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The In-Game Evolution of Video Game Characters Over Time

The world of video games has greatly evolved over the past few decades, and so have the video game characters that we've all come to know and love. From the Super Mario Brothers to the brutal fighters of the Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter universes, so many characters have gone through some interesting evolutions, to say the least.

In this infographic, take a closer look at how 20 notable characters from the world of gaming have changed. The earliest character on here is the 1981 version of Donkey Kong, as he appeared in the timeless arcade hit by the same name. There are eight different versions of him shown here, spanning from that game all the way through to his inclusion in the 2018 release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch.

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Click here for the PDF poster version of this infographic

This infographic spans several different gaming universes, including the Mushroom Kingdom and other places Mario has traveled. Seven characters are represented from this universe: Mario, Luigi, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Peach, Yoshi, and Mario's rival Wario. Perhaps one of the most unique in-game character evolutions is Mario himself, who has drastically changed from his inclusion in 1983's Mario Bros. arcade game through today. In the span of just 13 years, Mario went from a pixelated plumber in the arcade to a 3D sensation in the groundbreaking N64 classic Super Mario 64.

The world of Mortal Kombat is also strongly represented here, including Jade, Sonya Blade, Scorpion, and Sub-Zero. Scorpion, for instance, has seen eight different models between his 1992 debut in the original Mortal Kombat arcade game and his inclusion in Mortal Kombat X, which was released in 2015.

Characters featured here include:

  • Super Mario Bros.: Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Wario, and Bowser
  • The Legend of Zelda: Link and Princess Zelda
  • Capcom Games: Mega Man and Ryu
  • Mortal Kombat: Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Sonya Blade, and Jade
  • Others: Kirby, Pikachu, Samus Aran, Solid Snake, and Sonic the Hedgehog

Perhaps one of the most unique character evolutions here is Princess Zelda, who not only went through the obvious graphical changes but saw massive costume changes as well throughout the years. From her 1987 debut in The Legend of Zelda for the Nintendo Entertainment System through her appearance in the 2017 Nintendo Switch hit The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and beyond, she’s essentially gone through a complete overhaul in her look with each game.

Which of the games and characters represented here are your favorites?

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