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Character Redesigns Scrutinized

Bomberman to the extreme!After long-running video game characters start to feel stale after a saturation of sequels, it's not uncommon for a publisher to attempt to reboot a franchise with redesigned protagonists to make the whole experience feel timely and fresh again based on current design trends.  Unfortunately, some redesigns are too forced, designed by committee, or completely miss the point of what made the original character so compelling.  Mike Williams at USgamer has taken a look at some of the best and worst redesigns in gaming history.  Favorite heroes like Bomberman, Lara Croft, Nathan Spencer, the Team Fortress 2 cast, and Link are on the list, but you'll have to read it to see which side they landed on.  OK, I'll spoil Bomberman.  He's on the "bad" list as a textbook example of missing the point of the original character and the world in which he lives/bombs.

Like most of these other poor reboots and redesigns, the problem with Bomberman Act Zero is trying to cram serious themes into characters that don't need them. This game lost the plot in spectacular fashion, turning a family-friendly cartoon into a nightmarish post-apocalyptic cyborg. This is a thing someone greenlit; a committee of people looked at Bomberman: Act Zero and thought it was a good idea. If you ever need an illustration of how little some executives know about what players want, here's the best example ever.

Sometimes redesigns work really well, but I think everyone in the gaming community holds his or her breath when it's announced that a beloved character is taking on a new look for the next adventure.  Consider the recent ire directed at Sega's Sonic Boom remix of Sonic the Hedgehog, for instance, or the reaction to Mega Man becoming super cute for Mega Man Powered Up.  While Mega Man's new look suited him well, the jury is still out on Sonic Boom.  My point is that sometimes these things work out just fine after a bad first impression, while other times the criticisms can be spot on.  And let's not even get started on Sonic's werewolf incarnation.