Modern gaming is full of fashion and it is easy to understand why. People use fashion to express themselves and project an image to the rest of the world and, in many ways, video game characters are designed to do the same thing. Whether it is in support of a game's narrative or gameplay, character artists and designers have become experts at quickly conveying information to players through the characters they interact with.
Striking silhouettes, memorable ensembles, identifiable moods: the language of fashion design has become synonymous with character design and video games are better as a result. Let's look at our picks for the top 10 most fashionable video game characters, as well as some honorable mentions.
Let's get started!
Bayonettafrom the Bayonetta series
Bayonetta is a larger than life character designed by Mari Shimazaki who's fashion instantly grabs players attention. Cunning, flirtatious, confident, and somewhat callous, Bayonetta's skin-tight clothing and borderline gaudy accessories make her the star in any room she enters. Not the typical look you would expect from a witch, Bayonetta's attire matches the frenzied combat and stylish action sequences that define the series.
There is a sensitive side to Bayonetta and her life is not without its own share of tragedies. This is reflected in her moody color palette and signature frames, a detail that helps humanize an otherwise explosive character.
InklingFrom the Splatoon series
Are they kids, or are they squids? Only creator Hisashi Nogami really knows. Inklings come in all manners of shapes and sizes but their shared commonality is streetwear. The Splatoon universe encourages player expression by offering a huge variety of clothing and accessories -- there really is a look for every occasion.
Inkling fashion embodies the rebellious, playful, and competitive nature of the series perfectly and has gone on to inspire a new generation of gamers to re-think fashion and embrace streetwear as a form of self-expression.
Princess PeachFrom the Super Mario series
Princess Peach is rich, royal, and very fashion friendly. Pink can be more than just a color and Peach is the embodiment of this belief. Her signature color represents her preppy personality and active embrace of the dainty aesthetic, which has evolved to also include cutesy symbols like hearts, stars, royal crowns, and flowers.
Peach is also athletic, competitive, and has an ensemble of form-fitting active wear that still somehow manages to incorporate massive gems and jewels. Imagine the central antagonist of the film Mean Girls but if she was actually nice -- that is peak Princess Peach. Rumor has it that Princess Peach is one of creator Shigeru Miyamoto's favorite characters.
AlucardFrom Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Alucard is the half-human son of Dracula, a mixed blessing that leaves him cursed with incredible powers and also a life filled with bloodshed and darkness. Designed by Ayami Kojima, Alucard is the perfect expression of gothic fashion. Vampires are a popular inspiration in fashion, but few characters have embodied the tragic elegance of Alucard.
As a half-vampire, Alucard embodies the mystery and danger of a supernatural alpha-predator while simultaneously channeling the fragility of humanity. Draped in black and gold, he stands out as one of the most memorable characters in the Castlevania series and his spectacular fashion is a big reason why.
Pokemon TrainersFrom the Pokemon: Sword and Shield series
The core image and personality of a Pokemon Trainer was first established by the original anime series central protagonist, Ash Ketchum. Passionate and perseverant, Ash's "regular kid with big dreams" persona remains a defining aspect of the player controlled trainer in each new Pokemon game.
Sword and Shield, however, is a series high point in embodying the adventure-ready fashion that allows players to express themselves and what type of trainer they want to be. Almost always paired with a bag, satchel, or belt to carry Pokeballs and other items, trainer fashion has become a staple in modern Pokemon games. Fashion is also used by designers to give hints on what types of Pokemon enemy trainers will use in battle.
What type of Pokemon do you think the trainers above favor?
Cloud StrifeFrom Final Fantasy VII
Cloud is a broody, arrogant mercenary who is only interested in completing the job at hand. In other words, he is a runway model with a sword. Less is more defines Cloud's iconic fit. it is easy to imagine his military-inspired look gracing fashion spreads and runways today.
Designed by Tetsuya Nomura, Cloud wears black, combat boots, and carries a huge sword. In stark contrast, his platinum blond hair gives him a memorable silhouette that helps players immediately recognize him as something special. The appeal of his vogue styling is on full display in the Final Fantasy VII remake and the character's consistent popularity for over two decades is proof of his masterful character design.
KirbyFrom the Kirby series
While Kirby doesn't normally wear clothes (are those just giant feet or shoes?) his signature ability to swallow enemies and absorb their signature abilities has created a design space with near-infinite potential. His "hats" tell the player which power he has most recently absorbed, which challenges a character artist to determine the most central visual element of any character and apply it to Kirby.
In other words, Kirby has a massive wardrobe. First designed by Masahiro Sakurai, The simplicity and versatility of Kirby's designs inspire countless fan art and IP mashups depicting any character from pop-culture as one of Kirby's potential forms. Kirby makes the list for raw versatility and scale -- there are simply more variations of Kirby than any other character in gaming.
Chun-LiFrom the Street Fighter series.
Chun-Li is the most powerful woman in the world and one of the first female video game characters to fight her own battles and not need saving. As a result, her appearance in Street Fighter II became many gamers first impression at what a playable female video game character looked like. It's a good thing that character designer Akira "Nin-Nin" Nishitani got it right when it mattered.
Chun-Li's design includes traditional Chinese fashion but tailor-made for a serious martial artist. The bottom-heavy form of her incredibly powerful legs is balanced by two spiked bracelets on her wrists, another reminder that she is in the business of inflicting pain. In modern games, she is often depicted as a fitness enthusiast and was one of the earliest video-game depictions of the athleisure style.
YoRHa No.2 Type BFrom Nier: Automata
2B is an android designed to battle invading machines on Earth and is likely the most lethal character on this list. Designed by Akihiko Yoshida, 2B was given a fragile, doll-like form that hides her massive destructive power. She was sent down from the moon in order to save humanity, so she purposefully contrasts with the rest of the rugged soldiers still fighting to save the planet.
2B channels Japanese lolita fashion, a subculture influenced by victorian clothing. It is still a popular fashion choice in Japan and over the past 10 years has widely spread across the world. 2B most memorable feature is a blindfold that covers nearly all of her face.
Beat (and friends)From the Jet Set Radio series
Jet Set Radio was a pivotal moment for the intersection of street fashion and video games. Originally released in 2000 for the Sega Dreamcast, Jet Set Radio remains one of the most critically acclaimed games that Sega has ever made. Art director Ryuta Ueda is a big reason why, as the games cast of hard skating, graffiti artist ruffians embodied a sense of style fans are still in love with today.
Jet Set Radio embodies the free-form expressive nature of streetwear perfectly. Any of the outfits in the original game would still pop today -- trying to say that about any other skate games made in 2000. Spoiler: you can't.
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