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During most of Final Fantasy VII, Tifa didn’t look that sexy. Like the other characters, she had the aesthetics of a weird, polygonal Popeye.
But the cover art and cutscenes made it clear that Tifa was a busty beauty. And this really burned into gamers’ memories. In fact, when images and videos of the FF7 remake started coming out, there was a minor controversy when certain fans were convinced that her boobs weren’t big enough relative to the original game!
2. Joanna Dark
While Perfect Dark Zero was a bit of a disappointment, the original Perfect Dark was nearly...well...perfect. Rare took all the lessons they learned from Goldeneye 007 and used it to deliver the ultimate spy thriller action game.
And players were quickly fascinated by the protagonist Joanna Dark. It’s not hard to see why: she basically embodies the cool of James Bond with a fun and fierce personality of her very own.
In retrospect, it’s weird that the Bloodrayne franchise didn’t really take off. Aside from an enhanced “Terminal Cut” in 2020, we haven’t actually had a new entry in this horror franchise since 2011.
But in the early 2000s, Rayne herself was a real icon to gamers. And for good reason: she was sexy, scantily-clad vampire lady who kicked all kinds of ass. This was enough to seriously win some hearts over.
There wasn’t much in the way of female representation in the original Street Fighter II. But Chun-Li brought enough spunk and personality to make up for this.
Her character was a fun blend of a driven investigator meets a colorful fighter. And while her outfit wasn’t that revealing, it helped to show off her insanely muscled legs. If you’ve ever honestly stated “thick thighs save lives,” chances are you had fun staring at Chun-Li growing up.
5. Princess Zelda
Despite being the titular character, Princess Zelda plays a very minor role in the original Legend of Zelda. But as the franchise continued, Nintendo went out of their way to feature her more prominently.
We get to see Zelda as a cute and capable fighter, both in her typical persona and as Sheikah. After playing through Ocarina of Time, it’s easy enough to see why Link falls in love with her!
Romance is a central part of many Final Fantasy games, but it was often in the background. But with Final Fantasy VIII, Squaresoft decided to give us an explicit love story focusing on the relationship between player character Squall and Rinoa.
Thanks to this, Rinoa became the “girl next door” crush for many gamers. And in the midst of a game with an utterly baffling plot, Rinoa’s smiling face and the promise that “love conquers all” were enough to keep you playing.
7. Lara Crof
In retrospect, the horny fascination for Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft is pretty funny. It’s quaint to remember a time when her blocky polygonal boobs were a major turn-on for countless players.
In fact, gamer fascination with this character led to endless speculation about a nude code inside of the game. This led to cheeky developers eventually putting in a special code in Tomb Raider II. But instead of making Lara’s clothes disappear, it made her explode!
8. Samus Aran
Samus Aran is one of the earliest video game crushes for many players. And that’s partially due to the fact that Samus' gender was a surprise until the very end.
Depending on how fast players beat the game, they would see Samus in various states of undress. First, there’s the helmet off. Second, she’s in a tight suit that shows off her legs. And finally, we see her in a very skimpy bikini.
For skilled players with a lot of time to kill, Nintendo offered an unexpected little strip show in their game.
Final Fantasy X was filled with great characters. But while the sweet and chaste Yuna helped to drive the plot, players were more fascinated with Lulu.
And for good reason. Lulu is basically the precursor to our modern fascination with busty goth gals. And long before weird fans wanted Lady Dimitrescu to step on them, they could content themselves by watching Lulu put Wakka in his place.
For better or for worse, Cortana eventually became the driving force behind the Halo games. But fan fascination with this character goes back to the original game when she was basically Master Chief’s sidekick.
It helps that Cortana looks like she is practically naked. On top of looking cute and lacking clothes, Cortana had a fun personality where she pushed back against Master Chief and stood up for herself.
Sexy and independent? That’s the full package!
Mortal Kombat II took the palette-swapping of the original game to a whole new level. And it introduced a trio of female ninja characters: Kitana, Mileena, and secret challenger Jade.
Of these, Kitana really captured fans’ hearts (and not just because she tosses fans around). While we saw the horror behind Mileena’s mask, fans longed to peek under the hood at Kitana’s face. And fan passion for this character really peeked when she made a minor appearance in the 1995 movie.
12. Jill Valentine
Jill Valentine had a pretty generic cop outfit and terrible dialogue in the first Resident Evil game. But this didn’t keep fans from falling in love with her.
Because of this fan affection, she became the lead character in Resident Evil 3, complete with a tube top and a short skirt. Capcom likely gave us the new design because they realized how many players wanted to take a bite into a “Jill sandwich.”
While Chun-Li became a sexual icon, it was more or less by accident. She had relatively modest clothing, and players mostly focused on her as the only female character in the franchise.
Later, Street Fighter II would get another female fighter: Cammy. And she was basically designed to get players panting: her outfit shows off her toned legs, and her victory pose involves showing how the outfit is giving her the ultimate wedgie.
It was tough not to notice what she was putting out there. And young gamers everywhere definitely approved of the look!
14. The Dark Queen
Battletoads is, notoriously, one of the most difficult games of all time. But have you ever stopped to think what kept players coming back to this tough title?
Honestly, it’s all about the Dark Queen. This leather-clad vixen helped to kickstart more than a few adolescent kinks. This is part of why many fans rebelled against the recent Battletoads game: the new design made the Dark Queen look like a quirky weirdo instead of a sultry seductress.
15. Krystal the Fox
Star Fox Adventures is a divisive title for the Nintendo GameCube. Rather than emphasizing space combat, the game is mostly about exploring strange new worlds with Fox McCloud and his crew.
You get to meet some new characters, including Krystal the Fox. To put it mildly, Krystal caused a real awakening in furries everywhere. And considering that developers went out of their way to make her a scantily-clad, it looks like Nintendo was really counting on the passion of furries to carry this bad game over the finish line.
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