We’re pairing 8-bit music thematically, rather than based entirely on series. You can find this track and more Tater-Tot Tunes on YouTube! Stop by and jam to some great tunes.
Normal Happenings is proud to present The Characters That Define Us, a year long collaboration of 52+ incredible bloggers!
Welcome to the first of two BONUS FEATURES we’ve received for The Characters That Define Us! Thank you Pixie Poison for answering our all-call and supplying us with this wonderful piece on an underrated video game heroine!
Please enjoy this excellent start to the final week of The Characters That Define Us!
The last months of the year and the end of the millennium.
I always find that a Broken Sword quote is able to set almost any scene perfectly.
The Euro had been established, Bill Gates had become the richest person in the world and Sega had introduced the Dreamcast to the US market. These things were of course unknown to me. I was approaching 10 years old and discovering myself through a virtual landscape. Having acquired a Playstation the previous year, I had entered a whole new world and already had a near insatiable need to explore every inch of it. Rayman, Crash Bandicoot and Spyro (to name a few) were staunch companions, their adventures further opening the gateways of my already vivid imagination. But, in conjunction with experiencing more live action movies, I began to crave more realism. Human protagonists. Female protagonists. I acquired my first taste of this in the game world through becoming acquainted with a certain Ms. Croft.
Being the first female lead I had ever come across in a video game (and also being Spice Girls crazy at the time), girl power coursed through my 9 year old veins and naturally I was obsessed. Well…unnaturally obsessed is probably more accurate. She was a goddess come to earth. An acrobatic, smooth-talking, gun-slinging goddess with more than substantial…assets. She was real. Of course, if irony could kill, I would have been six feet under for nearly 20 years. Other female leads in gaming, particularly in the 90s, seemed to follow this kind of female stereotype, provocative manner and disproportionate rack included. But in the chilly November of 1999, I would be introduced to a woman who truly shaped my perception of female role models and showed my wide-eyed 9 year old self what a real strong female lead looks like.
You Have Mail
When Dino Crisis popped up in my favourite local video game store, it instantly intrigued me. Dinosaurs are always a draw for any kid and frankly everyone should still be asked what their favourite is. Triceratops, if you’re curious. Even better, upon turning over the case to find out more, I saw a woman toting a pistol with a terrifying T-Rex close at her heels. She was properly proportioned. She was dressed unusually but tastefully in tactical black leather. Her expression was focused and determined rather than provocative. And, best of all in my 9 year old mind, she had the most fabulous head of vibrant red hair. Something I admired and desperately wanted myself.
Agent name: REGINA.
‘Queen’ in Latin.
Needless to say, she came home with me that day. And with me she has stayed, physically and metaphorically.
Regina is the weapons specialist of the Secret Operations Raid Team (S.O.R.T.), a covert government agency. She is proficient with numerous classes of firearms and excels in assembling and modifying weapon components, gathering intelligence and hand to hand combat. Obviously I can’t also lay claim to any of these things, but it is clear her training was intense and extensive; she didn’t use her feminine wiles or tremendous fortune to advance. She worked long and hard to achieve her goals which is always inspiring and something I was eager to replicate being quite a studious child. The first Dino Crisis title chronicles her team’s mission to infiltrate the ‘Third Energy’ facility on Ibis Island and repatriate the facility’s head, Dr Edward Kirk, who staged his own death 3 years prior. Upon arriving on the island, they discover it is infested with dinosaurs, turning the entire island into a bloodbath.
Even within the first few minutes of play time, Regina’s personality shines through. Her red hair is a testament to it in itself. Her profession is tightly regimented and disciplined yet she dyes her hair, expressing her individuality and showing she’s not afraid to stand out. While her mission demeanour is cool and collected, she is fluent in sarcasm and ready with a humorous quip, even if the situation looks potentially tense. Upon discovering a freshly eviscerated corpse, she will bluntly and calmly state “That’s disgusting.” This resonated with me as a method of keeping a cool head, at least outwardly, and staying detached. Anyone who knows me knows that my default in person response to any scenario is almost always a dose of sarcasm. But, like Regina, this doesn’t indicate that I don’t understand the situation or I’m not taking it seriously. It’s simply a way to either lift the atmosphere or keep it together. And I know when to rein it in, as she herself does.
Given enough provocation, positive or negative, Regina’s emotions are very strong. She cares deeply about her team members; she has a strong friendship with teammate Rick and immense respect for team leader Gail. But she must balance this with the knowledge that, due to the nature of their profession, all three of them are ultimately expendable and the mission is paramount. This is tested when she has to make decisions on how to further proceed based on her teammates’ input, logic or circumstances. But regardless, her care for others is undeniable and she cannot bear injury or distress to those closest to her. Much like myself.
“We Were Just Attacked By a Big-Ass Lizard!”
Regina’s inner balance is pushed to its limit at every turn as she navigates through the facility, now a bloody feeding ground. Raptors stalk the tight corridors, lurching forward with unnatural speed to tear her to shreds. The gargantuan T-Rex crashes through windows and giant shutters, threatening to devour her and reduce the facility to rubble as it does so. Dr Kirk’s madness threatens to obliterate the entire island. As I grew older, particularly during difficult times, I began to view this as a kind of indirect metaphor for life. Problems will doggedly follow and be thrust upon you from all directions, sometimes through your own actions, sometimes through circumstance. You have to be resourceful and quick on your feet. If they overwhelm you, they’ll leave you in pieces. Here, Regina truly lives up to her codename and is the regal role model every young woman should have.
While her discipline and composure is stronger than most, she is still unabashedly normal. She has outbursts of fear, fury, frustration. Injustice enrages her. While exceptionally skilled in her field, she is no master of acrobatics or gymnastics. There are certain skills that are beyond her knowledge and she needs help to understand. Yet, she is brave and focused. She knows her strengths and uses them to her advantage, adapting quickly to the ever-changing environment. She exercises these strengths confidently, without arrogance. And if she needs help, she is unafraid to ask for it. All relatable and adaptable traits. Real traits. All this stirred up the fire within me, even at 9 years old; Ms Croft had some seriously stiff competition. This was someone I could realistically strive to be like. I saw fragments of my own personality magnified and fully grown in her. Lara still had my heart, but Regina had my mind and ultimately my soul. I only wish I could’ve kept tighter hold of her when high school reared its ugly head.
High school was very much akin to the feeding ground of Ibis Island for me. Being studious and imaginative, that immediately made me a target and the raptors sniffed me out a mile away. While never physical, their verbal assaults rent flesh from bone, tearing it like paper and leaving me bleeding and prone inside. Every week, I would endeavour to be disciplined and focused, being unashamedly myself and unafraid to ask for help. But a verbal tail whip would knock me to the ground and rows of teeth would bear down to have their fill again. I began to stop asking for help; their hunger remained unappeased. I began to stop being unashamedly myself; it made their appetite more voracious. Mentally I was bleeding out.
Thankfully, at 14, a Resuscitation came my way and it was labelled “Drama Class”. I began to patch myself up and explore emotions and creativity in a form that was always a part of me, but had never manifested beyond play and my polygon adventures. I could physically become someone else, be part of a different story, but fuelled by my own experiences. The fire was being rekindled. I’d discovered my strengths, realised my skills. And you bet their big lizard asses, I was going to hone and perfect them until they were as slick as the barrel of a shotgun. Loaded with a Poison Dart.
Regina had returned and this time I was keeping hold of her.
“Did You Swing Your Precious Machete Around?”
If Dino Crisis Regina defines singular traits, then Dino Crisis 2 Regina defines my overarching approach to social scenarios and relationships.
Dino Crisis 2, taking place 1 year later, saw Regina working as an advisor for the Tactical Reconnoitering and Acquisition Team (T.R.A.T.) on a time travel mission to the future to rescue survivors of a Third Energy incident in Edward City. When the whole team is wiped out apart from herself and Lieutenant Dylan Morton, the two are forced to team up to survive. Initially Dylan’s brash approach and tendency to boast irritated Regina and she was quick with a sardonic retort. Admittedly, whether I get on well with a person or not, I am always ready with a sardonic retort. As I said earlier, it’s my go-to, an impulse difficult to force down. But the more they work together and the more Dylan opens up to her, the more Regina warms to him and respects him. Their banter is much more light-hearted, they see and encourage the other’s strengths and trust each other to watch their back in the deadliest situations. This journey ultimately culminates in Regina, faced with the most difficult moral decision, making a poignant promise to Dylan. Knowing her loyalty and determination (and seeing a certain character pop up in ‘Dino Stalker’), she kept it.
The more I come to truly know and understand a person, the closer I feel to that person. If they do right by me and put their trust in me, they will unreservedly have my respect and I do everything in my power to show their trust is not misplaced. If I promise something, it will be kept, come hell or high water. Regina strengthens my bonds and keeps them tight. And makes witty remarks to crack you up! The more sardonic I am towards you, the more comfortable I feel with you. Only those in the inner circle get called a profanity affectionately.
“I Will. I Promise.”
Nowadays, I carry Regina with me in so many wonderful ways. Her rebellious red hair is in my flower crowns, my colourful makeup. Her skills and proficiencies are in my performances, my writing. I can adapt to change more easily and face whatever life decides to assail me with. I can maintain a calm demeanour, but unleash the fire when the situation calls for it. Injustice and unfairness boils my blood as it does hers and I am now unafraid to speak out against it. Those I choose to be close to have such tight bonds with me a Giganotosaurus couldn’t even make a dent in them; those people are naturally called the worst profanities with the deepest affection.
She really is my video game spirit guide.
And, after discovering a love for cosplay in 2013, I made an unspoken promise to her. She wouldn’t be forgotten.