Warning, chummers: some spoilers and puns.
Wurm – Journey to the Center of the Earth was released in 1991 for the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System for the young punks). Obviously the fourth generation of console gaming had already begun by then, but I like to think that Moby, Wurm’s protagonist, was too busy doing heroic stuff to avoid being fashionably late. Anyway, if you hadn’t guessed already, Moby is the greatest NES heroine! Not convinced? Hahaha! Oh…really? Fine!
Samus AKA Shamus and many others have to be dealt with before we can declare Moby the obvious winner. Don’t get me wrong: I won’t talk about every 8-bit babe, but who doesn’t think of the game Metroid when NES ladies come up in conversation? Dig this: the Metroid manual uses the pronoun “he”, not “she”; the character’s gender is unrecognizable throughout the game; and not all endings point to lady parts. Samus is at best a Manbot and at worse a TNA reward for budding boys. Get dunked!
All art provided by blind orphans.
Peach me another heroine to knock out of the park. Get it? Hehe. Sure, in between kidnappings, Peach did find some time to star in the Doki Doki Panic ripoff for the NES; but other than her name, what do we know? She wears a dress, I guess. And what’s with the name anyway? Might as well have called her Tasty Morsel. Oh, spoiler alert! Her heroine role? Not even real. That’s canonical, man! I didn’t dream it up. Okay, okay, I’ll stop.
Oh, Peach, you finally decided to turnip.
Let’s blast through some more ladies so we can talk Moby, baby. Ripley in Alien 3 is pretty cool, but that’s a film heroine, really, and the game says little to nothing about her. Athena? Cutesy, tootsy little protagonist with hardly a dimension to her. Kaede from Shadow of the Ninja was beast, but, alas, paper-thin too. Guardian Legend girl? Uh, more of a fembot, and she has no name. Haha! Hey, great game, but what can I say? Rockin’ that bikini bod though, amirite?
Frankly, she looks a little plane.
So as you can see, out of the few female protagonists that exist, you won’t find many with any depth whatsoever. Do they have a love interest? Family? Friends? Aside from the Famicom version of a Mega Man clone, there isn’t much else to say here. Oh, okay, Ghost Lion? The sappiest take on femininity of all time, and *spoiler* the ending is just a hair shy of “it was only a dream.” Hell, even if we believe the protagonist, the alleged victims don’t. In fact, they think you’re an irresponsible piece of crap, and you can’t prove them wrong. Boss!
Also, poor little Maria is in Bread.
I could end the article here, but all I’ve proven is that the NES needs a heroine gap filled. Well, how does Wurm do it? It digs deep! *canned laughter* Honestly, when I started the game, I wasn’t so sure I’d be won over. After finishing it, however, I have this advice for you: finish the game! Look up hints, use your turbo controller, whatever. If you like story, finish this game! It gets stronger as it goes along. How so though, and what makes Moby different?
His hip style?
Within the game itself, Moby’s position and mission are made abundantly clear. She is the leader of the VZR-5 vehicle, and her companions have names, strengths, and weaknesses. That means their tips are sometimes very useful. Other times, their tips are crap.
TFW your friend’s stupidity literally hurts you.
As you hit cutscene after cutscene, visually repetitive as they can be, you begin to feel for these characters. Can Moby save her friend Ziggy? Is Ziggy more than a friend? What happened to the other VZRs anyway, and what do the villains want? It goes further than you’d expect, with some lives lost and some saved, connections to friends and family deepened or discovered, etc.
Throughout all of it, Moby is key. She isn’t alone, but she is the heroine. When she suffers, we suffer with her. When she succeeds, we, too, are victorious. Just as Moby can fail, so can Wurm. You aren’t likely to consider it the best game on the NES, not on the merit of its gameplay alone anyway, but if you truly give the story a chance, it’s likely to resonate. The ending, like much of the story, doesn’t take the easy way out. Don’t take my word for it, however. Beat that Wurm!