A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Video games in the 80s only depicted a certain amount of pixels on the screen. Fortunately, that didn't hold developers back from pushing the limits of the available hardware to play with our imagination by creating beautiful, handsome characters.

This week—starting off with the 80s—we're going to explore the hottest, most attractive video game characters to see how gaming tastes and technology have changed over the years.


It's not surprising to see the first few instances of popular characters represented in video games as blocky blobs. It may not seem like Smurfette and Snow White are beautiful in these images by today's standards, but it's what we had in the 80s.

Smurf: Rescue in Gargamel's Castle (1982)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1983)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s


Nintendo stuck to a formula in their early games: After beating the game, players were rewarded with an ending animation featuring a cute princess or—in Metroid's case—a really hot, shocking reveal.

Pauline in Donkey Kong (1981)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Princess Peach in Super Mario Bros. (1985)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Samus Aran in Metroid (1986)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Princess Zelda in The Legend of Zelda (1986)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s


Things changed a bit by the end of the decade. Because of technical limitations, in most cases instead of named characters we got beautiful intros, endings or title screens. And of course there were exceptions and experiments, like the interactive movie-like Dragon's Lair released on laserdisc or the prankish, comedic text adventure Leather Goddesses Of Phobos.

Dragon's Lair (1983)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Leather Goddesses of Phobos (1986)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

California Games (1987)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards (1987)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

The Great Giana Sisters (1987)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Super Robin Hood (1987)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Maniac Mansion (1987)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Sid Meier's Pirates! (1987)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Snatcher (the PC-8801 version from 1988)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Battle Chess (1988)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Street Rod (1989)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Keef The Thief (1989)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Super Monaco Grand Prix (1989)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Spellcasting 101 (1989)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Prince of Persia (1989)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s


It didn't take too long to see adult games pop up and find their audiences. Although we won't focus on them in the series, we can't ignore their presence. Japan already had a decent library of adult games by the end of the decade, but the West took their own active part in various so-called Atari porn titles (Custer's Revenge) and poker games. One of the earliest ones was Artworx' Strip Poker for the Apple II.

Strip Poker: A Snizzling Game of Chance (1982)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s


The closest you could get to hot male characters in video games were sword & sorcery type fantasy titles, movie adaptations, run-and-gun action games or a combination of these. Basically: full of testosterone.

James Bond: A View To Kill (1983)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter (1986)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior (1987)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Contra (1988)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Moonwalker (1989)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Super Spike Volleyball (1989)

A Visual History of Attractive Video Game Characters: The 80s

Tomorrow we step forward to the 90s to see how tastes evolved in that decade.

Can you recall any other great games from the 80s that featured beautiful characters? Hit the comments and post 'em!

sources: Allen Kesinger, C64 Endings, Matt Barton, 007Museum, Highretrogamelord89, Hardcoregaming101, CDKgaming, Combolations, DavetheUsher, RagoGamer, Highretrogamelord89, Atarimania