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Ugly polygon "babes" of yesteryear

3D games, as a rule, don’t age well. The games of the last couple console generations might have been awesome for their time, but take a look at them now and it’s hard to see them as anything other than jaggy abortions in which cardboard rectangles masquerade as limbs. And as if that weren’t embarrassing enough, most of those games contain female characters who, in their day, were genuinely considered sexy. So much so that an entire generation of gamers wasted hours scouring the internet for mythical “nude codes.”


Above: Adon from Turok 2 isn’t quite as nice to look at as you remember, is she? She has it better than most

Now, though… it’s not so much that we no longer want to see these characters naked as that we wouldn’t want to be in the same city where they were naked. As badly as their games have aged, these former sex symbols have it worse, going from objects of desire to terrifying box-monsters with creepy heads and pyramid breasts. In the name of embarrassing everyone who lusted after them and mortifying everyone who didn’t, we’ve rounded up a selection of these sad creatures and put them on display.


Jill Valentine

As seen in: Resident Evil 3 (PSOne, 1999)

How she’s remembered:

Nothing wrong here; the miniskirt, boots and tube top create a simple yet iconic look, while the tied cardigan screams, “Hey zombies, my shoulders are unprotected and delicious!”

How she actually looked:

Jill doesn’t look so bad by PSOne standards, but the stringy hair, smear of a face and single, staring eye make her more unsettling than most of the creatures in the game. Also, if we were zombies, we’d want to bit into something with fewer sharp ridges than that club of an arm.


Joanna Dark

As seen in: Perfect Dark (N64, 2000)

How she’s remembered:

Rare’s flagship heroine is alluring and smartly dressed for combat. Or at least she was, back before she started feathering her hair and appearing in godawful launch games.

How she actually looked:

Unfortunately, the closest the N64 could ever come to “alluring” was “sexless 12-year-old boy with sharp knees and strap-on chest lumps.”


Aya Brea

As seen in: Parasite Eve (PSOne, 1998)

How she’s remembered:

With her huge eyes and somewhat unorthodox design, Aya Brea was always a strikingly attractive… something. God, is this really the best Square’s high-end machines could render in 1998? No wonder everyone thought that Final Fantasy movie looked so awesome.

How she actually looked:

This may be a rare case of the in-game version of a character looking much less frightening than her pre-rendered counterpart. If we squint, she almost looks like a passable Final Fantasy character.


Ellis

As seen in: Battle Arena Toshinden (PSOne, 1995)

How she’s remembered:

Toshinden’s hyperkinetic, dagger-happy little person was always the grating embodiment of anime cuteness, and she only got weirder, flouncier and more beloved by fans as the series progressed. One look at the green hair, huge eyes and barely restrained crotch, and it’s not hard to understand why.

How she actually looked:

Put this one down to blatant false advertising; in reality, Ellis was a squat, neckless homunculus with weirdly proportioned limbs and a pillow for a chest. “Lose,” indeed.


Sofia

As seen in: Battle Arena Toshinden (PSOne, 1995)

How she’s remembered:

Toshinden’s resident dominatrix/private eye, meanwhile, had a more understated and timeless look. It’s hard to go wrong with black leather and a whip on a fighting-game character, particularly in the slightly more juvenile ‘90s game market.

How she actually looked:

Oh… oh holy God. Sofia has wider shoulders than most male bodybuilders, and those breasts could probably plane a two-by-four. Never mind that her face looks like she’s stifling a sneeze. How did we ever think this was sexy in 1995?

This look also informed the publishers of the PC version of Toshinden 2, who figured that the best way to lure back fans was to go whole hog and turn Sofia into a nightmarishly incompetent drag queen:


Above: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH


Belladonna

As seen in: Thrill Kill (PSOne, canceled)

How she’s remembered:

When creating Belladonna, the minds behind Thrill Kill looked at Toshinden’s Sofia and decided to do something similar, but also throw away any pretense that she was supposed to be anything other than a (deadly) object of lust. And so she was geared up in fetishy costumes, including nurse and maid outfits and this Bettie Page-inspired leopard-print number. And, what the hell, she’d carry a cattle prod instead of a whip, sure. She was going to be the sexiest character ever to star in a fighting game, and the fact that her game was never (officially) released only made her 10 times more desirable.

How she actually looked:

Sorry, did we say she was going to be the sexiest character ever to star in a fighting game? Because we meant to say she was going to be the most laughable rendering of the female form since Custer’s Revenge. Oh, sure, she animates suggestively enough, but when combined with her goofy expression and hip joints best described as “wrong,” the effect is the exact opposite of boner-inducing.

We were also going to talk about her roster of sexualized moves, but then we were distracted by the fact that whoever modeled this background has never seen a urinal before:


Natalya Simonova

As seen in: GoldenEye 007 (N64, 1997)

How she’s remembered:

Izabella Scorupco was lovely and forgettable as GoldenEye’s “good” Bond girl, and imagining her face made it much easier to overlook the thing we’re about to show you.

How she actually looked:

Oh, Natalya. Sweet Natalya. We used to care so much about protecting you from running headlong toward blazing enemy guns. We even spared Boris Grishenko’s life so that you wouldn’t admonish us with your slight disapproval. But now you’re just a squarish robot with monstrous shoulders and a face made of ham. We’re sorry, darling, but what we once had can simply never be again.


Xenia Onatopp

As seen in: GoldenEye 007 (N64, 1997)

How she’s remembered:

Meanwhile, Famke Janssen’s “bad” Bond girl (shown here as rendered in Goldeneye: Rogue Agent) is mainly remembered as the sexy villain who players quickly and unceremoniously perforated in the middle of a jungle. But even though her menace was overshadowed by the far-more-terrifying Jaws, she had a badass quality to her that made it a little disappointing when she finally bit the dust.

How she actually looked:

Rose-colored nostalgia-goggles aside, Xenia Onatopp was even boxier than Natalya, with a disturbingly overlarge, pompadour-topped head. Those clublike arms aren’t doing her any favors, either, what with their inability to properly grip that wispy suggestion of a pistol. God, let’s just move on before she slowly and robotically rotates her head in our direction and her eyes light up and she screams in murderous recognition and we all have nightmares for life.


Claire Redfield

As seen in: Resident Evil 2 (PSOne, 1997)

How she’s remembered:

In the pre-rendered parts of Resident Evil 2, Claire’s toughness and vague resemblance to Claire Danes made her an instantly beloved icon of horror gaming.

How she actually looked:

In the rest of the game, however, no amount of slick modeling from the shoulders down could make us fall in love with that impatient expression and those Groucho Marx eyebrows. What was sexy then is grounds to walk into zombies now.


Dural

As seen in: Fighters Megamix (Saturn, 1997)

How she’s remembered:

While this is vaguely creepy and actually from the box of Virtua Fighter 3, it nonetheless captures what Dural was supposed to be: a slick, sexy cipher that reflected all the other characters and gave off a kind of sexy-robot vibe.

How she actually looked:

In the Saturn era, however, Dural a stripy gray thing with weirdly pendulous breasts, no chin to speak of and an unchanging, eerie statue face. Fighting her was the stuff of nightmares, but probably not for the reasons her creators intended.


Millennia

As seen in: Kagero: Deception II (PSOne, 1998)

How she’s remembered:

Most of Kagero’s advertising focused on Millennia’s back and its distinctive tattoo – which was probably fair, since it’s what you’d be seeing for the majority of the game. Coupled with her curt bob and chain-bedecked outfit, it made for a look that stuck out in gamers’ minds for years (never mind that awful render of her on the box).

How she actually looked:

After looking at her from the front, it’s easy to see why all those ads put so much emphasis on her back. While she looks acceptably feminine for a PSOne-era character, her toddler face and its suggestion of a pendulous double-chin make us feel a little dirty for objectifying her like this.


Natsu Ayuhara

As seen in: Rival Schools (PSOne, 1998)

How she’s remembered:

Rendered with typical slick Capcom flair, Natsu’s the most appealingly tough high-school volleyball star to ever appear in a fighting game. Her expression speaks volumes, and every last one of them is about how she’s going to kick your ass with that ball.

How she actually looked:

Natsu’s in-game character, meanwhile, is like the opposite of Millennia’s. Her face isn’t too bad, but everything below it is an absolute mess, from the puffed sleeves disguising giant shoulders to the giant hammer-hands to the oddly high and off-center crotch.


Tiffany Lords

As seen in: Rival Schools (PSOne, 1998)

How she’s remembered:

If you’ve ever wondered how Japanese game designers imagine American high-school cheerleaders, look no further than Tiffany. Her stars-and-stripes outfit would barely qualify as clothing at a fetish party, and her open-mouthed grin projects a monumental level of airheadedness. In short, she’s everything most gamers want to see from a fighting-game character.

How she actually looked:

OH HOLY JESUS WHAT THE SHIT IS THAT AND HOW DO I KEEP IT FROM EATING ME.


SPECIAL BONUS KINDA-SOFTCORE ACTION!

To be fair, this is to restore… restoration… uh, health?

And that’s a friendly spanking. Between friends. Yep.

90 comments

  • Shuuvuia - November 15, 2010 7:48 a.m.

    God, that does look like John F. Kennedy's redneck cousin.
  • DeathbyFira - September 20, 2010 12:50 a.m.

    Now That is what you call Fugly hahahahah i used to hav a crush on Mace and and tifa but that was when i was 10 and now that i look at it now i want to go up into my room and cry myself to sleep but that also makes me wish they make a beeping hd remake of those games
  • LikaLaruku - January 31, 2010 6:29 a.m.

    The Laura one tells me that "Ugly polygon nude patches of yesteryear" would make a hilarious follow-up article.
  • LikaLaruku - January 31, 2010 6:19 a.m.

    Gawd bless the old shit that ages horribly. Nice to know guys were jacking off to these polygon princess only 10 years ago.
  • QWERTYCommander - January 6, 2010 5:12 a.m.

    Yes, Cybil did fare better in the remake. Don't know why they made her hair red though. reCAPTCHA: smells white white does smell... good.
  • jmcgrotty - January 5, 2010 1:04 p.m.

    The one I remember best was the Dural one. That thing ended up so massively different than the magazines were showing. And Misty has no business being on this list. JMBO
  • ShingoEX - October 31, 2009 5:15 p.m.

    You guys probably shouldn't blame Square for the Bushido Blade designs, since they didn't even develop the game. Lightweight was the developer...Square only published it.
  • Danielnoctis - October 3, 2009 10:54 a.m.

    Voldo's probably listed 'cos he looks like a dancer in the Brazilian Gay parade. What I don't really comply with is how most of these characters are remembered. Most of them are not remembered in their very first game. Sequels tend to fill the gaps and slowly change our memory of most of the characters. What I don't consider to look bad is Rinoa. FF's characters shouldn't even be on the list. Seriously, can you come up with a character of that time who even looked closely as good as Rinoa did? And let's not talk about her outer space cut-scene.
  • Kotsu - July 21, 2009 4:07 a.m.

    How is Voldo a babe? I hate that stupid... thing. Gives me nightmares.
  • SolidSpartan - July 20, 2009 2:33 a.m.

    I never considered Voldo a "chick", but every one is entitled to their own opinion. ( Yes, I know they are just playing around...I hope.) ReCAPTCH: "Michael preys" I swear that's what came out. May he rest in peace with Elvis... -.-
  • NovaProspekt - July 15, 2009 9:01 p.m.

    HAHAHA shelcobsohn thanks for the laugh dude. You made my shitty day at work so much better with that comment!
  • afroninjakatana - July 15, 2009 7:54 p.m.

    Hard to belive I'm only 14 and I own the original copies of most these games. Thanks Mikel for the nightmares. I'm going to put these games far far far away from me. I haven't played these games since I was three.
  • Thelonius - July 15, 2009 4:44 p.m.

    looking back at the generation that got me into games, I have to say HOW WAS THIS ACCEPTABLE!!! lol Hilarious article Mikel!
  • iluvmyDS - July 15, 2009 3:45 p.m.

    Sarah was hotter looking to me back in those days. >.<
  • sadisticgrizzz - July 13, 2009 12:06 p.m.

    OMFG! Did it really look that bad back then? Well when thats the height of video game power back then i guess these were the closes things 2 sexy game chics we had. uggggh damn i must of had a hell of an imagination
  • AuthorityFigure - July 12, 2009 7:37 a.m.

    Man you really dug a million examples. Once you've seen one 3D sl*t, you've seen 'em all. Same goes with video game girls too ;-)
  • Leonhart35 - July 11, 2009 4:43 p.m.

    did anyone ever actually think Adon from Turok was sexy?!?! i find that really hard to believe!
  • biggpau1 - July 11, 2009 12:55 a.m.

    LOL, am i the only one strangely aroused by the triangle tits?
  • NastyRobotHickey - July 10, 2009 6:24 p.m.

    In a moment of weakness, I fap'd to Dino Crisis. Things were going splendidly until the T-Rex ate Regnia. The mood was kinda spoiled after that.
  • smallberry - July 10, 2009 6:27 a.m.

    Oh man I remember searching for the Nude Code for Tomb Raider on a school PC. That and the secret Nude Raider game that my friend's Uncle was working on at Core. He swore it was real and we believed him. Re: sultrier Tom. Fitting.

Showing 1-20 of 90 comments

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