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Time Travel: Aging the Icons – A Peek into 2024’s Video Game Legends

In the realm of video games, a curious phenomenon occurs; as we age, our beloved characters often remain frozen in time. But what if they didn’t? What if they aged at the same rate that we do?

To help answer that question, experts at gaming magazine Gamerbrain have devised a list that includes some of the world’s most iconic video game characters of all time, and using Midjourney AI, have generated images of what these characters would like in 2024 if they had aged at the same rate as humans.

Pikachu

Pikachu first appeared in Pokémon Red & Green (1996) for the Nintendo Gameboy, before becoming one of the series’ main characters and a mascot for both Pokémon and Nintendo.

Pikachu’s name is a combination of the Japanese onomatopoeia for the sounds of “pika” (sparkling) and “chu” (squeaking).

Pikachu (2024)

Pac-Man

Pac-Man made his first ever video game appearance in Pac-Man (1980), initially released in arcades.

Pac-Man was originally called “Puck-Man,” but the name was changed to avoid confusion with a popular British curse word.

Pac-Man (2024)

Mario

Mario first appeared in the arcade classic Donkey Kong (1981), where it became the highest-grossing game of 1981 and 1982.

Despite being Italian, Mario’s voice has only been spoken in English and Japanese in the official games.

Mario (2024)

Donkey Kong

Although not turning out to be quite as commercially successful as Mario, Donkey Kong also made his video game debut in Donkey Kong (1981).

Donkey Kong was not originally intended to be the villain of the game; instead, he was only supposed to be the main character’s pet.

Donkey-Kong (2024)

Princess Peach

Princess Peach made her video game debut in Mario Bros. (1985), which was first released in arcades.

Princess Peach has been kidnapped no less than 15 times throughout the Mario series!

Princess Peach (2024)

Link

Link first appeared as the main character in The Legend of Zelda (1986) for the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), which turned out to be one of Nintendo’s most successful video game franchises.

Link is left-handed in most of the Legend of Zelda games, which was a design choice to accommodate the right-handed player controlling him.

Link (2024)

Princess Zelda

Princess Zelda also made her initial appearance in The Legend of Zelda (1986) for the NES.

Princess Zelda isn’t your run-of-the-mill princess and is able to harness the powers of telepathy and teleportation, among others.

Princess Zelda (2024)

Samus Aran

Samus Aran made her video game debut in Metroid (1986), which was released on the Nintendo Famicom in Japan and a year later in North America on the NES.

Samus was initially intended to be a male character, but the developers decided to reveal her as a woman at the end of the game to surprise players.

Samus Aran (2024)

Steve

Steve made his first appearance in Minecraft (2009), which was initially released for Microsoft Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux.

Steve is a great jumper, being able to jump over one whole block, which equates to one meter in real life.

Steve (2024)

Ryu

Ryu first appeared in the arcade classic Street Fighter (1987).

Ryu’s signature move, the ‘Hadouken’, is translated as ‘wave motion fist’; it is inspired by the move ‘wave motion gun’ from the anime series Space Battleship Yamato.

Ryu (2024)

Solid Snake

Solid Snake first appeared in Metal Gear (1987) for the MSX Home Computer.

Snake’s iconic cardboard box disguise was inspired by a real-life smuggling tactic used in Japan.

Solid Snake (2024)

Mega Man

Mega Man first appeared in Mega Man (1987) on the NES.

Mega Man’s creator, Keiji Inafune, drew inspiration from his childhood love of Ultraman and Astro Boy when designing the iconic character.

Mega Man (2024)

Sonic

Sonic made his first video game appearance in Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) on the Sega Genesis, which was created to provide Sega with an iconic mascot to compete with Nintendo’s Mario.

Sonic was initially conceived as a rabbit or an armadillo before settling on the iconic hedgehog design.

Sonic (2024)

SubZero

SubZero debuted alongside a roster of fighters in Mortal Kombat (1992), which was first released in arcades.

Sub-Zero’s catchphrase, “Get over here!” is actually a line spoken by his rival, Scorpion, in the first Mortal Kombat game.

SubZero (2024)

Lara Croft

Lara Croft first appeared as the main character in Tomb Raider (1996) for the Sega Saturn.

Lara Croft was initially designed with a more curvaceous figure, but her design was toned down to make her appear more athletic and less sexualised.

Lara Croft (2024)

Crash Bandicoot

Crash Bandicoot first appeared as the main character in Crash Bandicoot (1996) for the Sony PlayStation and was created to try to become Sony’s answer to Nintendo’s Mario or Sega’s Sonic.

Crash Bandicoot was initially called “Willy the Wombat,” but the name was changed to sound more appealing to a North American audience.

Crash Bandicoot (2024)

Cloud Strife

Cloud Strife first appeared in Final Fantasy VII (1997) for the Sony PlayStation.

Cloud Strife’s iconic buster sword is so large that it would be physically impossible for him to wield it in real life.

Cloud Strife (2024)

Gordon Freeman

Gordon Freeman appeared as the main protagonist in Half-Life (1998) which was first released for Windows PC.

Gordon Freeman is one of the few video game protagonists who never speaks a word.

Gordon Freeman (2024)

Master Chief

Master Chief first appeared as the main character in Halo (2001) which was released on the Microsoft Xbox.

Master Chief never actually removed his helmet in the games; it wasn’t until the Halo TV adaptation that we saw him unmasked.

Master Chief (2024)

Nathan Drake

Nathan Drake first appeared as the main character in Uncharted (2007) on the Sony PS3.

Nathan Drake has what is known as Coulrophobia, a fear of clowns.

Nathan Drake (2024)

A spokesperson for gaming magazine, Gamerbrain said: “Using Midjourney AI to create new iterations of our favourite video game characters isn’t just about nostalgia; it’s about utilising AI tools to generate something fun and innovative that we as video game fans can resonate with. Done properly, AI has the capability to blend the old with the new and give us the ability to imagine a new take on our favourite characters, whilst also paying homage to their roots.”

 

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