7 Video Game Franchises That Changed Art Styles And Did It Well

When a series lasts a while, it can easily become stale. The developers can then modify a few elements to renew the energy. These come in many forms, from gameplay to writing, but the most notable is the art style.


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Several franchises completely change their design mindset with sequels or reboots. This may alienate fans attached to the old aesthetic, but some series handle this transition with grace. Against all odds, they redefine their artistic styles while preserving the essence of the original or finding attractive new ground. Either way, they retain the love of their loyal followers.

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7/7 Rayman

Rayman, Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc and Rayman: Origins

the original Rayman was one of the most visually pleasing titles of the time. It had a slew of animated environments that were deceptively cute considering the difficulty of the game. Ironically, the series got easier once the art style became less user-friendly.

Rayman 2 and 3 darkened the palette and infused the whole thing with wacky mischief. It wasn’t too grainy, but it was reminiscent of a twisted comic book. Next Rabbids and its lackluster return to earlier silliness, the series saw a brilliant blend of the two styles with Rayman: Origins and Legends. These restored the vibrant colors of the first game while falling prey to the sequels penchant for quirky caricatures and offbeat details. Never has the vision of designer Michel Ancel been so fully realized.

6/7 The Legend of Zelda

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Wind Waker and Twilight Princess

The The Legend of Zelda the titles are all variations on the same basic principle: kill Ganon and save the princess/kingdom. What helps this foundation stay fresh is constantly changing up the foundation. Among them is aesthetics.

The series has featured several art styles throughout its run. There’s the Saturday morning cartoon approach of older entries, the chibi look of Wind Waker and Link’s Awakeningthe noble paint appearance of Twilight Princess, and many others. Each title brings something new to this regard, and these styles all suit the series. Not only are they pleasing to the eye, like a gallery of radically different artists, but they show the malleability of the concept. Developers can shape it to fit almost any style.

5/7 Final Fantasy 7

Cloud in Final Fantasy 7, the original and the remake

The Final Fantasy The franchise tested a plethora of art styles (with varying success), but the seventh main entry had a strong steampunk anime influence. It not only suited the mix of magic and science, but it helped with the presentation thanks to the polygon graphics. The game’s popularity, however, meant it quickly transcended its PS1 roots.

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FF7 has seen several spinoffs and sequels, all pushing the world in a more photorealistic direction. The stories certainly had a mixed response, but the graphics were never the issue. Rather, they retained the vibrant wonder and cinematic quality of the original. This later resulted in Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Truly, Midgar has never been so breathtaking in its industrial scope.

4/7 Sly Cooper

Sly 2: Band of Thieves and Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

instrumental for Sly CooperThe classic black tone of was its comic book visuals. The characters all had angular designs, and the graphics made extensive use of cell shading. These cemented Sucker Punch games like cartoonish capers.

Years later, the folks at Sanzaru Games emphasized that cartoonish quality when they brought the series back. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time may have reduced the black, but it made up for it by updating the lively aesthetic with modern systems. Rounded proportions paved the way for more detailed textures and expressive movement, especially in cutscenes. The end product was a dumber affair, but it matched the tone of time travel.

3/7 Kirby

Kirby: Dream Land, Canvas Curse, and Rainbow Curse

More Kirby the games remained in the same style. They all have a vague animated innocence. As a result, they usually make storage places as bright and vibrant as a Disney movie.

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That said, the series has occasionally experimented with crafted designs, much like mario gave way to paper mario. Curse of the Web shaped a world of pencils and paint while rainbow curse opted for clay figurines. They may have been gimmicks, but they were still creative and inspired. No matter the success, however, the Kirby the games always return to the familiar style, although they move from 2D to 3D. They should branch out more often because they’ve shown a real knack for it.

2/7 Castlevania

Super Castlevania 4, Aria of Sorrow and Lords of Shadow

These spooky gems have always aimed for the classic. The visuals looked like they were taken from horror paintings and illustrations. It was standard, but it added to the medieval atmosphere.

As Castlevania entered the new millennium, however, it veered into a Shonen anime direction. entries like The dawn of sorrow and portrait of ruin apparently had casts stolen Yu Gi Oh! and Pokemon. Their streamlined designs made them stand out more than previous characters, but they clashed somewhat with gothic environments.

The dark lords reboots have found a better balance. In all areas, they strived for high fantasy with a dash of Lovecraftian horror. It helped echo the show’s roots while emerging much more lyrically, beautifully translating Castlevania in a 3D realm.

1/7 Far cry

Vaas in Far Cry 3 and Rex Colt in Blood Dragon

The basic irony of Far cryThe art style of is that it is practically non-existent. Each entry features a photorealistic rendition of a familiar setting, whether it’s the Caribbean, the Himalayas, Montana, or prehistoric times. The developers render these settings with authentic details but devoid of flair.

Far Cry 3 deviated from this with its expansion, dragon’s blood. It was a cyber sci-fi game straight out of the 80s. Neon lights dotted the world and its mechanized inhabitants, and the cutscenes were still like images from Super Nintendo titles. Overall, it was a feast for the eyes, creating an infinitely more memorable optical atmosphere than the main games. Why the publishers relegated it to DLC is a mystery.

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