Characters in Gaming who Received a Makeover
As game franchises progress, sometimes they need a little change in order to keep things fresh, and while some franchises make simple changes that fans and players readily accept, others take more risks and make drastic changes, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. This can also apply to the main protagonists of the games, so here we take a look at some characters that have visited the virtual surgeons knife.
Bayonetta – Bayonetta 2
Starting off with more simple changes, in Bayonetta 2 the eponymous heroine has had enough of her long hair being a good target point for enemies and so decided to give herself the chop, opting for a simple, shorter and more manageable do. After all, who has time to mess around with their hair when there’s fighting off legions of supernatural enemies to be done? And it’s not just her hair that has been changed. Bayonetta’s clothing has also been altered, becoming more geometric, straight lines being used where possible, which can be seen in the diamond shapes in the fabric down the backs of her legs. Some aspects of Bayonetta’s outfit has also been coloured blue, reflecting the sequels ‘water’ theme and even though Bayonetta’s back is still on show, her chest area is now closed. All of the aforementioned changes were made to reflect her poise and sophistication. These alterations came about due to the developers wanting to express Bayonetta’s wild personality, feeling that she isn’t the type of character who would show up with the same style twice; given this, if there ever is a Bayonetta 3, then do expect another redesign for the character.
Max Payne – Max Payne 3
Another simple change, Max Payne shaves off all of his hair in Max Payne 3 after blaming himself for a characters death, swearing off alcohol and changing his appearance in order to go undercover to save said character’s other half after she is kidnapped. A change made to distance himself from his past mistakes, it also sees Max growing a beard, wearing a very snappy Hawaiian t-shirt and donning pilot shades, a stark contrast to his usual neo-noir style.
Harry Mason – Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Clearly someones memory has been shattered here, because Harry looks nothing like his original character. Of course it’s expected that a main character will need to have a few changes made as more advanced-looking games are released, though the developers could easily have upgraded the original. Instead, they opted for adding glasses, reflecting his profession as a writer, and Harry’s hair style and clothing are also slightly different too. Original Harry seemed more muscular with a chiselled jawline, with a hardened expression and wearing a simple grey t-shirt under his brown jacket, with his hair slicked back. Shattered Memories’ Harry Mason, in all honesty, looks less confident than previously, though is much better suited to his original personality. There’s no major changes to Harry Mason though and fans have easily accepted his new, geek-chic look.
Yuna – Final Fantasy X-2
While the next female on this list has now been less sexualised, Yuna is a different story. The once innocent-looking Yuna made her return in Final Fantasy X-2, but with less clothing and more of an attitude, complete with a new, spiky hairdo, reflecting her new persona. Her long blue skirt has been replaced by denim short-shorts, allowing her to show more leg, and her white top is more tight-fitting and low-cut, allowing her to show more arms and chest, making Yuna look less mystical and more like a typical, rebellious teenager. Her redesign came about thanks to fans praising her characterisation and sex appeal, though her new look in FFX-2 received a mixed reception. Still, if fans found her sexually appealing in her original outfit anyway, then it defies belief why the developers felt they needed to enhance her sex appeal with these changes.
Lara Croft – Tomb Raider (2013)
On to more radical changes now, and Lara Croft is probably one of the most well-known redesigns in recent years. Thanks to the rise in ‘female empowerment’ and the move to have more natural-looking female characters in games, Lara Croft’s formerly voluptuous assets, that had had male gamers drooling over their controllers for years, had been all but removed from the reboot of Tomb Raider in 2013. Going for a more natural look, Lara now looks more down-to-earth and like the every-woman rather than the sexualised pin-up that pandered to the male gamer demographic. That’s not to say her new look is terrible: Lara now looks a lot younger – the reboot is a prequel, of course – and is much more relatable, with her new natural look possibly being inspired by such actresses like Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Watson. All in all, Lara is now, on the whole, a better role model for younger female gamers.
Link – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
If there’s one character that has been under the virtual surgical knife numerous times, it is The Legend of Zelda’s Link. There are many iterations of his character design, depending on the style of the game he’s appearing in. It was 2002’s The Wind Waker on the GameCube, however, that proved to be the most controversial redesign for the character yet and remains so to this day, with many thinking that he looked too cartoonish and childish in comparison to earlier games in the series such as Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. His signature green clothing, lightly coloured hair and blue eyes are always present, even though his overall physical features and art style change. However, this could be about to change with the upcoming Breath of the Wild on Wii U and NX, with Link dressed in a blue tunic and with the character now becoming gender-neutral.
Sonic the Hedgehog – Sonic Boom
Probably the one change that has been added to every other list of this type, it is Sonic in Sonic Boom. For the new game, and accompanying TV show, Sonic and his friends were all given makeovers. Sonic’s look isn’t the most drastic of all the characters featured, with him retaining his overall usual look, except for a few minor alterations and additions. Sonic now looks taller and leaner to reflect his agility, has a few extra added quills and was given a brown scarf, used to protect his face from dust and soot when he runs. Certain parts of his body are covered in sports bandages, and his arms are now blue, keeping in tone with the other characters. Personally Sonic’s new look doesn’t bother me, but Knuckles, on the other hand, is a whole different story.
Bomberman – Bomberman: Act Zero
A controversial redesign, Bomberman’s new look in 2006 did not impress a lot of people. His usual cute look was ditched in favour of a more serious, dark tone, probably one of the most drastic changes on this list, though one where the lesson was very much learned. Perhaps the designers wanted to give Bomberman an excuse as to where he actually pulls those bombs out from, making the simple, bobble-head-like character into a scary human-robot hybrid, with realistic human proportions layered with robotic armour. With some darker and more mature games being so popular, perhaps the developers (Hudson Soft) saw an opportunity to cash in and so we were given this very different Bomberman in the hopes they would have a new and popular series on their hands, changing their ailing fortunes for the foreseeable future. How wrong they were.
Chris Redfield – Resident Evil 5
So just what happened to Chris Redfield after his appearance in Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles? He hit the gym and was probably taking steroids, given his very different and bulky new look in Resident Evil 5. This was around the time when fans began to think that Resident Evil had started to lose touch with reality, with characters now becoming less human, and more superhuman, with only Wesker really having an excuse as to why he had also bulked up so much. Jill Valentine was also given superhero fighting powers in Resident Evil 5, even being given a superhero-style costume. The same goes for Ada Wong who is well known for her stylish flips and kicks, though it was Chris’s transformation that had fans talking the most. With the Resident Evil games moving more towards action rather than survival horror, Capcom probably wanted to make Chris look more militaristic in the same vein as characters featured in the likes of Gears of War, though the change didn’t go down well with fans. Chris continued this bulked-up trend in Resident Evil 6 and Revelations, though with the series looking to get back to its more relatable and realistic roots, hopefully Chris will be looking more like his old self soon enough.
Dante – DMC: Devil May Cry
Another drastic change that had fans up in arms, DMC: Devil May Cry even went as far as to flip the bird at its fans. Here saw the iconic Dante become more ‘westernised’, changing his pizza-eating, boss-teasing, confident and fearless persona into an angsty, broody teenager, and even chopping his famous white hair off and changing it into a rather generic brown short-cropped style, with fans even going so far as to call him ’emo’. Needless to say, the change did not go down well with fans at all. This transformation was to make Dante more appealing to gamers in the west, because clearly players in the west hate Japanese gaming, turning their noses up at unpopular titles such as Pokemon, Street Fighter, Final Fantasy, Yakuza, Legend of Zelda and the like (I am being sarcastic, if you didn’t realise). There’s even a point in the game when a white wig falls on Dante’s head and he quips “Not in a million years.”, flipping that aforementioned bird to the fans. As with Chris in Resident Evil, hopefully in the next DMC game Dante will also be back to his old self, appeasing all of those wronged fans.
The Prince – Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands
Another character that went down the bulked-up, broody route, The Prince had a slight change in appearance in The Forgotten Sands, his usual agile, athletic physique and humorous persona swapped for a much more generic, broody, troubled hero, complete with fabulous new flowing locks. Looking more medieval than Persian, it’s hard to imagine someone so heavy-set being able to pull off all the flipping, swinging, wall running, parkour-esque movements that is prevalent in this game, the tone of the game overall becoming more serious and less cartoon-like, much like its main hero.
Sam Fisher – Splinter Cell: Blacklist
A name that surprisingly doesn’t get a mention on many lists like this, Sam Fisher got the Benjamin Button treatment in Splinter Cell: Blacklist, ageing backwards at least 20 years and losing his iconic voice, which was swapped for a much younger tone. Another change that did not go down well with fans – myself included – the change was an odd choice, considering Blacklist was not a prequel and with the game being released in chronological order, meaning Sam should have been older. With his 30 year old daughter, Sarah, being more prevalent in Blacklist, it didn’t help matters that the new Sam looked and sounded like a 35 year old; it is certainly strange listening to him interacting with his daughter, knowing he is older but them looking and sounding around the same age. With Splinter Cell: Blacklist not selling very well, it remains to be seen what will happen next with the franchise, though it would have been much more respectful to his voice actor, Michael Ironside, had they just retired the character all together and focused on an entirely new protagonist instead.