9. Samus Aran - Metroid (1986)
Metroid is a 2D action-adventure title, originally released in Japan by Nintendo in 1986. Its fast pace, fluid combat and challenging levels have helped it spawn a slew of popular sequels since its original conception. However, Metroid is most instantly recognisable by its protagonist, Samus Aran.
Samus is a heavily armoured, badass galactic bounty hunter, tasked with taking down space pirates and the titular antagonistic organisms, Metroids, on behalf of the Galactic Federation. So far, so generic hero, right? Well the big reason for Samus’ debut being so iconic is hidden to those who can’t beat the game in a certain time.
However, should you manage to beat the game in under five hours, it will be revealed to you that Samus is… wait for it… A WOMAN!
Sure, nowadays a strong female character isn’t exactly a mind-blowing concept, but in 1986 this came as a pleasant surprise to many. The game was lauded for being one of the first to feature a female protagonist, going against the grain of the stereotypical action heroes of the decade.
This inclusion was a massive step forward for female representation in gaming… even if Samus was a bit scantily clad in the reveal screen.