The genes of character design


I’m admittedly posting this in part to test out creating a new topic, but it’s something I feel is at least mildly interesting in discussing character design. How many times have you played a game where there are two characters that are established as blood relatives, and yet don’t look anything alike? You look at a supposed parent and child, and you respond with a sense of incredulity. Was the character designer asleep at the wheel when designing the characters?

OK, that was a clumsy opening paragraph and I don’t really have a clean segue into my illustrative point, so I’ll just get right to it. This is probably going to turn into a rambling mess either way.

Let’s talk Dynasty Warriors.

The character designs for Dynasty Warriors are, by and large, really cool, and each is allowed to stand out in their own way. There are a lot of parents and children that have been introduced to the series over the years, but it’s rare that an entire family (father, mother, and children) is collectively part of the playable cast. So sometimes a character from a younger generation is introduced, but they don’t really resemble their one parent that’s in the game all that much, if at all.

For example:

Here is Lu Bu as of Dynasty Warriors 8:

And here is his daughter (yes, the mighty Lu Bu has a daughter!) Lu Lingqi in DW8 Xtreme Legends:

It mostly carries through in outfit styling and demeanor, but Lu Lingqi doesn’t exactly have her dad’s looks. Who’s the mother? The game doesn’t really elaborate on that. (And no, it’s not Diaochan.)

But then, here’s another example. Here’s Sima Yi from Dynasty Warriors 7:

In DW7, his sons Sima Shi and Sima Zhao were both introduced as playable characters. Here’s Sima Shi:

It’s a little hard to tell because Sima Yi is always wearing something that covers his hair, unless you check one of his swank DLC outfits):

But Sima Shi does appear to take after him in terms physical traits. (And heck, posture!) Sima Zhao, on the other hand:

What the heck, Zhao? There are a couple of notable differences here, most visibly in the hair color and texture. Zhao does take after his dad in some ways, but…geez. The brothers really stand apart, and the mother is nowhere in sight.

Until, that is, Dynasty Warriors 8, when Zhang Chunhua was introduced as playable:

Hey, now we’re getting somewhere, here! Zhao obviously got his hair from his mom, who technically got it from him because she wasn’t introduced until a game later. Video game genes are weird like that. But it is interesting to see how a character designed as the son of an existing character influenced the design of a mother that wasn’t introduced until the following game.

Like I said, this was going to get rambly. But hey! Anyway, any character designs you recognize for doing a good job of showing the genetic link between parent and child? Or maybe not so great?

(I see you, smart guy. I see you looking to upload pictures of Big Boss and Solid Snake. Clones obviously don’t count!)