A fair warning, this blog is probably going to contain some heavy spoilers.
Again I am limiting my choices to female characters from games that I have personally played so as to ensure an accurate and personal examination.
First up. Princess Zelda from the critically acclaimed The Legend of Zelda franchise.
Oh, how I do love controversy. As most of you already know, Anita Sarkeesian has previously used Zelda in her example for Women in video games who are being wrongly misrepresented and/or are placed in submissive roles solely to be saved by a male hero, sadly it seems that some people simply want to over look and over think these things and imply negative connotations, however Zelda solely being a damsel in distress that needs rescuing by a hero is simply not the case and aim to prove it.
There is a lot to be said about Zelda, first of all the title of every game in the franchise bares the title, The legend of "Zelda" the fact that it contains Zelda's name and not Link's is a constant throughout the franchise, the title also implies that the story of each game is almost always about Zelda in one way or another.
Some of the best examples of Zelda in a supporting role (as far as Im concerned of course) are during such times in which she isn't even being referred to as "Zelda" but instead as either "Sheik of the sheikah tribe" or "Tetra a swashbuckling Pirate captain" yes, as well as being arguably two of the best Zelda games to date, Zelda also performs two of her best supporting roles in the LoZ: OoT aka "The legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time" and LoZ: WW aka The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker, however since I don't want this blog to turn out to be too long a read I'll be limiting this section to the Zelda from Ocarina of time. So, sorry Tetra fans...
I will try not to go into too much detail as there is a lot to work with.
During the events of Ocarina of time Link has a fateful meeting with Princess Zelda, where she informs him that she prophesied his arrival and that he will be the one to drive away the dark cloud that covered Hyrule when it appeared in her dream, and also that she believes the dark cloud represents the Gerudo Prince Gannondorf (Quite the shock for our young fairy boy I imagine, but he does have a giant spider under his belt so he's on a role).
Shortly after teaching Link "Zelda's lullaby" one of many songs Link will eventually learn from Zelda in the future, he heads off in search of the remaining Spirit stones that will enable them to enter the temple of time and retrieve the Triforce before Gannon can realise his evil plans. After securing the remaining Spirit stones Link returns to Hyrule castle, only to find that he is too late and that Gannondorf is making his move, Zelda manages to escapes on horseback with her bodyguard Impa but not before tossing her ocarina into the castle towns mote, after Link proves that he is currently no match at all for Gannondorf's dark magic the dark prince sets off in pursuit of Zelda, Link then retrieves Zelda's Ocarina, "the Ocarina of time" from the mote, once Link picks it up he envisions Princess Zelda, she then teaches him the Song of Time, to use in front of the alter in the Temple of Time.
After placing the Spirit stones in their proper places Link plays the song of time and the sealed doors open, inside the temple of time Link discovers the legendary master sword, the blade of evil's bain, however when he attempts to remove the sword from its pedestal he is cast into a 7 year long slumber, we learn here that Gannondorf secretly followed Link into the temple of time to steal the Triforce but was only able acquire the Triforce of Power, upon awaking Link meets the sage of Light who explains to him the events that have transpired during his slumber induced absence, he then sets Link off on a quest to awaken the remaining sages in order to stop Gannondorf, after exiting the previously sealed section of the temple of time Link encounters Sheik (a young man of the Sheikah tribe who is as wise as he is mysterious) for the first time, he then instructs Link to travel to the lost woods where Link will find the first Sage he must awaken.
Link encounters Sheik several times at key points during his adventure and is often taught by him an essential song he needs in order to make progress, as well as providing Link with wisdom, encouraging words and explanations to events that have transpired, Sheik continues to remain anonymous and avoids letting Link get too close, he proves time and time again to be a character that is integral to helping Link to overcome his obstacles and push on regardless of the challenges ahead.
After awakening all the remaining sages Link returns to the temple of time where Sheik appears to him yet again, however this time Sheik removes his disguise, informing Link that he, or rather she, was in fact Princess Zelda all along. Zelda then goes on to perform one of her most valuable roles in presenting to Link the Sacred Light arrows and informs him that their sacred light can pierce and destroy evil itself, shortly after this happy reunion however Ganondord traps Zelda in a magical crystal and spirits her away to his evil lair, Gannon's tower.
(Now some people have noted that Zelda being captured by Gannondorf here automatically labels her as being a typical "damsel in distress" I disagree, Gannondorf is trying to gain possession of the remaining pieces of the Triforce, the Triforce of Wisdom and the Triforce of Courage that Zelda and Link posses, it makes sense that he would use Zelda as bait to to draw link out and bring them all together so he can steal their pieces of the Triforce)
Anyway back to the events of the game.
So as most of us already know Link fights his way through the tower and defeats Gannondorf thanks to the sacred Light arrows bestowed upon him previously by Princess Zelda, they then both manage to escape the collapsing tower thanks in equal parts to Zelda's sorcery and Link's combat skills.
Gannondorf appears once again and makes one final attempt at destroying Link and Zelda by transforming into the huge hideous beast "Ganon" but in the end is finally defeated by a combination of Zelda's light magic and a finishing blow from Links Master Sword.
Zelda's final act is that of taking back the Ocarina of time from Link and sending him back in time to his original timeline where he is still a child, despite the fact Zelda obviously wants Link to stay by her side she decides to give him back the 7 years of his life that was taken from him, it's a very touching seen and helps highlight even more so the fact that Zelda does not allow personal feelings to cloud her judgement, she is strong and strong willed as well as wise, and this to me is why Princess Zelda is one of the best supporting female characters in gaming history.
Tetra/Zelda, from The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.
Zelda, from The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks.
Honestly I could have gone either way with Sheik & Tetra but as Ocarina was the first game I played and the first to show Zelda in such a great supporting role, I just had to pick Ocarina Zelda.
I'll follow up with Part 2 of this look at (The greatest non lead female video game characters in supporting roles) at a later date but for now thanks for reading my blog and if you like please feel free to leave a comment.