We tend to think of the world of video game protagonists being a boys’ club until Lara Croft came along in 1996… but female protagonists have been around for quite a while longer than that.
1987, for example, gave the world Alis Landale, protagonist of Sega’s first Phantasy Star game. Alis wasn’t a damsel in distress, she wasn’t a secondary character, she wasn’t a love interest — she was the lead. She had a mission, and she was damn well going to make sure she carried it out, come hell, high water or Dark Falz.
Being the protagonist of a 1980s 8-bit role-playing game, we don’t really learn a lot about Alis the person within the game of Phantasy Star itself. We can, however, look at the context in which she appeared, and the various ways she was presented. So let’s do that!