Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Comparing Zelda Games With Art Styles

Comparing Zelda Games With Art Styles

When it comes to Zelda, it sure has a lot of different artstyles. Even in 2D you can see a lot of detail and different ways of picturing Link. When it comes to 3D, Link sometimes drifts off from where he was drawn in the manga, but that is a good thing because the emotions and facial expressions in manga are different than in a game.

Starting from 2D, Link began as a plain faced guy. The original legend of Zelda didn’t have any importance in the way characters looked but the things they said. The old in the cave became iconic although the artstyle was focused on enemies and terrains. This was because the detail was just the beard and the brown clothes were in an empty cave with hardly any detail at all.
even if link's nuts he is awesome

In the Ocarina of Time, you see a guy in the Potion shop of the castle market town and in the alley that seems to resemble this guy, but you do not find anybody actually noticing this as an important matter. This is because the artstyle of Ocarina of Time has so much of its detail on other things such as Link, items, Epona, the sages and the more important characters, hidden things, cuccoos, gold skultulas, which all these details cancel out that old man in brown clothing and make you direct your focus on something else. Zelda is about dungeons not the way characters look, but almost all Zelda games balance between these two matters in a good way. You need to love the Hylians you are going to save, otherwise why would a Kokiri save the world he never knew and never liked?

Link’s awakening DX artstyle is very funny and cute. All you see is Link in two colours meanwhile all the things you see in a dungeon look perfect. It is only the characters that are less detailed but honestly I like that and I think Link’s Awakening was one of the best 2D texture packs ever. I never really liked Zelda II, though.

But what tops them all would be the Minish Cap. While Link’s awakening has really good artstyle but the Minish cap shows so much more detail, mixing between Link’s Awakening’s feel and LttP’s character detail it comes out as something so unique. Ezlo actually shows some of this where actual facial expressions of happiness and sadness are in 2D. When Ezlo talk while on Link’s head, you can see Link sort of frowning while trying to concentrate on eye contact, and especially when Ezlo nudges on Link’s head he seems even more disturbed. You can see characters happy or sad from some events happening. Even in Link’s awakening can you see the girl singing and the animals enjoying the tune.

Ofcourse Zelda is always best when it comes to the dungeons, because that is the entire point of the game. More important than saving the world, you need dungeons to be laid out in an interesting manner to differentiate between the rooms and never get bored. This is what gave rise to optional dungeons, the fun and enjoyment. I don’t want to compare it with a game like Call Of Duty because we know that Zelda is way too well made to be compared with it.

 But then when Zelda goes 3D, more emotion and detail is added to the table. Ocarina of Time 3D showed a lot of differences than the original. Even the upstairs house at Malon’s ranch (or Lon Lon Ranch) above the chicken coop feels a lot realistic. The terrain adds more realism. Characters have stronger emotions but the artstyle wasn’t going in the same way the original OoT was like. The 3D remake made the world look more painful, while the original it felt like a simple wide open space that just had something fleshed out. 3D stitches in the missing feeling from the original one, although OoT was very inspirational, but the truth of Hyrule at that time is sadly like how it was in 3D. Especially when you get older the future is so… foggy, and Kakariko village suddenly looks sadder and more realistically old like in real life if Zelda was real. Except that Hyrule field music is happy, the world would be sadder in OoT 3D than it should be in the original.

Now onto what most people talk about: the Wind Waker’s style. People call it “cell-shaded” and “childish”, well I call it “chibi” but I am not going to close the case without explaining why the Wind Waker could be the best out there. Zelda games aren’t really supposed to be that gloomy and gothic. A small child goes out on an adventure with pirates and ends up in underwater ruins, not basically a perfect adventure but it would be worse if the art wasn’t fitting. Instead the world was happy and full of unaffected people by the sinking land. Ofcourse the rutos were actually Zoras but I think that evolution made them better. It’s true that the Zora tribe would flourish if they stayed in the water that is engulfing what remains on its sea, but instead it shows you the proud Ruto tribe of great strength on a mountain island that would live the longest. The sea wasn’t blank, but instead makes the world feel very big and wide. Sometimes I get sad when I play games like Zelda and Pokemon because they are not real. Sometimes I wish they would be real, but *sigh* Hyrule isn’t real. And the Wind Waker artstyle isn’t anywhere near being realistic, but it feels so magical. Do you, complaining fans, want this instead:

 People should stop complaining about the wind waker if they play this game.

Phantom Hourglass was actually the first Zelda game I ever tried, but it was Minish Cap that actually got me in the series. Phantom Hourglass had such cute graphics, to the extent that I thought it had the best Zelda graphics ever. But then when skyward sword came out, it threw Phantom hourglass second, the Wind Waker being third, and Ocarina of Time forth. Skyward sword mixes between the Wind Waker’s cute art and the Twilight Princess grade of details. It is the best mix for an adult to go on an adventure in a beautiful happy world. Twilight princess got the adult part right, but it also meant that adult adventures are gloomy and bound with curses. Skyward Sword looked like oil paintings. When I saw the trailers before it was released, I couldn’t believe it. Screw the HD graphics and look at what Zelda can do. Twilight princess had some things wrong and some things right, and skyward sword took the best part there and here and added its original feel. It wasn’t a copy-paste artstyle, in fact it was very original. Skyward Sword, in my opinion, had the best artstyle of all time. What I wish for the next Zelda to do is to add more Wind Waker-esque style into Skyward Sword with even more detail than ever. That would be the perfect Zelda game in terms of its graphics.

isn't this the best ever
The problem with Twilight Princess is because of its gamecube graphics. The dungeons were bad. It was Hyrule field that felt so magical in the morning. Character desgins were great too. But when link enters a shop or a closed small room, as in all dungeons, quality is just lost over the dark textures of the game. These are the same dark textures that make riding Epona during day and night feel like a good hobby. Twilight princess didn’t balance it out as well as the others but it was good enough to have itself a clone. Just look at Hyrule field on Epona, and look at Assassin’s Creed:

All Zelda art is unique and different than the repeating ones of other games that compete will Zelda. But although they are not all as equally good each one matches the theme of the story. It’s still surprising that Majora’s Mask follows the same texture (or at least extremely similar) as Ocarina of Time yet it goes in a whole new level. Guess the magic Zelda remains a mystery until Zelda is a Virtual Reality game. Play More Zelda!

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