Xbox is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and despite its youthful age in comparison to PlayStation and Nintendo, they have plenty of legacies to celebrate. From Halo to Elder Scrolls, the brand is stronger than ever thanks to internal investments, as well as the acquisition of developers and publishers like Bethesda.
Its catalogue of characters has grown significantly over the year and with many of those characters existing for decades, they've seen their fair share of redesigns and modernization in the gaming space.
8 Banjo & Kazooie
Banjo and Kazooie have always been some of the most beloved characters Rare has created, but due to them being introduced during the Nintendo 64 era, we're used to seeing them look pretty blocky.
Thanks to their inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, we've now good a good look at what they'd look like now. This has led fans to wonder what they'd look like in a modern remake.
Even not counting Smash Bros, we've also seen a modern take on Banjo and Kazooie in Nuts & Bolts. This design had the pair looking much more realistic but also gave Banjo much squarer features. That jaw could cut glass.
Conker's first title, Conker's Bad Fur Day, was released back in 1999 and, much like Banjo, he's gone through some big changes since then. Thanks to the advancement in graphics, this crude squirrel has gone from looking like a cheap sports mascot in Twelve Tales to a living and sentient rodent in Live & Reloaded.
Live & Reloaded, the Xbox remaster of Bad Fur Day, made Conker look much more realistic. His fur is puffier than ever and his blue hoodie is much more eye-popping, thanks in part to the zipper now being larger than life. Since then, we've seen Conker appear in Project Spark, where he adopted a good middle ground between the two designs. Before you ask, no, we're not going to mention Young Conker.
When Halo: Infinite gameplay was first revealed in 2020, a poor-looking brute that the internet nicknamed Craig became the focus of meme culture. For a year developer 343 Industries played along with the joke, but behind the scenes, they were also working on Craig's new look.
Despite his new design being revealed a year after he originally became an internet joke, it's hard to deny how impressive it is. Leaning into a joke is great, but actually improving a character alongside that joke is even better.
Rash, Zitz, and Pimple aren't the video game characters that first come to mind when you think of a comeback, but Xbox and Microsoft committed to that move and released a brand new Battletoads game in 2020.
The three main heroes carry a lot of the same energy they displayed in 1991, but this time they're much more cartoony than they are Duke Nukem in terms of the art direction and vibe. This was a much-needed facelift to one of Xbox's more niche groups.
Like Master Chief, Cortana has seen a number of redesigns over the years. For better or worse her design slowly changed from a more technical appearance to one that might as well be human, likely as a result of the AI becoming a love interest to Master Chief. With Halo: Infinite's campaign set to release in 2021 it's unclear how drastic her redesign will be following the events of Halo 5.
3 Joanna Dark
With a new Perfect Dark game being revealed in 2020, fans are eager to take Joanna Dark on another stealth-espionage adventure. Though her face is never seen in the reveal trailer for the new game, her shadow casts a silhouette of her new hair, which seems to be an asymmetrical pixie cut.
Since the character hasn't been relevant in over a decade it's safe to assume that her face will also receive a redesign and that her iconic blue and black jumpsuit will also be modernised.
2 Doom Slayer
As weird as it is to say, the Doom Slayer is indeed an Xbox character now. The Doom Slayer was originally much more human and simple in his design, which was likely just a product of the times.
With the two most recent titles in the series, iD Software has leaned into the killing machine soldier vibe and decorated Doom Slayer as a character who looks what would happen if Master Chief had one bad day.
1 Master Chief
It's hard to find a character more synonymous with Xbox than Master Chief. This Spartan hero has seen numerous changes over the years since he originally appeared in Halo 1 alongside the release of the very first Xbox.
His design has made the green in his armor much more subtle and the armor itself has obtained an incredible amount of detail and polish, despite not changing all that much. Master Chief's silhouette, though way less polygonal these days, feels very in line with his original appearance from 2001.
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