Everyone’s talking about Microsoft this week, with the massive megacorp’s big moves in the gaming space setting everyone’s tongues wagging. But everything you heard is true: Yes, Microsoft just debuted a very weird collaboration with cosmetics manufacturer OPI consisting of 12 Xbox-branded nail polishes. As Kotaku dot com’s fashion expert, I, of course, had to check these out for a Kotaku Fashion Review.
Thanks go, once again, to my wonderful girlfriend, who bankrolls this series.
Each of OPI 12 new Xbox-branded nail polish colorways has a nightmarish, pun-based name. Some of them cause me physical agony. Normally, I wouldn’t spend the better part of two paragraphs just listing nail polish colors, but since I had to read them, now you have to as well. I will list in order of how well I understand their puns.
“You Had Me At HALO,” which is the one my girlfriend bought for me, is a nice, shimmery blue. This pun is fine, which is why my girlfriend actually bought it—the rest were too painful. “Pixel Dust” is a nice mauve, with a similarly fine pun. “Trading Paint,” which is an apricot, is barely a pun…more of a phrase, really. However, it doesn’t make me mad—so it stands in the top three.
From here on out, things get much worse (and more confusing). “Sage Simulation” is a pleasant sage green, and the color actually reflects the name, which is more than I can say for most of these. “Heart and Con-Soul” is a painful pun, but a very pretty crimson. “Achievement Unlocked” isn’t even a pun, nor is its color even tangentially related to the phrase—which causes me a moderate amount of rage and sorrow.
“Quest for Quartz” and “Racing for Pinks” are self explanatory color-wise, but I have no idea what the joke even is here—this distresses me. The final four colors all have relatively sensible puns, but are so rage inducing that I will be leaving them at the bottom of the list, in Hell, where they belong.
“The Pass Is Always Greener” is a pastel green, which is both appropriate and infuriating. “You Can’t CTRL Me” is a light, pastel blue. Its name is so tangentially related to Xbox that I had to take time to explain to my girlfriend that Microsoft has all but unified its PC and console ecosystems. “Suzi Is My Avatar” is based off of OPI’s own “Suzi” line, which is named after one of OPI’s founders. It is a mediocre color, and a weird name. I scorn it. Finally, we end with the gorgeous and terribly named “NOOBerry,” a beautiful purple with a name so bad that my girlfriend refused to purchase it despite knowing it would be my favorite of the colors. I curse NOOBerry, and may they who named it be damned.
All in all, these are some relatively normal nail polish colors, all of which fall into one of three different formula lines—each with their own advantages and disadvantages. My personal polish, You Had Me At HALO, is a long-lasting, “Infinite Shine” affair, which claims to last for up to 12 days when combined with proper base and top coatings.
The colors are solid overall, and so far the polish is holding up to my typing, eating, and hand-washing extremely well. However, these nail polishes do not only exist in the material realm—as purchasing $20 worth of these colors from Ulta will unlock in-game items for Forza Horizons and Halo Infinite. I hope the collection-obsessed gamers enjoy their new nail polishes, and actually use them—because they’re pretty nice all things considered.
The Halo Infinite unlock is the most interesting to me as an avid Halo Infinite player who has, like many people, been deeply disappointed with the game’s cosmetics to this point. I, to my great shame, did actually pony up for the Anubis armor set to go with my Willow Tea armor coating, because I have a desperate need to be playing a pretty character in the robot-armor murder video game.
The promotional armor coating is a brilliant, shimmering blue that is obviously modeled off of the You Had Me At HALO nail polish color. Its speckled, shimmering texture is totally unique among Halo Infinite’s armor colors, and I legitimately really like it. This real-world and in-game fashion overlap is cute, and it’s interesting to see a game like Halo work backward like this. Real-world fashion crossovers are commonplace in games like Fortnite, but to see it in a more “hardcore” gamer series like Halo marks a notable shift in the industry’s culture.
Food and drink promotions have been a staple of Halo’s release strategy for years, and the normalization of women playing video games and men painting their nails has created yet another vector for Weird Capitalism to enact its odd presence upon us. Neither of these phenomena are new, but their movements toward mainstream culture are still notable.
For those of you who haven’t worn nail polish before and are curious on account of your deep desire for in-game cosmetics (or your need for a gamer-based justification for trying out new aesthetics), here are some basic tips on how to pick out and incorporate a good polish into your outfits.
First of all, learning your undertones can be a huge help. Everyone’s skin is different, especially when it comes to undertones—which alter the actual hue of your skin, as opposed to its shade. I, for example, am pretty cool toned, which means that my sense of style trends toward gentle, wintery colors like blues and purples—but this doesn’t mean I can’t swing warm when I want to (especially using statement pieces). This applies to clothes, but especially accents like nail polish, which are directly on your skin where the contrast is most evident.
If your skin tone matches your nail polish, it’ll work in most if not all situations unless you’re explicitly going for an odd color combination which clashes with your polish. If your veins are visible, you can pretty quickly ascertain your undertones. If they’re noticeably blue or purple, you’re cool toned. If they’re a neutral blue or green, you’re neutral toned. If they’re closer to green, you’re warm toned. These tones don’t dictate the colors that’ll look good on you, but they can be a helpful guide. Alternatively, you can use gold and silver to determine your undertones. If you look good with silver, you’re primarily cool-toned. If you look good with gold, you’re primarily warm-toned. Use this as your basic color-picking guide.
Once you’ve got this down, picking nail polishes should be easy. Just use polishes that are in line with the undertones of your skin and most of the clothes you wear and you’ll be fine. For those of you gamers who’ve been converted by a Halo Infinite promotion…welcome. Be gentle with your nails, or don’t—chipped polish can look great when done right.
All of this discussion of undertones and color pairings leads me to believe that You Had Me At HALO is also Master Chief’s color of choice. For those of you who doubt it, please consider how well his Mjolnir armor likely protects his fingernails. I am all but certain that his pallid, sun-starved skin would look great with a nice blue, if he ever managed to get out of the armor. Chief’s muscular, mole-man-esque form would not only go great with a pleasant, shimmering blue, it also probably reminds him of the Forerunner bases he spends so much time in throughout the series.
All in all, You Had Me At HALO is a good choice if you don’t know what else to start with and also want to feel like America’s other dad, Master Chief.