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International Women's Day: How Women are Represented in Games within Nintendo Franchises

Written by Jen

Today marks International Women’s Day, what better time to reflect on the number of Female Characters that feature in numerous games on Nintendo Consoles.

If I asked what’s the first character that comes to mind when I say the name of a Female Character in a Nintendo Console game? Many would go with Peach or Zelda, but I am sure many different ones come to mind.

When you really think about it, you realise that in recent years many more female characters have become playable characters, as well as featuring as the main playable character.

Here are a couple of franchises that are orientated around the main playable character being Female.



A game developed by PlatinumGames which was introduced back in 2009. The main Character Bayonetta aka Cereza is a strong-willed bad ass woman. She is one of 2 surviving Umbra Witches, and goes on a search for her forgotten past. She is one character that stands out as a well known female character overall, not just within Nintendo itself. This led to a sequel, Bayonetta 2, released in 2014.





Samus is the main character in the Metroid franchise. This game was first introduced back in 1986, and seems to be one of the earliest games with a female protagonist. Samus Aran is an ex-soldier of the Galactic Federation who has become a galactic bounty hunter. She is well known for wearing a powered exoskeleton equipped with various weapons. Everyone is anxiously anticipating further details on Metroid Prime 4, where once again we will get to play as this famous female character.

Other franchises featuring female lead characters, although they may sometimes not be playable, but many recognise them and therefore the game they represent, include...



Super Mario


Princess Peach is one of the main characters in the Mario franchise, and is the princess of the Mushroom Kingdom. She is always featured as the damsel in distress who needs rescuing by Mario, often captured, as her kingdom has come under attack by Bowser. Her first appearance was in Super Mario Bros in 1985, she is not a playable character for most of the Super Mario games, but has been added in various spin offs such as Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart, Mario Party, and Mario Golf. However, Peach was lucky enough to get her own game in 2005 on the Nintendo DS called Super Princess Peach where she was the heroin saving Mario and Luigi!  

In 1989, a new Princess was added to the Super Mario franchise, in the form of Princess Daisy, the princess of Sarasaland; another princess who mario had to save after being kidnapped. Daisy has also appeared in numerous Super Mario spin offs like Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart, and Mario Party but is yet to get the starring role in a game of her own

Rosalina was the latest human female to be introduced to the Super Mario franchise, with the release of Super Mario Galaxy in 2007. She is the adopted mother of the Lumas and the Commander of the Comet Observatory.  Like Peach and Daisy before her, she has been added to various super mario spin offs like Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart, and Mario Party as a playable character.






The iconic Squid Sisters, Callie and Marie, first danced their way into our collective hearts when Splatoon made a big splash on Wii U in 2015. The sequel, Splatoon 2, would arrive 2 years later, heralded by Pearl and Marina, a new Pop duo, collectively known as “Off the Hook.” The franchise has embraced these characters, continuing to feature Callie and Marie in the story mode of Splatoon 2. The Splatoon fan base are eagerly waiting to see what Splatoon 3 has installed for these characters as well as who the new duo will be (If there is one) following the announcement of the next game in last month’s Nintendo Direct.


Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda series, which first began in 1986, is another well known franchise, which features a prominent female character. Princess Zelda, who’s name adorns the franchise, has rarely been a playable character, save for sections of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, spin-offs such as Zelda’s Adventure on the Phillips CDi, and more recently, the Hyrule Warriors series. The series primary playable character, Link, has mistakenly been called Zelda by players for decades. Zelda is a magical princess who is the mortal reincarnation of the goddess Hylia. With the aid of her Link, her unending quest is to save the magical land of Hyrule from Ganon and his minions. Rumours have it that she might be playable in the sequel to Breath of the Wild, we can only wait and see.



Animal Crossing


Isabelle, an iconic yellow dog, was first introduced to players in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, where she served the role of secretary and assistant to the Mayor. She is the older twin of Digby, and is someone who works hard, exhibits boundless optimism, and treats everyone who lives in town as Family. What’s not to love above Isabelle!




Certain games give you the opportunity to play and see many of the wonderful female characters Nintendo have to offer. Super smash Bros. Ultimate now features around 29 female players (including character alternates). The recent inclusion of Pyra/ Mythra from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has brought some much needed female representation to the roster, Nintendo fans have been waiting for more female DLC characters in Smash Bros. since Min Min (ARMS), and Byleth (Fire Emblem: Three Houses) 

The future's looking bright for Female Characters within Nintendo games. We look forward to what new characters Nintendo could introduce in the future and what they have instore for their current ones!


Written by Tash McManus