For most of us older (35+ of age) who grew up with games, we were mesmerized with the simplistic of sprite-based graphics. The rich colors and quirky design on the NES, Master System, and Arcade drew us in to purchase or play the game. Looking how the evolution of a series on one system push the hardware in ways we never thought of. At the arcade, the art in those game provided a better experience with the chips that were in the machine.
When the Neo-Geo came out, those megabytes just presented 16 bits we were getting on Super NES but just more. We loved to see how much was going on with all these sprites moving together. It was until the Super NES was doing more on their system with games like Starfox and Donkey Kong Country. At that time, Nintendo had to think outside since NEO-GEO was bringing the “arcade” experience home….for $200 a game, Sega was doing Sega CD and interactive games, Turbographix entering the scene with the HuCards and Turbo CD.
Us players though were drawn to all these different art designs that came into play. Even when the PlayStation drop and the world of 3D were becoming common, sprite-based games were evolving but becoming extinct console wise but not handheld. With 3D, rather it was cartridge or CD, we thought of new worlds we going to look at.
Now in this modern age, indies have brought us that nostalgic aesthetic and developers of now go for that realistic look and 4K resolution of beautiful and high quality in colors. The clean application in the graphics provides an alluring world that isn’t just cinematic only. The photorealistic idea in graphics just pop. Young players have become accustomed to this while looking at past games and their graphics as an unsightly look to them. Some games look like “vaseline spread on it” or “I can’t make out if this is a door or a wall” and then, laughter for the unspeakable parts.
Depending on what era (not generation) you grew up in when video games were slowly becoming welcoming (and it took til the Wii for it to happen, trust me), the graphics and art styles expanded your taste. If you loved colorful and original, you had Cel Shading, some sprites, hand-drawn and pencil sketch, and anime. If you wanted that gritty, exploratory, and war-torn environments, you got dark earth tone 3D with some lighting, better-digitized usage of humans playing characters, monochromatic shadow figures, some comic san darkness like Madworld, and oddly enough, Full Motion Video.
That’s why when people still argue about who or what has the best graphics, there never will be a definitive one. Each region (Japan, UK, USA, Canada, and others) have produced various level in quality of games with elegant presentation. What’s different from Metroid Prime and Rise Of The Tomb Raider? They both showcase lovely detail in their graphics and with the technology they are own. Of course, some of us would want a direct and finite answer but there’s so much to love and discuss/rant about. You may love the world of God Of War on PS4, but others may love the look of A Boy And Blob on Wii when it first released.
That is the beauty of Art. We all are attracted to what a game looks like. As more styles and methods are used to create these games, we will continue to appreciate what is offered to us.