I personally feel that characters in games are a lot more important these days than they used to be. Some of the best games out there are character-driven games with more and more of them becoming more like interactive films, where players like to connect with the hero/heroine of the game.
There are some games like Mario where he hasn’t really changed all that much over 25 years. He’s still a short, fat Italian plumber that we all love and who gets to save the princess. But what if he changed his image completely and became photorealistic?
Would this change my feelings or my view on how I saw Mario? If Nintendo made him look like the image above in a sequel to Super Mario Galaxy 2, it’d be like playing through a horror game of ‘Super Mario..turn it off! Turn it off!!
What if they gave Mario a spandex outfit so that he ‘fits in with the times’? There’d be here to pay for the person who thought that was a good idea. The old phrase “if it’s not broke, why fix it?” couldn’t be more true for the characters of popular games. Although there might be a franchise that is suffering, in which case a character redesign could be the best move a game ever takes and ultimately make it popular again.
Take ‘Devil May Cry’ for instance; a great game with a loyal fan base, but Dante is to get a new image in the new DMC title? Why? Surely everything was fine in the first few games, so why change him now? Capcom wanted to take him in a new and different direction apparently. Although he’s not changed a lot, it’s still sufficient enough to cause an upset.
Over the years, of course, characters have received some upgrades to move with the times and with the better graphics, and in most instances for the better. Especially with 3D gaming just starting to take off. Look at how good Ratchet and Clank on the PS3 now look in the glorious high definition! They’ve not been redesigned, only upgraded as surely a redesign of such well-known characters would be a bad move.
Maybe one-day photo-realistic characters are going to become a reality because of how fast technology is moving these days, but surely that would be a bad thing…wouldn’t it? I do like to play a game where I can jump in and lose myself for a few hours and know that it’s not reality.
I can’t think of many characters that have been redesigned and it really changes my view of them. So for now, I’m going to have to say no. But I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until something unwanted turns up and one of my favourite characters ends up with a Gok Wan overhaul.
What are your views on this question? Have you been scarred by the re-imaging of one of your favourite video games characters? Has it forced you to not buy the game because of it? Let us know your views in the comments below.
Image Source – Pixeloo
Danny ‘Ender’ Martin has been part of the Zath team from pretty much the very beginning since he met Zath himself at Leeds Met University whilst studying Business IT. He’s an avid gamer and a big film buff. Danny graduated from the University of Bradford with a degree in Computer Animation and SFX and now currently works at one of the biggest UK games developers, which will hopefully see some of his ideas hit the gaming world.