The 90s were an important decade for gaming. The Nintendo 64 console was released in 1996 and, with it, a batch of amazing games that marked the childhood of millions. Some of these titles are still regarded as game changers and are considered amongst the best in the industry. I vividly remember the thrill of playing Zelda and not quite understanding all that was going on, but loving it all the same. Mario Kart and others are still ingrained in my brain and mark defining chapters of my childhood, all thanks to that one console.
Aside from the Nintendo 64, the PlayStation was also released in 1994 and it had a ton of games and characters that we still see to this day. The upgraded graphics lent themselves to the development of new and more complex characters, with more impressive looks and stories that inspired people to cosplay them and to be as creative as possible.
While cosplaying is already hard enough, the following people really went out of their way to bring to life characters that have vivid looks and that seem almost impossible to replicate. From robots, to characters that have really impressive hair cuts, to amazing re imaginations of creatures, check out the following cosplays of these classic 90s video game characters:
20 Baraka - Mortal Kombat
Baraka is one of my all time favorite characters, but I never thought a cosplay version of him would be scarier than the real character, who is already awful and horrifying enough. In Mortal Kombat II, Baraka wears a white kimono-like shirt with red stripes and black pants. He has really large knives for fangs, and a pair of blades that come out of the top part of his wrists. He’s also capable of throwing a dangerous and ugly looking sludge towards his enemies? It’s strange, but it’s a powerful move and it works, so we’re not judging.
This cosplayer decided to forego any outfits, prosthetics, or accessories, narrowing their focus on different layers of paint and make-up that deliver truly impressive and inspiring results.
While this cosplay works mostly when this artist's eyes and mouths are closed, since Baraka’s yellow eyes are painted on top of the eyelids and his fangs are painted on top of their lips, this is still an impressive and cheap option for cosplayers who are really good with a brush, paint and some make-up. I wouldn’t say this could be done by anyone, as you surely have to be a makeup expert and a full time Baraka fan.
19 R2D2 Mega Man
This is the coolest Mega Man cosplay and maybe character design that I’ve ever seen. How come a mashup of Mega Man and Star Wars hasn’t happened yet? Both stories feature robots (some of them are roundish and cute), both stories are set in space, and they both feature evil mad men. It’s a perfect match. Even though Star Wars predates Mega Man by almost two decades, the former was probably incredibly informative to the latter.
This cosplay is one of the most creative cosplays I’ve ever seen, taking advantage of both characters’ properties that at first look seem like would never fit together. R2D2’s blue and grey colors look great when added onto Mega Man’s Mega Buster and helmet, resulting in a truly original character design that could carry an entire movie onto its back.
The camera lenses on top of Mega Man’s helmet look exactly like R2-D2, but the overall look and Mega Buster recall Mega Man in equal parts. This cosplay is a great display of creativity, balance and style, demonstrating a fan who managed to find a way of honoring both of the fandoms he loved, through his incredible abilities.
18 Ganon - The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda is generally a game that’s pretty simple to cosplay. Link and Zelda can be cosplayed with a nice set of tights, green shirt or a pink dress. You could even buy their costumes, since there are dozens that are sold online. Ganon doesn’t get the same treatment though. Even though he’s the villain of the franchise and those always get less attention than the heroes, Ganon is a particularly tough character to cosplay due to his height, medieval outfit, orange hair and green skin.
Ganon's look is iconic, but putting his costume together is no easy feat. You also won’t be able to purchase his outfit at your traditional Halloween or costume store.
This version of Ganon has the character with long hair and a big crown. Even though these additives are from a newer Zelda game, if you’ve ever played a 90s Zelda, then it’s pretty easy to know that this is Ganon. It has the same facial features and costume of the character. I don’t know if this cosplayer is wearing a mask or found a really great costume online, but it looks like they made it themselves, which is a pretty awesome feat. On this instance, Ganon is the true hero of this convention.
Cosplay by Jared J Lee.
17 Samus Aran - Metroid
The character of Samus Aran belongs to one of one of Nintendo’s most iconic titles, Metroid, released on NES in 1986. It was a pretty strange video game for the time, where you had to control a robot looking character and had to explore different areas for power ups. One of the coolest things about the game was when you discovered, after around 5 hours of gameplay, that Samus is actually a woman. This was pretty scandalous back in 1986 and it obviously inspired dozens of female cosplayers to give a chance to Samus, with the awesome look and the bright orange robotic suit.
Super Metroid was released in 1994, with upgraded 2D graphics and a more complex gameplay. This game has much more story and a special ending that your earned if you managed to rescue some characters. This game is still perceived as one of the best games of all time for a reason and this cosplay honors that legacy and look. The green touches at the sides of the costume look very alien and fitting, and we can’t even begin to understand how someone managed to build this. How much did this suit cost? The helmet is another impressive part of the outfit.
Cosplay by Neeko Cosplay.
16 Adjutant - StarCraft
This military-science fiction video game was one of Blizzard’s first successful video games to enforce high quality cinematics into their gameplay and it was very successful, resulting in a franchise that’s still ongoing to this day. Even though Blizzard is busy with famous games such as World of Warcraft and Overwatch, they still devote time to StarCraft, one of their earliest and most beloved franchises.
StarCraft is a game with a large mythology that’s sometimes hard to keep track of, especially for newcomers. It focuses on the lives of three different species that live in the Koprulu Sector. All of this information is slowly learned as you play the game and encounter these different scenarios and situations.
One of the most impressive cosplays I’ve ever seen is the one depicted above, where this person designed this entire mask and suit to cosplay an adjutant from StarCraft. The creator of the cosplay explains in depth just how they achieved this look, explaining the tools they used and the different layers that the mask required. The description is also incredibly impressive, so I recommend you take a look at the link below and all the images attached. If you’re a cosplayer, then you might learn a thing or two.
Cosplay by Chrix Design.
15 Goro - Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat has a long history, starting in 1992 with an arcade version of the game whose mechanic's remain pretty much the same to this day. Even though the current version of Mortal Kombat has dozens of new characters with much more impressive fatalities and better looking effects, it’s hard to forget how charming and amazing the original game was with its simplicity. Characters fought each other and that was that.
Goro is one of Mortal Kombat’s original characters and he’s very powerful looking, logically inspiring gamers to cosplay him. The great thing about this cosplay is how faithfully it replicates the character, including its height, skin color, make-up, multiple arms and impressive muscles. Another amazing aspect about this cosplay is the fact that you can’t pinpoint the elements that make up the whole of the outfit. While it’s clear that this person is wearing a costume, it’s hard to know what part is real and what part is fake. Is the person under the costume really buff or is it just a skinny person under tons of plastic? We have no way of knowing. The one fact that is clear is that the relaxed arms are not real. I think.
Cosplay by Joy Vision Studio.
14 Mega Man
Mega Man was a big deal in the 90s, as the character had its own TV show and a successful video game franchise. There were many Mega Man games released in the 90s: Mega Man 3, Mega Man 4, Mega Man X, Mega Man 6, Mega Man 7, Mega Man 8, and more. Did these designers and coders sleep or do anything else aside from work relentlessly and design video games? Apparently not.
Initially depicting Mega Man’s battle against the crazy Dr. Wily, the game has evolved over the years and has spawned dozens of different spin offs, anime, TV shows with some providing better results than others. What’s not in doubt is Mega Man himself, who’s an incredible character. Or itself, since it’s a humanoid robot.
This particular cosplay of Mega Man looks very close to the original character, with a really cool Mega Buster that looks like it could be in a movie. The shirt and the pants work really well to bring some balance to the suit, while at the same time saving himself the hassle of creating pieces for the entire chest and legs. The helmet is also pretty impressive, providing a more realistic look to a cartoonish character.
Cosplay by Stoosh.
13 Cyrax - Mortal Kombat
Cyrax is another iconic Mortal Kombat character that’s kind of easy to cosplay if you buy an outfit, but those never end up looking good. This person had the right idea, making their own version of Cyrax from scratch and ending up with an inspiring Bumblebee-like suit that could show up in a Transformer movie (or a revamped Mortal Kombat feature) and no one would bat an eye. This cosplay is that impressive.
This Cyrax is a complete robot, different than the original video game character from the 90s who looks like he has some real people legs and arms and a sort of ponytail that he can hurt characters with. Maybe the dangerous ponytail is hidden in the angle of this person’s pose, but still, I don’t mind that it’s missing, even though it’s one of Cyrax’s most impressive and distinct features.
The outfit looks like it’s made out of metal which, if it is, wow. Actually, if it’s not, still wow. The chest plates are also impressive and the green lights give it a very realistic touch, making this one of the best and most impressive cosplays I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s almost too good for a convention. Someone give this person a job on a movie set or something.
Cosplay by Jose Madera.
12 Solid Snake - Metal Gear
Solid Snake is the cool protagonist from Metal Gear, a franchise that began in 1987 when it was released for the MSX home computer architecture. The game made its official debut in the US in the 90s, where it slowly gathered fans and acclaim until it became very famous and critically beloved during the 2000s. Solid Snake is an iconic character, earning his position in Super Smash Bros. due to critical acclaim and a large following of fans.
His iconic bandana, incredible smarts, ability to speak different languages and rugged looks make Solid Snake the ideal character to look up to and to want to cosplay for millions of different fans from all over the world.
This cosplay in particular works really well due to all the accessories the character has, the attention to detail, and the lengths that the cosplayer goes to inhabit the skin of Solid Snake. Even though the suit he’s wearing could be purchased online, the coloring and combination of all the elements requires creativity and a real knowledge of what makes the character tick.
Cosplay by RBF Productions NL.
11 Cloud Strife - Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy is another game that came out in 1987 and that grew and developed over the years, becoming a franchise that’s lasted over three decades and that can be played on a large amount of platforms, including PlayStation, mobile, NES, GameCube and more. This is an impressive feat that deserves acknowledgement.
Final Fantasy is one of the world’s most beloved franchises and it has creative fans that are very willing to engage with the content.
Most of the Final Fantasy games contain independent stories, but they’re all defined by significant similarities, such as Arthurian themes and mythology, friendship, and a group of characters battling a large and typically ancient evil. Another staple is the fact that there are two villains, a recurring theme that’s similar to Star Wars and that always keeps players guessing.
This cosplay really demonstrates the cosplayer’s love for Cloud Strife, the main character from Final Fantasy VII, released in 1997. Strife is great and has one of the franchises all time rivalries with Sephiroth. Users and creators love Strife because he’s complex and not clear cut, as he has real issues and insecurities that the game addresses and that you discover.
Cosplay by Johnny Chen.
10 Guile - Street Fighter
Street Fighter came out in 1987 on an arcade platform - honestly, why were all these games released in 1987? - and it later made it to various home systems. Street Fighter is one of the highest grossing video game franchises of all time and it’s Capcom’s second best selling game behind Resident Evil. Street Fighter is filled with characters that have tons of personality and amazing looks, and Guile is one of them, sporting incredible looking hair and distinct camo pants and tank top, making it a great character for cosplay.
First appearing in Street Fighter II, Guile is an alpha American male whose mission is to finistopsh a criminal organization. The fact that he’s American is an important one considering that Street Fighter is a Japanese game and that the character was also designed to appeal and attract American audiences.
This cosplay is not the most complicated one to do, but the great thing about this particular one is the hair and the muscles, which look just like the video game character. The hair also looks like it took a lot of work to put together. While it’s common to own these clothing items, it’s impressive when cosplayers find characters that they can embody so well.
9 Scorpion - Mortal Kombat
Scorpion is one of Mortal Kombat’s most famous and iconic characters, being one of the first to debut on the original arcade version of the game and reappearing as a playable character on every version and evolution of the franchise. He is a resurrected ninja, which explains his close relationship with skulls, death, and his thirst for vengeance. Even though there are others ninjas in Mortal Kombat, such as Sub-Zero and Reptile, Scorpion has always stood out due to his spear attacks, hellfire, and skull head that only makes appearances once he removes his mask.
Scorpion is a great anti-hero because even though he’s a very dark and scary character, he always ends up benefiting the forces of good, which is something that’s only discovered when players play story mode or gather a large knowledge of the series. His aggressiveness, awesome battle moves and mysterious appearance all contribute to his large fan base.
This particular cosplay is perfectly composed, featuring a cosplayer who is very fit, which is necessary for a character like Scorpion, and a great attention to detail. The details with the knife and the chains look great, reminding me of the current version of Scorpion, which looks very real and has many accessories.
Cosplay by Melonicor.
8 Samurai Pikachu - Pokémon
Pokémon is one of those games that took the world by storm. Overnight, every kid was obsessed with it and they were all watching the anime, the movies, and convincing their parents to buy them every bit of media they could get their hands on. It’s understandable; Pokémon is awesome. It’s also another franchise that has managed to survive and thrive for over 20 years, which is no easy feat. The themes of friendship, commitment to your dreams, and awesome creatures resonated with kids from all over the planet.
Cosplaying Pikachu is mostly cute, but predictable; people can buy a full costume, or a sweatshirt, or cover themselves in make-up, but we’ve mostly seen all of this iterations with no real shock.
This cosplay is different, giving Pikachu the samurai treatment, which results in something that is truly awesome and original.
The yellow pads, arm and leg guards are tinted bright yellow, while the cosplayer wears a Pikachu mask that looks better than any makeup than anyone’s ever done. The samurai sword sleeve is also particularly impressive.
Now we really want a game where Pikachu is a Samurai and has to save the world. There’s a Detective Pikachu, so it’s possible, right?
Cosplay by Andy Smith.
7 Doomguy - Doom
DOOM is a franchise that started with video games and that now includes novels, comics, a board game and an awful movie that stars Dwayne Johnson. It’s a franchise with a lot of baggage, but it’s still recognized as one of the pioneering first person shooter games, if not the most important one of all in terms of contribution to the genre. Initially released in 1993 on the MSDOS platform, it later made its way onto SEGA, GBA, Xbox, PlayStation and iOS.
DOOM doesn’t have much of a plot, which is why it was such a huge deal when it came out. The mechanics of the game were so good and satisfying that a plot or storyline was completely unnecessary for it to be successful.
Back in the 90s, that worked. Now, things are more complicated, which is why the latest version of DOOM wasn’t as well received as its predecessor.
No matter that, fans still love to get dressed as Doomguy, who has an impressive and iconic look that’s worthy of cosplaying. The cool thing about this particular cosplay is the fact that they decided to add personal touches to Doomguy, adding a chainsaw and a rugged look, as if he’s wearing a motorcycle gear, but is also ready to beat some monsters up.
Cosplay by The Cosmic Monster.
6 Robo and Lucca - Chrono Trigger
You might have heard of Chrono Trigger from the reviews explaining how awful the 2018 reboot looks on PC, but it was actually a pretty groundbreaking game when it first came out in 1995. Developed by the same team that made Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger is commonly cited as one of the best games of all time, including medieval and time traveling themes that make it different and very original amongst the clouded RPG genre. To this day, it’s hard to find a game more creative and special than Chrono Trigger.
Understandably the uniqueness of the game, the fact that it’s a little niche, and that it also has iconic looking characters makes it one of the coolest games a fan can cosplay, which is why the image above is so great. Deciding to cosplay Lucca and Robo is a great idea, since both characters are normally paired together in artwork and in the game. While Lucca is a more traditional sort of cosplay, the headband she’s wearing still looks amazing when brought to life. But the true scene stealer here is Robo, who wears a robotic outfit that looks like it took a lot of time and effort to put together, resulting in a cosplay that’s hard to forget.
Cosplay by Eva Doll.
5 Sektor - Mortal Kombat
Sektor and Cyrax were always like two sides of the same coin in Mortal Kombat, similar to Sub-Zero and Scorpion. The similarities between the looks and outfits of the characters always made people feel like they were arch nemesis or great battle partners. Mortal Kombat is a game that didn't used to give players much in terms of story, unless fans chose to go dig it up in other parts of the lore or wait until the internet became readily accessible to find all the info there.
Even though Cyrax and Sektor are extremely similar in looks and outfits, it’s pretty cool to see how every fan interprets the character in their own way and in no cosplay is this more noticeable than in this one. While a previous entry featured Cyrax as a Transformer look-a-like, this version of Sektor reimagines the robot much more closely to the version that appears in the 90s Mortal Kombat. It also looks much easier to make, yet still complex enough to earn tons of respect. This Sektor looks more like a human and less like a giant robot, with human legs, some pads, and a pretty amazing helmet that features his signature awesome and dangerous ponytail.
Cosplay by Calendario Cosplay.
4 Nova Terra - StarCraft
This cosplay of StarCraft is a bit more traditional than the previous one, but it’s also extremely impressive and looks as if it were CGI. Superhero movies should get a tutorial from this person and rely on more practical effects. The costume has different pieces; it includes a chest pad and several arm braces that look as if they were from the future, or what I imagine the future to be like. This is a compliment.
This cosplayer is interpreting Nova Terra, a character from StarCraft that’s gathered a large following due to her awesome looks and cool story.
Initially depicted as a villain, Nova won the hearts of millions of fans when she reluctantly became a heroine, and then the franchise decided to publish some novels to develop her story further and explain more of her origins and future. Nova is a great example of a secondary character that is intriguing enough to deserve expansion and recognition. She also has an iconic look that’s hard to capture and that this cosplayer managed to pull off amazingly. The details on the arm braces are stunning and I can’t imagine how someone could build and design that with their own hands.
Cosplay by Tatyana.
Fallout is another franchise that had its beginnings in the 90s and that has improved dramatically over the years. With each new version of the game, Fallout manages to improve on its already amazing predecessor, which is why there are so many cosplayers who want to try embodying the characters of the series.
Unlike most of the games on this list which have a recurring cast of characters, Fallout is one of those RPGs where you create your own character, giving you the chance to craft their look, gender and race. This flexibility gives people the chance to cosplay with as much freedom as possible, adding their own quirks and preferences as they see fit. This version of the Fallout protagonist embodies the post-apocalyptic feel of the video game while also taking advantage of one of its coolest and most iconic trademarks: the Fallout mask.
The details of the costume are extremely impressive, including the beat up and rusted California plate, the cloak, and the large gun; it’s like the real Fallout protagonist escaped from the Vault into the real world.
2 Another Fallout Guy
This Fallout cosplay is also great, but in a totally different way. While the post-apocalyptic look cosplays tend to look sort of similar, this costume highlights how different people's preferences and creativity can make the cosplays go in totally different directions. This Fallout character is different than the one depicted above, wearing jeans and items that you could easily find at home. His guns are smaller and easier to name - a rifle and a pistol - and he’s also wearing leather pouches that you could purchase on Amazon. Still, all of this does nothing to discredit how cool the cosplay is, managing to stand out due to its keen attention to detail and the fact that a lot of pieces are involved in making this outfit into a functioning whole.
Putting this whole thing together may look like an easy feat, but it's anything but. The leg brace and the Kevlar vest give a touch of seriousness to the outfit and elevate it to a cosplay worthy of recognition. This character could fit right into the world of Fallout; another survivor who’s managed to live by stealing and scrounging items along the way.
1 The Nurses - Silent Hill
Silent Hill is absolutely horrifying. I never managed to play the video game, as when it originally came out in the 90s, I was too scared and young to play it. But I always snuck a few looks when my cousin was playing and the images followed me around for days.
Silent Hill, aside from being the world's scariest game, was known for the fact that it had a protagonist who wasn't skilled in battle; he was a normal guy, which was extremely refreshing and terrifying when you realize the world he's inhabiting.
The series is still ongoing to this day, but no Silent Hill games have managed to stir up as many emotions as the first.
One of the most iconic looking characters from the original video game are the Nurses, who are a recurring theme throughout the Silent Hill series and are sort of the staple monsters of the game. They're absolutely terrifying, and the photo above highlights just why. The girls above are seen wearing some sort of masks, or maybe some heavy makeup, that do a perfect job of embodying the anxiety inducing nurses. They're amazing.
Cosplay by LaraValentine.
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