Retro Fashion in Gaming

Painting the White House Purple

While we’re on the subject of the fifties let’s turn to a game series known for a less serious tone and more for it’s off the wall insanity. Saint’s Row IV was released this year to a mixed but mostly positive reception, and among it’s various simulated worlds is a idyllic 1950s era town, full of period cars, cheerful people, and well behaved teens in sweater vests and long dresses. We even get to see the military uniform of the era on a special villain. Of course this scene is completely ruined for the simulated denizens of the town when our puckish rogue of a hero shows up with a gun that fires dub step, but that just gives us the chance to see some era accurate dance moves. These outfits are of course available to the player character to dress in as they please, horn rimmed glasses and all.

Meanwhile the game before it, Saints Row the Third, ended with players acting out a science fiction movie set on Mars, with outfits that’d feel at home in Flash Gordon. Even the one of the villains from the second half of the game shows up, now apparently a friend and in the exact same type of costume. The DLC Gangstas in Space goes even further, adding cheesy amazonian alien race to the mix, wearing the appropriate sci-fi garb.

The Milkman Cometh

Sticking with the sixties, in her bright go go dress and matching white boots no character in gaming is more fitting an example than Milla Vodello from Psychonauts. An instructor at a boot camp for young psychics, Ms. Vodello is expected to let the children into her mind in order to teach them the proper use of their powers, and what do they find when the get into her mind? An obstacle course for levitation disguised as a massive sixties dance party of course! While the colorful design of the entire game gives off the feel of a 1960s spy thriller, only one other character a design so distinctly retro as herself in both mind and body, the enigmatic Milkman, but to elaborate on him is a bit of a spoiler.

Every Dog Has His Day

To finish up our list, we skip over the sadly often overlooked seventies and head straight for the eighties – namely a game called Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. This beloved masterpiece is set in the titular Vice City in the mid 1980s with you playing as Tommy Vercetti, a man based off of Tony Montana from Scarface. Absolutely every character in this game screams retro. Colorful blazers and tacky tropical shirts befitting Miami cover most of the male characters while the closest thing the main character has to a love interest can usually be seen in a short, colorful dress. Not content to limiting themselves to that they also bring black jacket and blue jean wearing bikers for a story line involving a Scottish heavy metal band. Said band is of course run by a English man in a sleeveless denim vest while their lead singer wears tight pants and seems to have an aversion to the concept of shirts. Add in their long hair and headbands and you have your model eighties rock group.

There you have it, various examples of the fashion of the past influencing todays video games. Hopefully we’ll see more of the retro look in more games soon. After all, who doesn’t like bell bottoms or go go boots?

Evan Pawloski is a beginning writer with a passion for video games, technology, and politics. He is writing gaming news for several gaming sites. He is hoping to write a novel one day.

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