Wii Zelda pushed back to refine visual style


Nintendo stated during their E3 press conference that they had wanted to finish The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword in time for holiday release, but decided instead to aim for an early 2011 release date to ensure quality.  What will they be working on with those extra months? According to Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma, it’s the games visual style.

Speaking of the game at an E3 roundtable, Miyamoto stated, “I think the art style is very unique. I’m a big fan of impressionism in the art world, so we’ve drawn some inspiration from that. The sky and the mountain you can see in the E3 demo have a definite Cézanne feel to them,” eventually finishing with, “if we had just used the same graphics from Twilight Princess the game would already be done.”

Why the revision? The answer may be different than you think.

The full quote:

Miyamoto: It took just one step in the approval process and it got my okay. I think the art style is very unique. I’m a big fan of impressionism in the art world, so we’ve drawn some inspiration from that. The sky and the mountain you can see in the E3 demo have a definite Cézanne feel to them.

Because of the implementation of Wii MotionPlus sword controls, you have to pay close attention to the enemies, how they defend, what their weaknesses are. They’re blocking with their swords or in the case of this scorpion enemy you can see, the pincers are opening at different angles. You have to be able to identify what those angles are or what those weaknesses are. That’s something that’s best illustrated to the player through the use of exaggerated-looking enemies. Trying to do that with a realistic art style simply doesn’t work well, so one of the goals was to find an art style that would allow for this exaggerated creation of enemies and characters and things.

Aonuma: Of course, if I hadn’t been told we had to revise the art style we would have been done a heck of a lot sooner [laughs].

Miyamoto: Yeah, if we had just used the same graphics from Twilight Princess the game would already be done.

So there you have it – Nintendo revised the art style to better facilitate the games new Wii Motion Plus control scheme – in a world where the direction your attack comes from matters, your enemy maneuvers need to be clear.  So yes, we could be playing Skyward Sword this year, but the wait might be worth it – a visual experience tailored to a control experience.

Additionally, this means that the majority of Skyward Sword is already completed, and it suggests that most of the remaining months in development will be spent polishing the visuals and going over the fine details – which is a definite plus.  Although the demo looked and controlled great, there is always room for improvement.  When scrutinized closely, the demo showed on Nintendo’s big-screen at the press conference showed some jagged edges, and others feel the game looks a little flat.  Even though the game looks extremely promising beside these critiques, it’s comforting to know that it’s still being refined, and may look even better come release day.

How do you feel? Would you rather have seen Skyward Sword in the Twilight Princess style with an earlier release date, or wait for the new “gameplay complimentary” visual style? Let us know in the comment section!


  1. The reason that Miyamoto gives is the exact same reason why Windwaker’s visuals were so successful, fully highlighting and complimenting that game’s combat system. I still think Windwaker has the best actual combat of any Zelda game I’ve ever played. Twilight Princess’s was a little over-designed, in my opinion.

  2. @Kale I agree. TP almost gave you too many options, which became redundant. Wind Waker was more satisfying.

  3. Yeah honestly, what was the deal with that poster from last year that showed a TP style Link and Sword Girl? I think that TP had the best visuals in the series, followed by Wind Waker, and this just doesn’t look as scenic as those two.

  4. well, imagining using motion plus with twilight princess, would have been totally fine…
    wtf tp visuals would have been sooo much better, and i would be wanting to buy the game, alot of people are disapointed, why not avoid the disapointment and stick to what you guys hyped up?! it was hyped to be better than monster hunter tri, a much older link etc.
    i would support a boycott to the game, and definitely sign a petition to get that visual style out of here.
    i think enough heat would change the minds of miyamoto and aunoma. but w.e 8-10 year olds dont care how it looks and thats what theyre focusing on right?

  5. The first time I saw the trailer at E3, I was excited. I wasn’t entirely impressed with what I was actually seeing, but the potential I saw. It’s not going to look like Wind Waker, or Twilight Princess, OR an amalgamation of the two. It’s a different style altogether. It’s going to look like something we’ve never seen in a video game before.

  6. @jake
    so next super smash brothers will have toon link! real link! and a hybrid link!
    seriously though, they crossed the line merging the two. having three different links can determine the future of the zelda series, negatively.

  7. They crossed the line? What line? Your imaginary line of scrutiny that no one cares about?
    And how can changing style possibly affect the series negatively? I’m sure many people will actually wait to play the game before they make ridiculous claims like that.

    People are waay too critical about a DEMO. And all the hype that was built up was made by fans. If you want TP visuals then go play TP while other more sensible people try this game out when it comes out.

  8. wait dave did you read the article? the visuals were changed.

    and no hype wasnt built up by fans. they were coming from miyamoto or someone nintendo related, confirmed by ign that the zelda team was under pressure to up the graphics when monster hunter tri was released in japan.
    just because its a demo doesnt mean the final product will be drastically different.

  9. I know that. They obviously changed the graphics but what line has been crossed? That doesn’t even make sense

  10. I totally agree with the change in the visual style. Twilight princess was my favourite visually, but that doesn’t mean i want to play the same game again. This is a brand new game and deserves brand new graphics.
    However i must admit that the background needs to be polished. Or maybe it was just the demo area that feels a bit ugly and empty.
    Let’s wait till the game comes out before we hate it (or love it)

  11. the way i think about nintendo, and i know no-one cares about my opinion. but people can relate. and im sure alot can.
    im not saying this wont be a fun game, just as a whole package is disappointing to see them aim this game to kids, like they have their toon link on the ds already. this game is already ridiculed by xbox 360 fanboys who didnt grow up with zelda games, so really this is only appealing to people with nostalgia, and kids which is sad… tp brought new people to the series with its hardcore look, now this probably sets them off.

    dont you think the overall reaction when it was first unveiled would be bigger and more positive if they just stuck with the tp graphics?

  12. Nope. I like the style they’ve gone with. I can’t wait to play it ;o).

  13. Look Seldon, I loved the graphics Twilight Princess had, but honestly, I’d like to wait for Nintendo to release a more powerful system so that that kind of graphics can be fully exploited. The Wii can make great things, but when playing TP on an HDTV you can see a lot of jaggies, so the overall quality isn’t that impressive. I think the new graphics fit the system and the gampley perfectly. If you want TP graphics or better, I think we should wait for the Wii successor to come out.

  14. How is this style indicative of a game for kids?
    You people are crazy.

  15. Really guys? I didn’t say it as strictly in the post, but I think this is a great thing. They are refining graphics to facilitate better gameplay, and they look great to boot. Twilight princess didn’t feel right to me, it felt like it was trying too hard. Of the two screenshots I posted, the one on the right-hand side is the adventure I want to be on.

  16. i would have preferred a visual style more like monster hunter. that game is beautiful.

  17. but the graphics to me are a moot point. the controls will make this game. and it sounds like they got it down from the impressions i’m reading.

  18. Why does it matter what xbox 360 fanboys say anyway? And videogames are supposed to be fun and to awaken the inner child in all of us.

  19. I love the new art style. Definitely worth the wait. I wasn’t a huge fan of twilight princess, although it was fun; it just wasn’t very memorable. I think this art style sets the game apart and it’s easy on the eyes. I don’t think nintendo should try to put realistic graphics in there games unless the system can actually hand realistic graphics, and the wii just can’t. Don’t get me wrong, when they have a system with twice the graphical power of the PS3, I’d love to see a realistic Zelda. Until then, this is the best they can do. Though I do wish it was higher resolution so it wouldn’t look so terrible on my HD tv 🙁

  20. Eh, I wasn’t a huge fan of the TP graphics. Too much green and brown. I am a man who likes color in his games. Zelda games have always been very bright and colorful and TP just felt to subdued and reserved for me. It felt generic and uninspired. I am very, very happy with the new art style. It looks/feels like Zelda again. Bright, colorful, original, and memorable, without hitting the extreme that WW did (of being a bit, if not more so, too cartoony). =)

    Although the Bokoblins do look kinda stupid. I hope they change that, but I suppose there’s really not much chance of that happening at this point. Oh well. =/

  21. Twilight Princess’s visuals didn’t thrill me. Everything was overly bloom-lit and the colors were all muddied and washed out. It felt like I was looking at a goodlooking game through a used coffee filter. I love vibrant colors, so I’m quite pleased with this direction.

  22. Kid’s don’t play cell shaded games nowadays. Kids want to seem grown-up and play ultraviolent games with guns and a lot of blood. You have to be mature to enjoy a game like this.

  23. I like the new look. I thought TP was drab. The new color scheme I think is actually closer to Link to the Past then WindWaker. Not everything is glowing neon, but only where it needs to be.

    Every Zelda game was pushed back for one reason or another. Zelda II and TP being probably tied for the longest push with near 2 years each. So I’m ok with a 4 month delay (presuming November to March).

    I remmeber with Zelda II, Nintendo gave out a killer strategy guile spanning many games with full maps. Zelda II being one of them. The game didn’t come out for over a year AFTER that book was released. But it was nice to have the maps to go with the game. I wonder what happened to it 🙂

  24. In my opinon as a gamer. I still have don’t get why Nintendo went to what seemed to me like mixing in a bit of both Wind Waker & Twilight Princess graphics in for this new Skyward Sword game. To me, when you look at the game for awhile, it looks kinda cool seeing some homage respect to Wind Waker in a way with the bit of cel-shaded look on the grass and some other areas. But my biggest beef with the game is the way you have to use WiiMotion Plus to play the game to kill a specific enemy. That’s just screwed up to me.

  25. It’s screwed up to you that they made it play different than “press A to swing the sword?”

    I think that sounds neat! It’ll be a brand new experience! Find the weak point!

  26. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’m not going to argue anymore on this subject. Can’t wait to play this game.

  27. I think the tech demo looked great. It has to be kept in mind that we’re barely seeing the tip of the iceburg here in terms of the overall game. Visually, I like where Nintendo is going but I hope some of the environmental textures are refined by release. I’m glad to see WiiMotion+ support as well. Hopefully the team has gotten really creative on the strategy involved in taking down enemies and toughens it up a bit. All this talk about making Zelda easier is scary talk! If anything, I would like to see varying difficulty levels for some of us that want a serious challenge from a Zelda title again (without having to avoid heart container pickups). I’d also like to point out the images in the equipment menu for each of the items.. did anyone else find the images reminiscent of equipment/item drawings from Link’s Awakening and LttP instruction manuals? I did. 🙂 and I love it!

  28. Well… people said Nintendo was lazy for making New Super Mario Bros. Wii similar to DS….
    I don’t mind the graphics 😐

  29. I will wait, I simply love the new art style. However I don’t want to see them push the game back for two years straight. My only other complaint is that I don’t want to see a wiimote/nunchuck ghosting on my screen. Breaks the realism. It should be as simple as how OoT showed the buttons but overlaid the weapon over it but not the entire controller.

    Hopefully there’ll be an option to turn off that wiimote ghost.

  30. This Zelda Wii game is what the Wii was made for. This is why Nintendo went in the direction of motion control gaming instead of HD gaming. This, Metroid, & Red Steel are the main reasons why a bought a Wii. I’m a gamer since the Atari days and I was getting tired of just button mashing. If you want photo-realistic graphics then you should buy a PS3. Anyone who doesn’t like the graphics in this Zelda demo should take a chill pill & wait til you see it in action (finished version in motion). I’m sure Nintendo knows what they’re doing and they still have the rest of the year for polishing. If you still don’t like it after experiencing the final product then you should just wait for the Zelda HD version or wait for Sony to make Zelda wannabe.

  31. Every Zelda game has always had some sort of delay, and it’s ALWAYS been worth it.

  32. SS initial reactions are very similiar to WW’s. Negative. People thought nintendo made a fatal mistake by making WW cel-shaded but after giving it some time for the concept to sink in people found it beautiful and memorable much like it is also going to be for SS. Im already digging this TP/WW mesh style. It’s nintendo’s way to pay tribute to SS two predecessors.

  33. I love the realistic feel of TP, and also the cartoon feel of WW, I think it’s a brilliant idea to merge the two. MotionPlus finally getting a good game, PS Move and Kinect could never compare to this. My only problem, I agree with Lance, that Wiimote ghost shouldn’t take up such a large part of the screen.

  34. I wasn’t too impressed with what I saw at E3 of Skyward Sword. Beyond a different graphical style, it still feels they’re relying too much on the old Zelda formula which has become quite tedious. “Yeah, if we had just used the same graphics from Twilight Princess the game would already be done.” This quote tells me that we’re just getting Twilight Princess with a new skin.