I have a very unique distinction between beauty, and hotness. If you watched the new episode of The Office last night, Kevin makes a good explanation of the difference. As I was looking through past Top 5 lists, I noticed that I haven’t paid homage to the beautiful games of Nintendo’s past. Today is as good a day as ever to do so.
Judging beauty is one of the hardest things to do. With so many different opinions on what truly is beautiful, the old saying rings true; it is ‘in the eye of the beholder’. So, with doing this list I’ve tried to keep it simple and limit the criteria to three main factors: looks, style, and personality. It’s quite easy to have one of those traits, but to truly grasp all three is something special.
To give you a reference as to what I mean by beautiful, here’s a picture of Miranda Kerr:
5. World Of Goo
The most current game on today’s list, World of Goo impresses on nearly every graphical front. For a downloadable WiiWare game, its a technical achievement as well as an artistic one. The instant that you load up World of Goo for the first time, it’s quite hard not to be impressed by the eye candy.
World of Goo is a game that you can tell was handled with exceptional care. You won’t find a misplaced polygon, or any form of pixelation. It’s a smooth ride from beginning to end. As you progress further into the game, the effects enhance all the while not losing a step in its looks. An impressive feat indeed.
Thats Definitely Got Gene Simmons Beat
If Dr. Seuss ever created a video game, then I’m guessing World of Goo would be what it most likely would resemble. You’re not going to find another game out there that has World of Goo’s quirky style. A wide color palette is used, with some breathtaking level designs.
World of Goo’s strongest suit is easily its personality. It’s hard to imagine goo balls having much of a personality, but as you progress through the game you start to get a grasp of the underlying tones of the game. It reflects many of our quirks, and what we deem important in society. I also believe that the goo balls reflect us as a people. Because as we tread through all of the superficial trappings of the world, we are still trying to break away and make for the sky.
Others might see the game differently than me, but that’s what makes World of Goo so great. Like any memorable piece of art, it means something different to everyone that plays it.
4. Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
When you talk about the all time greatest risks in gaming, Wind Waker has to be in the discussion. Following the much beloved Majora’s Mask, and Ocarina of Time games, the team behind Zelda decided to take the franchise in a totally new direction. When it was first unveiled, I think nearly every Zelda fanboy either A.) Had to change their shorts, B.) Clutched onto their copy of Ocarina of Time, or C.) Sent death threats to someone at Nintendo.
Once the craziness subsided, and people got a hold of Wind Waker I would say that most were impressed. It had solid Zelda gameplay, with some new elements thrown in, but where it really shined was in its graphics.
Wind Waker was released at a time that cel-shading was up-and-coming, with very few developers utilizing it. It’s a tricky style to pull off, because it’s a pseudo 3D look which can work to your favor or not. In Wind Waker’s case, it provided us with what I think is the most beautiful Zelda game to ever be created.
From beginning to end, nearly everything in the game is pleasing to the eye. The bright colors, and cel shaded animation really bring a sense of life to the Zelda series that hadn’t quite been seen before it. It was styled like a cartoon, but had enough of that Zelda edge to give it enough bite to be engaging.
The sailing aspect of Wind Waker was a hit-or-miss affair with most players. The gameplay side of the sea might have been questionable, but its where the game truly showed off its beauty. The water was styled in a way that opened up for some beautiful sea faring animations. And is a good marker of why it’s on today’s list.
3. Pokemon Snap
It’s easy to snub the Nintendo 64 out of today’s list. The reason being is that the console has the unlucky placement of being the first console to make a transition from 2D, to 3D graphics. That line of thinking doesn’t stop today’s #3 game from impressing though.
I have to admit that I recently purchased Pokemon Snap, and have been playing for a bit of time. This could easily have hampered the game, as I’m playing it at the same time as my games on the Wii, Xbox 360, and PS3. Whilst playing through Pokemon Snap, I became more and more impressed as the game went on.
Your 3D Pokemans Never Looked So Good
From a pure technical stand point, Pokemon Snap isn’t the greatest feat ever in gaming but it utilizes everything it has in a way that’s very pleasing. The greatest example being the Pokemon themselves, and the seamless transition from the handhelds to the N64. As you make your way through the various levels in the game, a great many Pokemon are on display for you take pictures of. Every single one of them is a wonderful 3D version of their 2D sprites.
2. Super Mario World
It’s hard for a launch game to impress graphically, considering most consoles have atleast a 5 year life cycle. So, generally you don’t see the more beautiful games until the end of the cycle. Refer to Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES for a good reference to this idea.
Super Mario World is an exception to this rule, as it’s still one of the most beautiful SNES games ever released. Which also makes it one of the most beautiful ever. I’ll be honest and say that I’ve always felt that Super Mario World was pretty much Super Mario Bros. 3 (2.0). This might be true for some of its gameplay, and level design but it easily bypassed Super Mario Bros. 3 in the looks department.
I can’t think of any other game, except maybe Super Mario 64 that showed what a newly released system was capable of. The color palette, and design used in every level was coated with a very spiffy shine. It seemed as though everything was shaded in a way that gave a distinct look, and hasn’t been repeated in the same way by a Mario game to this day.
The ‘details’ is where Super Mario World really sets itself apart. If you look at the backgrounds, and on most of the enemies, there are little details and sprites that give a more immersive look to the game. Check out these screen shots of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World to see what I mean.
1. Final Fantasy VI
I don’t care what any Sephiroth loving fanboy says, Final Fantasy VI is the game in which I compare all other Final Fantasy games against. Most people probably wouldn’t have this game as their #1 choice. As I was going through lists of games in my head though, I kept trying to think of one I can remember being as beautiful as Final Fantasy VI was, and still is. Eventually I ran out of games, which lead me to crowning FFVI as today’s #1.
From FFVI’s opening, til the very end, Square takes full advantage of the hardware behind the SNES. The intro scene really captures the utilization of the animation, and the diversity of which FFVI is presented. The game takes the player to so many different locales, and presents a variety in design that you really don’t see in gaming very often.
This variety becomes apparent when the world actually does come to an end later in the game. You have to give props to Kefka, who is the only video game villain I know that truly got away with his devious plan. This led to the game presenting a post-apocalyptic feel and look that completely changed the art, and animation compared to before the apocalypse. Enemies looked more dangerous, the color palette shifted to reflect the tearing apart of the world that occured due to Kefka’s actions.
Just like in Super Mario World, FFVI has massive detail in nearly every setting, and every character. There’s textures that really bring to life the world of Final Fantasy VI, and are a large reason that it’s the #1 most beautiful Nintendo game to ever be released.
I know graphics can be a touchy subject to bring up, so let me hear back from you. Is Final Fantasy VI the more beautiful Nintendo game you’ve ever seen? Do you prefer the more detail, stylized 2D games of old, or has 3D finally caught up in that regard?
Feel free to let loose today.