is why Newsreader is so inspiring. Newsreader deserves more. For purposes of this article I’m going to call her Elena. Thus inspired by a real life crazy Russian girl I once worked with.

Elena appears in 1995’s Krazy Ivan, which came out as one of the launch titles for the original PlayStation; it was also available for Sega Saturn and PC. Windows 95 baybuh!! The one thing nearly all video games had in common in this era of gaming was the introduction of full motion video, or FMV.  Not all games did it right, but Ivan knew what was up. This game hit the nail on the head. An openish world mech game (the mech looked like a giant Wall-E or R.O.B. from the NES days), the FMV scenes were not only well acted, as far as games go, but they held a brilliantly twisted sense of humor.

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Elena is a key element throughout the game, telling Ivan, aka you, about each level, helps progress the story, shares enemy Intel (or course, she’s Russian), and gives you recognition for a job well done. All the while with a ridiculous accent and underlying sexual tones.  “Great job, you really ran rings around him…keep it up!”  “Nice work commander! Keep it moving!!” “He’s slow, but not as big as he looks”. Ok, well maybe that’s just me being a pervert. It’s possible.

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I would have loved to see a sequel to Krazy Ivan, or a crossover of Elena in other games. She would have been perfect for any game featuring any kind of radio command station. Imagine her in Resident Evil 4, or Metal Gear Solid, or Uncharted. Shame on Sony for not making her an unlockable in PlayStation All-Stars. That would have been truly glorious.

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-BB

Glorious Girls of Gaming – Birdo

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by Joshie Jaxon

Birdo started out as a villain in Super Mario Bros 2. Unlike Wart and Fry Guy, Birdo is a boss that we encounter several times through the game, with various abilities. Mostly an egg spitter, occasionally fireballs are hurled at Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Princess Peach/Toadstool.
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Although the events of SMB2 turned out to be nothing more than a dream. Oops, Spoiler Alert on a 27 year old game, my bad. Where was I? Oh yeah, even though it was a dream, the Shy Guys and Birdo made the leap into Mario’s reality. While the Shy Guys appeared as villains in other games, like Yoshi’s Island, Birdo wasn’t cast as a villain again. Instead, Birdo was invited to go karting, play golf, party and even went to the Olympics with Sonic and the main Mario cast.
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You may have noticed that I’ve been referring to Birdo by name, but not she or her. That’s because I wanted to touch on the alleged controversy about Birdo. In the original manual for SMB2, we learn that Birdo is male, but thinks he’s a girl. Granted this was 1988, but since then people have been confused about what gender Birdo is.
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I don’t understand the confusion. Birdo identifies a a girl. I don’t know what her species is, or what level of gender reassignment is available in the Mushroom Kingdom, but that shouldn’t matter. For all intents and purposes, Birdo is a girl, and should be treated as such. It isn’t our place to push onto her what we feel is right or wrong.
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She’s been paired as a couple with Yoshi, and the two have been called boyfriend and girlfriend. That should speak volumes. I’m sure they’ve spoken, and Yoshi knows all about Birdo’s history, and loves her for who she is. Most modern game descriptions refer to her as “she”, but is that a sign of respecting who she is, or are we trying to retcon her status as the premier trans character of gaming? That’s not for me to decide.
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In the end, Birdo knows exactly who she is. She was a villain that found an accepting group of friends that love and support her. She is the first transgender woman of gaming, and to me, that’s pretty glorious.
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-JJ