Coming up with original characters seems to be getting harder and harder for video game creators these days, with the myriads of sequels and remakes that have been coming out. Some of these games help fuel our hunger for the characters and stories we adore, while others strip our favorite characters of the very attributes that made them our favorites in the first place. So, let’s dive into some of the good, the bad and the weird in video game character redesigns, starting off with the bad.
Mega Man (Street Fighter X Tekken)
Mega Man has been a staple in gaming since his appearance in 1987 on the NES. The little guy has always had an adorable glow about him that is unmistakably Japanese and yet he’s always been right at home outside of Japan. From his oversized arms and legs, to his blue tighty whiteys on the outside of his pants and his “Oh yeah!” face (for some reason that’s what I image Mega Man shouting every time he jumps), it’s hard not to like the light-hearted robot in his early days.
Street Fighter X Tekken brought together an amazing roster of characters from both series’ line-ups. They also decided to slip in a few characters from outside the fighting game genre as has been a common occurrence in many fighters for decades now. This is how this particular Mega Man came to existence. Although the Mega Man portrayed in the game is most certainly a joke reference to the U.S. box art of the original Mega Man game, it still ranks as one of the worst redesign of a video game character. With a beer belly and a set of spandex, this Mega Man looks like a middle-aged man who suffered a mid-life crisis and decided to order a superhero costume off of eBay. In the cartoon version of the character, underwear on the outside looks normal. In this version, it looks creepy. The creators of Street Fighter X Tekken really aren’t to blame on this one though—that all resides with the people who decided that the U.S. market needed this strange looking guy to sell the first Mega Man game for NES.
Prince of Persia (Prince of Persia: Warrior Within)
The Prince has traded in his look many times throughout the course of the Prince of Persia series. In his first game, his outfit looked a bit like a pair of pajamas, but it may have just appeared this way because of the visual capabilities of computers at the time. When the Prince made a comeback in 2003 with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, he seemed to be on top of the world. I generally don’t care for my main protagonists to be shirtless in general, but the Prince made it somehow acceptable. It may have been because he was essentially a mildly disgruntled caricature of Aladdin from the Disney movies, but it completed the Middle-Eastern fantasy.
Like so many comic books, video games and movies, The Prince of Persia: Warrior Within tried to transform the Prince into a hip, edgy hero with a dark and brooding countenance. He got himself a gothic emo haircut, began wearing mascara and donned a leather bondage get-up. He also started to tote around some gruesome looking blades. After his little makeover, the Prince looks like he’s trying a little too hard to look like Criss Angel. The shift in style stole a little bit away from the Arabian adventure aspect, making him come across as just pandering to the whole dark and edgy craze. The Prince really wasn’t broken in any way during his Sands of Time days, so there was a lack of need to fix it.
Bomberman (Bomberman: Act Zero)
The best part about Bomberman is how his light-hearted look reflects the gameplay of the series. It took a few games before Bomberman gained his widely known look, but the overall design of the character acted as the perfect gateway into the pick up and play gaming, much like Mario does for any of his games. The bubble shaped head, pink hands and cartoon eyes don’t scare anyone out of a game of Bomberman, while the cartoon bombs look like something from a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. Nothing could accompany the gameplay better.
Bomberman, who is it you’re trying to impress with these new digs? This Bomberman, from the 2006 xBox game, looks like something Tony Stark might have created during his early days of being Iron Man. The design itself isn’t necessarily bad, but replacing the old version of Bomberman with a scary futuristic cyborg emits a completely different message to potential gamers. It may have been a thinly veiled attempt to draw in the “Halo crowd” into this type of game, but the type of gamer who requires this type of visual style to be lured into a game, probably won’t be satisfied with the style of gameplay typically associated with the Bomberman series. This character redesign is the perfect example of how a decent character placed into the wrong style of gameplay hurts the whole experience and misses the entire point.
On the next page, we’ll take a look at the best video game character redesigns!