Nintendo

Zelda Art Director Explains Why The Series Art Is Always Changing

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Creating a Champion book is available now at retail and contains plenty of nuggets of information for series fans. One part of the book contains an interview with art director Satoru Takizawa who reveals why Nintendo switches the art style for the long-running series and embraces fresh new looks for Link and Hyrule.

“I imagine there are a lot of people who have wondered why the visuals for The Legend of Zelda change with each new entry in the series. We look for the best way to express the unique spirit of that particular game and create a world that will be exciting for players to jump into and explore. Often, the results come from trial and error.”

“With Breath of the Wild we spent a lot of time thinking about how to visually represent this massive open world. The theme for this game was “revisiting expectations,” which left me at a loss as to how to express that visually [laughs]. At the same time, I felt that it was an ideal opportunity to establish a style that would become the definitive version of The Legend of Zelda’s art.

After a lot of worrying and going back and forth, we created a painterly art style that combined the realism of the game world with its playability. For example, if you cut down a tree in the game, it immediately creates a firewood. That was an intentional contraction of reality that cuts out portions of the game that the player might find boring or makes short waits more fun with comedy. We wanted to create a world that could accommodate the fantastical elements of Hyrule without sacrificing a more realistic art style, and we went about that by crafting a hybrid of the two that would allow the players to suspend their disbelief when certain things happen. That allowed us to include a broad range of ideas from the designers and enabled us to have some crazy stuff happen. For example, the player is able to toss a bunch of ingredients into a pot and have a dessert pop out. We found that injecting humor into the visual shorthand helps players forgive the break break from reality.”

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9 comments

  1. Eh, I thought BotW’s art style was okay at best. Felt like other games like Twilight Princess, Wind Waker, and Skyward Sword had better art styles.

    Still not a fan of what they did to Zelda’s look in BotW. They made her kind of eh compared to previous games where she was actually cute.

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  2. I love that they change it with each game. The ugliest Zelda games are, in my opinion, the ones that try too hard to emulate a previous Zelda’s style when it no longer belongs. Best example of that is Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks; the DS just plain was not up to emulating the style of Windwaker. Although I gotta say, Minish Cap did a pretty good job copying the basic art style using sprites instead of polygons, so maybe I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.

    Every 3D Zelda so far has had great graphics, though. BotW is no exception in my mind.

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  3. I think botw looks great.
    They know what there doing.

    I still remember the trailer from ages ago where link entered a temple and was about to face off a giant spider.
    This looked pretty good

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