Palette Swapping: 17 Games that Did it Right
#8: Red and Blue Octorok (Zelda)
Never does one become worried after the appearance of a Red Octorok, but when a Blue Octorok rounds the corner, well, one still probably remains pretty calm before driving his or her sword through its rock-spitting head. In the Blue Octorok's defense, it usually takes two sword thrusts to its skull before it's put out of its misery, which could be seen as an accomplishment to some. Actually, only to the Red Octorok would that seem like an accomplishment.
#7: Zombie Marine and Zombie Sergeant (Doom)
As a zombie soldier, there is no higher honor than to be promoted to Zombie Sergeant, and with this sizable promotion comes big perks. Such perks include a shotgun, and a new black uniform. If that's not enough, the Zombie Sergeant doesn't make an appearance until the third level, so he can enjoy his undead life for 2 levels more than the Zombie Marine before the breathing space marine comes and shoots in his brain-eating face.
#6: Green and Red Koopa Troopa (Super Mario Bros.)
While a turtle's shell is often seen as an instrument of self-preservation, in the Koopa Troopa's unfortunate case--and as Mario has proven time and time again--it's just the opposite. Mario will kick and throw these shells at ease, and the color of your shell determines your ability to combat the oppressive plumber. Red Koopas traverse a small sect of land, walking back and forth, while their green counterparts willingly walk off cliffs to their demise.
#5: Mike Tyson and Mr. Dream (Punch-Out!!)
A few words of advice to you celebrities who want to avoid getting palette swapped in your own video games. Don't get sent to prison on rape charges, don't assault motorists after you crash your car into theirs, and don't bite the ears of your opponents during highly-publicized athletic contests. And while it's not illegal, you should also probably avoid threatening to eat your adversary's children or his heart, because family-friendly Nintendo is most likely to frown on that and then give you the ol' swaparoo.
#4: Red, Green, and Blue Slime (Dragon Quest)
Like the Octorok before it, the slime's differing colors determine how strong or tough a foe will be. Only now, in an effort to blow the minds of Nintendo players the world over, the weaker of the slimes is blue whereas the weaker Octorok was red. Now, if your head hasn't yet exploded from these brain-busting revelations get this: the slime actually has its own exciting line of games in Japan, where I guess you slime things or something.
#3: Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Reptile, Rain, and Noob Saibot (Mortal Kombat)
Midway--the world-renowned Gods of the palette swap--has turned the art of making new characters from other, different-colored characters into a science. After riding the success of its first batch of swapees (Scorpion, Reptile, and Sub-Zero), Midway ratcheted up the ninja assembly line and cranked out Ermac, Rain, Chameleon, Smoke, and Noob Saibot. No word yet on how the production of Laser, Charcoal, Steve, Testicle, and Tartar Sauce is coming along, but I'd expect to see them soon.
#2: Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde (Pac-Man)
Did you know that each of the four ghost haunting Pac-Man have their own names and personalities? And that each of them has a different tactic to preserve the precious dots from the greedy yellow circle? No, you probably just assumed they were the work of some lazy designer. Well now you know better. Oh, and Ms. Pac-Man is not just Pac-Man with a bow. Thought we should clear that one up too.
#1: Mario and Luigi (Super Mario Bros)
Throughout most of their gaming lives, Mario and Luigi had little to set them apart in terms of physicality and personality. Sure, Luigi jumped and spoke higher, but most games kept the same character model. Thankfully today we've got the heroic Mario and spastic Luigi to help us tell them apart. We're guessing Peach is happy too, since she won't have any more mix-ups in the bedroom. The 8-bit era was a craaaaazy time.
More Top GamePro Stories
- God of War III: Q&A with Stig Asmussen
- Flower: May Create Happiness
- The 12 Biggest Upcoming Sequels - (Where Are They Now?)