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Jan 5, 2017
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The trick to getting custom sneakers right is keeping it simple. Case in point: this pair, by European custom sneaker artist Freaker Sneaks.

Inspired by the Super Nintendo Entertainment System of the early 1990s, Freaker Sneaks took a pair of Air Jordan 4s (he didn’t mention which colorway he used as a base, but judging from its black tongue lining, it could easily be a pair of resoled White Cements).

The shoe is a nice, dull grey throughout the upper, with a slightly yellow midsole that seems to reference the patina developed by retro consoles over the years. The finishing touches are the custom tag at the tongue, bearing the original SNES logo, and the pressable buttons at the heel tab, which are made with actual SNES controller parts.

Most custom sneakers tend to err on the side of overexpression—usually conveying themes through loud colors or needless gimmicks. These, on the other hand, are a more muted homage to a beloved console, in which the theme is conveyed in the smaller details. A custom pair is much more elegant that way.

Freaker Sneaks, has shown a propensity for video games in the past, with creations like a PS4-themed Air Jordan 4, and a Street Fighter-themed Air Jordan 6 Low:

But customs aren’t the only ties between the videogame world and sneaker culture. In fact, there have been quite a few video game-themed official colorways of sneakers in the past, the most notable of which are:

Air Force 1 “Playstation”

Back in 2005, a year before the PS3 was introduced (feel old yet?), Nike dropped a Playstation-themed colorway of the Air Force 1s, in black patent leather, with purple laces and a PS logo on the heel.

Vans Nintendo Pack

One of the more recent videogame-themed releases was by Vans, when they dropped an entire pack of Nintendo-themed sneakers, including the Vans Old Skools, Authentics, Slip-Ons, and Sk8-His that referenced Super Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, and Duck Hunt.

Nike Dunk Hi SB “Pac-Man”

Nike SB is always keen to make cheeky video game references with its Dunks, but the bright colors on these Pac-Man-themed pairs made them particularly attractive to sneakerheads and gamers alike. They dropped a Pac-Man Dunk Hi and a Ms. Pac-Man Dunk Low.

adidas Originals Top X “Need for Speed: The Run”

To launch Need for Speed: The Run in 2011, EA Sports partnered up with adidas Originals for an apparel collection and a special colorway of the Top X (a modernized version of the adidas Originals Top Ten). It was a simple colorway in black patent leather, with a very subtle logo imprint at the heel, and aglets that read “THE RUN.”

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Nike SB “Street Fighter Pack”

These three pairs of Nike SBs don’t even have too many overt details on them: just colorways that match three iconic characters from Street Fighter: Ryu’s red and off-white on a pair of Dunk Mids (with a cool tattered effect to emphasize the fabric of his gui), Chun-li’s blue on a pair of Dunk Lows, and Akuma’s dark blue with red accents on a pair of P-Rod 4s.

Globe Liberty “Halo”

Master Chief’s military green was used on this promo pair of Globe Liberties. Along with yellow accents and the Halo logo on the tongue, these were awesome at the height of the Halo franchise, around the same time that skate culture was also taking off into mainstream consciousness.

Nike “Playstation 3 Pack”

Back in 2008, at the peak of the Playstation 3’s popularity, Nike dropped two new colorways as an homage to the era’s greatest video game console: one for the Air Max 97 and another for the Blazer High. These two black-and-gold colorways slipped by, largely unnoticed, but a similar homage to consoles of today might not go so quietly.

Nike “Playstation Move Pack”

To launch the Playstation Move tech (which, TBH, didn’t really take off quite as much), and PS-exclusive Killzone 3 in 2010, Nike released two shoes as part of game bundles: a Killzone-inspired Special Forces Boot and a Move-inspired Huarache Trainer.

Nike “Wii Pack”

But just before you point out the recurrence of Playstation collaborations with Nike, know that they’ve done the same for Nintendo with a Wii-themed series, lead by a pair of Air Force 2s. Also in that line-up were a pair of Blazers, Air Max 95s, and Sky Force Highs. All of them were done in white with a nice clear ice sole and a Wii power button logo at the tongue.

Nike Blazer “Atari”

Children of the '80s will remember the Atari 2600. Its black rectangular body and wood veneer detailing are iconic features of the console, immortalized in these two sneakers by Nike. They took an Air Force 2 and a Blazer High to reference these aspects in what are certainly great display pieces for old school sneakerheads.

Nike Lebron 12 GS “Gamer”

Back in 2013, Lebron celebrated his son’s 9th birthday with a cake in the shape of an Xbox 360 (ever the narcissist, he even placed a copy of NBA 2K14, which had him on the cover, on top of the Xbox). Then in 2015, Nike decided to make one of its kids’ colorways an homage to the cake, in the form of the Lebron 12 GS “Gamer.” Of course, these only came in kids’ sizes, which truly is a shame considering how good they look.

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