Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gamers place too much emphasis on the art style of games

Games have come a long way in every department since the original release of Pong back in 1972.  Gameplay has become more sophisticated, enemies have become more intelligent, the worlds games take place in have become larger, and graphics have advanced so much that games like Uncharted 3 and Ni No Kuni PS3 are possible today.  Along with these developments, art style in games has also evolved.  Back in the 1980s, every console game released was using an 8-bit processor, which limited developers from fully realizing their artistic visions in a game.  As time went on, game processors became more and more advanced, allowing developers to eventually create games with the art style they envisioned.  However, a developer's ability to fully realize the art style they strove for has created a problem in the gaming world.

It's commonplace today to hear a gamer say that they don't want to buy a game simply because it looks childish, with the most famous example probably being The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.  The people who played and completed The Wind Waker for the most part agree that it was an amazing game that's up there with Zelda's best, but there are just as many people who dismissed the game because of its cel-shaded graphics, calling it "kiddy."  It's a crime that this even happened, as the art style doesn't affect the gameplay at all.  If The Wind Waker had an art style in the same vain as Twilight Princess, it would have played the exact same way.  Link's head being the same size as his body doesn't take away your ability to have fun, which is what the main point of games: to entertain you so you can have fun.

Many gamers dismissed The Wind Waker because of its art style.

Nintendo fans aren't perfect either; not by a longshot.  I've seem numerous fans of Nintendo defend games like The Wind Waker and repeat the same points I just made, but then turn around and say that games like Gears of War and Call of Duty don't interest them because they have realistic art styles and the colors they primarily use are grey and brown.

Yes, games that look realistic do have an art style, and I feel that's something a lot of Nintendo fans forget.  Realism may not be the most creative art style ever, but nonetheless, it is an art style.  The famous painting Mona Lisa uses realistic proportions and colors, but it's still just as much a piece of art as Van Gogh's Starry Night.  If you hate on Gears of War because of its color palette and realism, you're just as bad as the people who hate on The Wind Waker because of its color palette and unrealistic proportions.

But don't worry if you're one of those Nintendo fans that defends colorful, cartoony games, and then turns around and refuses to play Gears of War because it's brown and realistic; I used to be that Nintendo fan too.  For the longest time, I refused to play God of War because the art style just didn't appeal to me; it was realistic and less colorful than the games I was used to playing at the time.  But then I decided to give the series a shot to see what all the hype was about, and boy was I shocked.  What I discovered was a series with some seriously fun gameplay that managed to entertain me from beginning to end, and I would have never experienced it if I kept my prejudice against games with a realistic, not-so-colorful art style.

I used to dismiss God of War because of its art style, but when I
played it, I discovered an extremely fun and addicting series.

The series that really hits the point home is Zelda.  I know I've already talked about The Wind Waker, but I feel like the series in general is a great example of what I'm talking about.

It's no secret that the Zelda series has gone through multiple changes in art style since Ocarina of Time.  The two N64 Zelda titles had a colorful, anime-esque art style, which then turned into a colorful, cartoony art style in The Wind Waker, and then it changed back to the anime-esque art style, but this time with less color in Twilight Princess.  At their core, all four of these games play the same way.  You go through dungeons to collect items, fight bosses, and move the plot along.  You may like one more than the other because sailing across the ocean in The Wind Waker was too cumbersome, or because Hyrule Field in Twilight Princess was too empty, or even because you felt rushed by the time limit in Majora's Mask, but the point is, it's not the art style that makes one game more entertaining than the other, it's gameplay elements each game had or didn't have.

I'm not saying that art style isn't an important part of a game -- it is a significant part because it helps set the overall tone for the game -- but it's certainly not something to base your entire purchase on.  The game's gameplay and genre should be the deciding factors when deciding which game is worth your money and which isn't, not the fact that the characters in the game either look realistic or cartoony.

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