It's funny, seeing how a backpack-wearing and boggle-eyed beasty can transform into a gun-toting sociopath and somehow get away with it. That said, there certainly comes a point in every characters' development arc where we just sort of stop to say, you know — what, when, and why? Only very rarely is it, of course, that their creators share an answer behind their absurdly unique transformations. And to say we've often been left bewildered is perhaps the biggest understatement of them all.
Anyway, the point is, we've seen a lot of characters spiral through trends and whatnot over the years. Have they turned out better for it? Well, you tell us. Here are five video game characters that went through the biggest transformations and somehow lived to tell the tale.
5. The Prince (Prince of Persia)
What started out as a whimsical video game series with a protagonist that acted with utmost decorum eventually transpired into a whole other ball game. And shortly after the release of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Ubisoft clearly decided to take the acrobatic-loving Prince in a new direction. And boy, the result of that was something dark, and something nobody really came to expect after such a light-hearted debut.
When Warrior Within launched just a few short years after Sands of Time, The Prince was hardly recognizable. The open-minded and almost reluctant soul was out, and the metal-loving murder machine was in. In such a short time, the IP had transitioned into a survival horror hack and slash, from what was originally thought to be a sequel to a colorful parkour puzzle game. And while neither of them were billed for being bad, they were certainly oceans apart in terms of tone. Did it bode well for Ubisoft? We like to think so.
4. Jak (Jak & Daxter)
Naughty Dog had it in their minds to make the protagonist of Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy a silent yet effortlessly loveable hero. And, of course, it worked, and it definitely suited the target demographic. Problem was, with the amount of similarities the character had with other up-and-coming platform games' heroes, the devs needed to do something to make the character stand out. And so, come Jak II: Renegade, the whole design was revamped, along with the story arc and gameplay style.
Granted, the first Jak game was a whole lot of fun, and perhaps one of the best platformers of its generation. But Jak II, on the other hand, was on a whole other podium. And with the new and improved hero in tact, the series quickly transpired into a bullet-riddled action-adventure game with a much darker reality to boot. The wide-eyed hero, at least in Naughty Dog's eyes, was out for the count. Was it a good move for the series? Absolutely.
3. Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)
Our beloved Lara Croft has been through some of the most memorable fads of all time, no thanks to Crystal Dynamics forever trying to keep on top of the trends and what have you. Remember Angel of Darkness? Yeah, that happened. And if you think about how the natural survivor looks in Square Enix's reboot, you'll notice that there are quite a few differences, which of course makes her one of the most convoluted characters in gaming, period.
While Lara has always been an adventurer at heart, there are certainly a whole lot of layers to her character, a lot of which have been picked and pryed at by countless developers since the series' debut. And to say we know the heroine any better today than we did back in the nineties would only be a complete and utter lie. The fact is, we don't know Lara Croft all that well. And judging by the way she's been through countless phases, neither do her creators, evidently.
2. Ellie (The Last of Us)
If you had told us back in 2013 that The Last of Us' Ellie would wind up becoming a silent killer and an all-round rebel, we would've laughed you out the door. Turned out, though, that Naughty Dog wanted for her to follow just that. Besides her odd kind-hearted moments between friends and love interests, the once-naive girl basically turned into a gun-toting killer, complete with a survivor's mentality and all its accompanying traits.
Of course, being in a post-apocalyptic world with no good folk left, it was bound to happen sooner or later. And yet, it was a transformation that just so happened to transpire in a heartbeat. That curious girl whose interests idled with zoo animals and old friends suddenly turned into an irresistible thirst for vengeance and power. And to think, all of this happened in just two chapters. Say what you will about the series, but that's good storytelling and character development, right there.
1. The Boss (Saints Row)
Saints Row is often referred to as one of the most unusual video game franchises of all time. And, you know, fair enough. Considering this is a series that started out as a watered-down clone of Grand Theft Auto, it does make sense that fans would be somewhat confused at its sudden change in direction. And it didn't help that its characters, along with the tone, also changed their course, either.
We like to pretend that the soon-to-be Boss from the first Saints Row game is the same Boss from Saints Row IV. And if that's true, then that would mean the series' protagonist spiralled from a baggy pants-sporting gangbanger, to the president of the United States. Say what you want, but that's quite the transformation, even by Saints Row‘s standards. Weird? Absolutely. Expected? Annoyingly, yes.
So, what's your take? Are there any character transformations you'd suggest for this list? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.