Nintendo Explains Why Each Zelda Title Has A Unique Art Style

The folk over at Source Gaming have published a huge translation of the newest The Legend of Zelda book which is titled Master Works. There’s a lot of in-depth information about the critically acclaimed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Zelda related information so I would suggest having a read here. One of the things that players have been asking is why the art style changes for each game in the Zelda series? Takizawa-san thankfully has the answers. You can read his detailed response below:

“Why does the art style change for each game in the Zelda series?” That’s a question many have probably considered. It’s the result of trial and error during the development of each title to figure out what would best make the world feel like something players would be excited to adventure in. The conclusion was to marry the believability of the world with playability – this would help them satisfy the goal of “rethinking the conventions of Zelda” and creating an art style that could be considered the definitive standard for Zelda. This lead to things such as the “comical” effect of tree wood magically “poofing” into bundles of wood – anything more realistic would feel like a waste of time for the player.

Although Takizawa-san knew that this art style that utilizes the less realistic and more stylized choices would work for the purposes of the game, he couldn’t help but feel uneasy as to whether the general populace would accept it. Those worries were swept away when the general reaction to the first trailer at E3 2014 was positive.

  • There are several things that they paid particular care in implementing during development – things like smell. Obviously, smell isn’t something that can be portrayed by video game systems, the artists worked with the graphics programmers, environment designers and effect designers from the beginning with the goal of creating the kind of world that a player could exist in and even get a sense of the kind of smells that exist within it. The kind of world that you could walk around in, and even before the sound effects were implemented, get a sense of how it sounds. Another goal he had put a lot of weight on was being able to create a sense of the air of the environments – how the air feels humid in tropical environments, how the sun is stronger in the desert.
  • Takizawa-san went to GDC to give a presentation, and the next morning he woke up to emails from the dev team – “The reviews are crazy, check them out!” He rushed to check the web and found many outlets giving high scores – nearly all perfect 10s! He was so moved he got goosebumps. It felt like a dream – partly because of the haziness from waking up – and in a foreign country no less. He was ecstatic to see many different reviews complementing the work he and so many other designers worked so long and hard on.



  1. The way I see the different art styles is as different styles of legend/myth. Different storytellers depict their Link in different ways.

    1. Majora’s Mask was very special case, though. It only had around a year of development time and therefore had to reuse most assets from the previous game. Additionally, it was a direct sequel to Ocarina of Time.

    2. And Spirit Tracks has the same one as Phantom Hourglass, and Minish Cap as Four Swords, and Oracle of Seasons as Oracle of Ages.

      Obviously, there are a few exceptions.

  2. I’ve liked every art style of this franchise. as long as the gameplay remains true to the series, they can experiment all they want with how it looks.

    1. It was beautiful that 2014 art style. We may see it in the future as they haven’t use that art style. I think they didn’t use it for Breath of the Wild because they were planning Twilight Princess HD at that time and it is a bit similar but I see them making it after they finished making the new 3D Zelda which Aonuma confirmed was in development.

      1. yes it was, oh, and I’m happy with the BTW artstyle, it’s beautiful, I didnt want it to be different. But It would be great a new zelda with that 2014 art style. ^^

  3. I always assumed the artstyle was due to it being different generations of links. thats why there has always been games that feature the same artstyle would mean that’s the same link. for instance, ocarina of time link and majoras mask link are the same link and as such had the same design. Wind waker link, hourglass, and spirit tracks link seem to be the same link too because they refer to windwaker a whole lot in the games. now im not sure what this means for the minish cap or four swords link, since that has the same link design. but when a link between worlds came out and they used the the same design a ALTTP that made it seem more likely that other styles = other generations and same styles mean its the same link

  4. I hope the next Zelda game use the same art style as Breath of the Wild so that we don’t have to wait half a decade to play this game.

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