Ocarina of Time is Considered Realistic?

Axle the BeastNovember 27th, 2012 by Axle the Beast

I might be a little late to the party making this argument (although I’ve talked about it in the past), but I thought it was worth addressing because I still see this discussion sometimes. When Twilight Princess came out, some people — myself included — did not like its artstyle. A major criticism it receives is that it’s too realistic. I myself don’t agree with that… certainly the developers were trying for a realistic western fantasy artstyle, but I think they failed in a way, and it’s still fairly stylized; I don’t like the artstyle because it’s too gritty, boring, and graaaayyyyy… but I digress, and this is not an editorial meant to bash Twilight Princess.

No, Twilight Princess isn’t exactly realistic, but it is clear that Nintendo was going for the look to a greater or lesser degree, so the basis of the argument I hear still has merit. As for the argument itself: People defend Twilight Princess’ realism by saying that Ocarina of Time was realistic too. And that’s simply not the case.

In some ways it was a reasonable assumption to make, given that Ocarina of Time was the first 3D Zelda game and its polygonal look can be hard to decipher; it’s easy to assume that, had they been able to do more advanced graphics, they would have made it look as realistic as possible. But I really don’t think that’s the case. Ocarina of Time 3D is ultimate proof of that, in my eyes, because it’s a visual recreation of what Ocarina of Time could have looked like on better hardware, and it’s not realistic. To the contrary, it closely mimics the artstyle of Ocarina of Time’s official artwork, which always had a stylized anime-esque look, like Ocarina of Time 3D did. And, if you look for it, you can clearly see that this style is also present in the original Ocarina of Time’s graphics, with the eyes and mannerisms clearly mimicking the official artwork as much as possible. Not to mention the characters with ridiculous, unrealistic proportions.

Again, I don’t blame people for making the assumption… especially after the drama that unfolded with the Ocarina of Time-like Spaceworld demo (you can even see someone implying it was realistic in the top comment!) that was followed up with… The Wind Waker. It’s easy to look at the contrast between Ocarina of Time’s style and The Wind Waker’s and think “Realism!”, though it’s still not true (and Ocarina of Time 3D is final proof of that). And also again, I do not think Twilight Princess was overly realistic, and certainly not bad for its attempt at realism. It was notably close to Ocarina of Time’s style in that area — which is ironic for me to say, since I originally got annoyed at people saying Ocarina of Time was realistic because they were defending Twilight Princess — and if I ever make a Zelda game or, more likely, a Zelda-like adventure game, I would probably do something pretty close to its balance of realism and style.

Anyway, I do not intend to this post to bash any particular artstyle or anyone’s opinions or assumptions. I simply want to put out this argument (which I believe to be irrefutable, if I’m being honest), and emphasize these aspects which I think easily indicate the true intentions of Ocarina of Time’s artstyle. Ocarina of Time did the same thing that Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, and indeed every previous Zelda game did: Take a certain degree of realism and detail, and inject stylization and imagination into it. An anime style. Obviously they all did it in different ways (which one did it the best being, of course, a matter of opinion), but they still have the same underlying principle. The Wind Waker’s style, carried through Four Swords, The Minish Cap, and the DS titles, was the only serious deviation, though that doesn’t make it bad.

So what are your thoughts? Did you ever consider Ocarina of Time realistic? Do you agree with my argument? How do you feel about the relationship between different Zelda games — especially lately — as far as artstyle is concerned? I might think my argument is solid, but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in your opinion! Tell me in the comments, especially if you think I’m wrong!

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  • npatoray24

    I loved twilight princess and its beautiful art style…. i dont think it was gray at all, just darker…It is definately in my top 3 favrite games

  • http://www.facebook.com/april.engelmann April Engelmann

    There’s nothing wrong with Twilight Princess, it was perfectly good game. I don’t know why people hate it so much

    • Guest

      Maybe because you never actually try to understand anyone elses opinion, instead writing it off as “it’s beyond me!” and not giving it a second glance.

      But don’t be alarmed! That’s perfectly ok, plenty of people resort to the “They don’t like why I like so they clearly have no logical or valid reasoning behind it.”- you’ll fit right in!

  • Spurrius

    hey if its to grey for you guys you can turn up the brightness but it will then loose its feel

  • wwtoonlinkfan

    Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess had realistic LIGHTING. However, Ocarina of Time did not have realistic TEXTURES because only a less realistic style of texturing was possible due to the N64’s idiotically small texture buffer. That said, most of Ocarina of Time’s textures are still quite realistic, but some are drawn as if they were background elements in an animated film-still detailed, but not as photorealistic. 2D elements, such as items, were drawn in a nonrealistic way, as well.

  • Phill

    You are an idiot.

  • Amber Evans

    Ok, so what the point? Why does it matter if it looks realistic or not?
    I mean, I love the way it looks, just b/c it makes it more easier to imagine a live-action The Legend of Zelda film

  • Benji

    I for one don’t think there was anything wrong with Twilight Princess’ art-style, and I actually think most of the characters still looked very fantasy like. The only problem I had was the color palette, I think the colors were all too much alike lacking any contrast, which made it difficult to see what was going on at times. (especially in the evening and morning of the games day to night cycle.) Still my favorite game though.

  • Elliott Chiasson

    Oot done with cel shaded graphics like WW

  • http://www.facebook.com/pkunhardt Philip Kunhardt

    Zelda has never been about realism. OoT 3D really hit this home for me this time. The characters are just as cartoony as in Twilight Princess, and just as cartoony as in Skyward Sword. Yes, in TWW/PH/ST/FS/FSA/TMC, the characters are slightly more cartoony, but they’re really not any less in the so-called “realistic” games.