Tippi also plays Distressed Damsel for all of one chapter in Super Paper Mario, though her capturer only wants to post pictures of her on the Internet. (No, really.)
Princess Daisy fills in the role of Distressed Damsel in place of Peach in Super Mario Land.
The Legend of Zelda: Peach's contemporary, Princess Zelda, fits the trope, but not in a way that plays the trope precisely straight. While finding/rescuing/protecting her is usually Link's ultimate or major goal in any game where she is present, she almost invariably cooks up some clever ideas whereby she can actively work against the Evil Plan of the Big Bad who captures her. The classic Distressed Damsel, by contrast, is tactically of no use whatever.
In the original game, she knows she's going to be captured as part of Ganon's plot, so she fragments the Triforce of Wisdom (which is what he's really after) and hides it in various parts of her kingdom, then enables her most loyal servant to escape to find help while she herself is taken prisoner.
In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, though she is in a prison cell at the beginning, she is quickly rescued by Link. She only gets kidnapped again about a third of the way into the game; she gets rescued in the second-to-last dungeon, after which she and the other Maidens (themselves Distressed Damsels) use their magic to break the barrier barring entry into Ganon's Tower.
In Oracle of Seasons, Din plays this role pretty straight forward, while in the game's counterpart, Oracle of Ages, Nayru is possessed by Veran (to be fair, she does help Link and Ralph escape from Queen Ambi). Zelda, if you linked your game, plays this trope very straight twice through Oracle of Ages, being kidnapped first by Vire, then again by Twinrova.
In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Zelda starts out as leader of a gang of pirates, while Link's just some kid, which makes her more competent then the main character. She's also vital in the final boss fight.
In the Wind Waker sequel The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Tetra spends the first half of the game AWOL and the second half as a statue just to make sure she had a reason not to be kicking ass by Link's side.
In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, she isn't kidnapped - she surrenders to the Big Bad to save her people from genocide, although it amounts to roughly the same thing. While unable to actively participate in the fight for most of the game, she is extremely helpful to the point of appearing to give up her own life when she does appear, and is a vital participant in the endgame.
Zigzagged to an extreme in The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, where Zelda manages to be kidnapped despite being a controllable character for almost the whole game. Her spirit actively teams up with Link and assists in her own rescue, to the point of actually fighting alongside Link (including against the final bosses).
Played straight, after all these years, in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, where Link gets involved in the plot in order to rescue his childhood friend Zelda. She actually barely avoids a proper kidnapping.
Inverted in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, where Zelda's the one who's been keeping Calamity Ganon sealed inside Hyrule Castle with her for the last 100 years; Link's less her rescuer and more her backup.
It's common in Hyrule Warriors to be forced to rescue allies who are in danger as part of the gameplay, but there are notable storyline examples. The Ocarina of Time arc starts by informing us that Princess Ruto has been kidnapped, and she falls into a trap from which you must save her in the next level. Agitha is saved early in the Twilight Princess arc, and the villain specifically sends enemies to capture her again later. And a massive part of the conflict at Gerudo Valley involves saving a stranded Lana. That said, all of the above-mentioned ladies are also Action Girls who get to kick plenty of ass. Oddly, despite disappearing after the first stage of the game, Zelda is never captured at any time in the story, though this is hardly a surprise when Sheik is the third playable character you unlock.
The fact that Dixie Kong is very much not a damsel in distress is lampshaded by an outraged Cranky Kong.
Palutena in Kid Icarus. Apparently, being a goddess does not make one immune to this trope, although it's more Mind Control than actual kidnapping.
Played with in an entertaining fashion in the Neverwinter Nights mod A Dance with Rogues. The Princess in the story is the player character and spends a lot more time rescuing people than not, and the character who most fits this archetype is Anden, a male character. Pia actually comments on this when you tell her the tale of rescuing Anden for the first time.
Subverted in Final Fantasy X with Yuna. Who, while kidnapped three times, managed to escape on her own the first time and actually made a plan to defeat one of the Big Bad's the third time (which the heroes, while pulling off an impressive Big Damn Heroes, messed up) she still escaped on her own. And the second time, she was actually being "kidnapped" by Rikku, so there wasn't any real danger (other than being forced to end her pilgrimage and being held captive in Home), though the other characters think there is at the time.
In Star Fox Adventures, Krystal serves the role of the Distressed Damsel, being trapped in a crystal up until the end. Which is ironic, considering that she was originally intended to be a player character.
Subverted in The Secret of Monkey Island: Guybrush Threepwood goes through all kinds of peril to save Govenor Elaine Marley, who was captured by the Big Bad LeChuck. He gets to the church on Melee Island just in time to interrupt their wedding, only for Elaine to descend on a rope from the ceiling. Turns out she'd already made her escape, fooling LeChuck by putting a pair of trained monkeys in her wedding dress, and was actually planning to assassinate him while he was distracted by the wedding ceremony, but Guybrush inadvertently managed to mess up that last step by attempting to rescue her. At least Guybrush ends up getting the honor of finishing off LeChuck.
Inverted, then played straight and also lampshaded in Borderlands 2. The first "damsel" the players have to rescue is resistance leader Roland, and the second is his girlfriend Lilith - who comments on it in a radio message: "Better dead than a damsel". After this example was featured in Anita Sarkeesian's "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games" series, writer Anthony Burch commented that he regretted using this trope.
Maya Fey of Ace Attorney fame. First meeting? Save her in a court case. Reunited in game 2? Save her in a court case. End of game 2? Kidnapped, must save someone else in a court case in order to get her back. Final case third game? Nearly murdered and then trapped in an icy cave. Meet her again in game 6? Save her in a court case. End of game 6? Kidnapped, must settle ownership claims to an artifact in court to get her back. Luckily, she also spends just as much time out of distress and she's even rescued Phoenix on a few occasions. And she never lets herself be defined by the trouble she gets into.
Most other assistants fall under this at some point as well: Ema Skye, Trucy Wright, Athena Cykes, and Kay Faraday are all accused of murder at some point, Pearl Fey goes missing in the third game, and Kay Faraday is kidnapped in Investigations 2. Who knew assisting lawyers could be such a dangerous profession?
In House of the Dead 1, the thing that draws the heroes to the mansion in the first place is a distress call from Tom Rogan's girlfriend Sophie, who, despite apparently being a fellow AMS agent and the only survivor of her group, is mostly useless. Depending on how you fared, she may or may not survive. In the later games, you can rescue citizens or your partner from marauding zombies for extra lives.
Kusuha Mizuha — her face just screams that she is a perfect target to make a Distressed Damsel, and in every installment of Original Generation, starting from OG 1, OG 2, OG Gaiden, there is always a scenario where she is kidnapped, first by Ingram in OG 1, then by Lorenzo & Murata in OG 2 (only in the remake. The scenario was not featured in the GBA version), and finally by the Bartoll units in OG Gaiden. Not even saying 'I'm not just some damsel in distress waiting to be rescued!' in battles can rectify this...
In Alpha series, however, it's inverted. Once Alpha 2 kicks in and the stories get more proper, it's usually her boyfriend Bullet that needs to be rescued.
Though not entirely subverting to this trope, somewhat the Ridiculously Human Robot Lamia Loveless fell into this trope in OG Gaiden. After all her whole ass kicking and dramatic development back in OG 2, her story in OG Gaiden involves her getting kidnapped and needs to be rescued TWICE (even our resident damsel needs to be rescued once this time). First she's kidnapped by the Bartolls, all while just being in the wrong place in the wrong time, stripped naked and be somewhat brainwashed to fight her allies. She was almost saved... but suddenly, the villains managed to snatch her back after the player has to wait for 6 months to see if she's dead or alive, and brainwash her AGAIN. So much that it takes a former badass enemy turned good to save her completely. Once she's completely saved, she returns being a formidable girl in battlefield (and that even depends whether the player wants to use her or not), though her story arc was over at that point.
In Shin Super Robot Wars, Professor Eri Anzai gets kidnapped by Ze Balmarian Empire because her vast knowledge on the lost continent of Mu.
Bastila, a trained Jedi, is kept as a hostage during the first part of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. She'd just crawled out of a crashed escape pod's wreckage when she was captured, and her captors were intelligent enough to fasten a neural disruptor to her head (and she didn't have time to determine where her lightsaber was). She does manage to free herself the instant your rescue attempt manages to thin out the guards enough that she can finally get the disruptor off. However, she is quite offended if you comment that you "rescued the damsel in distress" later on, almost as badly as when Carth starts joking about losing her lightsaber being against the Jedi code.
Princess Cassima in King's Quest V and more so in King's Quest VI is a damsel in distress. She is held captive by the wizard Mordak in V and in VI, is actually kept inside a tower by the Grand Vizier Alhazred for a plot to marry her.
Similarly, the entire objective of King's Quest II is to rescue Princess Valanice from a tower prison.
And in King's Quest III, the Llewdor Oracle lights a fire under Gwydion's rear by showing him the three-headed dragon that's laid waste to Daventry. The dragon demands a Human Sacrifice, and the one "chosen" this year is Princess Rosella his long-lost twin sister.
Her first appearance notwithstanding, Rosella tends to take this trope for a joyride. In King's Quest IV, she's the one doing the rescuing, finding a MacGuffin to bring back from Tamir to heal her stricken father. She's briefly relieved of her inventory and locked up, but is freed soon enough due to Mook–Face Turn. King's Quest VII has her impulsively putting herself in harm's way, finding a way to free herself from the fire she landed in, and then rescuing a captured king. Top it off with her breaking the More Than Mind Control Malicia pulled on Edgar - who seems to be an absolute sucker for this sort of thing.
In Tales of the Abyss, Natalia and Fon Master Ion are held hostage, she could have gone peacefully to avoid any conflict.
Ion is always getting kidnapped.
In Tales of Vesperia, Estelle is held hostage and used by the villain at the time of the game. She did not use her powers to save an Entelexia because she would have driven him berserk, and the amount of guards could have prevented a feasible escape.
Kairi and her Nobody Namine from the Kingdom Hearts series, though they get a few moments outside the role in Kingdom Hearts II, and really only fall into the role twice each.
The other Princesses of Heart don't fare much better but are sometimes useful. For example, Belle has a particularly memorable scene in which Xaldin has both her and the Rose and is forcing the Beast to choose between them. Belle preempts the choice by elbowing Xaldin in the gut, taking the rose from him, and escaping over to Sora right before the party fights him.
Naminé is an... unusual case. At first she's a Damsel in Distress that Sora has to rescue. The problem is that this is a complete and utter lie. She's a witch who can control the memories of people connected to Sora. However, she's only doing it because she's a hostage to Marluxia. After Sora rescues her, she's trying to restore his memories... only to be forced into hiding soon after when she betrays DiZ and the Organisation wants her dead. Doesn't stop her from rescuing Kairi, though.
The paramedics from Urban Chaos: Riot Response are usually in need of rescue, which makes sense since they're civilians trying to save injured cops and firefighters while under attack from insane gang members with ELECTRIC SAWS.
Also the firefighters, Officer Forrester, and your C.O. Adam Wolf are in need of rescue. The firefighters are excused because they too are unarmed and the Burners have guns. Officer Forrester when he is not being used as a human shield is rather competent at stealing your kills so he too is excused. Wolf is excused because they kidnapped him at his safe house. Both Forrester and Wolf tell you when to fire at the Burner and they mock their would-be kidnapper.
The original has princesses Maria and Elice, along with Midia, who all fight by your side once you rescue them. Also included is princess Nyna, although she's an NPC who mostly exists for story purposes.
Ellis in Mystery of the Emblem
'In Genealogy of Holy War, Edain, Diadora, Yuria and Lynn start like this before they join you. It doesn't end well for all of them but Edin: Diadora eventually ends up brainwashed and dead; Yuria fares just as badly as her mother Diadora, but she survives, eventually coming into her own when she gets the holy spellbook Narga and bravely vows to keep fighting; and it's implied in a veiled way, through Ares vs Bramsel's pre-battle convo and Ares and Lynn's convo when she's freed, that she was raped by Bramsel after he took her captive.
In Sword of Seal, Princess Guinevere in the mental/emotional sense, Lilina before you free her and she becomes a Magic Knight. Also, Badass Bookworm Cecilia (in her defense, she was injured) and Mysterious Waif Sophia, who also join your group.
In The Sacred Stones, Queen Ismaire of the White Dunes The worse thing? You do not get to save her, and she ultimately dies in the arm of her son, King Incognito Joshua. SNIFFFFF! .
Though Fire Emblem applies the imprisonment plot device to both genders pretty judiciously - probably thanks to the easy "recruit opportunity" of prisoners of war. For example, the afore-mentioned Midia is imprisoned with three other characters, all of whom are men. In Path of Radiance, Rolf is held hostage along with Mist, likewise the POWs Brom and Nephenee (plus Crimean Knight Kieran). In Radiant Dawn Illyana and Aimee are held prisoner, but so are the three male members of their caravan (and the incognito dragon prince, Kurthnaga). There are plenty of Distressed Dude examples littered throughout the games, too.
In Fire Emblem Awakening we have Emmeryn, who's captured and threatened with death unless Chrom gives King Gangrel Ylisse's treasure, Lissa's best friend Maribelle taken hostage by Gangrel for trying to call a cease and desist to the bandit attacks, Nowi the Manakete who was put on an auction block and treated like a circus animal, and Noire, Tharja's daughter who's captured by a slave trader and held prisoner until she finds a bow lying on the ground and her alternate self takes over.
In Fire Emblem Fates, all three paths have Saizo's partner Kagero get captured by Kotaro, and you have to rescue her. It even results in an Enemy Mine in the Conquest route, where you are at war with Saizo's country.
Though Fire Emblem applies the imprisonment plot device to both genders pretty judiciously - probably thanks to the easy "recruit opportunity" of prisoners of war. For example, the afore-mentioned Midia is imprisoned with four other characters, all of whom are men. In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, Rolf is held hostage along with Mist, likewise the POWs Brom and Nephenee (plus Crimean Knight Kieran). In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn Ilyana and Aimee are held prisoner, but so are the three male members of their caravan (and the incognito dragon prince, Kurthnaga). Midway through Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest, you have to rescue the Hoshidan royalty, consisting of two men and two women, from getting murdered in captivity by an unscrupulous underling. There are plenty of Distressed Dude examples littered throughout the games, too.
Braid takes this trope and inverts it. In the final level (technically the first, chronologically), the princess is in distress because of you. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!.
Suikoden V has a subversion with Princess Lymsleia. While she is held hostage for most of the game, she chooses to use her authority to attempt an escape from the Godwins and in the war in the favor of La Résistance in a supposed assault on them rather than accept the state of affairs.
In City of Heroes there is a junior heroine, Fusionette, who is constantly getting in over her head, captured and needing rescuing. So much so that it's become a running joke among the community that she has to be the worst superhero in Paragon and the only reason that Vanguard even employ her is as an example of others of how NOT to do the missions.
Resident Evil every playable female character (with the sole exception of Shiva in RE5) has to be saved more than once.
Jill Valentine the series's primary female protagonist is not free from this, in her debut she nearly gets killed by zombie hounds before Chis and Wesker save her. In Spencer Estate proper she still needs her male colleagues to pull her put trouble, Barry saves from becoming a ''Jill Sandwich'' when she gets trapped by a Descending Ceiling and in Chris's play through she has to be saved from Wesker's prison ensuring a Rescue Hug. The majority of Resident Evil 3 subverts this greatly with Jill being the main protagonist, though she is saved by Carlos when the Nemesis manages to infect her. Resident Evil: Revelations also subverts this as Jill is the one trying to find and rescue Chris for half of the game, also the prologue to Resident Evil 5 "Lost in Nightmares" she's the one who saves Chris from Wesker by performing a Heroic Sacrifice spearing Wesker out of a window. Unfortunately the damsel comes backs as Jill is dying and Wesker decides to strip her down and put her in a test tube and experiment on her as the ultimate revenge against Chris.
Jill's role in Resident Evil 5 as whole is hybrid of Damsel and Dark Action Girl as she's Wesker's Dragon and Nina William's esque super assassin however she's also Brainwashed and Crazy and in need of rescuing, Chris manages to snap her out of Wesker's control and she even provides firepower against Wesker in the final battle though she doesn't get to fight Wesker herself which disappointed a good chunk of fans. To make matters worse the last we hear of Jill she's hospitalized and bored.
Claire Redfield who was trained by her brother Chris and is even a Biker Babe in her debut in RE2 still has these moments. In her very first scene she is saved from the zombies by Leon the rookie cop but for the rest of the game she subverts this trope playing Mama Bear to Cherry, and she manages to avoid damsel status in the final cutscene against the G-Creature (despite screaming for Leon) by finding a opening in the train. In Resident Evil – Code: Veronica Claire subverts this majorly like Jill in 3, Claire in Code Veronica is an Bullet Time-happy action girl pulling some big Matrix moments in the opening cutscene and remains competent for most of the game despite being imprisoned in the first level. But Claire's winning streak doesn't last the whole game especially when's captured by Alexiaplus there was some painfully forced Rescue Romance with Steve Burnside that happens earlier.
Claire's role in CG movie Resident Evil: Degeneration can sort of considered this, she along with some other survivors are trapped by zombies in a airport and she needs to be saved by Leon again the exact same way he does in Resident Evil 2. However when Claire and little girl Rani are surrounded by zombies, Leon tosses her his handgun and Claire takes out all of them in seconds so she's still the action girl underneath, Claire is just committed to looking after Rani like she was with Cherry.
Rebecca Chambers got this heavily but ironically enough they actually made her a damsel in reverse, by giving her a badass upgrade in the prequel, where she's a player character and therefore pretty competent. In Resident Evil 0 she's the only survivor of the Star's Bravo Team and while she has to be saved by her partner Billy Cohen from Leaches and falling down a hole at one point, Rebecca still kicks a lot of ass by herself even defeating the goddamn Proto-Tyrant. But since RE1 takes places after 0, some time between then and running into Chris (who has to save her) in the original game, she apparently snapped from the sheer horror around her and lost all her zombie-killing skills. In CGI movie Resident Evil: Vendetta she's an absolute Damsel In Distress having be to be saved by Leon and Chris from the Big Bad Arias who of course has Villainous Crush on her and plans to to make her his bride since she looks like his dead wife.
Ashley Graham from Resident Evil 4. Made all the more hilarious by how she was shown to want very much to give Leon a Smooch of Victory (and a lot more than just a smooch) for rescuing her at the end... only for Leon to reject her and make sure she knows that he is not interested.
Ada has comes close to this trope more than a few times but only outright been a damsel in the climax of RE4 when Saddler overpowers her and holds her hostage. It seems like she's going to be a damsel in Resident Evil: Damnation but then immediately frees herself with a knife hidden in her stiletto.
In The Legend of Dragoon, Shana fits the bill perfectly. Even when she joins the party she is the light-elemental-healer.
Parodied in Reset Generation where EVERY player tries to 'rescue' a princess from every other player.
Star Force's Luna Platz becomes one whenever the evil villains attack in the games. There are three occasions in the first game where this happens. When Taurus turns Bud into a monster, then when she (along with Bud and Zack Temple) are forced into doing the swan dance on a trip to AMAKEN. Finally when the kids teacher merges with an evil FM-Ian and goes berserk. Her role as the Distressed Damsel continues into the second game, as she is kidnapped by Hyde-Phantom, then almost trapped in a alternate dimension by Solo-Rogue (along with Bud, Sonia and Zack), then kidnapped by Hyde-Phantom, again and then finally kidnapped by a giant bird monster.
And it all comes to a head in the third game. The trip to Alohaha was supposed to be a relaxing affair, but then Jack and Tia corrupt Strong with a Noise Card, causing him to start an earthquake on the island and force him into a fight with Mega Man. Before you can say "it can't get any worse", JOKER shows up and erases Strong. Just as Jack and Tia transform to fight Geo, Luna picked the absolute worst time to show up - and Joker uses THAT opportunity tokillher! Strong, Luna, and Vogue (Luna's Wizard, the youngest of the lot) all get better, but Joker has established himself as a very serious threat - one that Luna fans absolutely despise.
At the end of Total Overdose, Ram has to save a Distressed Damsel in a sequence involving many tropes so dead they don't even have entries. The Damsel is tied to the front of a runaway locomotive by the Villain, and Ram must run along boxcars, jumping into and out of boxcars, fighting mooks, and dodging explosives. The subversions could be that the Villain wears a White Hat with an antique emblem of the US Cavalry on it, and that instead of a horse, Ram gets a motorcycle to ultimately ride to the rescue on.
Sue Sakamoto in Cave Story is continually kidnapped or imprisoned by various parties.
When playing as Quote, Curly does need to helped at certian points of the original story but otherwise is an invincible partner. In Curly Mode it's Quote whose the Dude In Distress.
She gets to invert the trope, running into a burning building to save Max.
The line is an Ironic Echo from the first game, when she denies being a damsel in distress like her twin sister was.
Spelunky, has a character known as the damsel, who can be rescued from most levels for an extra hit point. One extra hit point. She also makes for a good throwing weapon. If you rescue 8 of them in one playthrough, you can play as her and you rescue Spelunky instead.
Marian in the original Double Dragon, where the main objective was to rescue her from the Black Warriors.
Subverted in Double Dragon II: The Revenge. The arcade version starts off just like the first game, with Marian being surrounded by the Black Warriors, only instead of being knocked unconscious and taken into their hideout, she is gunned down to death by Machine Gun Willy. A similar thing happens in the NES version, only it shows Marian being attacked by a ninja (instead of Machine Gun Willy) and the game doesn't actually show the murder occur (the opening only says that it happened). Marian stays dead in the arcade version, but in the NES version she is brought back to life if the player completes the game on hardest difficulty level (playing this trope straight in a way).
She's a no-show in the arcade version of Double Dragon 3, but in the NES version the game's plot was rewritten (specifically for the localized version) so that the final boss turns out to be a possessed version of Marian named Queen Noiram ("Marion" spelled backwards).
Liara's establishing character moment in Mass Effect involves rescuing her from a forcefield she got herself stuck inside, fighting off a krogan battlemaster while she hides in a corner, then saving her from a collapsing volcano. To avoid confusion, and confirm her love-interest status, she then proceeds to faint once she arrives on your ship, since she spent anywhere from hours to days without food or water in extremely stressful situation. Once she's had a proper rest she reveals herself for the badass she really is in the next mission you take her along. More so in the sequel.
Liara's establishing character moment in Mass Effect 3 subverts this trope fantastically while demonstrating her Character Development throughout the series. She is first seen scrambling through the air ducts, trying to escape Cerberus troopers who have attacked the base she was working at. As soon as she exits the ducts, she uses a biotic attack and a pistol to ambush and execute both troopers.
The Rachni Queen somewhat counts, insomuch as a giant bug can be considered a damsel! If set free on Noveria during the first game, she is captured by the Reapers during the third. Both times Shepard can decide to rescue her.
In Neverwinter Nights 2, after you rescue Neeshka from the Fort Locke guards, she says "Does that make me a damsel in distress? I hope not, I hate those women!"
She get snatched off-screen once you enter Merdelain.
Miyu in Red Steel is kidnapped on the first level, and the rest of the game revolves around bringing down the yakuza in order to save her.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) features Princess Elise taken hostage by Eggman, who pursues her relentlessly whenever Sonic gets her out of his clutches. Eventually, when she gets a few hints of what Eggman wants from her, she stands up to him by dropping herself to her supposed death to prevent him from acheiving his goal. After that scene, it's only after Eggman threatens to destroy her city/kingdom that Elise chooses to return as his prisoner.
Also occasionally played straight with Cream.
Amy Rose a few odd times, most prominently in Sonic the Hedgehog CD. Interestingly, in LEGO Dimensions, Amy actually complains about being this and how it seems that it just overshadows her own heroics.
Tails occasionally plays a girlish-boy-in-distress kind-of role.
In the spin-off cartoons and comics, Princess Sally takes the role on occasion too.
Wonderfully averted in BioShock 2. Eleanor Lamb is setup to be one, but stick her in a combat situation and she absolutely massacres every Mook in her way. It is also revealed that she basically engineered her own rescue by resurrecting her rescuer.
Raven inverts this a few times in Ultima IX, then lampshades it when she has to play it straight. She later puts the Avatar into Distressed Dude territory herself...and makes him like it.
Played straight in the first Ultima Underworld: when the game starts, the Baron's daughter, Arial, has been abducted into the Stygian Abyss by the villain, and the Avatar is forced to prove their innocence by rescuing her.
Subverted in World of Warcraft. For the Alliance, you get a quest to rescue the dwarven princess from Blackrock Depths. For the Horde, you're given the same quest in the hopes of improving relations with the dwarves. Not only she does not want to leave, but she is pregnant. And you just killed the father.
Kaori plays this role in Eien no Aselia despite theoretically having the same ass kicking potential as any stranger would. But she never even acquires a weapon and is instead held hostage for almost the entirety of the game by one person or another.
If you romance a Governor's Daughter enough in the 2004 version of Sid Meier's Pirates!, then when you next visit the port the Governor will tearfully tell you that she has been kidnapped by the Evil Colonel Mendoza and beg you to hunt him down and rescue her. (Successfully doing so leads to the opportunity to propose marriage shortly after.)
Haunting Ground uses this as a gameplay mechanic, by requiring Fiona to have rely on Hewie as her primary means of defense against the game's stalkers. This is especially the case, when she's in full panic mode and unable to move. In most cases, her only recourse is to run and hide 'til the danger's passed.
Princess Kiku in Tenchu gets kidnapped in every game she appears in. It's played with in Tenchu 4, where she orders Rikimaru to kill her as a way to defeat the Big Bad who was holding her hostage, and he eventually complies.
Subverted in Dragon Age: Origins. In the "Paragon of Her Kind" quest, one of your goals is to rescue party member Oghren's wife, Branka, from the Deep Roads, where she is missing. It turns out that she deliberately led her entire clan (except him) there in search of an ancient Artifact of Doom. When it turned out the artifact was protected by lots of golems, ghosts, and death traps, she deliberately let darkspawn kill all the men and attempt to turn all the women into Broodmothers, a process that involves force-feeding them the flesh of poisonous monsters and their own relatives, gang-rape by monsters, and lots of Body Horror, so that she'd have a vast supply of monsters to set off the traps and kill the guardians. She's raving insane as well as utterly evil by the time you find her. You can spare her life and take the artifact for yourself, but the better choice, both morally and gameplay-wise, involves fighting and killing her, then destroying it. Even if you spare her, she refuses to be rescued, and stays in the Deep Roads with her prize.
After the infiltration of Arl Howe's estate, the Warden him/herself can be arrested (along with Alistair, if he's in the active party at the time) and have to be rescued from prison by your choice of party members. Choose carefully, some combinations have truly hilarious results.
In the third act of Dragon Age II, a faction of mages and Templars working together to bring down Knight-Commander Meredith comes to the conclusion that Hawke is their enemy, and will kidnap someone important to Hawke as a means of luring them into an ambush. Who exactly is kidnapped depends on how the game has been played up to this point. If Hawke's remaining sibling is still alive, they will be the first choice. If both of the siblings have died, then it will be Hawke's Love Interest, unless Hawke is being played celibate or the Love Interest is in the active party when the abduction is discovered. If either of those is the case, the kidnap victim will be Hawke's closest friend. No matter who is taken, however, the result is the same - one Roaring Rampage of Rescue.
Dragon Age: Inquisition has an entire cadre of kidnap victims, a group of Inquisition soldiers taken hostage by a hostile barbarian who wants to fight the Herald of Andraste and knew that this was a surefire way to make them come to him.
There's also a subtle deconstruction in BlazBlue. While on the initial surface, Litchi Faye-Ling is trying to 'rescue' Arakune from his fate as an Eldritch Abomination (and later be captured by Relius), in truth she's been dying of the same corruption and Kokonoe flat out refused to help her, and without any other sources of help, she's Forced into Evil by joining NOL. In other words, Litchi has been in distress mentally and had to act on her own because nobody is willing to help her, compounded with the fact that she has been hiding her growing corruption from everyone else except Kokonoe, which makes possible helpers like Bang, Taokaka or Carl completely unaware of her distress.
Much of the plot of Asura's Wrath is this, being about Asura's struggle to save his daughter Mithra. In the end, no one could stop him from saving her, not even the creator of life itself.
Dark Souls has several. Rhea is trapped in the Tomb of the Giants after her companions either all abandoned her or died. Dusk of Oolacile and Sieglinde are trapped in golden crystal golems. Anastacia of Astora is murdered and you have to retrieve her soul to revive her. Then again, most of the dudes you meet need rescuing you as well.
Jade's distressed damsels in Beyond Good & Evil are quite original, in that she has to rescue her uncle, who is a humanoid pig, as well as all the orphans from the lighthouse.
Dragon's Dogma. The ending works on this premise, with whichever character you have the highest affinity with being kidnapped by the dragon and used as a hostage as your assumed love interest. Can lead to unintended hilarity if someone like Feste or Fournival is chosen. Aelinore also has this as her defining characteristic, and can potentially be rescued three times in the game.
In Little King's Story, all the princesses are held in jars by the kings you have to defeat to add them to your set. Near the end of the game, whoever you brought with you is swallowed by a rat king, which later gets chucked out the window by the boy whose room you're in.
The Lunar series rarely passes on an opportunity to incorporate a love interest rescue into one of its finales.
Lunar: Eternal Blue — Lucia, target of the hero's Dulcinea Effect, is captured by the Big Bad near the end. Technically she frees herself, but if the hero hadn't come for her she would have assumed escape was impossible.
Lunar: Dragon Song — Lucia (a different Lucia) gets kidnapped in the first half of the game and stays that way until the conclusion.
Dynamite Dux has Lucy, the owner of the two pet ducks you play as.
Elizabeth in Bioshock Infinite seems to be your average Damsel in Distress: she's trapped in a tower, guarded by a terrible ''monster' and must be rescued by the Player Character, Booker. But she's immensely helpful in combat to the point it could be said Elizabeth is escorting YOU, constantly fetching needed supplies and using her abilities to summon useful terrain and helpers from other dimensions. While you do need to rescue her from Comstock's scientists in the third act, by the end of the game, she reaches near godlike levels of power and effortlessly defeats her former guardian, a feat even Booker himself couldn't manage.
Princess Satera from Shining Wisdom. You have to save her twice, once from being turned into a swan.
Subverted with Demi and Kyra of Phantasy Star IV; they're both captured, but not to motivate anyone: Demi is immobilized by Zio when he takes over Nurvus, the system she works in, because she's the AI that runs it, but he has no use for her himself. Kyra has to be rescued from a forest of carnivorous trees; she got so pissed off at watching her friends suffering that she decided to go kill her way through the forest to put a stop to it. Turns out the party isn't any better at fighting them than she is, either.
Although mostly able to take care of herself, there have been incidents in the Sly Cooper games where Carmelita Fox needed to be saved. This is lampshaded in the fourth game when Sir Galleth believes that a woman's role in combat is to be saved... and he was once rescued by Carmelita herself, much to his embarrassment.
Subverted in Chrono Trigger as Marle, Princess Nadia is NEVER in this position. In fact, the only time in the entire game when you have to save her is when she's been effectively erased from time and can't help herself. The rest of the game she's a gung-ho Action Girl who won't back down from anything and the only other time it's possible for her to get captured...is if she's in your party at a story moment when you can also have characters like the super strong Robot and the frog Swordsman; and she still won't just sit there waiting to be rescued.
Nevertheless, Marle still requires saving from the time paradox that threatens her existence. The actual queen Leene which Marle is mistaken for is obviously a damsel.
Robopon has Lisa and Princess Darcy in the first game. While Lisa is a Defiant Captive, Darcy has the misfortune of being trapped in a mirror.
Serenity is this in the Kaibaman show. It's just a show, but you have to duel against Leichter anyway.
Nosferatu: The Wrath Of Malachi: Everyone who's not James or a monster. The most traditional example would be Rebecca, since the ultimate objective of the game is to rescue her from the Count before he can sacrifice her. Ironically, she's the only one you can't save.
In Yu-Gi-Oh! BAM, at the same time Yugi's arrested, Akiza gets kidnapped by Devack. By the time you reach her, she's been brainwashed.
Lynn in Witches' Legacy. The premise of each game is usually Carrie having to save her from being kidnapped and possessed. It's very satisfying in have her be the player pov in the bonus chapter of the fifth game and have her save Edward.
One Way Heroics has Queen Frieda, who is locked inside a randomly-appearing heavily-guarded castle which you must fight through if you want to recruit her.
Persona 4 makes liberal use of this trope and Distressed Dude, with each kidnapped victim being one of the primary motivations for entering the TV world in the first place.
That said, this trope is subverted by each of the female party members in some capacity:
Despite being ambushed by her Shadow after running off on her own in Yukiko's dungeon, Chie plays a major role in rescuing Yukiko not long afterward. Further fleshed out in her Social Link arc, where she grapples with her burning desire to protect those around her. Also, she kicks tanks.
Yukiko's Shadow represents her desire to free herself from being forced to become the future manager of the Amagi Inn, and appears as a princess looking for her knight in shining armor. As her Social Link arc progresses, she toys with the notion of leaving the inn altogether, only to change her mind and take on the role of manager willingly and on her terms.
Rise Kujikawa, like Yukiko, appears to be the epitome of this trope at first; that is, until her Shadow is defeated by Teddie's Heroic Second Wind and she obtains her Persona. Moments later, Teddie's Shadow appears, and is ready to wipe the floor with the party until the exhausted and newly freed Rise steps up to provide analysis and support to the party (which was originally Teddie's job). Her S. Link revolves around her conflicted feelings about her career as an idol: she hates being the ditzy pop star, but she is reminded of just how inspirational she is to many of her fans (including her replacement, Kanami).
Subverted in Shadowgate. The player comes across a beautiful maiden chained in a tower, but if you try to rescue her she turns into a werewolf and kills you. You have to kill her before you can take the important artifact she was guarding.
In Monster Hunter: World, The Handler assigned to the player character to manage their contracts and paperwork very often winds up rushing off to explore and bumps into a dangerous monster. This tendency is lampshaded by the scholars, before the first Deviljho hunt, making specific mention of her staying in camp. Unfortunately, she has already ventured into the Ancient Forest where it is lurking before she can be warned. Sure enough, she is caught in a clash between Deviljho and Great Jagras and needs to be rescued from her current pickle before she literally ends up in a pickle.