To say that no one has it harder than a mother is something of an understatement.  It’s a responsibility that is constantly shifting and evolving, not only over time but sometimes even on an hourly basis.  A typical day can include every conceivable role, from soft-handed nurturer to gentle-but-firm advocate to bad-ass enforcer, and I know some moms that can knock that out before lunch.  So, in appreciation of mommies everywhere, I submit for your consideration five of the greatest mothers in video game history.

5.  Matriarch BeneziaMass Effect – It’s hard to tell what she was like before the brain-washing, but by all accounts Benezia was a warm, wise and affectionate mother, with strong psychic powers and a penchant for threatening people with Asari commando units.  In any event, her daughter Liara seems to have turned out mostly okay as her interests in archeology and saving the galaxy generally outweigh the slut-of-the-universe phase that all the other Asari girls her age are going through.

4.  Nora EstheimFinal Fantasy XIII –  All joking aside, Nora Estheim is responsible for one of the truest phrases ever uttered in a video game: “Moms are tough.”  This isn’t just hyperbole, either, as Nora, who I can only assume has little-to-no actual heavy ordnance training, manages to shoot down a gunship with a rocket launcher, effectively one-upping overconfident resistance fighter and boy-band-drummer-wannabee Snow Villiers.  Then, when it’s time to die, Nora does so in style, surviving an explosion only to fall hundreds of feet to her death.  Point proven, Nora.  Moms are tough.

3.  Brigid TenenbaumBioshock –  It’s only fair that this list contain at least one adoptive parent, and in that class it’s hard to do better than Brigid Tenenbaum.  Successful, resilient and brilliant, Tenenbaum was the Geppetto of her day…sort of.  And although her noble quest involved turning the Little Sisters back into real girls, she was kind of responsible for their condition in the first place, so maybe that whole search for redemption thing she was doing is kind of a wash.  You know, now that I’m thinking about it, maybe she wasn’t exactly a great foster mother.  I mean, sure, she smoked around the girls, but it was a different time, man.  The genetic manipulation thing though?  Not sure I can defend that.

2.  Mother Brain – Super Metroid – While Mother Brain is hardly a paragon of maternal nature and while it’s almost impossible to determine if “she” even possesses the requisite parts, you can’t really argue with the fact that she does happen to be intimately acquainted with any mother’s single greatest weapon: the evil eye.  Hell, after Samus had gone through all the trouble of blowing up half of Zebes and wreaking havoc on an untold number of space pirates and straight-up monsters, all it took was one pulsating, rainbow-laser-shooting glance from Mother Brain to set her in her place.  Of course, Mother Brain was then drained of most of her powers by a ginormous freakin’ metroid and subsequently laser’ed to death, but hey, you win some you lose some.

1.  Ness’ Mother – Earthbound – If all mothers were like Ness’ mom, a lot more kids would be developing psychic powers during the wacky adventures that their permissive-bordering-on-neglectful mothers were allowing them to go on.  Aside from some pretty extreme trust in her child’s ability to defeat a psychotic, future-earth-dominating alien, Ness’ mom also corroborates Ness’ adventuring-induced school absences by lying to his teacher, makes his favorite meal whenever he deigns to visit, and cures his homesickness whenever he’s been away for too long.

So as you can see, just like in real life, video game moms run the gamut from oblivious homemakers to crazy theoretical geneticists.  But who do you think is the biggest, baddest game mama of them all and why?  Let us know in the comments section.