Most characters change over time, and their visual designs reflect those changes. Whether they wear new outfits or look physically different, video game characters evolve to keep players interested. However, a lot of iconic characters don’t need changes: we love them exactly as they are. We’ll tolerate some alterations—particularly if those alterations look good. Unfortunately, some companies completely redesign characters and ruin their appearances. These changes sometimes stem from good intentions but often serve certain marketing approaches (such as making characters cool or attractive). By taking those marketing approaches too far, developers make characters too ridiculous to please players.
The characters on this list all look much worse than in previous games. Each functions as an iconic main character, making their stupid transformations even more devastating. Fortunately, some of these characters only changed for a game or two: they either returned to their original designs or acquired new outfits. The remaining characters have permanently changed for the worst.
Every transformation below looks awful, but some harm characters beyond visual design. For certain characters, their new looks contradict their personalities or the lore established within their universe. These 15 transformations completely ruin amazing characters and the games they come from.
We all recognize Pac-Man in his original, circular form. The arcade character won our hearts with his simple design, adorable animation, signature sound effects, and fantastic mechanics.
While his in-game model remained the same for years, Pac-Man suffered as his model evolved. Namco added arms, legs, boxing gloves, shoes, and a bizarre face. No human body parts belong on Pac-Man, but he definitely shouldn’t have a 3D face. His long nose and tall eyebrows completely ruin his circular design. While his eyes and mouth work well without detracting from his original design, Pac-Man’s nose, eyebrows, arms, and legs undermine everything we know and love about Pac-Man.
Pac-Man retains his original shape in 2D games designed like the first Pac-Man game, but he changes for the worst in 3D games. Whether you’re controlling him in Pac-Man World or the recent Super Smash Bros., Pac-Man always looks awful in 3D.
14 Banjo And Kazooie
Very few fans enjoyed how Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts changed the franchise. Rare replaced wonderful platforming and quirky music with cars and metal music—all in a catastrophic attempt to be “cool.” Rare treats the protagonists the same way. Banjo and Kazooie don’t seem to belong in the new age: they’ve grown lazy and fat since their days of heroism, and the Lord of Games refers to them as “outdated.” The Lord of Games transforms them into fit, “sleek” characters with sharp edges: Banjo looks more like a complex prism than a bear.
Instead of keeping Banjo and Kazooie the same, Rare turned them into completely new characters. They look ridiculous and unplayable at the beginning of Nuts & Bolts, and they don’t look any better when the Lord of Games transforms them.
13 Princess Ruto
Even though she lacks clothing, Ruto is perfectly innocent in Ocarina of Time. With no clothes, Ruto has nothing to hide. In Hyrule Warriors, Nintendo abandoned Ruto’s innocent look with an overly sexualized and completely illogical aesthetic. Ruto still wears nothing, but she now has fins rising above her breasts that resemble a dress or bra. The more you think about this “outfit,” the less it makes sense. Her fins supposedly cover her breasts, but they’re not actually covering anything—they’re just fins attached to her skin. Her skin can’t cover her skin. Nintendo wants you to imagine breasts beneath her fins, but you’d have to peel back her skin to see anything new.
Despite its terrible logic, Ruto’s new look returns in Ocarina of Time 3D—a remastered game that preserves most character models yet stupidly changes Ruto.
Until the end of Mass Effect 3, BioWare made Tali’s appearance a wonderful mystery. With full-body suits to protect their weak immune systems, quarians are invisible beneath their masks and humanoid body structure. Although Shepard saw Tali’s face under special, romantic circumstances, players never glimpsed Tali’s face in the first two games.
We never expected BioWare to end the mystery, yet Tali gives you a picture of herself if you establish a romantic relationship with her. Instead of designing Tali as a unique alien in the Mass Effect universe, BioWare photoshopped a real-life picture taken from the Internet. While other characters have beautifully designed models and pictures, Tali’s picture doesn’t belong in a video game. The minimal effort put into Tali’s picture disgusts all Mass Effect fans, particularly since BioWare poorly disguised their laziness with terrible editing.
11 Metal Sonic In Sonic Heroes
Since Perfect Chaos looks amazing in Sonic Adventure, Sonic Team reused their idea by having Metal Sonic copy Chaos’s data. Metal Sonic transforms into a metal version of Perfect Chaos at the end of Sonic Heroes—and he looks absolutely awful. The metal hedgehog changes into a metal dragon with ugly appendages, such as gray spikes and useless wings.
Metal Sonic’s transformation looks horrible but also makes no sense. Chaos, as a watery entity, transforms by absorbing city water. Metal Sonic is contained within a solid form, yet somehow his metal expands into a massive dragon.
While Sonic Adventure 2’s final boss perfectly resembles Perfect Chaos, Metal Sonic looks completely unnatural. Fortunately, Metal Sonic returned to his original form at the end of Sonic Heroes.
Lightning dresses fairly efficiently in both Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2. In the first game, she wears little clothing so she can use multiple weapons and still move quickly. When she gains armor in the sequel, she protects her torso but exposes her thighs and upper arms, sacrificing vulnerability for agility. We know Square Enix probably exposed her skin simply to please male players, but at least they partially justified her outfits.
Only Lightning’s skirt truly ruins her outfit. The skirt contrasts Lightning’s minimal armor with extravagant feathers. Lightning normally dresses for combat, yet she looks more like a sexy cosplayer than a warrior; her skirt would obviously get in the way during battle.
The XIII-2 outfit contradicts Lightning’s militaristic attitude—but at least it’s better than her terrible costumes in Lightning Returns.
9 Luigi In Super Paper Mario
Luigi’s stupid-looking transformation is actually brilliant. Unlike the other characters on this list, Luigi changes for a purposefully humorous effect. Nintendo wants Luigi to look and sound dumb as he transforms into “Mr. L,” a smack-talking, terribly dressed villain. After the villains hypnotize him, they outfit him with a dorky outfit, including a cap with a backwards L. This was a simple move for Nintendo but a hilarious, bizarre move in the game: the villains constructed a hat with a backwards L specifically for Luigi’s “evil” costume.
We’ll never understand why the villains hypnotize Luigi instead of killing him. After all, Count Bleck (who’s killing everyone in the multiverse) recognizes Luigi as the prophesized “man in green” capable of stopping Bleck. We’re glad they kept him alive, though—and we love his ridiculous outfit.
8 Samus Aran In Metroid Prime: Federation Force
People hate Metroid Prime: Federation Force for many reasons. With little connection to the Metroid Prime franchise (in terms of story, characters, lore, and mechanics) and a weirdly lighthearted atmosphere, most fans consider Federation Force the worst Metroid game. The characters look silly and childish—but none look quite as ridiculous as Samus. With a massive head and a tiny body, Samus looks more like a bobblehead than a person.
Samus only appears as a minor, unplayable character in Federation Force, but we wish she starred in the game. Because of the game’s first-person point of view, we could play as Samus without seeing her terrible visual design. Without Samus or her great outfit, Federation Force disappoints all Metroid fans.
While we appreciate EDI’s attempts to connect with humanity, we can’t forgive her “human” form. After Cerberus oddly builds a series of sexy, deadly robots in Mass Effect 3, EDI takes over one of the robots. Controlling both the ship and her new body, EDI joins you as a party member.
We enjoy fighting alongside EDI, but we cringe whenever we see her naked, busty body—which BioWare obviously designed for male players. EDI could have uploaded herself into multiple robotic hosts (particularly the geth in Mass Effect 2), yet she waits until she finds this sexy robot. EDI probably wanted a humanoid form, but why would Cerberus make humanoid robots in the first place? EDI’s body sacrifices logic for allured appeal, creating one of many plot holes in the Mass Effect trilogy.
6 Dr. Eggman In Sonic The Hedgehog (2006)
Most humans in Sonic the Hedgehog look strange, yet Dr. Eggman fits in perfectly with his cartoonish animal companions. With bizarre body proportions, dorky goggles, and sunglasses covering his eyes, Eggman avoids uncanny valley except in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). This terrible reboot replaces the fun, action-driven gameplay of previous Sonic games with 3D exploration and a complicated story. Sonic Team also sought a darker, more “realistic” world—causing Eggman to look like an actual human. He admittedly looks scarier with his darker clothing, less cartoony body, and no sign of his signature goggles—but we wish he hadn’t changed. Eggman’s face is stupid and terrifying: every time he yells at the camera, we shudder out of discomfort and fear.
When Team Ninja selected the cast for Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 based on characters’ popularity, Nyotengu placed as the sixth most popular female character. Designed as a seductive tengu—a malicious, mythological demon—Nyotengu seems perfect for a game made solely for adult entertainment. Instead of preserving her fantastical beauty, Team Ninja removed her wings. She’s still a great addition to the roster, but Nyotengu looks like a completely different character without her signature wings.
Even though the Xtreme games abandon the stories and relationships of the Dead or Alive franchise, Nyotengu deviates too much from the main series. Why include Nyotengu without using her normal appearance? Nyotengu could have wonderfully expanded Xtreme 3, but Team Ninja instead sacrificed Dead or Alive lore for a “pure,” human cast.
4 Krystal In Star Fox Adventures
Krystal’s design for Dinosaur Planet was already a bit revealing, but her final design in Star Fox Adventures is absolutely ridiculous. Rare dressed her more appropriately when she starred in Dinosaur Planet; after changing the hero to Fox, Rare treated Krystal as an object. Trapped in a crystal with nothing more than a bikini, Krystal solely serves male desire (as proven when Fox gazes open-mouthed at her unconscious body). Designed as a sexy, primeval damsel in distress, Krystal lost authority and decency to fuel a stupid marketing approaching.
Even though we enjoyed Fox’s replacement of Saber, we wish Krystal had kept her original outfit and role. Fortunately, Krystal gains a better outfit in later Star Fox entries, where she fights alongside Fox as a playable character.
3 Rytlock Brimstone
After crossing into the otherworldly Mists, Rytlock returns as a Revenant. Though he gains new powers, he loses his amazing visual design. ArenaNet obviously wanted Rytlock to return as an otherworldly monster, and they succeeded—but not in a good way. The rune over Rytlock’s eyes could have looked amazing, but its red-orange color is too cartoonish to be epic.
The bandanna makes him—and all Revenant characters—look even worse. Instead of permanently branding Rytlock’s eyes—which would have looked much cooler—ArenaNet has Rytlock wrap a silly bandanna around his head to block out the physical world.
We love the new skills introduced with the Revenant class, but we can’t stand seeing Revenants’ faces. Although he used to be the intimidating face of the Charr Legion, Rytlock now acts as the Revenants’ dumb-looking mascot.
Micaiah looks amazing in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. With silver hair, a young yet ageless face (she looks like a teenager but is actually in her late twenties), and a sleek outfit designed perfectly for the Light Mage, Micaiah looks great as she saves the world. Unlike previous Fire Emblem heroines like Lyn, Micaiah lacks revealing, oversexualized clothing for most of Radiant Dawn. That completely changes in her DLC cameo in Fire Emblem Awakening. Intelligent Systems abandons her wonderful outfit for one of the most revealing, unrealistic outfits in the franchise. Only giving Micaiah underwear and translucent clothing, Intelligent Systems clearly designed Micaiah for male players. With an outfit that contradicts her personality, Micaiah functions as an object rather than a developed character in Fire Emblem Awakening.
1 Every Character In Sonic Boom
Sonic and friends look amazing in every one of their games and TV shows except in Sonic Boom media. Sega obviously redesigned the Sonic cast to distinguish the Sonic Boom spinoffs from the main franchise, but the show and games look awful because of it. With longer legs and “hip” clothing, the Sonic Boom cast looks extremely silly and cartoonish. Even though Sonic characters are always cartoonish, Sonic Boom takes color and disproportional bodies to the extreme.
Knuckles changed even more than the other characters, and he looks the worst because of it. Sega wanted Knuckles to look powerful with muscular arms and a huge torso, but his thin legs contradict the rest of his design. Knuckles looked perfectly strong beforehand: Sega never should have changed him or the other Sonic characters.