Character design is hard because you can’t really afford to make a character look totally real. That doesn’t inherently mean hyper-realistic either, but rather they can’t look like the average person you’d see on the streets. They have to be dazzling in a way that’s immediately eye-catching but also doesn’t draw away from the world around them.
For games, that goes double. Plenty of aspects make a character great, and it’s gonna have to be really good if you’re spending days and days with them. A nice little touch can always be something simple, like scarves for example. They fit any weather, integrate some wonderful designs, and be flowy in a deeply satisfying way.
10/10 Mega Man – Proto Man
Aside from most characters in the series being very simply named Something Man, there’s an interesting amount of story weaved across the myriad Mega Man games. For example, Proto Man is actually the first ever Robot Master built by Dr. Light, before even Mega Man himself.
Story aside though, Proto Man has a striking look. He has the signature massive legs with a blazing red with a helmet to match. To make him seem just a little cooler, his eyes are covered with a jet-black visor. Most notable, of course, is his flowing yellow scarf, a mainstay of the character since his first appearance.
Tracking exactly which Snake you’re playing at any moment in time in Metal Gear can be a slightly confusing task. This is all the more difficult in MGSV, where which exact Snake you are is a central part of the narrative’s mystery. All that being said, we’re going to refer to them as Big Boss for ease.
In MGSV, Big Boss can choose from a variety of outfits when heading out on a mission, mainly from a selection of varying camos. Their default outfit however always comes with a scarf. Or more precisely, a shemagh, a form of Middle Eastern scarf. It’s a unique look that isn’t often seen in games.
8/10 Viewtiful Joe – Viewtiful Joe
Director Hideki Kamiya has something of an obsession with older superhero stories and arcadey exploits. There’s the upcoming Project GG, The Wonderful 101, and the game that started his self-proclaimed ‘Superhero Trilogy,’ Viewtiful Joe.
Played as a sidescroller, Viewtiful Joe has you taking on the role of the titular superhero and his loudly-proclaimed special moves. In many ways, his looks exactly like you’d expect – blazing red skin-tight suit with a visor and helm. But for that extra stylish flourish, he has a tantalising scarf that trails along with his every move.
7/10 Journey – The Traveler
Journey is a special little gem from ThatGameCompany (great name, by the way). In it, you set out on a journey to the mountain in the distance as an unnamed little character known simply as the Traveler. You’re not the only nomad on this journey though, coming across other real players throughout the game.
In Journey, scarves are more than just a design choice. As you get further in, your scarf grows in length and allows you to fly for longer. On top of this, various pieces of cloth are strewn about the world, likely remains of scarves of others that charge your own. It’s a beautiful feature that’s as strong visually as it is mechanically.
6/10 Ninja Gaiden – Ryu Hayabusa
Ninja Gaiden started way back in 1988, but it didn’t become the beloved character action game series it is now until its revival in 2004, with Ryu Hayabusa as the new protagonist. The games function as prequels to the original series and are much more action-heavy.
Ryu, of course, is an incredibly memorable protagonist, appearing in plenty of other works since, with his helmet usually being his most notable feature. However, the black scarf around his neck is just as iconic, dipping and diving in combat in your spiral of death.
5/10 F-Zero – Captain Falcon
For many, the mere mention of F-Zero can be soul-crushing. The franchise is beloved, yet has laid dormant since 2004. Unlike the ease of play and chaotic party fun of Mario Kart, F-Zero was more of a high-speed arcade racer, with mistakes punished heavily.
Unlike many other racers, there was actually a deeper story to F-Zero, with Captain Falcon being one of the most iconic aspects of it. He’s the face of the franchise, with good reason. He’s got that typical hero look, a tight blue suit, with some strapping boots. His helmet is more reminiscent of an aviator’s, with the gushing scarf to match.
4/10 Gravity Rush – Kat
Despite the studio behind it being unceremoniously shut down by Sony and the series never being given the support it deserved, Gravity Rush was beloved by the fans it reached. Directed by Keiichiro Toyama of the original Silent Hill, Gravity Rush had a dazzling style to it in terms of look and gameplay.
It also introduced players to Kat, its beloved protagonist. She is selfless, always wanting to help and end conflicts with words before violence. She also was a wonderfully unique design with clothes so different from most anything in reality. And in a game that’s all about movement and defying gravity, a scarf feels like the perfect companion to show it all off.
3/10 Pokemon – Greninja
At this point in time, just about anything you could think of is a Pokemon. Food, trees, world monuments, and even literal trash. If you can guess it, it probably exists. It’s bound to, considering there are over 900 of them at this stage.
Usually, starters are the pokemon that catch your eye first and become some of the most iconic. X and Y suffered from some weak final evolutions to its starters, except in Greninja. They’re real special. A big blue frog styled like a ninja, they come with the scarf that’s so prominent on other shinobi characters. It’s not a normal scarf though, being Greninja’s own tongue.
2/10 Bayonetta – Luka
Whenever Platinum makes a game, you can guarantee it’ll have a fair few references to their previous games. Hell, Bayonetta is a walking reference to Devil May Cry, from directly quoting the games to recreating scenes. But they even reference their own games.
Luka, for example. He was introduced in Bayonetta, and has appeared in each game sporting his blue and red scarf in some fashion. Luka also appears in the Wonderful 101 as a child, wearing that same scarf. And it all comes back to the scarf worn by Viewtiful Joe.
1/10 Devil May Cry 5 – Dante
If there’s one thing character-action games achieve, it’s making absolutely stellar protagonists. Just think for a second how poorly games like Devil May Cry sell, yet how comparatively well-known their characters are. Just about everyone has heard of the funny pizza man demon slayer Dante.
Now you might be thinking, of all the aspects of Dante that are iconic, he doesn’t even have a scarf. This is true, if you’re looking at just his outfit. But his weapons? Well, Dr. Faust is a gambler’s dream, coming with a hat and scarf duo. In fact, the scarf grows as your wealth does, making its ethereal glow all the more magnificent.