When a lot of people first think about cosplay, they just imagine anime. But the cosplay world goes so much deeper, with people cosplaying from television, movies, Broadway shows, musicians and bands, internet memes, and more! One of the most popular sources for cosplayers is video games. In fact, a few conventions now focus more on video game cosplay than anything else. With how detailed games have become and the added bonus of art books, concept sketches, and the ease of using the internet video game cosplays have just become more popular in recent years.
While someone out there is more than likely cosplaying from every video game imaginable, just like anime there are some games and series that are quite common. These video games have huge fan bases, long-running series, challenging outfits or comfortable costumes for people to wear all day. Coming from all genres of video games and spread across years of release dates, we have chosen what we think are the most common and popular video game cosplay choices. These are the games you can guarantee seeing people representing at any cosplay event and are likely to be sticking around for a while still to come. Curious to see what are the most popular choices for cosplayers? Read on!
- System: Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, OS X, iOS
- Publisher: 2K Games
- Developer: 2K Australia, 2K Boston
- Release Dates: Aug. 21st, 2007
Bioshock may not have released a new game lately, but its popularity and love have not gone away. This horror game with a fantasy twist really captured the imaginations of a lot of people and took gamers on a ride they never expected, and went on to have equally successful sequels. Because of its incredible storytelling and fun gameplay, Bioshock has retained its popularity and fan base over time. It hasn’t had to have a new title to still leave an impression in the cosplay world.
The most common Bioshock cosplay you’re likely to see is Elizabeth, who is distinctive in her blue and white dress. Really dedicated cosplayers though will even make the infamous diver suits and monster outfits, really creating something memorable at cosplay events. Putting together that steampunk style armour and giant weapons are appealing to cosplayers that are into making that kind of thing, and makes for an impressive finished product that is immediately recognisable. Bioshock cosplay may be slowly on the downswing at the moment, but for now, it remains a common cosplay choice.
9. Metal Gear Solid
- System: PlayStation, Microsoft Windows
- Publisher: Konami
- Developer: Konami Computer Entertainment Japan
- Release Dates: Sep. 3rd, 1998
Metal Gear Solid may be getting old these days, but that hasn’t stopped its popularity. It still has a huge and loyal fanbase, and many people in the gaming community easily understand references to it. The games have been around for a long time building up a strong fanbase with good action, fast-paced gameplay, and the main character you can’t help but love. Plus they keep making new sequels, so Metal Gear Solid always ends up eventually coming around again in the gaming world and making itself relevant once more.
Metal Gear Solid is a popular choice for cosplay because it’s not incredibly difficult, but it is really fun. Many Solid Snake cosplayers have a great time having a box as their cosplay prop and spending time hiding in it - granted, that does sound pretty fun. It’s a chance to wear military gear, have an eyepatch, and smoke a fake cigarette all while being a badass for the day. And even people that haven’t played the game are likely to recognise it! Plus Metal Gear Solid groups look great and are even a little intimidating. All of these reasons plus a general love for what is a good game make Metal Gear Solid a common cosplay choice.
8. Street Fighter
- System: Arcade
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom
- Release Dates: Aug. 30th, 1987
From arcade machines to people’s homes, fighting games have been around for nearly as long as video games have been popular. And while there are many popular titles out there, one of the most famous is Street Fighter. It challenges hard-core players to master combinations and do more than just button mashing, and there are even global competitions for it. Meanwhile, it’s also fun for casual players to fight against their friends, or someone to pull out at a party. That means Street Fighter has a wide and diverse fan base, and it’s been just growing for years.
Some of those fans are also contributing to the cosplay world! Street Fighter has a lot of different playable characters, and that gives cosplayers many choices and the chance to create large and impressive groups with their friends. Characters like Chun Li are such popular and common cosplay choices that Angie who frequents the cosplay scene can probably name her even if they have never touched Street Fighter before. While there are a lot of fighting games out there to give cosplayers options, Street Fighter remains the most common choice. It has the most group and solo character cosplays represented at events of all fighting games and has for some years now.
7. Resident Evil
- System: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Nintendo DS
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom
- Release Dates: Mar. 22nd, 1996
Mass Effect is set in the far future when humans have discovered space travel and other beings – but sadly, much later than other species, who have been travelling through space for generations. This puts humans at the bottom of the pecking order in intergalactic matters. When the universe is faced with the invasion of mechanical beings called Reapers, who threaten the survival of all species, an elite team is put together to try to stop them. A celebrated human war hero named Commander Shepard is named a Spectre, an elite title, and put in charge of this team. Needing to not only save the universe but also prove the human race’s place in it is all in an average day’s work for Shepard, whom who take the role of.
Commander Shepard is entirely customizable by the player, from their appearance and gender to backstory and character class. How they level up is also up to the player. Mass Effect is a moral and choice-driven RPG, allowing players to make a lot of decisions that will affect small and large parts of the story. All dialogue options are generally left up to the player to decide as well, which will affect their relationship with both party members and other NPCs that they encounter. What happens to the universe is literally in your hands in Mass Effect, letting players escape to a beautiful but dangerous science fiction world full of action and witty dialogue.
- System: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment
- Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
- Release Dates: May 24th, 2016
When Overwatch launched, it took the gaming world by storm. Suddenly it was the only thing gamers were talking about, it was all over the internet, and it was all the hype. Of course with hype, cosplay is sure to follow. And follow it has! Not only has Overwatch become a common game for people to talk about and play, it has also become a popular choice for cosplayers to wear at events. The characters Overwatch cosplayers have managed to bring to life are sometimes jaw-dropping, too.
With a huge cast of characters, each very unique in his or her own way, and offering a wide variety of outfits and skin colours Overwatch gives something for all cosplayers to connect with. Plus the Overwatch fandom is quite friendly so it’s easy to make friends with other fans when you’re all cosplaying it together. Overwatch is another cosplay choice popular for groups of friends that want to all match, especially groups of very hardcore cosplayers. It offers a lot of challenges working with unique materials, making armour and weapons, and more. And cosplayers love a good challenge!
5. Pokémon Red and Blue
- System: Game Boy
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Game Freak
- Release Dates: Feb. 27th, 1996 (JP), Sep. 28th, 1998 (NA)
It’s hard to argue that Pokémon is one of the most well-known pieces of Japanese pop culture anywhere. Even people that have never played a game or watched any of the anime are likely to recognise Pikachu at the very least, or vaguely understand what other people are talking about. Pokémon games are also released around every other year and anime alongside them, keeping the series always fresh and relevant. But let’s take a step back to where it all began, with Pokémon Red and Blue in the 1990s. These handheld games took the world by storm and began the Pokémon craze not just in Japan - but worldwide.
With so many fans of the games out there, it’s easy to understand why Pokémon Red and Blue are so popular for cosplay. One of the biggest appeals for many cosplayers is that the trainer uniforms and even the villains are quite simple, so they’re easy to make and comfortable to wear all day. The cosplays are very recognisable and iconic, and if you add a Pikachu doll even random people on the street can guess what you’re doing. Pokémon Red and Blue offer little detail about the trainers’ faces, too, so it’s all up to a cosplayer’s own ideas - and it’s fun to just be yourself as a Pokémon trainer sometime! Plus there’s the nostalgia factor of remembering the first games. Pokémon cosplay keeps adapting with new games, but Red and Blue will always remain a popular choice.
4. Assassin’s Creed II
- System: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Mac OS X
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
- Release Dates: Nov. 17th, 2009
Assassin’s Creed has been a popular video game series for quite a while now, but even newer titles have had a hard time trumping Assassin’s Creed II. Ezio won over the hearts of gamers everywhere with his flirtatious and quirky personality and a story that took three full games to tell. As he grew up over the course of the games, his appearance changed as well. He started as a boy and ended up as a man. Assassin’s Creed II also introduced the idea of the multiplayer mode with many different assassins to play as, giving cosplayers even more options.
Let’s face it, it’s fun to cosplay from Assassin’s Creed! The outfits are complicated and impressive to look at. The hood is fun to hide beneath. There are plenty of pockets and bags to store your stuff. The weapons and accessories are challenging to make and fun to wear at the convention. And you have every excuse to do ridiculous poses and climb on stuff. All of these factors combined with the huge fan following of the series makes Assassin’s Creed a popular choice for cosplayers - and Assassin’s Creed II remains the most popular for now. Ezio is the most common outfit you will see, along with the added choices of some fun multiplayer outfits.
3. Final Fantasy VII
- System: PlayStation, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, iOS, Android
- Publisher: Square (JP), Sony Computer Entertainment (WW)
- Developer: Square
- Release Dates: Jan. 31st, 1997
Final Fantasy VII is one of the most popular titles in the long-running Final Fantasy series. When it was released, the game had cutting-edge graphics, gameplay, and story-telling. And while the graphics are certainly dated today, FFVII is still incredibly fun to play with a gripping, emotional, and even funny story. Old fans play the game over and over as it’s ported onto mobile phones and newer consoles, and new fans fall in love with it for the first time. And with a huge cast of memorable characters, it’s easy to see why Final Fantasy VII is a popular cosplay choice.
All Final Fantasy games are known for having characters with elaborate outfits, crazy hairstyles, and huge detailed weapons that test the skill of cosplayers and offer challenges to those willing to take them on. Final Fantasy VII is no different, with everything from an oversized iconic sword to hair spikes that defy gravity, armour, dresses, sexy bare stomachs, fursuits and more. Whatever a cosplayer is looking to wear, he or she can find a good character from Final Fantasy VII to shine as. And a lot of cosplayers love doing groups from the game, celebrating all the popular characters. With the remake of FFVII set for release sometime in the future, Final Fantasy VII cosplay is only set to become even more popular, too!
2. Super Mario Bros.
- System: NES
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Nintendo Creative Department
- Release Dates: Sep. 13th, 1985
If someone likes to play video games, chances are at least at some point in their lives they have played Super Mario Bros. A lot of people who don’t call themselves gamers have also played it. And just about anyone can recognise Mario and Luigi at the very least, if not even more characters! That widespread popularity across cultures and generations, the recognisability to nearly anyone, and the general simplicity of the outfits make Super Mario Bros. another popular choice for cosplayers. It might not be the first video game you think of, but it’s the one that everyone knows.
Whether causally for Halloween or a costume party or more intensely for a convention or completion, Super Mario Bros. cosplay remains popular. And we can’t blame the cosplayers. After all, it’s generally easy to buy, comfortable to wear, and even your grandma will finally know who you’re dressed as. Beyond the usual Mario and Luigi overalls, there are even more characters to pick from too. Super Mario Bros. is common for couples, friends, and group cosplays especially because it does make for a fun and nostalgic day. With the recent success stories in the Mario franchise, we don’t expect Super Mario Bros. cosplay to disappear any time soon.
1. Kingdom Hearts
- System: PlayStation 2
- Publisher: Square (JP), Square Electronic Arts (NA)
- Developer: Square
- Release Dates: Mar. 28th, 2002
Much like Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts has a very large and loyal fan base. The original game is quite old now, though a lot of spin-offs and re-releases have kept it in everyone’s minds for many years now. Combining Disney and Final Fantasy into one original story was a fantastic idea by Square Enix, and they successfully captured the imaginations and hearts of fans of both things. Few fandoms are as passionate as the Kingdom Hearts fandom, which is responsible for countless fanfictions, thousands of fan art pieces, and more.
With a fan base that strong, it goes without saying that Kingdom Hearts is also a popular cosplay. It has a lot of characters for people to choose from, and a lot of offerings for a group, best friend, and couple cosplays. Kingdom Hearts also has new and alternative outfits for popular Disney and Final Fantasy characters, and the main character Sora has a lot of different outfits himself. Plus who doesn’t want to make a giant key for a prop weapon? Cosplayers bond over the challenges of giant shoes, too many zippers, and gravity-defying hair. And with Kingdom Hearts III finally receiving a release date, you can expect Kingdom Hearts to remain a very common cosplay for a while.
The world of video game cosplay is nearly as diverse as the world of anime cosplay, but that doesn’t mean a few games don’t stick out. These games are the ones you can count on seeing fans representing, making groups and meetups for, and showing their love for. From games that started years ago to recent smash hits, with crazy complicated armour and props to super comfortable clothes, these games are the most common video games to cosplay from. For a variety of different reasons, these games are popular choices for cosplayers. And while the world of cosplay is always changing, these ones are likely to be around for at least a little while more as the most common!
Have you seen a video game series represented a lot in cosplay but we missed it from our list? Which of these is the most common video game cosplay in your area? What do you think are the benefits of cosplaying something common to something more obscure? How about the drawbacks? Would you like to cosplay any of these video games? Let us know in the comments!