With the release of new Overwatch content and skins, it’s the perfect time to spin a little speculation about base character designs and gameplay evolution. A long time ago, in a place far away, I was introduced to Hanzo’s nipple. To which I replied, “Isn’t he just a poor man’s Mitsurugi?” (because, dude, a man’s nipple does not a man make; and, also, I’m a Soul Calibur fan).
While it’s common knowledge that Overwatch arose from the likes of Team Fortress and RPG class-based combat, the character designs seem more inspired by classic fighting game rosters. But the MOBAs, you cry! Ditto, I cry back! Because MOBA rosters are also inspired by fighters. A roster basically allows the player to choose a unique (ideally) fighter/hero/legend/champion/etc. to better suit a play style, objective, or boss battle. So, the concept’s frequent appearance isn’t surprising; but, apparently it’s sometimes hard to come up with original character designs. Thus, the industry has seen a bit of rehashing (ALL the Sub-zero-ness!), if not outright borrowing (Super Smash Bros., an exercise in marketing and never underestimating ridiculous pink blobs with faces). Initially, some Overwatch character designs seemed like they were casual samplings of fighter characters; but, closer inspection left the impression more of homages and evolutions.
Some of OW’s homages are obvious, such as McCree taking on western-worn Clint Eastwood or Torbjorn as any fantasy dwarf mechanic from the past century. But, let’s take a quick look at seven who might have a little fighter in the conceptual family tree:
1. Zarya & Zangief (Street Fighter)
And by “little” we occasionally mean a larger-than-life-sized Soviet scion. While there are a number of burly characters in the gaming world, Zarya’s build and permanent place at the end of any alphabetical queue instantly calls to mind Zangief. Both are national heroes known for their athletic prowess and soft, squishy feelings for their chilly Mother Russia as well. In terms of design, Zarya could easily be Zangief’s fashion-forward and significantly less hairy granddaughter.
2. Lucio & Eddy Gordo (Tekken)
Compared to Eddy, Lucio is like a tech-savvy little brother on rollerblades. Beyond their dreads, the pair share a color palette based on their homeland of Brazil and a tendency toward capoeira. In fact, Lucio’s “cheer” emote appears to be Eddy’s slippery kick into a samba (not the dance; see zedk8’s awesome move list here). The Tekken vet might also share a love of music, considering one of his alt costumes is the disco-dancing persona Tiger Jackson.
3. Widomaker & Juri Han (Street Fighter)
In a world flush with primary colors and camo-fancy fatigues, a pair of psychotic assassins in pink and purple kinda stand out. Talon apparently borrowed Juri’s mold when they decided to make their own perfect killing machine: Both women lost family at the hands of large, criminal organizations; sport spiders across their backs; and opt for a pop princess color palette over the typical “black widow” monochrome. Possibly returning Widowmaker’s conceptual compliment, Juri dons an uncannily matching jumpsuit for Street Fighter V.