Skyward Sword’s eclectic art style is a link to the past


That Nintendo is clearly going for a new art style with the Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is undeniable. The initial screens, and those colors…they are, if nothing else, a marked departure from the browns and greens found in Twilight Princess.

What we saw at E3 was clearly a demo, complete with ever-present visual Wiimote cues onscreen, so I think it’s safe to say Link will be journeying well beyond the simple forest and scorpion battle we’ve seen plastered all over the Internet this week. But what will it look like? How will this new art style translate into other Zelda staples; things like temples, element-based areas and graveyards?

Zelda Universe has an idea, and I think it’s as good as any. They cite impressionist paintings (Monet, Van Gogh, Caillebotte) and how they might hint at what’s to come. I agree with to a point, but I’d go further. Further back in time, I mean, to the late 1980s and that picture above from some of the original Zelda art and instruction manual fare.

Combined with the renewed focus on battle, discovery and tools, this “new” 3D Zelda and its colorful, almost throwback art style could very well be the true link to the past that gets the series back in touch with its roots.

And don’t get me wrong, the Ocarina of Time 3DS news was pretty kick ass too.


  1. I love the new graphical style. It needs a lot of polish, still, but I see tons of potential. It’s not Wind Waker graphics, and it’s not Twilight Princess graphics, and it’s not a hybrid of the two. It’s a whole new style. Many will hate it, sure, but I’m so glad Nintendo is taking an artsy direction with it.

  2. I fall into that latter category Jack. I’ll have to see more of course, but I’m thinking the style looks dayglo and flat – certainly not the living painting you might expect from their description of the style, particularly when you consider Okami… or Wind Waker.

    On that last comment, personally I’d love love LOVE to see a re-edited Twilight Princess for the 3DS. For me it was so close to being my favourite game of all time! – but the puzzles weren’t integrated as cleverly as prior games, and the townspeople weren’t as interesting, and the world gets happier as the game progresses instead of more forboding – so I says, Please Nintendo, Fix Twilight Princess and give her back to me, as the game I always imagined, in glorious 3D.

  3. Zelda Universe has one big flaw with that article though, the art style and artists they reference are from the Post-Impressionist movement and Miyamoto in his round table said plainly that they were aiming for the art style of Cezanne who is a post-impressionist. There is a difference believe it or not.

  4. To me, the new art is not quite succeeding at what Nintendo wants it to accomplish. It’s not reading entirely or clearly as “impressionistic,” and in fact seems more of “Hey, let’s make it look like a World of Warcraft knock-off so we can sucker 11 million insta-buyers.” I was all for Windwaker’s beautiful cel-shaded “I want to be a dentist” look, but I can’t say I’m all that excited for Skyward Sword’s style. It seems to be too ambiguous, almost like Nintendo is somehow indecisive as to how the game should look. If it were being rendered at HD resolutions (with considerably higher resolution textures and geometry with much more dynamic shaders), Nintendo might be able to achieve the art style they’re shooting for (Eternal Sonata, anyone? Google it if you haven’t played it…). Maybe it really is time Nintendo sat down and started seriously thinking about their hardware’s lacking horse-power. Even iPhone games look better than most Wii titles lately, and the 3DS makes me ashamed to own a Wii (but God Almighty am I stoked to by 3DS!).