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Secret Of Mana Popoi Gender Reassignment

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Slip up on gender-neutral Sprite dialogue?
I wasn't quite paying attention during a rest in between grinds, but a skit triggered in which I believe Watts said the Dwarf Elder was worried about "the little runt over there" (Popoi) and asked Watts to keep an eye on "him".

If so, WHOOPS

EDIT: Sure are a lot of edgy boys in the responses >_> All I'm saying is that the game goes well out of its way to avoid giving Popoi a gender, to the point of absurdity and very unnatural sentence structure, and then My Man Watts strides in dropping the him-bombs and nobody says a thing about it lol
Last edited by FibS; 18 Feb @ 3:43pm

As a guy who grew up being called “Ma’am” through the drive-thru speaker system at McDonald’s more times than he can count, I know what it feels like to be mistaken for the wrong sex. Basically, it sucks. Lucky for me, though, I got to experience the satisfying feeling of pulling around to pick up my two cheeseburger value meal and seeing the embarrassed face of the person who made the mistake in the first place.

Sadly, many videogame characters that experience a similar humiliating issue don’t ever get to feel this same satisfaction. Their “drive-thru experience” just ends with a single tear cascading down their cheek after the game is turned off and the screen goes black.

Over the years, there have been many videogame characters that genuinely confuse me as to whether they are male or female -- be it the way they are designed or their misleading role in the game they are featured in. Whatever the reason, there is something about these characters that result in me deciding on a sex in my mind, only to find out years later -- in most of these cases -- I was completely wrong about my choice.

Hit the jump for a list of the ten videogame characters that baffle me the most.

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Andore (Final Fight)

My original guess: Man.

This is a tough one. From the first time I played Final Fight on the Super Nintendo to the very recent last time, I still am unsure of whether boss Andore is a man or a woman. My best guess is a man, but, honestly, I really can’t tell. The short, crazy haircut and animal print tank top doesn’t make figuring it out any easier.

Actual gender: Man?

Despite my “extensive” research, I still can’t figure out what the final verdict is on this one. I am going to go with a man, but have you heard of the wrestler Chyna before? Anything is possible with Andore.

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Birdo (Super Mario Bros. 2)

My original guess: Female.

Growing up, I was pretty positive Birdo was a female based on her pink color. But as I got a little older, I wasn’t that confident in my decision. And once I heard the crazy rumblings about what Birdo really is (see below) I didn’t know what to believe!

Actual gender: Female.*

*There is a big asterisk on this one. According to the North American game manual for Super Mario Bros. 2, Birdo is a cross-dressing male who wants to be female, even asking for people to call him by a female name. But the real story, based on references in later Nintendo games, is that Birdo is in fact a female that may or may not have had a sex change operation.

So, regardless of how she got to be who she is today, it looks like Birdo is supposed to be female ... I think.

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Kamek (Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island)

My original guess: Female.

Kamek -- Bowser’s right-hand magical Koopa -- is the ultimate example of a character’s gender I was completely confused about. For years I thought Kamek was a female, even making up a story in my head that she had a crush on her master Bowser. It wasn’t until as recently as a few months ago that I found out Kamek was actually a ...

Actual gender: ... male.

Not that it matters either way. I just had no idea! It totally blew my mind once I found out the truth. I didn’t curl up in a ball in the shower crying or anything, but I was still pretty shocked by the revelatory news. I blame the baggy robe and glasses combo. They give me a very Marcie from Peanutsvibe.

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Kazooie (Banjo-Kazooie)

My original guess: Female.

The gender identity confusion of videogame characters seemed to dissipate once voice acting became the norm in modern games. And even though Banjo-Kazooie -- the platforming classic on the Nintendo 64 -- used a type of voice acting in the form of gibberish, Kazooie’s sex is still debatable amongst many gamers.

The character design feels very female, but the sound of her voice and mean (almost cruel) attitude is reminiscent of a longshoreman.

Actual gender: Female.

With the mouth of a sailor, Kazooie may be one of the rudest (but most hilarious) female videogame characters ever.

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Midna (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess)

My original guess: Male.

You know at the end of Beauty & the Beast, when all the objects in the house turn back into people and look very similar to the objects they became in the first place? Well, that’s the same concept I applied to Midna when I played Twilight Princess for the Wii. And because of that, I envisioned the sassy companion to Link to be a scruffy little guy with big eyes and an even bigger personality.

Why a male? I am not really sure exactly. Something about the look of Midna screamed face full of facial hair to me. Seriously, I don’t know why I thought this.

Actual gender: Female.

***SPOILER ALERT*** As anyone that has completed the game knows, Midna is actually the titular Twilight Princess -- obviously a girl. Looking back, Midna’s slender frame makes the truth about her being female fairly obvious.

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Ridley (Super Metroid)

My original guess: Female.

The motherly way she claims possession of the baby Metroid during the exciting opening sequence of Super Metroid; the long shape of her face; the similar name to Ripley, the iconic heroine played by Sigourney Weaver in the Alien franchise. All of these factors added up to Metroid super-villain Ridley being a female. I was certain of it!

Actual gender: Male.

Turns out the name Ridley was not derived from Ripley, but from Ridley Scott, the director of the original Alien. Also turns out Ridley is actually a male. Despite her gender, I still like to believe Ridley is a girl. I don’t why. It just seems to be more kickass.

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Slippy Toad (Star Fox)

My original guess: Female.

The first time I played Star Fox 64 and heard Slippy’s ridiculously high-pitched, unbelievably annoying voice I immediately pegged her as a female.

And that made me feel horribly sexist. Seriously, I felt terrible for making that quick assumption. I think I even bought a subscription to Bust magazine out of the guilt of it all.

Actual gender: Male.

Turns out, all of my sexist, horribly stereotypical thinking was totally wrong. Slippy is a male.

He may not win any arm-wresting, chest hair-growing contests, but as someone who comes across as not the manliest of guys (see earlier McDonald’s drive-thru story), I relate to Fox McCloud’s loyal flying companion. And for that, Slippy will always hold a special place in my heart. An annoying, irritatingly special place. But a special place, nonetheless.

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The Sprite (Secret of Mana)

My original guess: Female.

Although the true gender of Sprite (technically named Popoie) is revealed in Secret of Mana, most gamers missed the quick reference and assumed for years she was a girl. For me, it was the long, bushy hair and magical staff that made me think this was true.

Actual gender: Male.

Like with most of these characters, I was wrong. Sprite is actually a boy (and a badass one at that). Making Popoie a boy was actually a pretty bold move for Square-Enix -- a male role-playing character that is small, weak, and magic-based was revolutionary for the time. Hence the common mistaken identity.

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Tails (Sonic the Hedgehog 2)

My original guess: Male.

I went back and forth on Tails for years, but I always in my heart felt he was male. The relationship between him and Sonic felt like that of an older and younger brother.

Actual gender: Male.

Even though I was right on this one, Tails is a videogame character that most gamers would agree could have been male or female. As much as I feel like he was portrayed as somewhat of a younger brother to Sonic, he could have been a younger sister and I wouldn’t have thought any different. Either way, I love Tails and will defend him until the end.

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Vega (Street Fighter II)

My original guess: Female.

Vega -- one of the non-playable bosses in the original Street Fighter II -- is strong, skinny, and beautiful, with long, braided hair and a skintight, multicolored costume. Of course Vega is a woman!

Actual gender: Male.

Um, what? When I found out Vega was actually a man I had two reactions. The first was that of surprise (see above for the reasons why). The second was stupidity, once I realized that Vega is shirtless in all the games he appears in, obviously displaying the chest of a man, not a woman. You see, for years, I thought Vega’s revealing outfit covered his chest; not realizing that his arm was covering the bare part exposing his true gender.

I blame 16-bit graphics.

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Other confusing contenders

Blob (A Boy and His Blob)

My original guess: Male.
Actual gender: ???

Boo (Super Mario World)

My original guess: Male.
Actual gender: Male?

Ecco (Ecco the Dolphin)

My original guess: Male.
Actual gender: Male.

Gogo (Final Fantasy VI)

My original guess: Male.
Actual gender: ???

Issun (Okami)

My original guess: Male.
Actual gender: Male.

Kirby (Kirby’s Adventure)

My original guess: Male.
Actual gender: Male.

Pikmin (Pikmin)

My original guess: Male.
Actual gender: ???

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As I look back on this list, I realize that a lot of these characters come from Nintendo games, more specifically the Mario series. And, strangely enough, that makes me love the Mario games even more. You go, Shigeru Miyamoto, and your sexually androgynous characters! You were so ahead of your time!

I would love to know what you all think. Do you agree that these videogame characters have very confusing gender identities? What other videogame characters did I leave off this list? Have any of you had similar drive-thru stories? Let’s hold hands and discuss.


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Chad ConcelmoFormer contributor   gamer profile


Destructoid's former Features Editor. Chad loves the Super Nintendo, pinball, Pixar, and dolphins. His dream is to one day be taken to the undersea kingdom of the dolphins and made their new king... more + disclosures



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