The Gal Who (Really) Started It All
Celebrating a higher calibre of game writing for those in the LBTQ+ community, people of colour (POC), and all women
Played on: Arcade Game
Developer: Taito Corporation
Publisher: Taito Corporation
Release: October 1985
The Aim of the Game
There are hundreds of places across the internet for gamers to wallow in the misery that is representation and diversity in the world of video games. This is a valid complaint, and representation needs to be better for sure, but what this mini-series is going to strive to be is a source of information for people looking for the times when the industry has done well.
Because honestly, I can find hundreds of negative reviews of games at the click of a button where the only female character’s whole personality is ‘love interest of protagonist’, LGBTQ+ representation is slotted in as a joke reference, and people of colour written out as soon as the ‘quota’ has been filled.
The world (and industry) can be miserable enough without my adding to it, so let’s get going on Sunshine Post #1 – The Gal Who (Really) Started it all.
The ‘First Lady’ of Fighting Games
Most video game fans would cite Chun Li, a popular fictional character from Capcom’s 1991 Street Fighter II, as the first playable female character in a fighting game. I consider her the ‘First Lady’ of fighting games for sure, and mainstream games would have suffered without this character Chinese Kempo-ing her way into becoming an icon of the genre.
But, like any curious game enthusiast, I wondered if 1991 was truly the first time in gaming history that designers realised that women are also in possession of fists and feet.
I was delighted to find that it was not.
After the slightly horrifying experience of living through videos of Konami’s November 1985 arcade game Galactic Warriors (you can tell that Gaea is a female robot because she has non-ironic heels and projectile boobs), I discovered another release from 1985.
Thankfully beating out Ms Projectile Boobs by a mere month is Taito Corporation’s October 1985 Japan-only release of the arcade game Typhoon Gal (or Onna Sanshirou).
The Art of Quick-Change
As an arcade game, Typhoon Gal is understandably simple when it comes to plot and characterisation. This was gaming in the eighties, after all.
The titular Typhoon Gal (called Yuki in ‘attract’ mode) is introduced in a brief opening cutscene as a brunette with a pink backpack wearing what looks to be a Japanese school uniform walking towards a tree and leaping behind it. Her shirt, skirt, and socks are thrown out from behind the tree (this scene is largely used to highlight that the character is female and not another long-haired man), and Typhoon Gal jumps out wearing a non-revealing pink martial arts outfit.
Hulk Hogan vs Japanese School Girl
From here, the player is thrown straight into the game. There are a total of eight unique rounds, and the cycle repeats until the player either runs out of lives or finishes two hundred and fifty-six rounds. Ordinary enemies make up even-numbered rounds, but Rounds 1, 3, 5, and 7 have bosses waiting for the player to defeat their underlings. Each of these bosses is based on something from pop culture or day to day life (Bocher is based on a mathematician of the same name, Dumplin on an actual dumpling, and Franky on Frankenstein’s monster).
The Round 3 boss, named ‘Hogen’, is based on American pro-wrestler Hulk Hogan and the mental image of a Japanese schoolgirl beating the **** out of him has kept me entertained for many days.
So Many Firsts
There have been references made online that this was also the first game to introduce grappling moves and throwing and facing multiple enemies at the same time, I will also say that I can find no official sources to back this up, but there isn’t a game that I can easily find that pre-dates this one that includes them.
Another piece of information that seems impossible for me to find an official reference to but is repeated in enough places for me to take as true, is that the reason for Typhoon Gal’s beatdown of Hulk Hogan and co. is to restore the honour of her family’s dojo.
As far as motivations go, this is as good as it gets for the genre at the time.
So the very first female character in a fighting game, pre-dating Chun Li by six years, is tough. Is not overtly objectified. Is (likely) the very first character in fight game history to perform throws and grapples. And (possibly) the first character to take on multiple enemies at once. This combined with the fact that the eighties were a turning point for the recognition of female judoka (the very first female world champion for judo was crowned in 1980, and the tee up for including female judo in the Olympics began in 1988 when a demonstration performed by judoka took place in Seoul) makes this game surprisingly significant for something I had not heard of.
I genuinely hope that I have the opportunity to play this obscure trailblazing game at some point in time. If Japan is ever willing to part with one.
Play this game if…
You can find it (please please tell me if you can)
You want to experience the earliest trendsetting fighting game
You like arcade games
Honestly, you probably can’t find this game so this section is likely pointless
The first image has been adapted from the free wallpaper available here
The second image is available here
The third, fourth, and fifth images are available in the wiki here
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