Frankly, we all change as we get older - getting fatter, or thinner, more wrinkled, and greyer, and dead-er. Unfortunately, few of us are video game characters, who, through the benefit of being fictional creations, are subject only to the whims of pop cultural tastes and improvements in gaming technology.
With this in mind, we present five of gaming's biggest icons, and examine in ghastly detail how they have changed between their first appearances and today.
NOW: Sonic has slimmed down significantly since getting older: he's a good three feet taller than he was, his bulbous, swollen head no longer larger than his body. The pot belly is gone, replaced by a taut torso. Also, he now appears to be wearing coloured contact lenses, and a trendy neck scarf, of the type favoured by awful people and 1980s German exchange students. His spikes are more wayward, less defined (or deliberately tousselled for a 'fresh-out-of-bed' look). He's clearly a teenager: he's got bandages on his ankles to hide the self-harm scratches.
NOW: More realistically proportioned, Lara's dropped a few bra sizes in the intervening years, and learned that a pair of cargo pants are far more practical attire for scrabbling around in tombs. She hasn't lost her pout, but her adventures are at least now scripted by a woman... so we are no longer allowed to question the psychological subtext of an interactive adventure in which a young, beautiful woman gets beaten up, repeatedly killed, and psychologically tortured by men.
NOW: Mario has changed very little in the intervening years, short of becoming more photorealistic, thanks to advances in gaming tech. We can now see clearly that he has light brown hair, though his upwardly-waxed moustache is a deep, inky black. Still described as an Italian plumber, we speculate as to how recently he last unblocked a Neapolitan toilet.
NOW: Wisely, Gestalt has grown a beard to hide much of his funny-looking face, and the streaks of grey now showing in his hair suggest that he was bleaching it before. What a massive twat he is.
NOW: We've no idea whether Master Chief's Spartan armour is some sort of exoskeleton, or life-support system, or just that bulky because it looks sort of cool. Regardless, his faceplate has clearly been given a buff with some Brasso, given how shiny it has become. Perhaps it's a tactical attempt to blind his opponents.