Hair today, gone tomorrow
Suspension of disbelief is something that's simply inherent to playing video games. It's a digital fantasy, so just roll with it, people! When it comes to character creation, artists have free reign, knowing that silly things like physics and gravity have no bearing on in-game costumes and weapons. But no matter how lenient you are of outlandish designs, there's one piece that's often just too much to get over: the hair.
It seems like concept artists have a grudge against barbers and their hair-destroying ways, because they go absolutely nuts with the locks, curls, and tresses that get slapped onto on their heroes and villains. Then again, maybe they're not as unrealistic as they look. To get to the bottom of this haircut conundrum, we consulted with Hillary Henninger, an expert hair stylist with years of professional experience. It's time to untangle these head-mounted mysteries once and for all.
Spike trap (Cloud Strife, Final Fantasy VII)
Wearer is best known for: Being angsty; wielding a sword that must weigh three times as much as he does.
Trademark hairstyle: Classic pointy-haired anime, in the same vein as Goku and his ilk. Even with the CG stylings of Advent Children, it hardly seems possible to achieve such a pointed, feathery plume.
But can it be done? "This could be a form of dreadlock," Henninger explains. Cloud's hair looks like "gnarly sections that aren't separating, so they're staying together." Add in some hair glue, and Cloud's style won't be far off. There is a catch: Cloud's mane is probably a disgusting hair graveyard by now. "Around 100 strands of hair fall out a day. With dreadlocks, none of it's falling out, because they're all dreaded together. So it's basically half dead hair." Blech. Get it together, Cloud.
Flat top (Guile, Street Fighter II)
Wearer is best known for: Sonic Booms, advocating others to go home and be a family man, and a theme that goes with everything.
Trademark hairstyle: This is the mother of all flattop haircuts, which instantly snaps back to its original form even after Guile assaults it with a flick of a comb post-match. If you were to balance a level atop Guile's noggin, we'd imagine it would sit perfectly straight.
But can it be done? Nope. "Every hair is growing at different paces," says Henninger. "There's three stages of hair growth, and every single one of your hairs is in a different one. Unless, every morning, he has a guillotine he uses to chop his hairbut he would need help." Basically, we're looking at a multi-person hair dresser job every time Guile gets out of bed in the morning.
White guy fro (Eddie Wachowski, SSX Tricky)
Wearer is best known for: Being extremely white, as well as the only video game character to be voiced by David Arquette.
Trademark hairstyle: A gargantuan afro, which is as majestic as a lion's mane and as smooth as a giant orange. One wonders if Eddie's actually able to maintain that marble-like texture, or if the PS2 simply isn't capable of rendering a wooly head of hair.
But can it be done? Sort of. "Depends on how coarse and curly this guy's hair is," says Henninger. But no afro could ever be that smooth, no matter your nationality, she explains. "That could just be a big Styrofoam ball spray-painted." In essence, Eddie's fro is an oversized, glorified version of those dorky toppers you see on car antennas.
Test tube baby (Female protagonist, Legend of Mana)
Wearer is best known for: Being a nameless hero that endeavored to restore the Mana Tree and its magic-enabling properties to life.
Trademark hairstyle: Either those are metal rods coming out of her cranium, or this is just one of the weirdest hairstyles we've ever seen anywhere. Strangely, nobody seems to notice that this poor girl's head looks like it's in the middle of a cupping therapy session.
But can it be done? Nada. "That must be heavy," says Henninger. "I don't know how they'd be staying in there." Even if they were fiberglass pipes, there's just no way. "If you're moving around, there's nothing for them to hold on to. That's going to pull the hair right out." The only way this could be possible is if they were metal-coated bones jutting out of her skull, like the far less fortunate version of Wolverine.
Straight up (Benimaru, King of Fighters)
Wearer is best known for: Pairing up with Kyo and Goro to fight as Japan Team; having electrostatic superpowers, being sexy and knowing it.
Trademark hairstyle: Benimaru's eraser top is the stuff of legends, but it's actually done completely sans hair gel. Instead, it's the static energy constantly buzzing about Benimaru that keeps his hair standing on end.
But can it be done? "It's definitely possible," says Henninger. "Static can definitely raise hair. Can it raise all of it to stay straight up all the time? No." Benimaru's hair could even be fatal. "Even if he had some product in it, that has some moisture in it, so he would definitely be electrocuted." Shocking.
Magical hairsuit (Bayonetta, Bayonetta)
Wearer is best known for: Wielding four magical pistols at once; summoning a vortex of hair to create giant heels or dragon-like monstrosities to crush angels to smithereens.
Trademark hairstyle: The craziness doesn't stop at Bayonetta's beehive hairdo. Look closely (or just play the game), and you'll notice that her entire outfit is made entirely on her own hair. A skintight outfit, at that.
But can it be done? At face value, maybe: a beehive-extensions combo could work. But with the suit? There's just no way. It could never contour to your body. "Even if it was long enough, it still wouldn't be thick enough to cover you," says Henninger. If Bayonetta only settled for the best--Russian-made, real hair extensions--it might cost her up to $1,500. Yikes. On the other hand, her basic bob in Bayonetta 2 is drop-dead simple to do.
Striped pompadour (Vulcano Rosso, Street Fighter EX 2 Plus)
Wearer is best known for: Being of the most forgettable Street Fighter characters ever made; using volcano-summoning powers to avenge his slain lover.
Trademark hairstyle: Imagine a zebra's torso with a tentacle for a head, and you pretty much have Vulcano's hairstyle down. This might be what Alfalfa from the Little Rascals will look like as an adult.
But can it be done? Yes, and rather easily compared to the others here. "You would just be doing slices of highlighting [the hair]," says Henninger. There would be a hellish amount of bleach and foil on Vulcano's head, but it could be done. Henninger describes his pompadour as very "Elvis-like," which could be achieved through copious amounts of teasing.
Helmet head (Hakan, Super Street Fighter IV)
Wearer is best known for: Lathering himself in olive oil during street fights; having the same skin complexion as Hellboy without anyone batting an eye.
Trademark hairstyle: At first glance, it's easy to mistake Hakan's coiffure to be a weird skullcap with metal rivets. But nope--that's his haircut, which amazingly retains its shape even when it's dripping with viscous, follicle-obliterating oils.
But can it be done? HELL no. "I don't know how you could get a tool that could do that," says Henninger. "Oil would make everything slick and fall," so Hakan's hair would deflate immediately. Plus, the color could never stay that blue for long, unless it was burned into blonde hair (unlikely). Conclusion: "Not even remotely possible."
Inverse fish hook (Charlie, Street Fighter Alpha)
Wearer is best known for: Being Guile's best bro; having the name "Nash" in Japan; quite possibly dying in an M. Bison-started fire.
Trademark hairstyle: Depending on which Alpha you're talking about, the sharp right angle jutting out of Charlie's head is different degrees of extreme. Keep in mind, Charlie is able to do double backflip Flash Kicks while keeping his hair perfectly steady.
But can it be done? Likely. Looks like a wire deal--the question is, where does the base go? "One thing it could be is connected to a clip of some sort," says Henninger. There's another, more horrifying possibility: "This could potentially just be a hairpiece," says Henninger. "This could be something that's artificial, that he stuck on, just to be cooler." The jig is up, Charlie. You're a balding man covering up a terrible secret.