Visual fidelity in gaming has come a long way. And while we might feel like pixelated two-dimensional games are ancient history, some celebrities have had careers in games that show just how far we’ve come.

With the new year causing us to look back, I wanted to do some quick comparisons to see how how some people who have lived in the gaming spotlight have changed over the years. And while these athletes and actors tend to look a little rougher and worn out in reality — in games, the years are much kinder to them.

Kobe Bryant

Career: NBA basketball star most notable for his many championships with the Los Angeles Lakers
Gaming career: He was an early cover star for the Nintendo 64 basketball sim Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside in 1998. He is still active in games like NBA 2K16.

Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside

Kobe was already a superstar, but the Nintendo 64 couldn't quite do him justice.

Above: Kobe was already a superstar, but the Nintendo 64 couldn’t quite do him justice.

Image Credit: Nintendo

Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside 2

Things got a little better in 1999.

Above: Things got a little better in 1999.

Image Credit: Nintendo

NBA 2K16

Today, Bryant struggles to perform like he once did. But he looks better than ever in 2K's sports sim.

Above: Today, Bryant struggles to perform like he once did. But he looks better than ever in 2K’s sports sim.

Image Credit: 2K Games

Mark Hamill

Career: Hamill is, of course, a Hollywood actor and voice actor best known for his role as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars and The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series.
Gaming career: Hamill has done a lot of voice work for games, but he’s probably most famous for his starring role in the 1994 space-sim classic Wing Commander.

Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger

Mark Hamill as Christopher Blair.

Above: Mark Hamill as Christopher Blair.

Image Credit: Origin Systems

Star Citizen

21 years later, Wing Commander developer Chris Roberts hired Hamill to star in his new game.

Above: 21 years later, Wing Commander developer Chris Roberts hired Hamill to star in his new game.

Image Credit: Cloud Imperium Games

Peyton Manning

Career: An NFL quarterback who has won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts and now plays for the Denver Broncos.
Gaming career: Back before Electronic Arts was the only company making a pro football game, Manning inked a deal to act as the cover athlete for Microsoft’s exclusive NFL Fever games for the original Xbox.

NFL Fever 2002

NFL Fever hardly made a dent with fans who preferred games like Madden and NFL 2K.

Above: NFL Fever hardly made a dent with fans who preferred games like Madden and NFL 2K.

Image Credit: Microsoft

Madden NFL 16

Manning looks a lot more like himself in games these days.

Above: Manning looks a lot more like himself in games these days.

Image Credit: Electronic Arts

Tiger Woods

Career: A professional golfer with 14 wins at major tournaments.
Gaming career: His superstar status and appeal convinced Electronic Arts to attach his name to its PGA Tour games starting in 1998. He was dropped in 2015 in favor of Rory McIlroy.

Tiger Woods 99 PGA Tour Golf

The flat 2D graphics didn't look all that bad in still images -- although they start to look cheap in motion.

Above: The flat 2D graphics didn’t look all that bad in still images — although they start to look cheap in motion.

Image Credit: Electronic Arts

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14

Still in the same colors, but he looks a lot more realistic.

Above: Still in the same colors, but he looks a lot more realistic.

Image Credit: Electronic Arts

The Undertaker

Career: A professional wrestler with World Wrestling Entertainment. He is best known for making his “dead man” gimmick work for more than 20 years and for his streak of wins at the premiere Wrestlemania pay-per-view events.
Gaming career: He has regularly appeared in all of WWE’s official video games since the early 1990s.

WWF Super Wrestlemania 

This was well before polygons and motion capture.

Above: This was well before polygons and motion capture.

Image Credit: WWE

WWE 2K16

The Undertaker looks like an old man these days, but at least he isn't just a bunch of different-color pixels smashed together anymore.

Above: The Undertaker looks like an old man these days, but at least he isn’t just a bunch of different-color pixels smashed together anymore.

Image Credit: 2K Games
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