4 retro games with anti-aging visual art styles
Remember those old block games people played in the late 90s and early 2000s? We can think of games like Tomb Raider from 1996 with Lara Croft’s triangular “assets” and Hagrid’s memey face from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
These games had good gameplay but naturally bad graphics for the time. However, there are many examples of game developers who have found a way to create stylized graphics of their game despite the limitations, and as a result, the art of their game still holds up today.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
At first glance, you might not believe that The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is a 19 year old game. The game’s designers used cell shading on their low-poly 3D models, which gave the game a nice mix of cartoon and 3D looks. It actually looks like a modern mobile game, so it’s hard to fathom that this game was released for the Gamecube – a console with very limited processing powers. There are plenty of workarounds that the game’s designers thought of to make everything look good, from the ocean to the wind and even Link’s expressions. There is even a website which delves deep into the look of this game, created by Nathan Gordon.
Radio Jet Set
Like Wind Waker, Radio Jet Set is another game that uses cell shading to give their art an anti-aging look. Since this game was released in 2000 for the Dreamcast console, it was revolutionary in that it was one of the first games to use cellular shading to blend 2D and 3D in a way that even non-players. -players would appreciate. With their use of thick lines and bright colors, Jet Set Radio was not only fun to play, but was and still is a visual masterpiece.
Killer 7 was released in 2005 on Gamecube and PS2. While some have criticized its confusing plot and restrictive plot, many have found its visuals unique and beautiful. It’s definitely not for everyone as it’s recognized as an arthouse game with a political intrigue, but the visual style and graphics still hold up in 2021.
Okami is another game which uses cell shading to create unique style. It is very inspired by Japanese art and calligraphy, with graphics designed to make the whole world look like watercolor. Since this game is a dialogue-rich, story-driven game, much of its main appeal is in the visual style it presents. To prove my point, a major game mechanic is something called the Celestial Brush. Players use this Japanese calligraphy brush to paint on the screen, and it creates things like a bridge or slices enemies by drawing lines through them, just like Fruit Ninja does. Okami is a game that was released in 2002 initially for the PS2, and I assure you that a lot of people still love the game for its warm visuals today.
These four games prove that realistic graphics shouldn’t be the norm for modern games, as art direction and styling can make visuals timeless, when done right. Realism isn’t bad, but styling can give a game a certain uniqueness that 4k HD RTX graphics just can’t achieve.