Hyrule, as painted by Cézanne

There has been much talk about the visuals for Skyward Sword, and a lot of people have mistakenly referred to them as “cel-shaded” – including us!

Not so, according to the man, himself, Shigeru Miyamoto. During his E3 presentation he referred to the graphics as like a moving painting. And during the Nintendo Roundtable this evening he referred to them as “Impressionistic.” Specifically, the sky and mountains were inspired by the art of Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne .

It turns out that Eiji Aonuma had originally intended on using the graphics of Twilight Princess, but was told by Mr. Miyamoto fairly early on that they had to use a new graphic style. Mr. Miyamoto said he felt that looking to Impressionism (of which he’s very much a fan) for inspiration allowed them to have characters and creatures with exaggerated features without it looking too strange. Mr. Aonuma joked that had Miyamoto not made him change the graphics, the game would have been out sooner.

One thing is certain: this new painterly Impressionism-inspired visual style is unlike anything we’ve yet seen in a Zelda game!

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  • Chainoftermina

    thanks for clearing that up, but I seriously doubt that this is gonna stop all the winey B****ing thats coming from all the Haters.

    • Gerudude

      I HATE IT !!!!!! riiiiight.

    • Thareous33

      Oh, bugger. That long tirade I wrote in the previous article is now going to make me appear as a Hater. Really, I'm not. I don't mind the graphics of the game that much; I just prefer the old styles. Still, "impressionistic" is a fresh way to go about this. I actually believe this might be pretty cool! I'm so excited and can't wait for SS to come out.

      • Chainoftermina

        thats fine, it's okay. to tell the truth, I was expecting more realistic Graphics too. And I admit, I had a small feeling of disappointment when I first saw it too.
        But I know how to deal with it. I'm still excited for this game anyway and I can't wait to find out more about it and play it. by "haters" I meant all the people who say nothing more that "THIS IS BULLS**T! NINTENDO HAS UTTERLY FAILED MISERABLY AND I AM DESERTING THEM FOREVER! THESE GRAPHICS ARE WORSE THAN BABY BARF! I HATE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS DUMB, STUPID GAME! I HATE NINTENDO! Blah blah blah blah"

        If you don't really have a taste for the graphics, thats fine. you're entitled to your own opinion. I just get pissed at all the raging Gorillas who scream and whine and complain like a 4 year old without even considering the possibility that perhaps they should maybe at least give it a chance.

        • Thareous33

          It's okay, Chain; I wasn't mad at you. Just joking around and dissing myself for writing that rant, which 99% is speculation and venting. I don't have any idea what is true and what isn't. I had no right putting all that down. So…there.

          • Thareous33


        • TrustMe

          I'm really annoyed at the people who complain like 4 year olds too, and they just need to grow up and get over it.

          My only problem with Skyward Sword is Link's face, he looks funny, but oh well. No one can have everything they want.

  • pac719

    aww i hoping for tp style graphics

  • TheMaverickk

    Probably not… it's funny because classical art is considered refined and most would say it takes a mature person to truly appreciate a beautiful piece of art (most art uses a wide range of colours and style to express adult concepts even)… yet we have gamers who think this style is kiddy.

    People need to get past the "colour=kiddy" thing and "realism=mature". The sad thing is though that you have people even in the gaming press who can't think outside this box yet. Even worse most developers encourage this way of thinking as well.

    It's why I absolutely support this graphical style… it's different, it's refreshing and I haven't played something that looks like this yet. I'm glad Miyamoto said they needed to make sure to change the graphical style up.

    • Musky Melon

      I'm with you on this. Games allow for the exploration of art styles yet this is generally met with hostility from gamers.* Which is a shame as it offers yet another dimension to not only how games are made but as an art form in itself.

      *It probably has to do with the heavy competition in the gaming market to wow gamers with yet more realistic images. This has the side effect of making people think that if the graphic style differs from this then it either isn't serious or the developers didn't try hard enough (hence all the claims that this game looks N64, GC or whatever).

    • Hálvðanarson

      I have to say; I do not like the graphic style, not because it is wat is, but because it looks plain awful. There aren't any details what so ever, and the setting of the overworld could have been a game to Nintendo 64 than to a Wii. I only see a lot of pixels, and large ones as well.

    • renzo

      You MUST be an artist or artis apreciator, because you are very right about tht…for instance, there is a 007 game for wii coming out very soon, and all of the comments(well really most) are commenting that the graphics are bad…but they are very good actualy, sure they are no BioShock, but they are very good either way…just like this. you hve to apriciate things first to see the point in them…just like this…

  • Shaelyn

    there's a distinct difference between cartoony and tastefully artistic. this does have elements of both – the bright BRIGHT colors make it cartoony, while the style of the trees and landscape themselves are tasteful. overall though, I like it. some amount of cartoony is acceptable, especially for a game like Zelda – though, it needs some darkness mixed in to counterbalance. I'm sure there will be some of that in game as well. there's always a dark boss to fight at the end.

  • Shaelyn

    I kind of wish on some level that they had saved this for the next game though…or replaced the cel-shaded games with this instead. I think it was too early to switch the realism graphics, and the cel-shaded games are overdue for a change.

    • TheMaverickk

      Actually I'd make a guess that Spirit Tracks will be the last Cel-Shaded style Zelda game you will see on the DS. I'm calling it now… is anything seeing what they've done with the Ocarina of Time remake for the 3DS, they've got a 3DS engine with the Zelda style they will likely follow for it.

      Who knows they may decide to build the next portable Zelda using the engine they created for Ocarina of Time remake. That's something to be positive about.

      Honestly though there's been one Cel-Shaded console Zelda ever. The rest of the Zelda's were technically realistic. Although in the N64 days polygons probably wouldn't have been considered realistic, lol. I think there is room for another colourful one.

      Also Nintendo's only shown a single area of the game so far… the beginning area most likely still in Sky Loft. Which is most likely also an idealic happy place above the clouds. Either that or it's one of the lesser corrupted areas… so probably as you delve deeper into this world it will get darker in areas.

      I think the game will have a great balance.

      • Aleksandar

        Yeah like maybe TWO different graphical styles, for TWO different worlds!

        Wouldnt that be awesome?!

      • Shaelyn

        …yes, I know. it's just…that poster they put out at E3 last year I thought was the most badass looking Link to date. the new release has lost some of that. not much, I don't hate it or anything, but I do wish that first "Zelda Wii" Link I met were sticking around.

  • Roonifer

    Looks as though the graphics are here to stay…. Ah well, time to get used the them!

    • Roonifer


      • Hálvðanarson

        Are you an English teacher or something, are you out of work and miss the "funny" work of correcting the grammar of your students?

        • Sword of Faith

          There's a difference between grammar and saying the instead of to.

        • Sword of Faith

          And also, dude, he was correcting his own post.

          • Hálvðanarson

            Yeah, I noticed it after posting, couldn't delete it and can't do anything but laugh 😀

  • A passing Goron

    I really like the new style, it kind of reminds me of old Sega games like Ristar.

    • arcticlizard

      I think the style reminds me of Mario galaxy.

  • zeldadude

    i just dont like how they seem to be trying stuff out all the time. i would enjoy it more if they stuck to one style. i prefer realistic cause thats one thing that entrapped me in OoT ( even though those were polygons haha it was cutting edge at the time)

  • Jack

    now this is one of the reasons why i love Nintendo, they are original, unlike other developers who are trying to make their games as realistic as possible, is not a bad thing, but what annoys me is the fact that alot of new gamers think games like this kind of art style or graphics are for kids or to childish, but personally i love this kind of graphics, why ? because they are unique, original and some times better and more beautifull than realistic ones, like TheMaverickk just said "most would say it takes a mature person to truly appreciate a beautiful piece of art"

  • jasura

    Sad and disappointed ….. wait four years for this ….

  • Sword of Faith

    But this game is a cross between Cel Shading and Realistic. If Nintendo stuck with one style, they'd be like Sony and Microsoft- always staying in the realms they know, never truly making innovations. Look at Sony Move and Microsoft Kinect. Both based on the Wii. No true new technology. The experimentation is what makes Nintendo what it is.

  • guest

    Nintendo has a punk rock style approach to making Zeldas. And i dont mean modern punk. I mean back when it was new and people didnt know what to make of punk fashion and attitudes. I love how Nintendo has the guts to do their own thing and they arent afraid to change peoples minds and force them to appreciate a wider scope of creation. They never sell out. And they always push the general public in directions they didnt expect. And for that they are brilliant. Making Gears of War with realistic gritty graphics doesnt take any guts or imagination. They just do what the fans want and expect. Nintendo aims for a different kind of success. In the history of game making, Nintendo is more like Walt Disney (original imaginative dreamers) and all the other game makers are like Coca-Cola or Wal-Mart (product pushers).

  • Sanity's_Theif

    I'm sorry, but this style to me just looks like a lack of detail, no need to make Link's clothes look real with fabric showing, let's just splash some green across him -_-

    Seriously, they could've made the graphics amazing, the best route to follow would be Majora's Mask, that had realistic graphics but was also vibrant and colorful, that's the route a Zelda game should take

    This cartoony look only shows a lack of detail, when I showed people this trailer, they were comparing the graphics to the N64 titles, now if you're doing that with a Wii game, you know the graphics aren't good

    The graphics are a major turn-off for me, I just hope the gameplay can make up for such a cheap poor design choice

    • TheMaverickk

      Majora's Mask was not realistic you know that right. Look at the characters, most are extremely exaggerated… look at the Bombchu enemies with their ridiculous faces and the Chu Jellies with their silly smiles that were kind of creepy at the same time… Link was done in polygons and was fairly bright coloured as well.

      The poison in Woodfall was a bright purple…. The Astral Observatory was a kaleidoscope of colours… Majora's Mask was kind of trippy and colourful. The characters especially. That's actually why I loved the game, that and the sort of unnerving feeling of impending doom.

      • Shaelyn

        the monsters are never going to be realistic.

        there's a difference between graphic style and palettes used. the graphics style was the exact same as OoT, which WAS a realistic style. the palettes added the whimsy…and the dark atmosphere.

        and I loved it too <3

  • Aaronrules380

    The graphics are definitely much better than N64 graphics, which were far more blocky and worse looking. These just look stylized, not blocky. ANd they fit the feel they were going for. All those details you mentioned aren't too important in games wityhout realistic graphic styles

  • Xenithar

    Having visual detail is nice like in TP, but sometimes it's not very important when it comes to presenting a story. Anywho, I think this new style is beautiful! And it's different-looking from the other games, at the same time reminiscent of OoT, which is refreshing. I look forward to seeing more of this game.

  • BlackLesnar

    I find the new art style surprisingly appealing; almost hypnotic. Where other's – like Mr. Theif above – see lack-of-detail & halfarsery, I see simplicity & vibrance. I understand Miyamoto's angle: Zelda is a franchise with a foundation in the boyhood-wonder brand of fantasy adventure. Were it to follow the 'realistic' route, we'd eventually just end up with a Hyrule-based Dragon Age, and although some people might like that idea…it just wouldn't be Zelda.

    At any rate, I side with Yahtzee on this one:
    "The history of gaming technology has been one long quest for total realism, but now we’re on the verge of it I’m seeing it’s probably not worth the effort. The ultra-realistic games of recent years have been one long gritty depressing grey-a-thon after another, and it’s up to [some] games to remind us that realism is an acceptable sacrifice if it means that I get to throw old ladies into jet turbines."

    • TheMaverickk

      With art movements, once "realism" was achieved for the most part artists began to push the boundaries and try new things. They when from realism to impressionistic, from impressionist, to expressive (it's a gestural form of painting, cubist, and minimalist… once you've achieved realism there's nothing further to achieve really.

      So basically if video games are art, then naturally we are going to see a transition away from realism more and more in the future. Not a bad thing… I don't think it will be gone, I just think we will at least see variety in the future… and with some luck this variety will be embraced with open arms.

  • Lex

    Still technically "cel-shading" (based on the rather loose definition that cel-shading is designed to handle a 3D render to make it appear like it is handmade art) but with an "impressionist" style versus a straight-up "cartoon" style. It's true, though, that within the movement of non-photorealistic rendering, this type of render is called "impressionist."

  • ZoraMikau

    wait, so are we sure that this game is going to feature hyrule? I remember miyamoto or his translator said hyrule, but it may have been because when you think of zelda, you think of hyrule.

    • Dawnfire

      I think they confirmed that the world of Hyrule is below SkyLoft, where Link starts the game.

      • TheMaverickk

        There's a scene with waterfalls and a pretty distinct smoking Death Mountain in the background. My assumption is that it is Death Mountain at least. So I think it's safe to say that it is Hyrule.

  • Dawnfire

    This actually makes me think of what they did for Prince of Persia PS3. And it was beautiful. Honestly? Especially if they refine it a bit, and if over time they add more and more detail, I think that I would love it. If they hadn't lead many of us to believe that the graphics would be TP Style (with that piece of concept art), I think the outcry against this would have been lessened. There was a very large "Wait, -what-!?" when that conference started yesterday.

  • Chainoftermina

    Actually, I'm starting to think that these graphics almost, ALMOST look sorta kinda similar to……well, they almost look like…….anime.

    I mean, WW looks all Chibi and stuff, so this looks like the normal kind of anime. thats kinda neat.

    • Shaelyn

      what? how does this look like anime? anime has very little detail, very little shading. it's kind of as basic as you can get. this is vastly different.

  • Tom

    My only worry is that the IGN preview said everything in the background was really, really blurry. I hope they sort that out. 🙁

    • Thareous33

      You ought not worry about that. They may call themselves experts, but believe me, they are not true experts. I have not read a single comment complaining the backdrop to be blurry, so everything is fine. I myself have seen the trailer, which shows part of the game, and it looked simply Wind Waker-style–though I, too, am no any on this. ;-]

  • Tox

    I am such a nerd; I cannot possibly say ONE bad thing about ANY Zelda game.

    When Wind Waker came out I was a bit different. I thought it looked horrible. Then I got a demo with my GC, and I played those 20 minutes every day until I got the game. It's an awesome game.

    This one will also be exceptional. I love impressionism, but that's not the main part; it looks like Wind Waker mixed with Twilight Princess; in a positive way. 😀

  • Andrew

    I personally love Zelda, when I saw this as soon as it was posted up, I freaked. The 3 words I said was WTF. Then after watching the commercial a couple of times I started to like it. I know that many like the tp graphics where the scary bosses give a sense of fear giving an adrenaline rush. That is the only thing that worries me, that I won't get that rush with these soft features. But it seems they were wanting to do a contrast to tp which had a dark side and ss having a happy magical feel. So with anticipation I say; thumbs up to nintendo

  • Jon

    I do not understand why some people think Zelda needs to be a dark gritty game in the first place. To me Skyward Sword has what looks sort of like a modern version of A Link to the Past's graphics (which were very colorful), and lets not forget that ALTTP is one of (if not the best) Zelda games ever. Did the original NES game look realistic? Nope, but it still rocks and is a classic. Ocarina of TIme was not that dark or realistic either. Great Zelda games are about perfect balance; the balance of light and dark, realism and artistic style, fun and challenge. Trust me Skyward Sword will have it's dark side as well; the level shown at e3 was just a level that would not be too challenging so that players could quickly adjust to the controls.

  • Shaelyn

    I seriously think most of you are just mad about the palettes, not the graphics. you just want a darker atmosphere. amirite?

  • Verline Ausley

  • mike

    why cant zelda go back to the time of the ocarinaof time and majoras mask grafics thoes were the best games.

  • Kara

    While I loved the dark and realistic graphics of Twilight Princess I feel like this new artistic style is a step in the right direction for the Zelda series. The scenery almost looked like watercolors to me, all flowing in perfect harmony to create this new world. When I first saw the trailer I, like many others, was under the impression that the lack of a dark atmosphere was going to hurt the overall game but I now feel that I couldn't be more wrong. This type of setting will go perfectly with the newly added ochestra soundtrack and hopefully will become a favorite title for many people both hardcore fans and newcomers alike.

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  • Anon

    2 things I've learnt about Miyamoto:

    1] He can't play video-games.

    2] He has bad taste in art.

  • Anon

    Why do so many people opinionatedly hold the seemingly unbudgeable belief that realism would take away from the fantasy aspect of the Zelda series? That smacks of naivety, dogmatism, and an ignorant resistance to change.

  • Anon

    Having a realistic looking game doesn't necessarily mean that every aspect of the game has to exist in the real world. I think a lot of people think it does which is a misconception.

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  • renzo

    one thing, and one thing ONLY i dun like about this new link…his pants…sorry, but they are like they are filled with air…but aside fromthat, i'm hyperentalating over this, it's so amazing looking, i feel i could playthis all day nce i get it.

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  • crazyguy

    here is the sad part, the "mature" people want more "mature" game. Maturity in a game does not come in just graphics and realism. Twilight princess, although with a realistic style, was an incredibly easy game to beat. not that i dont like twilight princess, i loved it. wind waker on the other hand i found more difficult, and its the one with the "kiddy" graphics. bottom line, dont base maturity levels of the game on the graphics. only a stupid person would do that.

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  • Zelda-Lover-Rose

    i love zelda! i think if you like the game you shouldnt care what i looks like ^^ at least that is what i think