10 Early Versions Of Iconic Video Game Characters You Won’t Believe –
Sometimes a characters look defines them, so much so that fans will often protest against even the smallest cosmetic changes to their favourite heroes.
Remember the uproar surrounding Ninja Theorys redesign of Dante back in 2013? Before anything was known about the changes to his character, fans of the original DMC were outraged that their favourite hero was going to have black hair instead of white. In fact, they were so upset by the change, that many signed petitions refusing to purchase the new game until Ninja Theory reverted their decision. Thats right, these people cared so much about a guys hair colour, that they tried to outright boycott the new game before they’d even seen it in motion.
I think its fair to say, people can be picky, which is why its so interesting to see just how different characters often appear in early stages of development. Just look at the early designs for Master Chief (pictured above), he looks more like an extra from Starship Troopers than he does the Spartan hero we all know and love. Sometimes a character can undergo several changes before we’re treated to the final product, transforming from a crude sketch in someones notebook to a fully fleshed out avatar running around onscreen…
10. Bioshock’s Little Sisters Were Chipmunks
There’s nothing more unnerving than an innocent-looking child gone wrong. Its a simple image, but an effective one. For that reason, I have to credit 2K with their restraint, as judging by these early designs it appears that someone on the team preferred the little sisters look like strange chipmunk creatures, or squirrels. Either way, they’re pretty ridiculous.
Luckily, common sense won out and the initial designs were dropped in favour of more conventional looking creepy children. It goes to show, sometimes the simplest images can strike the greatest chord with the audience.
Personally, I cant see the chipmunk children blending into the world of Bioshock, and thankfully, well never have to find out.
9. White Kirby
Due to a disagreement between Sakurai and Miyamoto, Kirby was originally depicted as white instead of pink on the box art of Kirby’s Dream Land for the Gameboy. By all accounts, Sakurai intended Kirby to be pink, whereas Miyamoto insisted the character be yellow.
As a kind of compromise, the box art depicts Kirby as white to reflect the way he appears in the game. Fortunately for us Kirby fans, the character was eventually given some personality and altered from white to pink.
Considering that white Kirby just looked like a Boo from Mario, the change was certainly welcome. I mean, whod want to live in a world without pink Kirby?
8. God Of War’s Kratos Was A Tribal Warrior
Kratos is probably one of the most recognisable video game characters of all time, which is hardly surprising considering his eloquent design. However, seeing these early renditions, its surprising to see just how much the character changed over the course of development.
Evolving from a tribal warrior to a Greek powerhouse, Kratos has undergone some pretty extensive alterations. However, the left illustration may be the most surprising, depicting the character blindfolded with a small child on his back.
I’m guessing that this Kratos must be a very different character from the one we see in God of War, because besides the luxury of a human shield, I cant see Kratos lugging around the burden of a baby. The guy’s pretty athletic with his death-dealing skills, after all.
7. Alucard Was Just A Generic Looking Vampire
Alucard is a beautiful man, a man made more beautiful by his long flowing white hair and gothic fashion sense. Its for this reason that fans of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night will be shocked to discover the uninspired look of the original version of the character as depicted in Castlevania III. Compared to his appearance in Symphony of the Night, the version of Alucard pictured above from Castlevania III just lacks the same charm and elegance of his successor, as well as lacking his long beautiful white hair.
Considering his bland and unimaginative design, it should be no surprise that he was heavily redesigned when the time came for him to star in his own game. The change, as I’m sure you can judge for yourself, was tremendously positive.
6. Gordon Freeman Was Named ‘Ivan The Space Biker’
Gordon Freeman is one of the most beloved video game characters of all time, which makes it even more surprising that he initially looked like a homeless man wearing a green H.E.V suit. The character model pictured on the right is Ivan the Space Biker, the initial stand in for Gordon Freeman that Valve used while developing Half-Life back in the late nineties.
Though he would later become The Freeman, Ivan made it pretty far into development, so far in fact that the character filecan still be found in the game files. Unsurprisingly, Ivan the Space Biker, who was created by illustrator Chuck Jones, was dropped shortly after initial play-testing.
I guess something about his flat-top haircut and long unkempt beard just put people off. Go figure.
5. Louis & Francis From Left 4 Dead
Someone over at Valve must really hate hair, as somehow over the course of development both Louis and Francis lost a significant amount of it. Not much is known about this change, apart from the fact that Francis was apparently redesigned to closer resemble the head developer of the game, Mike Booth.
Besides that, there doesnt seem to be much point to the rework. Louis appears to have been altered to somewhat resemble Simon Peggs character from Shaun of the Dead, who was also dressed in a shirt and tie.
Meanwhile, Francis developed from a mean-looking biker to… well, an equally mean-looking biker, only one with considerably less hair.
4. Sonic The Hedgehog Was An Air Freshener
Unbeknown to many fans, Sonic the Hedgehog’s first appearance in a game was actually as an air freshener, hanging from a rear view mirror in the 1991 racing game, Rad Mobile. Like Mario, who originally appeared as Jumpman in Donkey Kong before getting to star in his own game, Sonic too had to pay his dues before hitting the big time.
Unfortunately for him, he landed himself a gig as nothing more than a decoration. As far as transformations go, Sonics evolution from a minor novelty to one of the most recognisable characters of all time is quite something.
3. Conker Was An Innocent Squirrel
The foulmouthed drunkard we all know and love from Conkers Bad Fur Day wasn’t always as bad as he seemed. In fact, way back in 1997, the character was depicted as nothing more than an innocent little squirrel who liked to race with his fellow anthropomorphic animal friends Diddy and Banjo. It wasn’t until 2001 that Rare changed the character completely, transforming him from a kid friendly mascot into a violent psychopath with a love of alcohol and buxom babes.
Though his appearance didn’t change substantially between Diddy Kong Racing and Conkers Bad Fur Day, his character most certainly did, which is why he’s made this list. In fact, Conker may have undergone the single largest change in personality of any character in the history of video games.
2. Banjo Was Just A Minor Character
There was a point in development in which Banjo wasnt even the protagonist of the game that would eventually become Banjo-Kazooie. Back when the game was in development under the working title Project Dream, Rare had planned the story to unfold around the adventures of a young boy.
Later in development, Rare changed protagonist to a pirate, and even a rabbit before finally settling on a bear named Banjo. As you can see below, Banjos initial designs were fairly different from his final version. He was initially planned to be a supporting character, but when it was decided that he would be the protagonist his design was given a lot more depth.
Thankfully, the version of Banjo depicted above never made it to final game, replaced by the Banjo we all know and love.
1. Team Fortress Characters Were Just Generic Soldiers
Depicted above are some early designs for the The Heavy and The Pyro long before Valve had settled on the cartoonish art style that the game would eventually utilise. As you can probably tell for yourself, the characters are pretty bland. This was most likely the main reason that the designs were changed, seeing as how the different classes were almost indistinguishable for one another.
Considering the influence and popularity of Team Fortress 2 in comparison to the original, its remarkable just how much difference a few design choices can make to the quality of a game. Though theres nothing particular wrong with the early designs, they’re just pretty ordinary and undistinguishable. Luckily, Valve decided to go with a more cartoonish art style, and the designs pictured above never made it to the final product.
Almost everything we associate with TF2 comes directly from its brilliantly animated characters and cutscenes, and you just have to wonder how differently the game would have been received, had it stuck to these original designs.