Classic game characters: then and now


Then: The hero of Bionic Commando was known as Ladd, a mistranslation of Rad. He also sported a nifty grappling hook cannon that was so heavy he couldn’t jump (or, there were only two buttons on the NES controller).

Now: Sigh. We accept the new Nathan “Rad” Spencer name just fine, and we even concede that the new, literal bionic arm makes sense – after all, if it’s not part of him, it can’t actually be bionic in the first place. But did we need the stupid hair? The gruff M-rated voicover? And did we honestly, truly need the goddam wife arm? This one’s all kinds of messed up. Don’t expect it to stick around.


Then: A tough as nails bounty hunter who turns out to be a girl… in a bathing suit, with green hair. She fights space pirates and kills Metroids. At the time her gender was something of a secret, and one of the first genuinely surprising reveals in games.

Now: No mistaking Samus’ gender today, what with the skin-tight Zero Suit outlining her every curve. The armor has changed only slightly, with expanded shoulder pads being the one notable difference. Like other Nintendo characters, her outward appearance hasn’t altered significantly.


Then: Tiny units presented in glorious 640x480. You could tell they were orcs because they were green, and that’s about it.

Now: Still green, still an important part of the Warcraft experience, but now fleshed out into more of an actual race with history, architecture and speech. The improved 1024x768 resolution doesn’t hurt either.


Then: A clear homage to slasher films, Splatterhouse’s main star donned a blood red Terror Mask that looked remarkably like Jason Voorhees’ iconic face. Otherwise a beefy dude who punched monsters until they exploded to death.

Now: The hockey mask is more or less gone, replaced with a skull-like visage that started with Splatterhouse 3. Rick’s also become even beefier, looking more like one of the thugs from Arkham Asylum than a dude with a mask on. Not the most inspired redesign, but then again Rick was never the most creative character out there.


Then: A capable member of STARS who looked like a typical police type. Hardly imposing, and dressed like one of the new recruits who doesn’t know the proper kneepad protocol.

Now: A hulking tree trunk of a man who punches monsters in the face. Look at the size of those arms! Not even a falling boulder can withstand such force. Why the 180? Because in RE1 Chris was meant to appear vulnerable. In RE5, he’s part of a tag-teaming duo that ain’t afraid a’ nuthin’.


Then: A yellow circle with a mouth. Arcade cabinet art gave him eyes and a face, and subsequent cartoons turned him into a blue collar workman, but as far as the game was concerned, Pac was a yellow dot.

Now: He’s gained and lost limbs, family members and no small amount of videogame clout. His most recent incarnation is from Pac-Man Party, a Wii festival of minigames sure to detonate the hearts of anyone who grew up suffering from Pac-Man Fever.


Then: A fairly normal-looking warrior type with a shield.

Now: Christ, what a mess. Rygar was brought back in 2002 with a look that basically mirrored his NES and arcade counterpart, but for whatever reason, Tecmo trotted out that game again in 2008 for Wii. Along with waggle came that… thing up there, Goku’d to high hell and devoid of any rugged sense of god-slaying machismo.

Last page: A quick look at some non-game characters and how they’ve weathered their virtual versions

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  • Randomwordcombination - October 1, 2010 10:58 p.m.

    Great article! It's weird to think of Cloud as a "classic game character".
  • DLSemen - August 10, 2010 3:48 a.m.

    I also applaud the T-Dar reference.
  • INFINITYGAUNTLET - July 28, 2010 7:05 p.m.

    Luigi rocks. Snake rocks. And Batman should be eternally stern.
  • Hayroon1 - July 26, 2010 12:54 a.m.

    How is the new Rygar considered "Goku'd up"?! How is Goku not the image pf manliness?
  • AuthorityFigure - July 25, 2010 10:59 a.m.

    The old ones usually show a more economic and thoughtful design than the newer ones. This is why I prefer them. And the Megaman one is purely mis-leading: those games are marketed by CAPCOM and the press (including GR itself) as retro, 8-bit, return to the past games, not current iterations.
  • GameManiac - July 25, 2010 1:12 a.m.

    It's reassuring to see how little preference was made to the old and new (as far as I see). haha! Megaman hasn't changed at all, but Batman on the other hand... Damn! That's as good as he'll ever look. Seeing Mario, Zelda, Samus as they were from the start seems fatalistic to me since I'm recently playing those first games and seeing how it all started.
  • SenatorPepper - July 24, 2010 5:46 p.m.

    This is just the kind of games "journalism" that aging man-boys like me just eat up. The screen grabs were perfect, the observations spot-on, and the T-Dar reference way core. Love ya!
  • thibtje - July 24, 2010 5:08 p.m.

    Thi is to good man!
  • slickninja - July 24, 2010 3:10 p.m.

    Wow, how gay is Bionic Commando? What a waste.
  • camelfro - July 24, 2010 3:33 a.m.

    great article
  • hardcore_gamer1990 - July 23, 2010 11:11 p.m.

    What no Rayman? I love that guy.
  • Smeggs - July 23, 2010 9:30 p.m.

    I thought Ganondorf's beard in TP made him look Irish or Scottish xD I always imagine a voice kinda like the Demo-man's from TF2 whenever I play it now.
  • Clovin64 - July 23, 2010 7:13 p.m.

    Advent Children Cloud sucks! He's just too emo! Cloud was never that emo in the original game. P.S. A massive falling boulder is no match for the Hulk-like Chris Redfield. "CHRIS SMASH!!!"
  • BornToLose3 - July 23, 2010 5:53 p.m.

    I lol'd seeing Lara Croft, damn what kind of 12 year old i was to find those attractive. Sill good article Brett
  • EAC73 - July 23, 2010 4:45 p.m.

    how about mega man from the new DS titles. great article though.
  • philipshaw - July 23, 2010 11:11 a.m.

    I was talking to a friend about this sort of thing the other day, great article Brett
  • PipGirl - July 23, 2010 4:59 a.m.

    It was great seeing how all these characters have evolved. Fantastic article man.
  • pimpboo - July 23, 2010 3:01 a.m.

    ew old lara croft looks like frida kalo
  • LBD_Nytetrayn - July 23, 2010 2:03 a.m.

    Where does anyone get that Ganon was Link's shadow in Zelda II?
  • screwball08247 - July 23, 2010 1:27 a.m.

    >Maybe even robot elephants that shoot balls at you. Likin' the TDar reference, Brett. Great article though.

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