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How Old Do Retro Game Characters Look?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on May 04, 2015   |   Episode 13 (Show Archive)  

   
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard about Microsoft's How-Old.net website. It's a goofy little program that is supposed to accurately assess your age. Unfortunately, it's not very good at this job. Instead of clogging the website up with pictures of friends and family, I decided to see how old all of my favorite retro game characters look. The results were ... interesting.


I decided to start with one of my favorite games of all time, Street Fighter II. With twelve characters in the cast, I figured that we would get a few hits ...

As you can see, the site only managed to recognize five of the characters. Apparently everybody in Street Fighter II looks old, as Ken is the youngest at 36. In the game, he's actually supposed to be in his mid-twenties. Oddly enough, Balrog is actually younger than Ken in Street Fighter II, yet Microsoft seems to think he's nearly thirty years older.


Out of curiosity, I decided to run another picture of Ryu. This time the site returned with the number 36, making him the same age as Ken.

Intrigued by these results, I decided to check out another one of my favorite arcade games -- Final Fight. While the game never talks about age, I always figured that Guy and Cody were around the same age ...


Apparently I was wrong. According to Microsoft, Cody is more than twenty years older. He looks good for nearing retirement age. And what about Mike Haggar and his daughter, Jessica?


It turns out that Metro City's mayor is 74 years old, and his daughter is 49. Makes me hope I'm still able to clean up the streets like that when I'm in my seventies.

Speaking of cleaning up the streets, my next choice were the two guys in Bad Dudes. Once again, I figure that these two guys are roughly the same age ...


But again, Microsoft says otherwise. Apparently the bad dude in green pants is twenty years older, which could make this an inspirational father-son fighting duo.

The same could be said for Two Crude Dudes ...


Despite these dudes looking nearly identical, How-Old thinks that one is 28 and the other is 14. This leads me to wonder if maybe there's something about old school brawlers that is throwing the system off. So instead of duos, here's a picture from Double Dragon III with a bunch of street fighters ...


Although I would dispute that the guy in back is 45, everything else looks just about right. I have no problem believing that this cast is entering their thirties, especially given how many sequels there have been.

After exhausting my selection of beat-em-ups, I wondered if the same thing would happen to Contra III: The Alien Wars ...


Now this is unfortunate. Microsoft says Bill is 34, which seems within the realm of believability. But Lance is only 13? I think his superior might want to know about this. Let's see what happens when we only look at one person ...


For a dead guy, the hero of Altered Beast is looking pretty good. Of course, he's engulfed in flames and about to turn into a bear, so I'm not going to give him any guff for his youthful look.

Speaking of youthful, I decided to see what Microsoft has to say about Kid Chameleon, which made a brief appearance on the Sega Genesis in the 1990s ...


So it turns out Kid Chameleon is actually 27, and I'm actually okay with that. Hollywood has been casting twenty- and thirtysomethings as high school students for years, so it makes sense for the games industry to follow suit. Let's see if the same is true for StarTropics ...


Whoa! Microsoft seems to think Mike Jones is a 76 year old man, not the freckle-faced boy he really is. That is wildly inaccurate, but does suggest a more interesting plot twist than what we got in Zoda's Revenge. It's also worth noting that the program says Mica is a 37 year old man. If you say so.

This led me to upload Wall Street Kid, a young man just oozing with youthful energy ...


I guess Wall Street Middle-Aged Man didn't have the same ring. While I have no problem seeing the Wall Street Kid as somebody in his thirties, I take issue with him being 44. And I'm sure his lawyer is even more horrified that Microsoft thinks he's 80.

Wondering if this was just an 8-bit thing, I decided to try out Maniac Mansion ...


Oddly enough, this too seemed to screw up Microsoft's software. Here we see punk rock goddess Razor marked at age 76. However, using exactly the same face model in another part of the screen, the singer is a much more reasonable 27. That's weird, right?

You know what else is strange? Smash TV. I wasn't sure what to expect, but this certainly wasn't it ...


Who knew that the Smash TV twins are actually 78 year old men? I guess Microsoft isn't checking for inflated breast implants. Even more curious is the fact that the program only recognized one girl. Could it be that women in Midway games look older than they really are?


If Candy Blitzer is any indication, the answer is a resounding no. At age 30, my guess is that this is right in line with the war correspondent. The truth is, she's probably older than thirty, but I doubt she would have any problem with Microsoft's assessment. I'm not sure the same can be said about Duke Nukem ...


This is the only picture I could get to work, and it seems to think Duke is 40. It's often hard to pin down how old Mr. Nukem really is, but this guy doesn't look a day over 27.

Seeing how popular Daredevil is these days, I plugged in this picture of Wilson Fisk getting arrested in a Spider-Man game ...


No wonder the Kingpin is so pissed off. Not only is he getting arrested, but this stupid program thinks he's 88 years old. I don't think he's going to take kindly to this.

Finally, it wouldn't be a proper look back without mentioning Rolling Thunder 2 ...


Considering I've been using Albatross as my avatar in many of these videos, I'm not thrilled that he is 49 years old. On the other hand, Leila looks great at 38. I'm starting to understand why he hung it up at the end of that game.

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