Stylin’ and profilin’.
It’s hard to believe that there was a time, not all that long ago, when games would ship with one or two alternate outfits for their main characters at the very most. Nowadays, alternate outfits, costumes and skins are one of the industry’s biggest cash-cows, and there are just so damn many to choose from. Although exam period has seen a number of the Doublejump Staff take short breaks to focus on their studies, the remaining Doublejump Staff members sat down shortly after Halloween to chat about their favourite alternate outfits from over the years. Enjoy!
Jake: Akuma’s white-haired “Battle Outfit” in Street Fighter V
First appearing as a hidden boss in Street Fighter II Turbo, Akuma is a fearsome warrior who has harnessed (and in many ways, surrendered himself to) the Satsui no Hado, an energy-based power that is rooted in the darker, more basal aspects of humanity. As such, he’s presented as the antithesis of protagonist Ryu: not only is he a cold, emotionless character whose sole focus is to become stronger, but the Satsui no Hado has given him a somewhat inhuman appearance, with his bright red hair and eyes and almost-canine teeth signifying that he has tapped into his more animalistic instincts to become as powerful as he is.
Akuma is one of the most powerful characters in the series, and one of my personal favourites, but the red eyes and hair to go along with the name that literally translates to “devil” have always been a little… on the nose. Akuma has had a host of different looks and colour schemes in his time, but it’s this “Battle Outfit” that makes him the most fearsome by combining references to both his power and his experience. It takes the character’s matured, more godlike appearance (he is based on the Niō that guard Buddhist temples) and then symbolises the evil, animalistic presence of the Satsui no Hado by tattering his gi — traditionally a sacred garment. Additionally, the brown pants may well be a nod to the gi’s origins, a hidden symbol of tenure and, once again, experience.
All of that could be intentional, or I could be reading way too far into an alternate outfit. I’d prefer to think the former, but there’s every chance that CAPCOM just thought it would look cool.
John: Cole’s Wardrobe in L.A. Noire
This is more a blanket opinion than an absolute favourite, but Cole’s wardrobe of dapper-ass suits in L.A. Noire is exactly what I want out of alternate outfits. This applies to stuff like the Arkham series and Marvel’s Spider-Man, too: when I want a change of clothes, I still want my guy to blend into the game as well as they do by default. I can appreciate a goofy or Cool™ costume from time to time but I usually want to stay invested in the story, or feel that my character is still of this virtual world. I don’t want to stand out any more than my character is meant to.
Cole’s dozen-ish suits in L.A. Noire are all about this: every outfit is an actual thing a person would actually wear. Sometimes the suit changes for you (cos story) or you can just change it yourself – but “alternative” is the keyword here. The goofiest Cole gets is a jacketless suit with a bright yellow hat, and that one’s a collectible reward.
“What’s the point of that?” I hear you ask? Personally, I get the most out of games when I’m roleplaying, and that stops if it looks like I skinned a Transformer to wear it as clothes or tripped into a vat of blacklight. I get more out of roleplaying when I can freely change clothes like a normal person and not many games offer “normal” alternate outfits alongside the rest. For an industry that trends towards mashing whatever time-consuming RPG elements they can into every genre possible, inconspicuous duds are disappointingly rare.
Kristian: Hitomi’s steampunk-lite outfit in Dead or Alive 5: Last Round
I’ve never really been excited by the idea of costumes and alternate outfits, and in an age where every game’s offering them the only only one that’s ever really hooked me on its costume collection is the Dead or Alive series. Early in the series’ life, you could unlock all of a character’s costumes by beating the story or time attack modes, but there was only a handful to unlock; nowadays, each character has dozens of costumes available in season-based DLC. There are still plenty of appealing costumes that you can unlock for free, though, as is the case with Hitomi’s steampunk-inspired outfit from Dead or Alive 5: Last Round.
The outfit consists of a white top covered by denim overalls, complete with leather suspenders and a smattering of leather to finish, including gloves, belts around both her waist and wrist, and a choker. Completing the outfit is a pair of goggles, which totally fit in with her inquisitive and energetic nature. While there are certainly more impressive or sexier outfits (this is a Dead or Alive game after all) in the series than this one, Hitomi has long been a favourite character of mine, and so it only seems fair to select one of hers as my favourite alternate outfit in games.
Lucas: Claire and Leon’s original outfits from Resident Evil 2
Yes, this counts! This year’s remake of Resident Evil 2 was full of graphical, gameplay and quality-of-life improvements over its 1998 predecessor, but the most striking improvement was the one we saw every second of the game: the characters’ outfits. With a far more modernised look than was possible 21 long years — and three console generations — ago, the redesigned outfits made Claire and Leon look more lively and realistic.
CAPCOM didn’t stop there, though: instead of limiting players to just the one choice of outfit, the developer included the customary alternate costumes for players to change into if they so choose: none of those alternate outfits — which came with the game’s deluxe edition — but none of them compare to the original outfits. After all, a large part of immersing yourself in a remake is seeing how the developer reimagines the characters in their original form, not as a street racer.
Of course, you can also choose to wear the PlayStation 1 versions of the characters’ outfits, which CAPCOM did a fantastic job of updating to work with the new character models. Choosing those outfits will also see certain non-playable characters wearing their “Classic” outfits as well; it’s great for nostalgia, but it doesn’t match the updated versions when it comes to immersion and overall fit.
Matt: God of War 2’s Cod of War
God of War II is one of my favourite games of all time (and one of the greatest swansong titles for any console in existence) — finishing its story left me eager to jump in and play through it again, using my newfound knowledge to get an even better experience. That’s when I saw the Cod of War: a hilarious costume that stands as one of my earliest memories of a “serious” franchise like God of War just… having a laugh.
From the moment I put Kratos in the Cod of War outfit to the moment I took it off, I don’t think I ever lost the stupid grin smeared across my face. The costume dresses Kratos in a massive blue fish outfit with blacked-out sleeves and pants to make it look like he really was just a floating fish, and replaced his Blades of Athena with a pair of giant fish hooks for added comedic effect. It was one of the two outfits that you could unlock simply by beating the game on any difficulty, so it was one of my earliest experiences with alternate costumes (the only earlier one I can remember was Spider-Man, also on the PS1).
The Cod of War outfit was more than just a joke, though; it doubled the value of any Orbs you collected on your playthrough, almost-immediately boosting your health and magic to their highest potential at any given time. That allowed me to breeze through my second playthrough, which is exactly what I wanted so that I could enjoy the best parts of the story and push through the more frustrating ones. It’s no longer around in its original form, but the outfit lives on in the form of the Cod of War Tunic in 2018’s God of War — a pretty damn powerful bit of armour in its own right.
Ty: Obi-Wan’s alternate outfit from Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith
The image that most Star Wars fans — if not most people in general — have of the legendary Obi-Wan Kenobi is that of Ewan McGregor’s portrayal in Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, with his red boots and bushy beard. This is in no small part due to the new-found appreciation many fans have for the “prequel trilogy”, which in turn has come about due to their divisive reaction to Disney’s new trilogy.
Along with this new-found appreciation has come a spotlight on the licensed video game that LucasArts and The Collective released alongside the film. I could talk about the game for days, but right now we’re talking about costumes and it’s Obi-Wan’s alternate outfit in the duelling mode that’s got my attention here. It puts Obi-Wan, who retains the same look we’re so used to, in a Jedi robe and equips him with a green lightsaber as opposed to his usual blue one. It seems like a subtle change, but it creates a rather striking image as it emulates Obi-Wan’s own master, Qui-Gon Jinn, and embodies the true wisdom of a Jedi Master.
I can argue that this alternate outfit, as insignificant as it is, strongly embodies the image most people want to see in Disney’s upcoming miniseries based around the character, showcasing a wandering but hardened and wise Jedi Master and embodying all of the wisdom that comes with a lifetime of adventure. It could also be that I just like green lightsabers more than blue ones, but the costume’s impact is real regardless.
This list is shorter than usual, so we’re almost certain to have glossed over a couple of your favourites. Hop onto our social media and tell us what your favourite alternate outfit is!
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Also published on Medium.