Video game costumes are iconic, and they’re not changed very often. A costume change often involves dedicating storage space to each costume, and even in modern games with voluminous hard drives, that’s a difficult thing to ask for.
That makes it even more notable when a character’s costume changes. Often this will be accompanied by a change in the character’s entire concept and attitude. When villains become heroes, when the naïve character becomes worldly, or when the powerful protagonist embraces and changes their own destiny, costume changes in video games are incredibly meaningful events when they occur.
10 Prince Arthas Goes Evil And Has Skulls Everywhere In Warcraft III
When Prince Arthas Menethil discovers the machinations of the Undead in Warcraft III, he is a typical Paladin in the service of the Holy Light. The events that unfold corrupt Arthas into a Death Knight. It starts slowly, but as he continues, he willingly sacrifices friends to achieve his obsession.
In the northern wastes, Arthas quests for the dread blade Frostmourne. Finding Frostmourne, the prince finally becomes an evil Death Knight and returns home to assassinate his father. King Arthas’ finery, bedecked with skulls, is a vicious mockery of his raiments as a Paladin.
9 Cecil Harvey Goes From A Black Knight To A Paladin In Final Fantasy IV
The Final Fantasy series has had many significant costume changes over its history, but few are more important to the game’s plot than Final Fantasy IV’s redeemed Black Knight, Cecil. Cecil transforms from Black Knight to Paladin as the game moves on.
With this costume change comes a class transformation and a complete refocusing of his special abilities. Cecil also gains a brilliant blue and white armor set that emphasizes his redemption from the black and dark blue Black Knight set. This costume change could not be more thematic or more dramatic.
8 Mass Effect 2’s Cast Becomes A Crew
The most popular game in the entire Mass Effect franchise, Mass Effect 2 introduces many game mechanics that have influenced RPGs ever since. The loyalty quest mechanic was already a mainstay in roleplaying games, but Mass Effect 2 added costume changes linked to them as well.
The companion costumes in Mass Effect 2 play off of the themes of Commander Shepard’s costume. They symbolize the forging of a ragtag band of misfits into a true team, bringing them together in one mission.
7 Yuna’s Search For Her Own Meaning In FFX-2 Involves Hotpants
In Final Fantasy X, the summoner Yuna is presented as a demure maiden whose purpose is to sacrifice herself for the good of her world, suppressing the powerful monster Sin. To lock Sin away, she must summon powerful creatures. With the help of Tidus, she finds another path and defeats Sin forever.
When the sequel, Final Fantasy X-2, kicks off, Yuna is now an adventurer and singer, and her whole costume reflects that change. Gone are her maiden robes, and instead she wears a sleeker, more revealing and formfitting outfit, symbolizing her change from living for others’ expectations to living for herself.
6 Mega Man X’s Costume Changes As His Power Grows
Bringing the Mega Man series to a new platform and a new timeline, Mega Man X picks up 100 years from the classic series. With the move to the Super NES, storage space for Mega Man X skyrocketed as compared to its predecessors.
Capcom used that space to allow X to grow, to search for and discover power-up parts that changed his costume. A fully powered-up X gains sleek white highlights to his armor and the ability to slide, to shoot a fourth tier of beam, and even when at full health to fire a hadoken from his arm cannon.
5 Mass Effect’s Jack Grows Her Hair As She Grows Up
Between Mass Effect 2 and 3, the volatile Jack, aka Subject Zero, begins teaching other biotic warriors for the Systems Alliance in its war with the Reapers. Working past her trauma, Jack has bonded to the young adults and children she teaches, learning to embrace a place in life as a leader.
Although only six months have passed, Jack’s previously razor-short hair has grown out enough to gather into a short ponytail, albeit still in her distinctive style. Jack’s longer hair is a visual cue to show that she’s taking her life more seriously and plans to be around for more than just her quick death.
4 Princess Garnet Gets Gaming’s Most Important Haircut In FFIX
Final Fantasy IX was the final Final Fantasy game featuring character designs by legendary anime designer Amano Yoshitaka. Amano went all-out in this installment, creating extreme looks inspired by global theatre traditions from Kabuki to Punch and Judy.
Of all the costume designs in Final Fantasy IX, the most important to the game is the change of Princess Garnet til Alexandros’s hair from a waist-length ponytail to a dagger-shorn bob. This goes along with changing her name from Garnet, her given name, to Dagger, the name she carries the rest of the game.
3 Zelda Transforms Her Entire Look For Sheik
The scarf-wrapped warrior and musician Sheik appears in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as a mentor character for Link. Teaching Link several songs over the course of the game, Sheik is only revealed in the finale to be an alter ego of Princess Zelda.
Sheik gains much more prominence in the Super Smash Bros. series, first appearing in Super Smash Bros. Melee for the GameCube. Her extensive moveset and backstory have made her a mainstay of the series from then on. Sheik’s appearance opens storyline possibilities for Zelda as an adventurer.
2 Ryu’s Beard In Street Fighter 6 Shows He’s The Master Now
The Street Fighter series has long been stuck in a perpetually vague period of the late 1980s to early 1990s. Nothing emphasizes this more than the eternal student cycle of Ryu and Ken, studying under their master, Gouken.
With a new, bushy beard and a shirtless costume showing off his massive physique for the upcoming Street Fighter 6, Ryu is a boy no more. He is a man of middle years, a master of the martial arts still seeking his ultimate purpose. The iconic series may not yet have caught up to the world around it, but Ryu’s visible age means that it’s at least moving.
1 Reversing Mario’s Colors Brought His Costume To New Heights
Super Mario World, the signature launch title for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, confirmed a major change to the Plumber’s outfit. The overalls of Mario’s iconic red-and-blue costume were now blue.
The change was signaled in 1988’s Super Mario Bros. 3. Mario had blue overalls on the cover, but due to the NES’s very limited color palette and the ambitious game design, using one whole on-screen color just for Mario’s pants was impossible, so they used black. The expansive palette of the Super NES made Mario’s costume whole.