[[quoteright:268:[[VideoGame/CaveStory http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cavestory-comparison.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:268:Same character: Official artwork vs. in-game sprite.]]

In video games, there is a tendency for characters' proportions to [[ArtShift change considerably between their official artwork and their in-game appearance]]. It's quite frequent to see box art with relatively realistically-proportioned characters, while the same characters appear with [[SuperDeformed large heads and small bodies]] when they're in game.

In older games, the reason for this was usually graphical limitations. When you only have a 16 x 16 block of pixels to work with, trying to make a sprite with realistic proportions will result in a character with almost no visible face to speak of. This was especially true in video games (especially licensed games) appearing on fourth-generation and older game consoles; only a few games (like ''VideoGame/RollingThunder'') seemed to avert it. Strategy games on home computers of the time were [[http://www.awesome-engine.com/2011/06/18/1990s-tv-anime-part-3-nintendo/ more likely to avert it]].

It should be noted that many Japanese games didn't originally use the "original" cover art Western players are familiar with; covers were often [[AmericanKirbyIsHardcore completely redone to appeal to American and European sensibilities]], with characters not looking SuperDeformed even if that was a deliberate design choice (as in the case of ''VideoGame/RiverCityRansom'').

Mostly averted by early Western video game designers who tried to use proper proportions, and thus wound up with faceless 'walking stick' characters.

See SuperDeformed for other uses of big heads and small bodies. For the artwork changes that can't be chalked up to graphical limitations, see CoversAlwaysLie.


* Characters in ''VideoGame/FreedomPlanet'' have rounded, chibi-esque sprites that although not quite to this trope's extent, still have larger heads and stubbier limbs to work within the lower resolution. With a much larger budget, [[VideoGame/FreedomPlanet2 the sequel]] has given the heroines longer proportions with more detailed limbs and general proportions. This is most notable with Lilac, who has a more mature and less cutesy appearance, justified in-universe as the characters undergoing more combat training in a two-year TimeSkip. The best comparison could be made between the NES ''VideoGame/MegaManClassic'' games and ''VideoGame/MegaManX''.
* ''VideoGame/{{Ghostbusters 1990}}'' for the UsefulNotes/SegaGenesis uses super-deformed sprites, but characters are normally proportioned in portraits and cutscenes.
* ''VideoGame/TheBindingOfIsaac: Rebirth'' features an Isaac with a very large head and very large tears to shoot things with.

[[folder:Action Adventure]]
* ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'':
** The original in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaI'' game uses this style.
** Also, the three GameBoy games: while the manuals and other artwork weren't deformed, in the color remake of the first game, it crept from the sprites to the photographer's pictures. All these games, including the first above, used 16x16 sprites.
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkToThePast'', while still a bit deformed, was more reasonable, not unlike ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger''.
** The use of this in ''Zelda I'' actually influenced the designs of the [[MascotMook Guardians]] in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaBreathOfTheWild''. While the Octoroks in the first game look Link's size or bigger, later games without the same graphical limitations depicted them as typically around half his height. Eiji Aonuma looked at those early Octoroks and thought about what it would be like if there was some similar-looking monster that really ''was'' as big as they looked there. Hence the enormous StarfishRobots in ''Breath of the Wild''.
* In ''VideoGame/GoldenAxe Warrior'', a ''Legend of Zelda'' clone for the UsefulNotes/SegaMasterSystem, the hero is depicted as a shirtless gladiator on the game's cover illustration and title screen, but looks more like a cute knight in the actual game.
* ''VideoGame/CaveStory'' provides the page picture. Apparently, the chibi sprites have become iconic enough that the higher-resolution UsefulNotes/WiiWare port used the same proportions--and the UsefulNotes/Nintendo3DS remake ''also'' uses those proportions for character models.

* In ''VideoGame/BomberMan'', this actually affected its future style a lot. The [[http://www.1101.com/nintendo/famicom_mini/images/bomber_man.jpg Japanese]] and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BombermanCover.jpg American box art]] of the NES game[[note]]which [[OlderThanTheyThink wasn't the first game]], but Bomberman in ''that'' game [[EarlyInstallmentWeirdness was a completely different character]][[/note]] shows Bomberman as a realistic human in PowerArmor, then subsequent releases made Bomberman look cartoonier and closer to his game sprite. The U.S. covers of ''Bomberman'' and ''VideoGame/{{Bomberman 93}}'' for the UsefulNotes/TurboGrafx16 also featured non-super-deformed characters that didn't look much like the in-game sprite (the first looked more like some sort of Red Ranger, the second more like ''Franchise/MegaMan''). The one serious attempt to use the realistic character style, the DarkerAndEdgier ''VideoGame/BombermanActZero'', was widely considered [[DorkAge a bad idea]] and quickly abandoned. Even the American-made ''VideoGame/AtomicBomberman'' used a chibi style, albeit slightly more detailed.
* In official illustrations, VideoGame/PacMan has never looked like the [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/57/Pacman-cutscene.png partially eaten pizza]] we all know. He's always [[http://images.wikia.com/pacman/images/f/fa/JapanesePacMan.png had legs]] and looked like the form you see in cartoons and later installments.

[[folder:Beat 'Em Up]]
* ''VideoGame/ScottPilgrimVSTheWorldTheGame'' renders the characters as somewhat chibified compared to the comic versions.
** [[ComicBook/ScottPilgrim The comics themselves]] are slightly chibi as a reference to this trope.
* The character sprites in the NES version of ''VideoGame/DoubleDragon'', while not super-deformed per se, are greatly simplified and rather cartoonish compared to [[http://www.gamengai.com/bn_inf.php?id=512 the illustrations in the game's manual]], which made the characters look like they came out straight from the pages of ''Manga/FistOfTheNorthStar''. Some of the character sprites only vaguely resemble their illustrated depictions in the manual (Abobo doesn't sport his trademarked mustache in the manual for example). However, the in-game sprites are actually more accurate to the character designs in the original arcade version than the illustrations were.

* Any UsefulNotes/NeoGeoPocket version of an {{Creator/SNK}} FightingGame turned the cast super-deformed in battle.
* ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBros'':
** Franchise/MegaMan, as he appear in ''Super Smash Bros for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS'', maintains his proportions from the 8-bit games, [[http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20140901035215/ssb/images/b/bf/Megaman.png making him appear somewhat stubbier]] as compared to [[http://p4rgaming.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/original.0.png his official art]].
** The above-mentioned Pac-Man [[InvokedTrope invokes this]], changing between his normal "ball" form and the more iconic "disc" form in many of his attacks and special moves.

[[folder:First Person Shooter]]
* [[Characters/DragonRage Cael Cyndar]] has this problem in ''VideoGame/DragonRage''.

* ''VideoGame/LaMulana''. In UpdatedRerelease on UsefulNotes/WiiWare, character's head indeed is smaller compared to {{Retraux}}-PC-MSX version due to having more pixels (480p/480i on Wii vs. 240p on pseudo-MSX).
* ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'':
** Apparent in the original ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros1'' when grabbing a Super Mushroom. Mario's proportions change by head getting smaller relative to body. Even more pronounced in ''VideoGame/SuperMarioBros2''.
** According to the developers of ''VideoGame/DonkeyKong'', most of Mario's facial features and his overalls were due to technical limitations at the time of its release.
* ''VideoGame/BlasterMaster'' games where in-game, main character's head is about as big as the rest of the body.
* ''VideoGame/{{Psychosomnium}}''. Everyone has really big, rectangular heads on tiny bodies; one character even looks like they should, by all logic, fall over from the sheer proportional weight of their cranium.
* The original ''VideoGame/MegaManClassic'' series. Apparent when it reached its 7th installment, especially by comparison with ''VideoGame/MegaManX''.
* And mimicked in the doujin ''VideoGame/{{Rosenkreuzstilette}}'', though in this case the cutesy appearances are more deliberately drawn with the {{Moe}} esthetic. This is most apparent with [[FairyCompanion fairies]] Lili and Strudel, who look like [[VideoGame/MegaManZero Cyber Elves]] in sprites but show more humanoid features in their dialogue portraits.
* Averted in the NES versions of the ''{{VideoGame/Contra}}''. The 8-bit hardware couldn't replicate the distinct character designs that were given to Bill and Lance in the original arcade version, so instead the designers concentrated on making them both into musclebound shirtless commandos, with the colors of their pants being the only difference.
* All characters in the gameplay of ''Chip-chan Kick'', barring [[BigBad Warbit]] (who had already [[AttackOfTheFiftyFootWhatever grown extremely huge]] in his world's respective cutscene).
* Inverted in ''VideoGame/TheLegendaryStarfy''. Sprites portray characters more realistically proportioned than their portraits do.

* The NES version of ''VideoGame/LodeRunner'' uses the same sprites that Creator/HudsonSoft would later use in ''Bomberman''. Most computer versions, however, averted this, having sprites more reminiscent of stick figures.
* ''Money Idol Exchanger'' has it both ways at once. The SuperDeformed sprites are what players (and AI characters) actually control, while their {{Character Portrait}}s in the background have normal anime proportions.
* ''VideoGame/PanelDePon'' uses the same system as ''Money Idol Exchanger'', although in this case the super-deformed style, as seen in various in-game graphics and official artwork (particularly the single-player stages), is actually the default and it's the character portraits that are unusual for deviating.

* ''Franchise/{{Disgaea}}'', SuperDeformed as in-game characters, relatively normal in portraits in cutscenes.
** Downplayed in ''VideoGame/{{Disgaea 4| A Promise Unforgotten}}'', due to the new high definition sprites allowing for much more detail on the characters, though the body proportions are still a bit off in the case of the humanoid characters.
* ''VideoGame/AttoutekiYuugiMugenSouls'' has every character appear like this in game and during cutscenes that use the in-game model.
* Seen in-game in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'': Overworld/dungeon/towns use SuperDeformed models to keep the polygon count down. Battles and [=FMVs=] [[note]](well, most of them: some [=FMVs=] superimposed the low-polygon models, while some rare [=FMVs=] made by a different team used prerendered versions thereof, such as Cloud's TrainEscape early in the game)[[/note]] use realistic models.
** See also ''every Franchise/FinalFantasy game that uses 2D sprites''. ''VI'' and the PSP version of ''IV'', like the ''Chrono Trigger'' example below, are slightly more proportionate, but it's still very noticeable.
* ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'' is a less egregious example than most; the game's sprites are fairly proportionate except for the heads (some enemies are closer to reality there, but they're bigger). Portraits are still done in a radically different style.
* The ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars'' series probably followed this trope from its early days on the GameBoy but have since taken the concept to heart, with only a few exceptions (''VideoGame/ShinSuperRobotWars'' and both versions of ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWarsGaiden''). This is used to keep the sizes of the varying HumongousMecha reasonable. For example, a [[Anime/MobileSuitGundam Zaku II]] is 17.5 meters tall, while [[Anime/NeonGenesisEvangelion Eva Unit-01]] is about 70 meters tall. Though it should be noted that when attack animations go into a close-up of the robot, they're in their proper proportions. The series usually uses proper proportions when it duplicates iconic footage from a robot's original series.
* ''VideoGame/HalfMinuteHero'' plays this straight.
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfSymphonia'' has a bit of this, much like the ''FFVII'' example. It's not nearly as extreme as it would be with 2D sprites, but in portraits, anime cutscenes, and the OVA, the art is definitely more realistically proportioned than the [[CelShading cel-shaded]] gameplay models.
* ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'':
** Some games have this; the portable games started out this way but grew less top-heavy as hardware power increased (''VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndWhite'' are the most proportionate so far sprite-wise, although this trope is still in effect; the difference between fully-proportioned and super-deformed character is even more subtle in ''VideoGame/PokemonXAndY''). The console games don't use this at all, though. In fact, all of the games introduce you to your character's in-game battle sprite, and signal the start of gameplay by the sprite morphing into the smaller in-game sprite.
** As of ''VideoGame/PokemonSunAndMoon'', this trope is averted with 3D models gaining realistically proportioned overworld models. (Prior to this, the realistic models were used only in battle and in certain cutscenes in the overworld).
* ''VideoGame/GoldenSun'' has all the characters appear to be as big as ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'' characters are on the SNES, but once a battle starts, everyone appears in proper proportions and looks. This is more evident in ''VideoGame/GoldenSunDarkDawn'' where the characters look a LOT younger than how they appear in their artwork due to using low polygons in the overworld maps and the new graphics style. However, they resemble their artwork appearance more closely once they enter a battle.
* Most character sets created for non-3D VideoGame/RPGMaker video games are this, especially when they're made to resemble anime or film characters.
* The first four ''VideoGame/DragonSlayer'' games, through ''VideoGame/LegacyOfTheWizard'', had all character sprites fit the size of a single tile. ''Sorcerian'' moved away from SuperDeformed sprites, but ''The Legend of Heroes'' brought the look back.
* The ''[[VideoGame/KisekiSeries Trails]]'' series gradually changed its style over time. ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfHeroesTrailsInTheSky Trails in the Sky]]'' has very cutesy sprites (technically flat-rendered models) with stubby limbs. The portraits are a lot more detailed and expressive, however. ''[[VideoGame/ZeroNoKiseki Trails From Zero]]'' uses a different art style that gives the characters slightly thinner, taller proportions. With the series' VideoGame3dLeap in [[VideoGame/TheLegendOfHeroesTrailsOfColdSteel Trails of Cold Steel]]'', the high quality models still keep the characters on the small side, but with much more distinct appearances and expressive animations in cutscenes. The differences are the most noticeable with characters who crossed over from their original games, such as agate and Tita who now have more detailed redesigns.
* From its earliest days, the ''Franchise/{{Lunar}}'' games used relatively realistic character proportions in anime-styled cutscenes that transition to squat super-deformed character sprites during gameplay. The games that avert this trope are ''[[VideoGame/LunarWalkingSchool Magic School Lunar!]]'', ''VideoGame/LunarDragonSong'', and ''[[VideoGame/LunarTheSilverStar Lunar: Silver Star Harmony]]''.
* ''[[http://chrontendo.blogspot.com/2009/08/why-must-everybody-laugh-at-my-mighty.html Indora no Hikari]]'', a Famicom game by Kemco, has the hero's in-game sprite looking more SuperDeformed and less badass than his depiction on the cover.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Faria}}'', characters have super-deformed sprites that stay within size limits, but they are drawn with more normal proportions in dialogue windows.
* ''VideoGame/LufiaTheLegendReturns'', despite being a Game Boy Color RPG, averts this...by giving party members' portraits eyes that take up most of their face. It looks...a little creepy.

[[folder: Simulation]]
* ''VideoGame/HarvestMoon'' games often have this style to varying degrees. It's most noticeable in ''VideoGame/{{Harvest Moon 64}}'' and ''VideoGame/HarvestMoonBackToNature'', where the characters are styled as super-deformed due to hardware limitations but their character portraits have their normal designs. Console games drifted away from this starting with ''VideoGame/HarvestMoonSaveTheHomeland'' but handheld games kept to this trope longer.

[[folder:Turn Based Strategy]]
* ''VideoGame/BattleForWesnoth'', where CharacterPortrait[=s=] are done in a realistically proportioned style, while sprites are much more cartoony.

* Creator/BallyMidway's ''[[Pinball/MrAndMrsPacManPinball Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man Pinball]]'' goes as far as this trope can get, reducing Pac-Man and a Ghost to ''flashing lights''.

[[folder:Visual Novel]]
* The ''VisualNovel/{{Utawarerumono}}'' VisualNovel does this during the battle segments.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Oddly enough for a webcomic, ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'' has this. Being an adventure game / RPG pastiche, the art for the [[KidHero main characters]] consists of copy/pasted "sprites" about knee high to most adult characters. However, when depicted in hand-drawn action shots, they suddenly gain much more realistic proportions, sometimes even lapsing into NoodlePeople. An excellent demonstration of the style is [[http://www.mspaintadventures.com/?s=6&p=003541 this animation from the fourth act.]] (Warning: sound.)