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Zelda and Others: From Super Mario to Assassin's Creed, Women Take the Lead – G-Club


Do you know what The Legend of Zelda, Assassin’s Creed, and Super Mario Bros have in common? Well, in 2024, all three will feature female protagonists in their latest titles. With Peach: Showtime! released in March, The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom coming in September, and Assassin’s Creed: Shadows in November, 2024 promises to be full of surprises. While Peach and Zelda have been gaming icons for decades, we wonder if the new shinobi assassin Naoe will capture our hearts!

The Legend of Zelda: The Princess Saves Link

During the Nintendo Direct on June 18, 2024, Shinya Takahashi (Senior Managing Executive Officer and Corporate Director at Nintendo) announced that the next The Legend of Zelda game will feature Princess Zelda as the protagonist: she will have to bring peace to the kingdom of Hyrule for the first time without Link’s help. It seems unbelievable, with a franchise born in 1986 and now boasting over twenty titles, but in 2024, we finally get a Zelda game about Zelda, with a new gameplay designed specifically for her where she wields a magic staff capable of replicating objects and enemies. From the mind of Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Super Mario and Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda is one of those games that true enthusiasts have played at least once in their lives. In almost all TLOZ games, Link has to, in one way or another, save Princess Zelda (usually from Ganondorf/Ganon): but what if it was Zelda who had to save Link this time? The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom will be available on Nintendo Switch on September 26, 2024.

Assassin’s Creed Shadows: Ruthless Assassins

Assassin’s Creed needs no introduction: the world’s most famous Brotherhood of Assassins, with the new storyline (the Layla Hassan Saga) that began in 2017 with AC: Origins, is showing how Ubisoft is experimenting more and more, including female characters as playable protagonists. It started with Syndicate (2015) and then with Origins, featuring Evie Frye and Aya, respectively. The first AC with a female protagonist was Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, where assassin Aveline de Grandpré faced the Templars in late 18th-century Louisiana. Only with Odyssey (2018) could players choose to follow the story as either Kassandra or Alexios, the twin protagonists, without the storyline changing. Originally, Kassandra was supposed to be the sole protagonist, but it was thought that sales would decline with a female lead (as revealed in a 2020 investigation by Jason Schreier against Ubisoft), so the idea of twins was introduced. This approach was also used in Valhalla (2020), where the Norse warrior Eivor controlled through the Animus can be either male or female, at the player’s discretion. Little is known about Assassin’s Creed: Shadows except what can be gleaned from the trailer on Ubisoft’s official YouTube page: the protagonists will be Yasuke, a historical Black samurai, and Naoe, a shinobi. Early videos show the ability to switch between characters as needed: Yasuke and Naoe have different combat styles, reflecting their backgrounds as a samurai and a shinobi. It’s unclear who will replace Layla Hassan or other details, but we know Naoe is coming, and we expect great things from this Shadows (formerly Code Red). Assassin’s Creed: Shadows will be available on multiple platforms on November 15, 2024.

Princess Peach: Showtime!

Although it might be considered a minor title, Princess Peach: Showtime! represents a novelty: it is the second game where Princess Peach is the protagonist, and here Mario is nowhere to be seen. In the game, Peach must save the Sparkling Theater. The princess will have to take on the roles of the missing characters, engaging in sword fights, pastry contests, and more, shedding the damsel-in-distress persona to become the heroine herself. In her first game, Super Princess Peach (released in Europe in 2006), she had to rely on the Vibe Scepter and her “mood swings” to save Mario (for which the game was criticized). Showtime! has likely already gone unnoticed, given the upcoming Mario Bros releases (such as Luigi’s Mansion 2 released on June 27, Mario Party Jamboree coming on October 24, and the new Mario and Luigi Brothership charging in on November 7), but it is still a step forward for classic games where the protagonist is the “damsel in distress” often sidelined. Like Zelda, Peach is finding her voice, thanks also to the 2023 movie where she played a more active and dynamic role. Princess Peach: Showtime! is available on Nintendo Switch.

2024 Video Game Releases: Returns and Surprises

Thus, 2024 is shaping up to be a year full of new experiences where we can step into the shoes of lost princesses, assassins, and new heroines, but it’s also a year of sequels: Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, released at the end of May, takes us back into the mind of the Viking warrior Senua, who battles her inner demons and the horrors of her hallucinations. The game allows us to empathize with her struggles, addressing the theme of mental illness and psychosis: for this reason, Hellblade remains one of the gems of the modern gaming world. Another major return is that of Maxine Caulfield, the main character of Life is Strange, a popular graphic adventure where the protagonist discovers she can rewind time and thus change the future. The world of video games now has many female icons, from the legendary Lara Croft to the pioneer Miss PacMan to the new Aloy (Horizon), Ellie (The Last Of Us), Shadowheart, and Karlach (Baldur’s Gate 3). Challenging gender stereotypes and criticism, female gamers worldwide finally have figures to look up to and identify with: who knows, in the future, video games might become even more of a “girls’ thing.”



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