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Critique: Zelda Link to the Past 2 doesn't look "lived in"

Uncle Rupee

Banned
Apr 18, 2011
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Judging by the official reveal thread, Zelda Link to the Past 2 seems like it's been pretty divisive based on its art style.
The people who aren't happy with the art direction point to it looking like Nintendo is applying the art direction from New Super Marios Bros. to Zelda, and I think I agree.

I think the main issue is the game's world lacks "life". It doesn't look like it has been lived in.
One of the things that makes a game like Zelda interesting is the feeling that you are exploring ruins that haven't been explored in hundreds of years.
But instead of looking like it was built eons ago, the dungeon they showed in the trailer looks sparkling clean, like it was made yesterday.



I mean, look at this wall texture... :/



The uniform wall and floor textures lack any sign of decay.
There are no cobwebs, cracks in the tiles and bricks, moss or vegetation growing into the walls and floor, etc..
In other words, it doesn't look "alive".

Take some of these earlier games as examples.
This screenshot from the original Link to the Past shows what I'm talking about: although the tiles are repeated, they look old and worn, like they ought to be hundreds of years old.



And on that bridge, the bricks look worn, and there is moss growing in between them.

Other Zelda titles paid special attention to this sort of thing.
This shot from The Minish Cap shows what I mean.
The floor tiles are placed artistically to make it look like every one was placed there by hand.
The walls are not uniform, with some bricks inset compared to the others. It gives the building a hand crafted look.



Another couple of screen shots from The Minish Cap's dungeons.
These again show that they didn't just tile the floor exactly the same everywhere.
Even the repeated tiles are broken up with a few here and there that are incomplete, to give the effect they are worn down or covered in dirt.



Here's another example from a game you should all play: Freshly Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland.
This game has an amazing art direction.
Everything is hand drawn and looks like a comic book. Everything has a suitable age as if decay is taking hold.



Still more examples, this time from Alundra.
This game basically looks like a slightly grown up version of Link to the Past.
The colors aren't super-saturated... but dark, almost like Link to the Pasts' Darkworld.
It doesn't look plastic and fake. Careful attention to detail can be seen everywhere.





Now let's take a look at some bad examples. First up, there's the Zelda clone Neutopia from the Tubro Grafx 16.
There are few colors, they are over-saturated, and the tiles are boring and lifeless.
They tried to make the dungeon walls look a bit old, but look at the floors! They are super plain and boring and look rushed.



Another bad example. The textures in both of the DS Zelda games were mostly horrible.
The multiplayer mini game has totally lifeless textures. Look at these.
Nintendo should be held to a higher standard, if not by the players than internally.



However, there were a few cases where even the DS games look pretty good.
The reason is these rooms were given special attention, and it shows.



All in all, I think the new Zelda lacks the attention to detail it deserves.
If the environments had more life to them it would go from looking like a New Zelda Bros. to a proper Link to the Past sequel.
I hope they take the time necessary to add this detail before release, because it could look amazing in the same engine if they just spent more time on the textures.



Why do the cliffs just blend into the grass in a smooth gradient? Why couldn't there be little bits of grass there as you would expect?
Why is there only one type of tree, and one type of bush? A little variation between them (maybe three or four separate models) would be enough to give this scene more life.
Come on, Nintendo...

EDIT:

I know the game is still in production. That is why I am critiquing what we saw now, in the hopes it is improved.
Some of you have brought up the original dungeon that the one we saw is based on:



And you guys are totally right, this dungeon is very clean and the tiles are very repetitive. And really, so was the overworld of the original ALTTP.
But we aren't living with the same limitations of the SNES days. We have seen the series evolve and we know what the 3DS is capable of.
Rather than simply recreating the 2D assets as 3D, shouldn't we expect more? Wouldn't that make this game even more attractive to you, as a gamer?

When you add in the 3D perspective of walking on those walls, the repeated brick texture is made all the more obvious.
And as someone who has a little experience with 3D modeling and texturing, I can tell you that the 3DS could handle a bit more detail to the overworld.

I don't mind that it is a 3D engine. I like the look of Link, and the animations look great. I just think the world needs more detail.
Nintendo is normally really good at balancing art and game play, but in this case I feel the art is rushed.

Edit 2:

Cliff Blizzinski mentioned the thread derisively on Twitter!
Which is amusing to me because I was thinking of Gears of War's "decayed beauty" as I wrote this post.

Edit 3:

My favorite Zelda is probably Link's Awakening.
Regardless of what you think of the way ALTTP2 looks, I think we can all agree that graphics aren't everything.
 

x-Lundz-x

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May 4, 2010
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This thread is going to be good. Game looks great to me man, finally something to look forward to playing on my 3DS.
 

Shion

Member
Dec 7, 2011
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Yep, 100% agree.

A successor to a game as legendary as A Link to the Past should have higher production values.

This game looks cheap, sterile and bland.
 

KojiKnight

Member
May 24, 2012
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We've seen 10 seconds of footage not inside the first dungeon... it's clearly enough to base such impressions on.




Make this thread after the game is out and we can have educated discussions on all sides of the discussion :)
 

ASIS

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Apr 7, 2008
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That is not a fair comparison at all. Watch how the game flows in motion from the hands on. Game looks vibrant as hell. It also animates better than LTTP.

Don't get me wrong I would like a better artstyle, but this is just going to far.
 
Jun 3, 2012
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Holy shit. I guess this is why Nintendo hardly shows games off before they release. This game is not even close to coming out. They just had a small demo dungeon set up for the press to play. Chill out dude.
 

John Harker

Definitely doesn't make things up as he goes along.
Feb 26, 2005
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Santa Destroy
Was expecting to go 'ugh, another one of these...'

but you know what, you sold me.
Agreed, don't like things looking so clean and neat. it's a bit jarring.

It's a similiar feeling I get when I try playing horror games this generation...
the jankiness of ps1/ps2-era games are such a boon to the aesthetics of the genre, current silent hill games look way to clean and sterile for what it's trying to portray.
 

Ein Bear

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Mar 10, 2011
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Whilst it's a bit early to pass judgement just yet (and I dont think it looks bad), as a rule of thumb I generally dislike the look of '2.5D' games. If you're making a 2D game, sprites always look vastly better.
 

Pie and Beans

Look for me on the local news, I'll be the guy arrested for trying to burn down a Nintendo exec's house.
Apr 23, 2010
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100% agree. It just has that same sort of super neutralised look to all its graphics that the New Super Mario Bros series does where everythings reduced to such edgeless rounded gradients that it loses a lot of identity in the process.
 

SolsticeZero

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Dec 31, 2008
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Man, the OP made a well thought out and decently objective sounding critique, and people are shitting all over him. So we're not allowed to speculate and critique previews now?
 

JazzmanZ

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Aug 18, 2010
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I thought my zelda was a gritty moss covered medieval adventure , but now you've got Link fighting robots, cartoony pigs in brand new looking dungeons not lived in? I'm sorry that's not my Zelda.
 

Cmerrill

You don't need to be empathetic towards me.
Feb 23, 2013
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I can't stand the look of it. I also hate the ability to walk around walls as a drawing, it doesn't feel(look) very Zelda-ish to me. I also don't like the vertical-ness of the levels/dungeons.
 

Damian.

Banned
Jun 19, 2012
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I never realized that bridge in LTTP had moss growing in-between the bricks. You have opened my eyes!
 

Mama Robotnik

Member
Apr 11, 2008
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I remember completing the awesome Four Swords Adventures on the Gamecube. Looked magnificent:





When I saw the thread title announcing LTTP2, I immediately thought that finally, Nintendo was going to use all that amazing drawn Four Swords artwork in a colossal single-player Zelda adventure.

When I clicked in the thread and saw the first images on my phone, I immediately went "...ugh".

First impression was immediately that Nintendo had used their bland NSMB approach to graphics with Zelda. Regardless of what more we see, this will always be my first impression.
 

Iacobellis

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Jun 25, 2012
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The graphics are very poor. Looks like the games made back in the GBA days to achieve that 3D feel, despite the hardware limitations.
 

Call Me Maybe

Banned
Dec 31, 2012
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For the love of...
a) Do you have a 3DS? Please download the video of the game off the eShop and look at it on the 3DS screen. It looks gorgeous, like the perfect translation of the 2D artstyle into 3D
b) They specifically note that the game is 'still in production' and the graphics are 'subject to change.'
c) Why are we complaining about an as yet unreleased game, in a franchise known to have divisive artstyles, when we should be looking at the core gameplay- which for the first time in almost a decade, looks to be no frills, no fat, pure Zelda?
 

Kouriozan

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Mar 22, 2012
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The game isn't even finished. Jeez man.
First boss etc...
Even Mario and Luigi developpement, which will be released less than 3 months, isn't over yet.
Loads of translations error.
Plus it was a demo dungeon, missing some animations and sounds.
 
Apr 27, 2011
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Great critique. I completely agree. What they have so far looks far too clean and repetitive. It's not convincing as the type of environment it's trying to portray. Outside looks like plastic, inside looks like a brand new building.

I don't know why people think it's bad to criticize. You like it the way it is? Fine, but would you really mind if they put more attention to details? I doubt it.
 

Totobeni

An blind dancing ho
Nov 3, 2007
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I agree,It look completely soulless compared to alltp or link's awakening,there is lack of details everywhere too almost like an clone from an unknown developer on android or something.
 

Lunar15

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Jun 15, 2011
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Jesus Christ, this is getting ridiculous. Everyone's entitled to their opinions and whatnot, but we've had this conversation in like, 3 dang threads now?

Also, for comparison's sake, use a screenshot of the corresponding dungeon:



Tower of Hera was always fairly clean looking.
 

Ingueferroque

Banned
Jun 23, 2012
12,317
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The game isn't even finished. Jeez man.

Do you honestly think they will address the issues raised by the OP? Jeez man.
I think they are valid points, especially given the evidence.

Jesus Christ, this is getting ridiculous. Everyone's entitled to their opinions and whatnot, but we've had this conversation in like, 3 dang threads now?

Thank you for contributing.

Those skeletons look horrible.
 
Apr 21, 2010
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People want Nintendo to release games all the time.

"Why does it take so long? Release them! This system is dying! Release games now!"

Nintendo does the most sane thing, and makes games 3D as it's far less time consuming, and is able to get the games out quicker.

"This game does not look lived in! Do 2D sprites again! Re-do the whole thing!"

*sigh*

I appreciate 2D games as much as the next guy, but it's very unrealistic to expect them nowadays, epsecially since the last...5 Zelda games have been 3D?
 

NoRéN

Member
Jul 6, 2009
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That OP took longer to read that what we've seen in footage of the game.

However, unlike the footage reveal, this was a waste of time.
 

atbigelow

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Dec 15, 2006
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Not going to shit all over the point at hand. But LTTP itself isn't a showcase for your point. That LTTP screen shows the exact same kind of styling as what they have in the sequel. The floor tiles are repeated, the wall tiles are repeated, everything.

I also wish they amped up the "worn" feeling of the game, but LTTP itself doesn't instill that feeling anyway.
 

dragonbane

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Jun 27, 2012
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That is not a fair comparison at all. Watch how the game flows in motion from the hands on. Game looks vibrant as hell. It also animates better than LTTP.

Don't get me wrong I would like a better artstyle, but this is just going to far.
This is not what he is arguing about though. He is simply talking about the attention to detail (in the dungeons). I'm pretty unbiased when it comes to Zelda and I tend to agree. I still think it looks great, but he is totally right with his observations. Depending on personal taste this is something that can hurt someone's enjoyment of a game and rightly so.
 

Shaanyboi

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Nov 16, 2012
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I think you raise a valid complaint about the art direction. But that said, this game is still a bit of a ways away. I don't think anything of what we've seen is completely representative of how the game will look.

The game still looks really nice on the 3DS screen, animates pretty well from what I've seen, it does a good job of emulating the LTTP perspective with polygonal models. I think stuff like texture detail is stuff that can still change as they alter and tweak before release.


But to the people getting immediately defensive over it, these are valid criticisms over the art direction that's been presented. It does look a bit bland in afew spots.