The 1990s were a time of change for the video game industry. Thanks to huge advances, games were no longer just pixels, surprisingly realistic thanks to 3D models. That was especially true for the women, although it also led to controversy with too many scantily-clad female characters abound. It seemed you couldn’t toss a quarter at an arcade without hitting a fighting game with a woman in what amounted to a swimsuit.
Yet some characters could be great not just in looks but also as fine female characters in their own right. Some were true heroines who helped change the industry majorly. Others weren’t as famous but still very popular. Yes, their great looks helped yet these ladies also had a special aura to stand out from the pack. Here are the 15 hottest ladies of 1990s video games to remind one how special that decade was for gamers.
15 Ivy Valentine (SoulCalibur)
SoulCalibur differed from other fighting games thanks to the various weapons used by the fighters. Ivy was the hottest in a roster of hot ladies thanks to her stunning Amazonian design. Her sword transforming into a metallic whip certainly helped and the short white haircut also made her stand out. Later games had her armor get skimpier and her physique bustier, but even in those early games, Ivy was a knockout in more ways than one.
14 Tifa Lockheart (Final Fantasy VII)
Fans are getting excited for the upcoming PS4 remake of Final Fantasy VII. One reason is that it means seeing Tifa Lockheart in glorious 2019 graphics. The New York Times called her “the pin-up girl of the cyber generation” as she is indeed pleasant to look at. However, she’s also amazingly tough and able to provide great fighting skills in-game. Her design is also just great as her simple shorts, tank top, and gloves have become a popular look for cosplayers.
13 Claire Redfield (Resident Evil 2)
The sister of the first game’s main character, Chris, Claire stepped front and center as the heroine of Resident Evil 2. Her red sleeveless jacket and shorts may be odd attire to handle an urban zombie apocalypse in, but she looked terrific in it. She handled herself well in battle and even videos of her just leaning over to watch a computer screen looked great. The movies had her played by Ali Larter yet the pixel version of Claire may actually be much hotter.
12 Terra (Final Fantasy VI)
True, it took until some of the later games for her hotness to come to light, but Terra Branford is now clearly one of the most beautiful women in Final Fantasy. The main protagonist of the sixth entry, she’s at first used for her magical powers before being rescued. That turns her into a heroine in her own right who mixes magic with great fighting abilities. She looks captivating with her unique dress and long hair, and that she comes off an ace fighter helps too. She’s not as famous as other FF ladies yet Terra is still one of the best.
11 Kitana (Mortal Kombat II)
When Mortal Kombat II came out, the developers decided to shift things up with more female characters. Kitana had a great backstory as the daughter of a king deposed by Shao Khan who was out for payback. Her fantastic outfit ninja suit showing off her form helped her stand out. There were also the metallic fans that became a must-have for cosplayers. The character took off majorly and has become one of the series' constant figures.
10 Morrigan Aensland (Darkstalkers)
Darkstalkers was dismissed as yet another Street Fighter take-off when it debuted in 1994. But it soon became loved for its great animation and action. Morrigan was the breakout star of the game thanks to her amazing hair, tight outfit, and those wings floating behind her. A demon, she fought on the side of good and was soon the go-to female character for the game. She’s been the star of it in media since, showing how one doesn’t need to be human to be a hot gaming character.
9 Ada Wong (Resident Evil 2)
This popular anti-heroine of the mega-hit series first pops up in Resident Evil 2 as a seemingly random FBI agent. As it turns out, she’s a spy for a company out to get information from the Umbrella Corporation. Her role expands in later games yet Ada has a cool style that won fans over from her sleek red dress to wearing shades at night. She brought an odd class to the action scenes and while you can never be sure of her loyalties, gamers love watching Ada at work.
8 Tanya (Command And Conquer)
The Command and Conquer games got attention for mixing filmed footage with fun strategy action. Tanya has a great background as a soldier. She is skilled in all forms of combat and can even self-heal from injuries. What got gamers interested was her stunning good looks with actress Kari Wuher well-cast in the role. The fact she went around in loose tops definitely helped her stand out more. While other actresses played the role in later games, Wuher’s Tanya is the one C&C fans remember.
7 Jill Valentine (Resident Evil)
It’s easy to forget how groundbreaking the original Resident Evil game was. A big reason why was because it made a female character an equal partner in the adventure. Jill Valentine was a member of a team investigating a mansion when she stumbles onto the wild zombie virus. She was tough as nails while still looking beautiful. The character has been a mainstay of the series since and a popular look for cosplayers.
6 Cammy (Super Street Fighter II)
The first upgrade to Street Fighter II decided to add another female character. It chose well with Cammy who looked young, but has blossomed into a fan favorite. The British soldier stands out nicely thanks to her simple green suit that show off her terrific legs as well as her long pigtails. The character has turned into a true favorite with her looks and great speed in a fight.
5 Sonya Blade (Mortal Kombat)
Mortal Kombat will be remembered as one of those games that changed the landscape of the entire business. Its use of realistic models and the epic violence made it a huge monster hit. Sonya was the sole female of the first game, but this just made her stand out as a special forces officer with a beautiful side. Her simple green outfit was good with the headband and she looked fantastic, dishing out or even taking hits. She could also have a cool fatality to boot.
4 Miai Shiranui (Fatal Fury/King of the Fighters)
Fatal Fury 2 was SNK’s attempt to cash in on the fighting game craze after Street Fighter’s huge success. Among the various fighters, Miai was a great standout. Her body looked great in a red dress that showed off plenty of leg and the addition of a fan for attacks helped her stand out. Sure, the body had some of the “jiggle content” typical of the time, yet she was still a capable fighter.
3 Chun Li (Street Fighter II)
Street Fighter II was a game-changer for fighting games. It introduced stuff like combos, wild animations, and more to boost the franchise to success. At first, Chun Li was the sole female on the roster and to many, she remains the best. The classic Chinese dress and hairstyle may shift, but the character is still known for her speed and those amazing kicks. She also just looks great as she’s proven to be more than a pretty face.
2 Kasumi (Dead Or Alive)
The Dead or Alive series has often been criticized for putting too much emphasis on hot ladies than actual action. The fact it inspired a beach volleyball game hardly helps. Kasumi has clearly been the series’ star since. A ninja princess who left her clan, the character is known for her great skills in combat. Instead of just a Chun-LI knock-off, she had a good style to herself and that blue dress was terrific in any battle setting. The character has resisted the “sex appeal” of later games which just makes her look even hotter.
1 Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)
Yes, the Queen of Hot Gaming herself. When Tomb Raider burst on the scene in 1996, it was a game-changer thanks to its great style and mix of action with puzzles. It also brought one of the most beautiful women in gaming via Lara. With her long ponytail, great looks, amazing physique, and nice outfits, Lara was an immediate hit that made gaming cool. She was even gracing the covers of non-gaming magazines. She’s remained a favorite thanks to movies and her recent successful series yet Lara’s hotness was off the charts in the 90s.