One of our sister sites, GenGAME, has recently published an article that explores Nintendo’s apparent obsession with making Zelda games that have not so popular art styles. With The Wind Waker HD being released for the Wii U soon, Alex Plant at GenGAME wonders why in the world Nintendo would even go close to the cel-shaded Toon Link again, considering the controversy of The Wind Waker when it first released. Hit the jump to see what’s in store!
First of all, I highly recommend that you read Alex’s article on GenGAME before continuing, because it’s full of facts and interesting insight into the Zelda art style dilemma.
The article mostly talks about Nintendo’s continued pursuit of the cel-shaded art style that first appeared in The Wind Waker in 2001. At the time it was announced, people were concerned about the art style and Nintendo’s choice to make characters look cartoon-ish and make Link much younger than before. Though this certainly did not deter many gamers, and many even embraced and continue to embrace Nintendo’s decisions, The Wind Waker continues to be a point of contention particularly because of the graphics.
This isn’t to say that the cel-shading technology in itself is bad. In fact, the technology used to create the visual world was pretty incredible, and nobody can disagree that the world was colorful, sharp, and certainly even looks great by today’s standards. The HD update looks amazing, that’s for sure, but that’s not to say the original was necessarily lacking in visuals, especially for 2001.
I wasn’t a Zelda fan when The Wind Waker was released, and I wasn’t really a part of the gaming community at the time. I have to trust Alex’s memory of the fan outcry, but I do think he is ignoring a few facts from his article. Firstly, in the long run, The Wind Waker did a little better in sales than what was presented in the GenGAME article.
In fact, it had 4.6 million sales, which was pretty good considering the GameCube was Nintendo’s worst selling consoles (and is even behind many handhelds) excluding the Wii U. That being said, I think Alex has a point of saying that perhaps the designers at Nintendo may be sidestepping the reason why overall The Wind Waker and Skyward Sword, which shares many visual elements, didn’t do as well as some of their other Zelda titles.
You do have to give some credit to Nintendo for making such a diverse and continually popular series such as Zelda. In fact, some may argue that the Zelda series is the most diverse single series in terms of art style and game mechanics while still maintaining similar action-adventure gameplay and story. It’s sports top down games, a side-scroller, 3D games, and in general employs many console specific controls. Though Nintendo does “play it safe” in many aspects, the Zelda series is by no means experiment free, and the experience of a gamer can change from title-to-title in this single, 25 year old franchise.
I personally can’t accept that Nintendo is more foolish than Microsoft was with the Xbox One. The Wind Waker HD might prove to be a big hit amongst nostalgic fans and young, and perhaps old newcomers to the series. It may even help boost Wii U sales, especially for people that have been holding out for better games. And I certainly don’t think Nintendo’s art style decisions in the Zelda series make them deserve failure, even if that’s what the community and sales provides.
Again, if you need to read Alex’s article on GenGAME, check it out here.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!