Awful videogame character design: Looking for examples

Being someone who draws and paints for a living, I have a lot of interest in art in videogames, from background assets to weapon designs and character designs. Aesthetic pleasure is a major reason why I replay Uncharted 2 from time to time. The deliciously-detailed and impressively-designed backgrounds are like porn to me.
 
Most of the games I enjoy tend to have what I consider to be fantastic character designs, like Team Fortress 2 and  Odin Sphere. Team Fortress 2 succeeds in giving each playable character class a distinct silhoutte and just the right amount of detail to help players understand immediately what each class does. The cartoony aesthetics help to reinforce the idea that despite the violence, the world of TF2 is one that lives in the realm of humor and silly fun. As for Odin Sphere, aside from the gorgeous painterly 2D graphics, each character is unique in design, loaded with detail and every playable character has his/her own distinct color scheme that suits their personalities.
 
I also have a kind of a morbid fascination with terrible art, and that includes pig disgusting videogame character designs. What I mean by 'pig disgusting' is unintentional ugliness, or a failure to express what the character's supposed to be. Well-designed monsters are meant to be ugly or disgusting, but a badly-designed monster looks like something little children could have scrawled, with little care for aesthetic sense. Games like Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust is home for many terrifying examples of supposedly attractive characters that look like the stuff of nightmares.
 
There are also cases where the character design is bad in the context of gameplay. Example: Brown characters in a brown background under a brown sky. While it may make sense for a military-themed videogame to have characters wearing camouflage to match the colors of the environment, if you're playing a game in third-person and your character as well as other characters look almost exactly alike with little difference in silhoutte shape it can get pretty confusing.

I'd like you to share with me: What game(s) do you personally think have terrible character designs, and is there a reason why you consider them to be awful?

265 Comments
267 Comments
Posted by Mayu_Zane

Being someone who draws and paints for a living, I have a lot of interest in art in videogames, from background assets to weapon designs and character designs. Aesthetic pleasure is a major reason why I replay Uncharted 2 from time to time. The deliciously-detailed and impressively-designed backgrounds are like porn to me.
 
Most of the games I enjoy tend to have what I consider to be fantastic character designs, like Team Fortress 2 and  Odin Sphere. Team Fortress 2 succeeds in giving each playable character class a distinct silhoutte and just the right amount of detail to help players understand immediately what each class does. The cartoony aesthetics help to reinforce the idea that despite the violence, the world of TF2 is one that lives in the realm of humor and silly fun. As for Odin Sphere, aside from the gorgeous painterly 2D graphics, each character is unique in design, loaded with detail and every playable character has his/her own distinct color scheme that suits their personalities.
 
I also have a kind of a morbid fascination with terrible art, and that includes pig disgusting videogame character designs. What I mean by 'pig disgusting' is unintentional ugliness, or a failure to express what the character's supposed to be. Well-designed monsters are meant to be ugly or disgusting, but a badly-designed monster looks like something little children could have scrawled, with little care for aesthetic sense. Games like Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust is home for many terrifying examples of supposedly attractive characters that look like the stuff of nightmares.
 
There are also cases where the character design is bad in the context of gameplay. Example: Brown characters in a brown background under a brown sky. While it may make sense for a military-themed videogame to have characters wearing camouflage to match the colors of the environment, if you're playing a game in third-person and your character as well as other characters look almost exactly alike with little difference in silhoutte shape it can get pretty confusing.

I'd like you to share with me: What game(s) do you personally think have terrible character designs, and is there a reason why you consider them to be awful?

Posted by LiquidPrince

The new Dante from the Ninja Theory Devil May Cry is pretty terrible.

Posted by ZanzibarBreeze

 A prime example of terrible costuming.
Basically every character designed by Nomura, ever.
Posted by huntad
@ZanzibarBreeze: You win.
Posted by HitmanAgent47

You can't get any worst than this. The president of ninja theory paste his own head on the character and calls himself dante.  
 

 

 

Posted by ZanzibarBreeze
@huntad said:
" @ZanzibarBreeze: You win. "
I know. It was just a race to see who could post that image first, I think.
 
Four more here.
Posted by Mayu_Zane
@HitmanAgent47 said:
"

You can't get any worst than this. The president of ninja theory paste his own head on the character and calls himself dante.  
 

 

"
Not having known about this before, I laughed for a good five minutes. Thank you for sharing this with me.
Posted by LiquidPrince
@ZanzibarBreeze: Hey Cloud and Lightning are badass characters...
Posted by Hailinel
@HitmanAgent47 said:
"

You can't get any worst than this. The president of ninja theory paste his own head on the character and calls himself dante.  
 

 

"
That truly is ridiculous.  I can't believe Capcom actually approved that shit.
Posted by Mrnitropb

I love borderlands, but some of their characters are just somewhere in the valley.
Posted by Pinworm45

anything from final fantasy

Posted by dudeglove
Posted by Mayu_Zane
Posted by ZanzibarBreeze
@Mayu_Zane said:
" @HitmanAgent47 said:
"

You can't get any worst than this. The president of ninja theory paste his own head on the character and calls himself dante.  
 

 

"
Not having known about this before, I laughed for a good five minutes. Thank you for sharing this with me. "
 
I wasn't going to play the game anyway, but I can now officially no longer playing the game knowing that this is the case. The new Dante is legitimately ugly. I don't turn on games (and television) to look at ugly people; I turn them on to look at good looking people. I'm not commenting on that British man, I'm just commenting on that character's face.

 Not good looking.
Nor can I support such arrogance as putting one's self in a game as the main goddamn character.
Edited by Cornman89
@ZanzibarBreeze: Goddammit. I knew someone would beat me to Tidus.
 
Well, how about this?!
 
Edited by BunkerBuster

Lara Croft is pretty atrocious. Not only does she not dress like people she's also supposed to be a archeologist / thief.
 
Exhibit A:

 Are you here for the Porn Shoot in Backlot B?
Even the developers though the original was too ridiculous so they re-colored it.
Edited by ryanwho

Try anything by Hyung Tae Kim. Any female in Soul Calibur. Anything from Unreal.
Also, even though I love this:  


Cus it reminds me of Marlon Brando after he went crazy.
Posted by HODGEY3000

anything from final fantasty, BOOM
Edited by BunkerBuster

How the fuck could I forget this train-wreck.  
This isn't even some special outfit. This is what she wears in the game to fight people in.

 I don't even....?
Posted by ryanwho
@BunkerBuster: In defense, everything looks utterly awful when a virgin white 14 year old tries to draw soft porn fanart anime like that.
Posted by Kaburorne
@BunkerBuster: Suddenly, GIANT THIGHS 
Posted by valrog

Hm... Anything made by Bethesda, really.
 

Posted by TheGreatGuero
@ZanzibarBreeze: Wow. I always knew Tidus looked like Meg Ryan, but I never realized before just how unbelievably horrendous his outfit is. Yikes.
Posted by sagesebas
@ZanzibarBreeze: f him and his voice
Posted by ZanzibarBreeze
@sagesebas said:
" @ZanzibarBreeze: f him and his voice "
I actually think the voice acting in that game is totally fitting. To each his own, I guess.
 
@valrog said:
" Hm... Anything made by Bethesda, really.
 
"

Jesus Christ. Is that stuff randomized or is that planned? If that's planned, then that designer needs to be punished.
Posted by TwoLines
@ryanwho: A 14 year old drew that?
Holy fucking shit..
 
 
 
 
 
 
Waaait a minute..
Posted by valrog
@ZanzibarBreeze:  Definitely planned.
Posted by DrRandle

I'm going to say Gears of War, but that's only because it looks like it was created by a testosterone filled 16 year old . And really, I didn't much find much offense in the whole design until I say Anya, and realized just how terrible they are at designing characters.

Posted by BunkerBuster
@ryanwho: Sometimes its not fourteen-year-olds its paid professionals working on the thirteenth game. 


The graphics of the older games don't help either.


Which reminds me. Who's got Ivy?



Posted by Cornman89

Posted by BunkerBuster
@Cornman89:  Oh, man. What is that? Are you sure that's a game and not a Schizophrenia?
Posted by x_XJules

There's some serious Final Fantasy hate itt. I would agree with FFX but I like most of the other games. 
 
As for me, I was never really a fan of the character design in Rogue Galaxy. 

Posted by armaan8014
@ZanzibarBreeze:  Wats this from, a new DMC?
Edited by MysteriousBob
@BunkerBuster: You're condemning KOF for just Mai while the entire Dead or Alive series has a roster of these creepy big breasted big eyed freaks. If you want terrible character designs, just look at that god awful series. 
 
Anyway, the worst character design is Necrid. Specially designed by some comic book asshole to appear in a game set in the 16th Century. Yes, a really stupid looking alien in the 16th Century.
Posted by Romination

 Buzzed, fierce brooding guy. Whoo.
Posted by MysteriousBob
@Romination: Thats more 'boring' and 'uninspired' than flat out bad. Jar Jar Binks is a bad character design.
Posted by vidiot
@ZanzibarBreeze said:
" @Mayu_Zane said:
" @HitmanAgent47 said:
"

You can't get any worst than this. The president of ninja theory paste his own head on the character and calls himself dante.  
 

 

"
Not having known about this before, I laughed for a good five minutes. Thank you for sharing this with me. "
 
I wasn't going to play the game anyway, but I can now officially no longer playing the game knowing that this is the case. The new Dante is legitimately ugly. I don't turn on games (and television) to look at ugly people; I turn them on to look at good looking people. I'm not commenting on that British man, I'm just commenting on that character's face.

 Not good looking.
Nor can I support such arrogance as putting one's self in a game as the main goddamn character. "
My problem is that it's simply not Dante at all. 
I'm not some angst ridden fan-boy, making some wild proclamation. It is what it is: That's not Dante.  
Reboot, re-imagining, whatever you want to call it, if I take a video game character and replace him or her with another person, who show's absolutely no real tangible relation to the previous character he/she is representing, aside from name and...I guess...in this case, accessories....Sorry, that's not the same dude. 

They could have replaced him with -ANYTHING ELSE- and it still wouldn't have worked. The only comparable things going is his jacket (looks horrible) his two guns, and what appears to be a sword(? Version of the trailer I saw was a little murky, couldn't see in great detail ?)
 
It's the equivalent of taking -insert game character, comic character-, keeping the weapons and the powers: but now he's an angst ridden teenager. Does that sound appealing? Has that ever worked? No? 
Look! Dante is still stylish as always! Remember when he used to mock and joke around with Demonic God's, before initiating them in combat?!
    
...Well now he smokes!
...
...Because...the demons zoned that roof as a non-smoking area....and....he's totality smoking there, and it's late, and from the looks of his character design he is SOOOOO over his curfew! Dude! His demon parents are going to be PISSED! Virgil is totally going to take out Trish to the prom if this keeps up! No bruski's for Dante tonight! Look's like he's getting all electro-shocked therapy and....  
 
...Seriously, one look at that character design and I want to vomit. Thanks Ninja Theory. I wasn't aware the Devil May Cry franchise had a huge Twilight following. 
 
I'm kinda gunning in the camp that it's the trailer's fault. That there's some grand scheme in place, we just can't see it yet. 
...At least that's what I'm hoping, because what's on display here is pretty freaking horrible.
Posted by MysteriousBob
@vidiot: Please don't turn this into another DMC whine-fest.
Edited by Old_Corncob

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Winner Douche Bag Olympics!!!

Posted by vidiot
@MysteriousBob: Dude. It is what it is. :/  
Thread asks for awful character design, this thing comes up, it's currently relevant, and I'll gladly agree and chime in.
 
But yeah, if anyone want's to counter-point me, I think it will be better to send a PM my way. Keep this thread from spiraling.
Posted by Mowgers

Any Warhammer 40k game that uses the original models' sense of scale and proportion. Based on the minis, a Marine's thigh would have to be as thick around as maybe my bicep to fit into his armour... it's worse for Terminators. Human Guardsmen are bulbous half-men with massive hands. Space Marine and DoW2 seem to have avoided this, so props.

Posted by ThePickle
@LiquidPrince said:
" The new Dante from the Ninja Theory Devil May Cry is pretty terrible. "
Edited by popmasterruler

 Ah yeah...I'm not even drawn proportionally.In the real world I wouldn't even be able to stand.How do people find me sexy?
Posted by Animasta
@popmasterruler said:
"
 Ah yeah...I'm not even drawn proportionally.In the real world I wouldn't even be able to stand.How do people find me sexy?
"
it's not awful, it's fucking hilarious.
Posted by Hailinel
@MysteriousBob said:
" @vidiot: Please don't turn this into another DMC whine-fest. "
Be fair, now.  Dante's new design is shit and is perfect fodder for this very thread.
 
Speaking of bad character designs though: 


Anyone remember this guy?  No?  Not surprising, what with his red cornrows and black goatee that's barely not a soul patch.
 
And speaking of characters that look like they were designed by marketing and focus groups:
 

Posted by ArbitraryWater
@BunkerBuster:  To be fair, pretty much every fighting game series needs a sex appeal character with gigantic boobs at this point. After all, Dead or Alive is a fighting game that revolves around idealized young women with comically huge breasts beating each other up. The male characters are kind of just... there.
 
But then again, while we are on the subject of KOF, since that series has so many goddamn characters I'm sure there are more than a few bad eggs, though none immediately come to mind.
Posted by BunkerBuster
@ArbitraryWater: 
Fighting games can have female characters that aren't designed by idiots who are probably sex offenders. Guilty Gear and Street Fighter come to mind right off the bat. 
It's also not just because she's provocatively dressed or her figure its that nobody would dress like that? She wears a one-piece bed sheet tied at the waist and panties.With two prayer beads at the ends to finish the ensemble. Its all completely random and lazy and therefore bad design.
Posted by LiquidPrince
@Cornman89 said:
" @ZanzibarBreeze: Goddammit. I knew someone would beat me to Tidus.
 
Well, how about this?!
 
"
That's hot. I'm imagining a real girl wearing that... Mmm.
Posted by LiquidPrince
@Romination said:
"
 Buzzed, fierce brooding guy. Whoo.
"
You do realize that they based Starkiller exactly on Sam Witwer...
 

Posted by Hailinel
@BunkerBuster said:
" @ArbitraryWater:  Fighting games can have female characters that aren't designed by idiots who are probably sex offenders. "
Hey, whoa there.  That's taking things too far when you sling accusations around like that.  Mai was designed with cheesecake sex appeal in mind, that much is certain, but labeling the character designer as a sex offender without any evidence is crossing a line.