Let’s Talk Nintendo: The Case for Color

jorgejjvr

Active Member
#1
I really enjoy writing and I wanted to share one of my blogs/editorials with you guys. I hope you all enjoy! I'm thinking of having a sort of series called 'Let's Talk Nintendo' and have a different topic every time, anything interesting that gets me writing and that I would like to share with you guys. If this belongs in the 'blogs' section, forgive me, and feel free to move it.

Enjoy!

The Case for Color

I remember the day I first turned on my beloved Nintendo 64 and for the first time experienced what a video game is like. My 7 year old self was mesmerized, I had not experienced anything like it. I was suddenly this kid in green tunic running around exploring a massive world, and I saw for the first time ever a gigantic face of Mario in front of my TV right before jumping into the Mushroom Kingdom. These memories are engraved in my mind, and I cherish them very deeply. When I look back and think about the words that best described my experience, the ones that come back to me are immersive, fun, and beautiful. Look at these classic games now however, and you will noticed something right away, specially if you were not born around those times. These games I hold so dear look like a bunch of cubes and polygons put together by today’s standard. Yet, I remember the beauty of Hyrule Field when I first stepped foot on it.

This is one of the things I don’t really like about the current gaming industry, it is all about polygons, pixels, and graphics. We can no longer call something beautiful if it is not 1080p. The ironic thing about this, is that technology nowadays allows for games to look magnificent regardless of platform. You no longer see cubes or polygons, but rather very well polished worlds and the tiniest of details - like the dirt under your soldier’s nail. We then turn our heads to resolution, claiming a certain game is garbage or ugly because of the lower amount of pixels. The irony continues, as beautiful has been labeled to everything that is gray and dark of nature. Post apocalyptic worlds and shooters that rule our gaming industry have become the standards of what beautiful and ‘Next-Gen’ is. These games are all just too similar, if I lived in a world where all I have to play is the next dark, gloomy, M-rated, and apocalyptic world, then I would be very depressed, figuratively of course. I wouldn’t want to live in that world.



Less of this…

The similarity of these games leads to no creativity. It makes money, so why not just make the same types of games and repeat the same formula? People love it, it seems, and it shows in sales. The problem with this ‘beauty’ is that with time games are getting very realistic and almost mimic the real world all too well. I am already here, I don’t want to visit a world I am already very familiar with; rather I want to be a part of unimaginable worlds filled with life and moments that I cannot experience in the real world.



More of this…

This, is one of the reasons why I love Nintendo. They have not caved in, they are one of the very few companies that still make these remarkable experiences - all while the general consumer bash them and demand the same experiences everyone else is making from them. This is why, when The Legend of Zelda Wii U was first revealed, and we did not get the realistic graphics the world was waiting for ever since that E3 2011 demo, I jumped with joy. Mainly because I saw yet another world by Nintendo that is unlike anything else in the market right now, but also because I have been craving for some color. Yes, color. When something like the picture above pops up, and it is stacked against all the other games out there, it stands out. Not necessarily because it carries the most polygons or pixels, but because it is different from the rest and carries a unique and lively art-style. The same reason why I had such a sense of joy last year with Super Mario 3D World, and just recently with Mario Kart 8. These games, are beautiful. Not because of the breakthrough in technology but because of the experience they bring to the gamer and the world they set us in. Looking at Mario Kart 8, one must confess the beauty of that game, one that can be perceived without the need of numbers or pixel count - the game just comes to life.

I want more color in my life.

http://jorgejjvr.tumblr.com/post/91155882260/lets-talk-nintendo-the-case-for-color
 

Koenig

The Architect
#2
Nintendo games definitely stand out by comparison to most major games released now days. Very few developers go for a non-photo-realistic style when making games now, where as Nintendo almost always chooses to go with a stylized approach to their games. Aesthetics and Graphics are two very different things, and developers who use that knowledge to their strength will make far better looking games.

From a business stand point it also makes more sense to go with a stylized approach to game development. A colorful aesthetic will typically be much cheaper to create than a photo-realistic one, likewise games that choose a stylized look will age much better than their photo-realistic counterparts will due to hardware limitations.

Extra credits has a great video about this kind of thing.

 

ASuch

The Salt Master
#9
Those games are an exception, most games still do not use much color.
Battleborn
Fortnite
Dead Island 2
Rime
Halo 5
MKX
Battlefront
The Division
Rainbow 6 Siege
Uncharted 4
Ori and the Blind Forest
Banner Saga
Final Fantasy XV
Kingdom Hearts 3
Child of Light
Valiant Hearts
Rayman Legends
South Park Stick of Truth
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Scalebound
Crackdown 3
Phantom Dust
Little Big Planet 3
Borderlands in Space
Transistor
Goat Simulator
Divinity Original Sin
Guacamelee
Civ Beyond Earth
Octodad
Dragon Age Inquisition
Project Spark
Battlefield Hardline
Ass Creed Unity
Bayonetta 2
Persona 5
Persona Q
Project CARS
Drive Club
Forza Horizon 2
Sanic Boom
Guilty Gear Xrd
Hotline Miami 2
Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney
Star Citizen
Legend of Korra
The Witness
Total War: Rome II


???
 

Superfakerbros

ECE 2018
Moderator
#10
Not that you're wrong ASuch but, for every major AAA game with color, there are like two more that use the general bland grey and brown art-styles. That being said, there's definitely plenty of games that haven't forgotten that real life actually has colors
 

ASuch

The Salt Master
#11
Not that you're wrong ASuch but, for every major AAA game with color, there are like two more that use the general bland grey and brown art-styles. That being said, there's definitely plenty of games that haven't forgotten that real life actually has colors
With a lot of those games, the style of the game fits that style. Imagine something like Alien Isolation having Sunset Overdrive colors. That would be awful
 

ASuch

The Salt Master
#13
Half of the games you mentioned hardly have any color at all.
lol, having realistic color is still color

you guys define no color as brown and grey

all the games I listed have way more color than that

inb4onlycolorsthatarecartoonlikeandpoppycount
 

jorgejjvr

Active Member
#17
I didn't mean to say that colorful games aren't anywhere else. But that developers favor the darker grittier games. Sometimes I wish there were more games like Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, Splatoon etc. Just something different and colorful that is not as popular. I feel like nintendo does not take the easy route and popular game design choices, but always tries to make its own path. When everyone wanted the darker Zelda we got Wind Waker, everyone hated it but till this day the game looks beautiful and it will always be
 
#18
If Asuch read OP than yeah, it IS pretty much about colours that pop and such.

OP never said there isn't any colour in any other game besides Nintendo, but the point was that Nintendo makes damn good use of it and as a result, their games can and will look very good even if it isn't up to the high standards of PC master race bs
 

Shoulder

Your Resident Beardy Bear
#21
lol, having realistic color is still color

you guys define no color as brown and grey

all the games I listed have way more color than that

inb4onlycolorsthatarecartoonlikeandpoppycount
That's not the point, ASuch. If a look at a game like Killzone 2, and compare that to Uncharted 2, both games still have color, but the color palette is much much bigger in the latter. The point is Nintendo games in years past, and upcoming in the future tend to have a bigger color palette compared to most games. We are in no way suggesting an upcoming game like The Order: 1886 has no color at all. Now if we have a game like Limbo, which its style is black and white, that from a technical standpoint has no color. It's similar to when people say Black and White versus Color for photography, or movies even.

This bigger color palette tends to give Nintendo games more of a stand out look as opposed to other games. Now, if people are just looking for a realistic looking game, well Nintendo games might not be for them then.
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
#22
This bigger color palette tends to give Nintendo games more of a stand out look as opposed to other games. Now, if people are just looking for a realistic looking game, well Nintendo games might not be for them then.
I think the larger point is that in videogames, why not have more games with an expanded color palette? This isn't a new critique. Really.



I remember back around 2011, there were similar screen caps MW3 and its contemporaries, all looking quite similar, too (can't find the article right now).

Some people say it's all a myth. It's not. The most lucrative gaming genre of the past gen has been shooters. You line up COD, BF, MoH, and to a lesser extent KZ or Gears, and you see a lot of same-y art and color. It bleeds into other games going for any sort of realism. And yes, a realistic style with lots of brown and grey does work for the aesthetic these games are going after.

It's just that we're well past peak saturation of desaturated brown.

Plus, with a little inventiveness, you can work around the overused brown/grey standard. Y'know why I really liked Black Ops? Snow maps. Wonderful, glorious, snow maps. I also loved Bioshock, which was quite muted, but also quite aqua (and quite art deco).

Variance matters, too. Twilight Princess was mentioned. And that game really does have a lot of brown and grey. And y'know what else does? Metroid Prime. But there is thankfully clever art to help them out. TP gives you a dash of theme color around its dungeons (aqua blue in Lakebed, orange in the fire temple, etc.), plus the Twilight Zone-y pop ups with the Twili. Prime brings the lush greens, only to nearly completely take them away after you land on Tallon IV.

Nintendo isn't alone in being clever, of course. I give Infinity Ward a lot of credit for Ghosts, because they use fuchsia as a unifying theme color (from blood to tractors, it livens things up in that game). Capcom really knows how to balance things in Monster Hunter; there's a lot of brown and gray and green, but there's also a giant pink Rathian and a red-headed Barrioth to deal with.

But with Nintendo transitioning to HD, you can't help but notice color popping at the seams of their games. 3D World and Mario Kart 8 pop. The Zelda teaser pops (even with so much green). A lot of major games from this past gen (and now) don't - by design, true, but it's not like it's wrong to notice it.
 

TheAmazingLSB

PLEASE UNDERSTAND....
#23
I hate how some people think you can just add colorful colors to everything and it will make it look much better.... Some game's themes don't fit into such color palletes....

Not every game has to be colorful.... Nor do I want them all to be.... For some games, color works, but not all....

Some of my favorite games of all time have barely any color in them at all....


I'm of the opinion that sometimes, less color is more....
 
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jorgejjvr

Active Member
#24
I hate how some people think you can just add colorful colors to everything and it will make it look much better.... Some game's themes don't fit into such color palletes....

Not every game has to be colorful.... Nor do I want them all to be.... For some games, color works, but not all....

Some of my favorite games of all time have barely any color in them at all....


I'm of the opinion that sometimes, less color is more....
No one is saying that every game needs to be colorful
 

TheAmazingLSB

PLEASE UNDERSTAND....
#25
No one is saying that every game needs to be colorful
No one is saying that your from IGN either, But I remember you just fine.... Jorge....

And I didn't call out anyone in particular as to having said that.... But I have heard it said to me before.... And this thread reeks of that idea to me....

So.... Just let me have my OP and move on with your life....
 

jorgejjvr

Active Member
#26
No one is saying that your from IGN either, But I remember you just fine.... Jorge....

And I didn't call out anyone in particular as to having said that.... But I have heard it said to me before.... And this thread reeks of that idea to me....

So.... Just let me have my OP and move on with your life....
What does me being from Ign as we'll have to do with anything? o_O lol. I didn't mean to offend you in any way or making this thread reek of that idea. Everyone has different opinions, I understand you
 

TheAmazingLSB

PLEASE UNDERSTAND....
#27
I just thought I'd throw my 2 cents in about the color debate as there doesn't seem to be much in the way of defense in the opposite dircetion....

There can be a case made for games that are made "better" in some way thanks to their lack of color or interesting use of lack of color....

Madworld is just one example.... As its use of limited color added a comic booky feel that is classic to this day....

But there are others....

In some cases the lack of color can change the entire feel of a game....

Take L.A. Noire for instance.... It has an option that let's you play the entire game in B & W....


Playing it in B & W makes the game take on a old 50's TV show vibe that just isn't there when you play it in full color....

These are just 2 examples of how lack of color in games can change the way they feel to the player, and add an artistic edge to what would otherwise be a much more mundane looking title....

So while colorful games can be great and all, I also believe that there is a case to be made that the opposite is true as well, and futhermore, lack of color is a less used technique in games visuals than games that uses huge amounts of color....

If anything I would like to see more games use limited color palletes in interesting ways....

With the next generation already here, my guess is games will just get more and more colorful as it's a perfect way to showcase the power of new hardware....

I think Nintendo has been doing this with the Wii U since the launch....

I mean can anyone seriously say that any in house Nintendo game ever made has had a lack of color in its visuals...? Hell, every Nintendo game is colorful....

Look at Splatoon.... Here is a game that uses huge contrasts in its visuals by way of the use of color....


It goes from everything having a concrete and asphalt look to being drenched in colors....

It uses color as a means to create visual contrast, but it also uses contrst between that color and lack of color to create a gameplay hook....

In other words while Splatoon won't be the most colorful game out there when it's released, its interesting use of color as a gameplay mechanic is clever and imo deserves more praise in terms of how good games can use color in clever ways for more than just a way to enhance the visuals....

There is way more to how color should be used in games or how color can be used in interesting ways in games than just making something look better or timeless by adding more color....
 
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sjmartin79

White Phoenix of the Crown
#28
Maybe I misinterpreted the original post, but I thought this debate was more about realism versus an art style. If that's not the case, I have been looking at it all wrong.

LSB made a good point about MadWorld. (Love that game) The art style of that game was perfect for that game. Black and white with the only other real color being read for the blood and violence. LA Noire is another perfect example. These were art styles, not going for gritty realism. In my opinion, these can stand side by side with the Nintendo games referenced above.

But, as I said, I was thinking of this as a conversation on art style. To me, games that are more stylized seem to age better than games that go for realism, because soon enough, that realism looks like blocks and blurs. I think Nintendo does an excellent job of making beautiful games with stylized graphics that can potentially stand the test of time. Wind Waker (the original) is still a gorgeous game for that reason. Yes, it has great colors and unique colors, but it was the style.

I know there is a fanbase for FPS games, and some love the realism and graphics in those games, and that's wonderful. Personally, I'm drawn to games that have a more stylized look. The Legend of Zelda, 3D Mario games, Pikmin, Wonderful 101. Too me, those games are beautiful, with an excellent use of color and will still be beautiful years from now.
 

jorgejjvr

Active Member
#29
Maybe I misinterpreted the original post, but I thought this debate was more about realism versus an art style. If that's not the case, I have been looking at it all wrong.

LSB made a good point about MadWorld. (Love that game) The art style of that game was perfect for that game. Black and white with the only other real color being read for the blood and violence. LA Noire is another perfect example. These were art styles, not going for gritty realism. In my opinion, these can stand side by side with the Nintendo games referenced above.

But, as I said, I was thinking of this as a conversation on art style. To me, games that are more stylized seem to age better than games that go for realism, because soon enough, that realism looks like blocks and blurs. I think Nintendo does an excellent job of making beautiful games with stylized graphics that can potentially stand the test of time. Wind Waker (the original) is still a gorgeous game for that reason. Yes, it has great colors and unique colors, but it was the style.

I know there is a fanbase for FPS games, and some love the realism and graphics in those games, and that's wonderful. Personally, I'm drawn to games that have a more stylized look.

The Legend of Zelda, 3D Mario games, Pikmin, Wonderful 101. Too me, those games are beautiful, with an excellent use of color and will still be beautiful years from now.
Agreed. I am on my phone so I couldn't bold that very last sentence. I think games like that have a beautiful art style, color, and sense of wonder that makes them timeless
 

TheAmazingLSB

PLEASE UNDERSTAND....
#30
Wonderful 101 is a great example of a colorful game that also uses that color as a gameplay tool by helping you relate each character to a certain color....

In theory this is a very simple concept, but it goes a long way to helping you decern each hero from one another....

It's things like this that we often overlook when we critique a game's color pallete.... The colors used in most games visuals go far beyond them being there just to look better or timeless....

A lot of the time color in games goes much deeper than we think....
 
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sjmartin79

White Phoenix of the Crown
#32
^Excellent example. Beautiful trailer too! (Haven't played it so can only comment on this)

And speaking of color being used and to navigate - Metroid is a great example. We all know, whether in Prime or Super, the specific color of a door means something specific, and those colors stick out.
 

Majorbuddah

My real name is Dolemite
#33
everybody makes colorful games. nintendo doesn't own that at all. people who think so probably aren't playing the widest variety of games.

and as asuch and lsb have said, some games are trying to present an atmosphere that wouldn't be enhanced by nintendo's rainbow stuff. nintendo makes their shit look cartoony because they aren't good at simulating realism. it's just not their bag. but that aside, plenty of mainstream non-nintendo games are bursting with color.

even call of duty.



even skyrim



even madden



even halo

 

Odo

Well-Known Member
#35
Another thing to add is that in general Nintendo makes games and the others usually make films where you control the protagonist. (of course there are exceptions I see but most of the big AAA announcements are films).

And making this situation worse, now there are many people affirming that games should be more like films, because films are more about "culture" and discuss "important things" about our society and bla bla bla. For me that is a load of bollocks, gaming is entertainment and a console is an entertainment system (thank you NES!). I don't want to discuss anything, just play!
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
#36
but that aside, plenty of mainstream non-nintendo games are bursting with color.
Sure there are games with color. But even as much as I like Ghosts, I wouldn't say it's "bursting with color." A few brief scenes and set pieces (really did love the SkyFall-esque skyscraper scene) don't change the rest of the game's aesthetic. A lot of very big name, marquee games have gone the desaturated brown/grey route in the HD console era. And that style itself was neat for awhile. When not every game was doing it, Shadow of the Colossus looked like a neat break from the rest of the pack. When COD4 did it, it looked neat and other devs followed suit. A lot of other devs. Now? I'm down for more color. Not that it's a prerequisite. You give me a ridiculously fun game, and I'll play the shit out of it, regardless of the art style.
 

Majorbuddah

My real name is Dolemite
#37
Sure there are games with color. But even as much as I like Ghosts, I wouldn't say it's "bursting with color." A few brief scenes and set pieces (really did love the SkyFall-esque skyscraper scene) don't change the rest of the game's aesthetic. A lot of very big name, marquee games have gone the desaturated brown/grey route in the HD console era. And that style itself was neat for awhile. When not every game was doing it, Shadow of the Colossus looked like a neat break from the rest of the pack. When COD4 did it, it looked neat and other devs followed suit. A lot of other devs. Now? I'm down for more color. Not that it's a prerequisite. You give me a ridiculously fun game, and I'll play the shit out of it, regardless of the art style.
you don't want your call of duty to look like splatoon, and you don't want your 1886 to look like mario. it would ruin those games.

and ghosts is aesthetically a pretty colorful game IMO. especially if you want to add the caveat of "for a call of duty".



you've got your desert warfare games, and of course they're going to look like deserts. but games got away from that setting years ago.
 

jorgejjvr

Active Member
#38
Ghosts extinction actually look different and a bit more lively, but when you go to multi-player they are the worst maps, very bland, same grey background splashed everywhere. I remember how even black Ops 2 had bright colors in its maps to change things around,and I'm not big on cod
 

EvilTw1n

Even my henchmen think I'm crazy.
Moderator
#39
you don't want your call of duty to look like splatoon, and you don't want your 1886 to look like mario. it would ruin those games.

and ghosts is aesthetically a pretty colorful game IMO. especially if you want to add the caveat of "for a call of duty".
It definitely would ruin those games, I agree. We simply had a very long run in the industry of those sorts of games being so very common, and "brown/grey shooter" became a bit of a trope as a result. That's why I'm happy to see a bit more branching out. More Bioshock Infinite-type art makes for great variety.

Extinction is a neat mode because it waves bye-bye to full-on realism and allows the COD folks to get more creative. Honestly, I think Ghosts is a bit underrated in its art (been a bit of a broken record on it, tbh).
Ghosts extinction actually look different and a bit more lively, but when you go to multi-player they are the worst maps, very bland, same grey background splashed everywhere. I remember how even black Ops 2 had bright colors in its maps to change things around,and I'm not big on cod
Some parts of BO2 had promise (Plaza). But overall? Aftermath, Carrier, Overflow, Slums, Turbine...very meh, IMO. We all pretty much took BO2 out of our rotation here at TNE because of the same-ness in the maps (Carrier being the worst offender: "Sniper by the flaming heap!" "Which one?!"). But that gets more into design than color (color was the least of our complaints for the maps).
 

Koenig

The Architect
#40
As I touched on before, I would make the argument that games have a problem with aesthetic rather than just color. Very few games have a consistent style to them which make the mass majority of games seemingly "blend" together.
 

Juegos

All mods go to heaven.
Moderator
#41
I always said about COD BLOPS2 that one of the things I really liked about it was how it brought back color to the franchise.



Ghosts is better in this regard, I think. The colors are still a bit desaturated, but in my opinion it's just about the sweet spot for gritty shooters. It's a million times better than when brown-and-bloom is what passed for "artistic direction" for early 7th gen shooters.

Certainly there are a lot of multiplatform colorful games. Not all of them know how to use color very well, but some do. Sine Mora makes a point of alternating between realistic saturated colors, and desaturated brown-and-bloom to denote the time period a level takes place in.




And Metro Last Light is a case where the lighting is what makes the colors look good at all:



But the harder I look for colorful games in my Steam library, the more I realize there just aren't. There are games that have some color in them, like those I posted above. And that's it. There are very few games with saturated colors, which is what the OP was talking about in reference to Nintendo. Most Nintendo games have highly saturated colors (and yes, colors in real life are often highly saturated), and that is something that is just not seen often in the industry. Again, you see a lot of muted colors. You see a lot of muted greenns constrasted with muted blues and muted oranges, but you rarely see highly saturated colors like those in Mario 3D World.

Seriously, google Borderlands 2 and Bioshock Infinite, and then google Super Mario 3D World and Mario Kart 8. There's just no comparison in the color saturation.

I like the way many of my PC games handle color for sure. They look great. But the difference in color saturation seems undeniable.
 

jorgejjvr

Active Member
#42
Ghosts extinction actually look different and a bit more lively, but when you go to multi-player they are the worst maps, very bland, same grey background splashed everywhere. I remember how even black Ops 2 had bright colors in its maps to change things around,and I'm not big on cod
I always said about COD BLOPS2 that one of the things I really liked about it was how it brought back color to the franchise.



Ghosts is better in this regard, I think. The colors are still a bit desaturated, but in my opinion it's just about the sweet spot for gritty shooters. It's a million times better than when brown-and-bloom is what passed for "artistic direction" for early 7th gen shooters.

Certainly there are a lot of multiplatform colorful games. Not all of them know how to use color very well, but some do. Sine Mora makes a point of alternating between realistic saturated colors, and desaturated brown-and-bloom to denote the time period a level takes place in.




And Metro Last Light is a case where the lighting is what makes the colors look good at all:



But the harder I look for colorful games in my Steam library, the more I realize there just aren't. There are games that have some color in them, like those I posted above. And that's it. There are very few games with saturated colors, which is what the OP was talking about in reference to Nintendo. Most Nintendo games have highly saturated colors (and yes, colors in real life are often highly saturated), and that is something that is just not seen often in the industry. Again, you see a lot of muted colors. You see a lot of muted greenns constrasted with muted blues and muted oranges, but you rarely see highly saturated colors like those in Mario 3D World.

Seriously, google Borderlands 2 and Bioshock Infinite, and then google Super Mario 3D World and Mario Kart 8. There's just no comparison in the color saturation.

I like the way many of my PC games handle color for sure. They look great. But the difference in color saturation seems undeniable.
Agreed, at the end of the day, the large majority of games nowadays that take on that dark tone. I liked your example of comparing those two set of games, there really is no comparison in the saturation as you mentioned. I love me some Nintendo color magic :p
 

jorgejjvr

Active Member
#45
On that note, I would also like to point in the direction of indie developers for the use of color in their games. In general indie games tend to to use much more color than their published competition.
Indie games are awesome about artistic direction for sure, on any platform. I know there's a stereotype about Indie devs abusing the retro 8-bit look, but those who don't, often come up with great stuff.
Agree with both of you. Some indie developers are going with unique artistic direction that make their games stand out, thank God for them. Also, I know this was not really an indie game but it had that feel, Child of Light from Ubisoft was an amazing game that was also visually striking, I hope they make something like that again
 
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