Do Nintendo Characters Need Redesigns?

Do Nintendo Characters Need Redesigns?

So a while ago, people were up in arms about Zero Suit Samus’s redesign. They said that her exaggerated proportions and rocket heels were a sexist decision. Heck, let’s not kid ourselves here. People are still angry and the design is a little sexist. But back when that happened I said the whole situation was sticky because Nintendo was working off a double standard here. It was OK for Zero Suit Samus to get oversexualized, but no other Nintendo character on the roster got the same treatment.

This brings us up to today, and the reveal of Ike’s new design on the Smash roster. Guess what? Ike too had a redesign, and he has been hitting the gym. His new design is based on his “great lord” character model, complete with bulging muscles, tree trunk chest, and a face that is more manly and grown up.

Some people are saying “BOOM, this solves the sexism problem right?” Well, no. Ike’s redesign is a power fantasy, not a sex fantasy. I’m still holding out for Wario in a Chippendales outfit. But regardless, that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

I’m here to ask a simple question: do either of these characters need a redesign?

The whole concept behind Smash Bros. is that iconic Nintendo characters are beating the crap out of each other. When a character is iconic, they mean certain things to the gaming populace as a whole. Samus was an icon of the strong female protagonist, and that’s why people got up in arms about her character design. The new ZSS wasn’t the Samus we knew. It was someone else.

Similarly, that’s why we may not have been upset if, say, rocket heels were strapped to Bayonetta. Bayonetta stands for something different than Samus does. Heels are part of her icon.

Now the same is happening to Ike. The original Ike we knew was a random mercenary thrust into a war he was not ready to fight. So his original character design was a lot like Marth’s and Roys, iconic of the beginning of his journey as a spikey haired RPG protagonist. Ike’s new design, based off his great lord design, doesn’t feel like Ike. This hulking Fist of the North Star type character is a monster. His design is interesting and his model is cool, but he’s not the Ike we know. He’s not an icon anymore. He’s just some Namco Bandai character inspired by an old Fire Emblem game.

Do Nintendo Characters Need Redesigns?

There seems to be this push to make these Nintendo characters more exaggerated. If you’ll look at Bowser’s design, you’ll notice that his colors are more vibrant and he looks more cartoony. The same can be said for Donkey Kong who looks more like he did in his Tropical Freeze appearance. Similarly, the “realistic” characters are becoming more anime, more out there than they once were.

And I’m not particularly sure that Smash Bros. fans want this. Watching the backlash from the Ike reveal made it appear as if it’s not just sexism that is annoying people, it’s fiddling with their favorite characters at all. So what do you think? Is Nintendo ruining our favorite characters by changing their designs? Or are they just cheapening their value as icons.

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