Nintendo Graphics Then and Now
We’ve come a long way, Nintendo fans. We’ve happily embraced Nintendo games of the last few years despite them being considered last-gen from a tech standpoint. Wii owners by the very nature of their purchase were proclaiming that they were willing to buy Nintendo’s games even if the graphics would not advance much past the previous generation.
After all, Nintendo fans have always put art style over specs. Super Mario Galaxy, Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, Metroid: Other M, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Donkey Kong Country Returns. Nintendo games always have a charm and polish to them. But, with the coming of the Wii U it’s almost odd to see games on a Nintendo system suddenly looking really hot. Down to one week ago we hadn’t even seen a HD Nintendo game and suddenly we jumped the gate and transcended into HD land.
If all that raw power is put to great use for the inimitable art styles of Nintendo and other talented developers, we sure have a lot to look forward to. While it’s not entirely fair to compare games from the N64 gen or GCN gen to a HD console, it still helps us appreciate just how far along we’ve come on this ride with Nintendo.
Note: The Wii U games we’re looking at all have another 5 months to be tweaked and improved. So, we’re comparing final versions of other games to incomplete Wii U games.
Here you see Pikmin 3 in comparison to the original Pikmin on Gamecube. I’m sure you’ll agree Pikmin 3 is far more beautiful. Funny enough, Pikmin 3 started development on the Wii years ago and eventually made the jump to Wii U so it could be a launch title. I bet if it had developed from the ground up for the Wii U it would look even better.
New Super Mario Bros U
New Super Mario Bros U wasn’t a game intended to blow our minds graphically. But it still manages to please with its simple aesthetic. The series style was initially formed by the original New Super Mario Bros on DS, which I compared it to in the screenshot. You can see that simple can mean many different things. The ‘simplicity’ of New Super Mario Bros U actually turned out to be quite beautiful.
Realistic racing has never been much of “thing” on Nintendo consoles. The appeal was more Mario Kart and F-Zero. But, that’s going to change now with the hyper-realism of Project Cars. I compared it to Ridge Racer which was a big hit on the N64. Yes, it’s been many generations since then and you can tell just how far we’ve come.
Everyone loves zombies, right? Or at least, everyone loves whacking them over the head with a mallet. Here you see a comparison between Zombi U and Resident Evil 2 on the N64. You must agree the extra detail sure goes a long way to making the undead look more creepy.
Lego City Stories
You may or may not know that Lego City Stories is actually the spiritual successor to the Lego Island series, which also featured an open-world environment. But, open world environments didn’t have quite the same connotation back in 2001. Then, it meant a really short draw-distance and lots of buildings popping into view as you got closer. The new technology has done wonders for open-world environments.
Scribblenauts uses a fairly simple art style. But as you can see, the original DS version merely looked like a bunch of sprites. The Wii U, however, practically turns it into a cartoon. With the larger resolution, much more of the screen can be shown at once and it looks like an entire scene. That should make it much easier to manage and more fun to play.
Here’s a comparison between Rayman 64, recently released on the 3DS, and Rayman Legends. It was a shame I had to cover up part of the scene with the smaller screenshot because the entire thing looked stunning. I can’t believe something could look so good. Just a few years back that screenshot is what the concept art of a game would look like, not the real thing. Color me impressed.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Your Daddy’s Tekken couldn’t do this now could it? Not much else to see here, other than the massive 3D model and the nice foliage in the background.
Here is the excellent-looking Project P-100 from Platinum Games, a launch title for Wii U. The best comparison I could come up with was Freedom Force vs The 3rd Reich, released in 2005, which also featured leading a team of superheroes with real-time strategy. Although I’m a fan of the Freedom Force games, I can’t help but admit that Project P-100 puts it to shame in the graphics department.