Mario, Link, and Sonic the Hedgehog are just three of the most recognizable faces in the video game industry. Having careers dating back as far as the ’80s will almost guarantee an extended existence in the hearts of gamers all over the world. So it goes virtually without saying that such famous faces have come a long way since the 8-bit days.
Although their original titles are age-old classics, many famous faces of the medium look almost nothing like what they had in those games, but sometimes that’s a good thing. It could have been something as simple as a graphics upgrade or a complete overhaul, but many beloved video game characters have undergone major transformations over the years.
Sonic (Sonic the hedgehog)
The Blue Blur gets Special Mention due to the fact that Sega recently realized that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. While Sonic is getting the full 3D treatment in many of his modern games and spin-offs, he has since reverted to his 16-bit origins in recent years.
With the release of Sonic Mania and its DLC, Sonic fans received a much needed return to form from their favorite spiky hedgehog. While it’s certainly sharper than it was in the ’90s, it’s refreshing to see a modern update to Sonic’s original design.
Samus Aran (Metroid)
Samus may be one of the most consistently designed characters out there, but she’s come a long way from the chunky spacesuit she wore in the original NES title. The original Metroid definitely broke new ground for Nintendo, but Samus and his series only really took off until Super Metroid on the SNES.
While she currently sports a fully visualized bounty hunter costume with enough bells and whistles to make Boba Fett jealous, her modern look would be nothing without her ’90s upgrade. There’s a reason why the classics never die.
Ryu Hayabusa (Ninja Gaiden)
Sometimes less is more, but in some cases a little more never hurts. Ryu Hayabusa may be one of the deadliest ninjas in video games, but looking at the original Ninja gaiden and comparing it to other titles like Shinobi and Ghost dancer, it doesn’t exactly stand out from the typical assassin of garden varieties.
When Ryu received his graphics overhaul for the Playstation-era reboot, he stepped into the picture with an all-shinobi-style redesign. He was the embodiment of a classic ninja, but with his own personality and flavor.
Alucard (Castlevania III / Symphony of the Night)
Many casual players of the Castlevania often forget that Alucard was not born in the famous Symphony of the Night, but rather in Castlevania III on the NES. With that in mind, his redesign and 16-bit update made him the perfect vampire hero for the classic Metroidvania.
While he was more than a little extra compared to Simon or Trevor Belmont, his fluid design gave him a more regal and elegant quality. Taking cue from vampire Lestat with his gorgeous locks and ornate clothing, this is an awesome look for Dracula’s 16-bit son.
Scorpion (Mortal Kombat)
With 11 entries in the main series, it’s easy to see how a full cast of tournament fighters can evolve and develop over time. But if we had to name a poster boy for the horrible and bloody Mortal combat series, that honor must go to the late Scorpion.
From 16-bit photo sprites to fully rendered models, Scorpion has followed its time. And with each new incarnation more deadly than the last, there’s no sign he’s slowing down anytime soon. Since the most recent game offers new ways to customize the Returning Warrior, there is a Scorpion for every occasion.
Kratos (god of war)
Kratos is a very special case in terms of design and development, as not only has he grown in terms of visual enhancements, but also as a character. The original Ghost of Sparta was a Greek champion even King Leonidas would have to fear, but that all changed when the Nordic inspiration God of the war restart is entered into the formula.
Not only has Kratos greatly adapted to the Viking lifestyle with a thick beard and the Leviathan ax, but he has evolved tremendously as a character. The champion seen in the reboot is practically a different character from the bloodthirsty rageball than he was in his original titles.
Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)
She may have started her video game career as an industry sex symbol, but Lara Croft has come a long way from her low-poly model days on the original game station. Thanks to Sony’s reinvention of the Grave robber franchise, she is now a more grounded and down-to-earth survivor instead of a stereotype.
Lara’s evolution, like Kratos, is one that has matured for the better. She’s still one of the best women in the video game world, but she now has more cinematic and developed skills, having more in common with Rambo than with Angelina Jolie.
The 2016 remake / reboot Loss was a return to form for the FPS genre. While there is certainly a rich lore among the carnage presented, the main idea of ââthe game is to let the bullets fly and watch the bad guys fall. The graphics and gore weren’t the only things in need of a massive overhaul, as the towering bully on the box art clearly demonstrates.
The Doom Slayer has gone beyond the 16-bit head in the box of yesteryear, because now he’s armed to the teeth and dressed to kill. Simply put, from helmet to boots, he’s anything and everything a demon hunter could want.
Mario (Super Mario)
The video game industry wouldn’t be what it is today without Nintendo’s brave little plumber. A lot has changed for Mario and his games since he first faced off against Donkey Kong during the arcade era, and his overall appearance is one of the most important.
Mario went from the Popeye figure seen on the side of arcade cabinets to a friendlier-faced adventurer from the Mushroom Kingdom. Although its appearance in the recent Smash bros series has received much more intricate details, there is still something to be said for her classic red and blue outfit.
Link (The Legend of Zelda)
If it’s a numbers game, the hero of Hyrule definitely holds the title belt. Link has virtually received a new design with each new Zelda slice, ranging from the elven adventurer to an epic fantasy champion with blades and bows to spare. There is literally a Link for every occasion.
As the series evolved, so did the land of Hyrule and its people. Along with his relationship with Princess Zelda, Link’s design and outward appearance matured along the way, moving from the fairy-less boy to the savior of Zelda’s realm.
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