When it comes to impossibly cool kicks, video games have every single one of us IRL beaten. You might think stepping out in a crisp new pair of Air Jordans is a veritable level-up for your own ‘fit, but you’ve got nothing on the likes of Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, or The Legend of Zelda’s Link.
The footwear these characters step out in is iconic, from Bayonetta’s gun heels to Sonic’s cherry red Power Sneakers. These shoes do much more than transform their wearers into their most stylish form possible, though. They imbue those lucky enough to rock them with super strength, the ability to wall run, and can even break some particularly gnarly falls.
From killer heels to iron boots and everything in between, these are some of the most iconic shoes in video game history.
Sonic the Hedgehog’s Super Shoes
Sonic the Hedgehog is widely known as the “fastest thing alive.” While he’s naturally speedy, his distinctive red shoes give him even more of a turbo boost. They’re obviously hi-tops, with a white cuff, red colorway with one white stripe, and an eye-catching gold buckle. The design is a choice, especially with Sonic’s coloring, but he pulls it off well.
Really, the Power Sneakers are just as recognizable as Sonic’s bright blue spikes, and while he always dons them, it’s not until he hits an Item Box with a Power Sneakers image on it that he gets a temporary burst of speed to zip through each level. Can your Air Force Ones get you up and through the mall when you find another box of them lying around somewhere?
The Power Sneakers have been a part of Sonic games and the character himself since the original Sonic the Hedgehog, and it doesn’t look like the Sega mascot will ever have any need to swap them out for a different pair.
Bayonetta’s Gun Heels
Designing great heels can be risky. The higher the better, but when it comes to stilettos made out of actual, functional guns, how do you ensure the wearer isn’t firing off a round every time she walks? Obviously, there’s some Umbra Witch magic going on with Bayonetta’s gun heels. These matte black pumps feature a chunky heel with a literal handgun strapped to them. They also look absolutely fabulous.
That might sound awkward, but it totally works. Bayonetta is already ridiculously flexible, so much so that simply breakdancing and adopting some Capoeira-like twists and turns in battle means firing off a barrage of bullets into her angelic enemies. Red bottoms these bad boys aren’t, but you can bet after Bayonetta’s finished with a group of enemies, the soles of her gun heels are still as bloody.
Chell’s Long Fall Boots
The world of Portal is often simultaneously terrifying, hilarious, and exhilarating. This classic physics-based puzzler from Valve finds you trying to escape the Aperture Science labs as test subject Chell. Armed with a Portal Gun, she can create portals from one area to another to navigate the facility. She was also equipped with her Long Fall Boots to keep her from dying after leaping from ridiculous heights by Aperture Science. A small kindness, but a necessary one.
These sleek white thigh-high boots are accented with black as well as a spring at the heel. They’re not bad-looking, and they go well with Chell’s white tank and orange jumpsuit. Prison-chic, but the boots are straight out of a sci-fi future. They’re just as synonymous with Portal as the Portal Gun in terms of awesome shoes, and Chell couldn’t get anything done without them, and there’s that great effect where they keep wearers from landing on their heads, too. Your thigh-high Stuart Weitzmans could never.
Mario’s Kuribo’s Shoe
Ever worn a shoe that covers most of your body? No, it’s not some sort of new high-fashion, couture sneaker. It’s Kuribo’s Shoe, from Super Mario Bros. 3. Widely considered one of the best Mario games of all time (and one of the NES’s greatest titles), Super Mario Bros. 3 is home to this strange shoe, which you only get one of instead of a full pair.
This wind-up shoe that Mario wears on his body as if it were some enormous costume isn’t just for show, though. It lets Mario bounce off of enemies, clear spikes without taking damage, and do some serious butt-kicking. How couldn’t it? It’s a huge shoe. It didn’t appear very often in Super Mario Bros. 3, but it’s become a massively important and recognizable part of Mario history. Fans love it, Mario rocks it, and it’s now a staple in Super Mario Maker – along with a stiletto option.
Lucio’s Hard-Light Skates
Blizzard’s hero-based shooter Overwatch is home to some particularly colorful and talented characters, but Brazilian DJ Lúcio Correia dos Santos takes the cake. Not only does he rock a huge frog head during his DJ work, but he also has a pair of super sweet skates that he wears just about everywhere. They’re built to match whatever skin he’s wearing, but feature some awesome inline skates with a neon glow coming out of them.
Sure, Lúcio can skate. That’s how he gets around each map in Overwatch, after all, by zipping past everyone. But his Hard-Light Skates also have small blades embedded within them. They’re meant to help him wall run and pull off some evasive maneuvers that would be impossible otherwise. Plus, they also leave a killer light trail when he zooms around effortlessly. They’d make an impression at any skating rink, but it’s hard to get over their overall design in general – possibly the coolest roller skates ever.
Toon Link’s Iron Boots
Link is The Legend of Zelda‘s Hero of Time. He’s been through many changes over the years, but none so massive as his transformation into a cartoonish version of himself with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. This GameCube classic found Link equipped with some seriously useful shoes time and time again, though, and none were as useful or as memorable as the ridiculously heavy Iron Boots.
That’s the point of wearing them, after all, to make Link as heavy as possible. They’re used to weigh Link down to help him trigger pressure-sensitive switches and springs throughout The Wind Waker’s dungeons. They can also be utilized to help Link brave gale-force winds as well as break tiles. They’re also straight out of a medieval knight’s playbook. Shiny chrome-plated iron boots with wood-like paneling? No one else is stepping out in these bad boys.
Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for 13 years for publications like Variety, Popular Science, Playboy, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, GameSpot, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake.