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Video Game Characters and Their Original Designs

LEFT: concept design for Bioshock's "Little Sisters", RIGHT: the final design
LEFT: concept design for Bioshock's "Little Sisters", RIGHT: the final design

Creating an original video-game character is a long, difficult process. Many of the characters we have grown to love had to undergo numerous design changes before their look became finalized. The Big Daddies in Bioshock? As awesome and creepy as the character looks now, at one point, it was designed to be in a wheelchair. You'll be surprised how drastically different some of your favorite video characters used to look on the design floor.

Click to enlarge these comparison photos!

BIOSHOCK

Big Daddy's concept designs (1st and 2nd), and its final design (3rd)
Big Daddy's concept designs (1st and 2nd), and its final design (3rd)

Bioshock's Big Daddies have always had an interesting design. Although these things have always had the appearance of a mechanical scuba diver, the iconic drill they carry wasn't always there. In fact, it appears as if they had tongs for hands at one point, as illustrated by the middle image. That may be very convenient for Korean barbecue, but not so much as a menacing weapon. In the first image on the left, the creature was designed to use a wheelchair for mobility and held what appears to be a gatling gun as a weapon. Not the most practical set-up, but neither is that giant drill.

Conker's Bad Fur Day

LEFT: Conker 64, RIGHT: Conker's Bad Fur Day
LEFT: Conker 64, RIGHT: Conker's Bad Fur Day

Conker is a squirrel that drinks, swears and urinates in public in the N64 platformer Conker's Bad Fur Day. However, the choice for him to behave this way wasn't always there. During the development of the game, the project was called Twelve Tales: Conker 64, and was planned to be a family-friendly platform game not too different from Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazooie. However, developer Rare feared the game would get lost in the crowd of cutesy platformers, and decided to give the game a huge redesign. Many thought the decision was an April Fool's joke, and the game was eventually released as one of the best-looking and critically acclaimed N64 games.

Resident Evil 2

LEFT: Claire's original design, RIGHT: Claire's tacky final design in RE2
LEFT: Claire's original design, RIGHT: Claire's tacky final design in RE2

I never understood why Resident Evil 2's Claire would dress like that. What is that--pink booty shorts over bicycle shorts? Luckily, she didn't always look that way. In an original design of the character, she sported a significantly less-tacky motorcycle outfit.

Jet Force Gemini

LEFT: Juno and Vela's original, cute design, RIGHT: Juno and Vela's slightly older final design
LEFT: Juno and Vela's original, cute design, RIGHT: Juno and Vela's slightly older final design

Rare's N64 shooter Jet Force Gemini received a complete graphical overhaul similar to the aforementioned Conker's Bad Fur Day. The original designs of the two main protagonists, Juno and Vela, were cute and colorful. The characters of the final product, though, have darker armor and smaller heads.
 

Gears of War

LEFT: original Marcus Fenix design, RIGHT: his final design
LEFT: original Marcus Fenix design, RIGHT: his final design

Marcus Fenix from Epic's Gears of War series wasn't always this ugly. Looking at the concept design of the main COG soldier, he had a lot more facial hair, and his name was different.


Final Fantasy IV

LEFT: Yoshitaka Amano's concept art of Cecil, RIGHT: Cecil's modern design
LEFT: Yoshitaka Amano's concept art of Cecil, RIGHT: Cecil's modern design

Renowned artist Yoshitaka Amano was the main character designer for all of the NES and SNES-era Final Fantasy games, as well as promotional artist for the more recent ones. His work is characterized by wispy lines, vibrant colors and dream-like images. However, the recent Final Fantasy games adopted a grittier anime appearance, which is a complete contrast to Amano's style.

Devil May Cry

IMAGES #1-3: Dante's concept art, IMAGE #4: Dante's final look
IMAGES #1-3: Dante's concept art, IMAGE #4: Dante's final look

Dante is the cocky, stylish protagonist of Capcom's Devil May Cry series. During Dante's numerous character-design changes, only his hair, coat and demeanor remain constant. He's about to go through another controversial design overhaul later this year, with Ninja Theory's reboot of the series.

Resident Evil 4


Sometimes, an

entire game

undergoes a design change before it's released.

Resident Evil 4

,


the game that revolutionized the way third-person shooters are made, wasn't always like the way it's made today. It used to be a bit more similar to the first three iterations of the game and less focused on action-heavy gameplay. Looking at its original gameplay footage above, the game looks pretty scary, and it's a shame it never came to light.

Check out other video game posts by Peter Mai here: 


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