I’ve always really liked the idiosyncratic visual style of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It has a look wholly unlike any other game — not just any other Zelda, but any other game, period.
It’s the trees in particular that have always stood out. They’re almost an abstraction of trees: Big blobs of foliage with the impression of depth provided by those off-center, concentric rings of color. It’s a simple style — those trees could easily have been rendered on NES! — but highly effective. And wholly unique. You look at a screen shot of A Link to the Past, you know exactly which game you see.
But lordy, it does not translate well to a direct, low-poly interpretation. Of all the games for them not to use cel-shading on, why did they have to pick the one where they were literally translating into polygons visuals that relied heavily on thick black outlines to help provide definition and weight? I guess they were counting on the 3D effect to compensate, but it doesn’t work in practice.
Thankfully, the new game arguably plays better than any other entry in the Zelda series, combining the fluidity of 3D with the no-nonsense style of 2D, but dang. I wish the graphics were half as nice as the action. I do have a lot of other thoughts on the game which have nothing to do with the visuals, but I have to wait until next week to voice those.
Super Mario 3D World, on the other hand, looks dazzling. Maybe we can just get EAD Tokyo to make every game forever.