Well, I was at a bit of a loss here. It's not that I don't do research, and when it comes to games it's not like I can't. But something about the direction here had been bugging me, so I suppose it's good I got it nailed down. With a little help from a friend I managed to get some direction. Woohoo. So let's get this boring introduction stuff out of the way so I can start actually designing characters. My main focus was on characters/games that have changed between styles. I said before I would talk about some characters, so here's me making good on that promise.
The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda is the best example of a character changing dramatically because of style. Until the Gamecube came out, LoZ had a pretty solid 3D style. The older games were 2D and had a style of their own, but for the most part the style that Ocarina of Time set was the style LoZ set. Majora's Mask solidified this style even more.
So when the first LoZ game was announced on the Gamecube, people were shocked to see the style had changed dramatically to this...
Now this was a pretty significant change. Link's (if you thought his name was Zelda...welcome to 10 years ago) look changed so drastically along with the style of the game, it almost felt like it was something new. Despite the game play being essentially the same, the fresh new look brought new eyes upon LoZ. Just look at the concept art.
Holy crap! That's a pretty big difference. Not much design wise has changed, yet things had to change in order to accomodate the new style. Now, comparing Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker together isn't all that fair. Or at least, that interesting, the latest LoZ game, Twilight Princess changed the style again. While Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask and Wind Waker were relatively bright games (in visual style, more than content), Twilight Princess is a much darker game, mostly during the twilight sections. While these parts aren't the main areas they have such a strong impact that you can't help but feel how dark this game is. Even the concept art takes a change in style...
Link's design changes slightly as well. So ultimately The Legend of Zelda is my prime example for what to expect when taking a character through different styles. Link has evolved (Darwin would be so proud) from a simple 2D sprite to a strong 3D model. So you can clearly see the link between the games and the styles and you can see how the visual styles have changed.
Did you know: Link was left handed, but because of the Wii (and how most users are right handed) Link was made to be right handed. Would you believe this actually made people angry?
You might be a fresh onlooker to Batman's fame. Let me remind you that Batman was originally a comic book, a campy TV show (Oh Adam West, how I love thee), a dark cartoon and then a series of movies. Now, since I'm on a game's design course I'm going to be talking about the games primarily. But the movies and TV shows as well can be used in this example. Let's quickly look at the games.
Here is a PS2 game called Batman: The Rise and Sin Tzu and the newest game, Batman: Arkham Asylum.
Now, the styles here are pretty different. Arkham Asylum is gritty, dark and serious while the Rise of Sin Tzu is a lot brighter. Arkham seems like the designs were based more on the movies while the Rise of Sin Tzu were clearly based more on the cartoons (despite Arkham Asylum using the same voice actors from the cartoon). Batman as a character is very easy to translate to different styles and mediums, his original suit has a lot of wiggle room for the design to make it their own.
This is made even more obvious by the Lego games. You see, Lego likes money. They found out that Batman can make them money (even more so after the success of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight), so what did they do? They made a Lego Batman game. You might think me cynical (and you'd be right), but in all truth, Lego games are actually quite good. They have solid mechanics (well, they got better, we can ignore certain ones...) and a lot of charm. You see Batman here as a lego character, which exemplifies my rantings on how the style of the game can change the character's looks.
The movies made a very clear change to Batman's design.
The Dark Knight makes Batman into an armour clad superhero, while Batman Returns does similiar but certainly less intimidating (not a personal attack on Batman). Both are a departure to the Batman of old, with his skin tight tights and briefs (alcohol and gambling lead to stupid outfits, right Superman?) While things generally stay the same in terms of design (the bat symbol, pointy ears, cape etc), you can see between the pictures how much a design can change as the style changes.
Did you know: DC stands for Detective Comics, guess what Batman is?
So, I guess I could go on and on about this style bit. But writing makes me sleepy, and good lord I could sleep like the dead right now. I suppose if it warrants I could write more examples, but uhh, for now this will do.