Undoubtedly, the cel-shaded technique has become extremely popular over the past few years. Although there have been hundreds of games that make use of toon shading (this is another term to refer to cel-shading,) only a handful of them are truly distinctive from a visual perspective. A while ago, the first part of this feature was posted on the site, but since there are dozens of other cel-shaded games that are absolutely remarkable, I decided to extend this feature to a second part. This is what I came up with:
Most of Platinum Games have something peculiar that makes them stand out. In the case of beat ‘em up MadWorld it comes down to two particular points: the game’s high level of violence and its black and white art style. While the average player is quite used to the former, the black and white visuals provide the game with an outstanding look that definitely make you feel immersed in the experience. It does look like you’re playing a graphic novel and comparisons to Frank Miller’s Sin City or even to the manga style can easily be made.
Okami was going to have photorealistic 3D graphics, can you believe that? Thankfully, at one point during the game’s development, someone at Clover Studio decided that Okami could benefit from cel-shaded visuals. Granted, one of the main reasons for this last-minute change was the limitation of the hardware (the PlayStation 2,) but if it wasn’t for the inclusion of this technique, the idea of the Celestial Brush wouldn’t have been featured in the game. In other words, we would have gotten a completely different title.
3) Street Fighter IV
Street Fighter IV revitalized the fighting game genre at a time when there weren’t a lot of fighting games. Among other features, the title included new systems, its gameplay was completely redesigned, a slew of new and classic characters were included in the roster and the home versions incorporated online play and DLC. But one of the reasons why the game stood out was its unique use of 2.5D graphics. The cel-shaded animation allowed for some really fluid movements in the characters and added some cartoony visual effects. A lot of titles have used 2.5D visuals since STIV came out (Trine 2, Rochard, Little Big Planet, Shadow Complex, Trials HD and even other fighting games such as Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter X Tekken, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3) and it’s all thanks to Capcom’s masterpiece.
Bastion was one of the most pleasant surprises to ever grace the medium. But when people think about Bastion, the first think that comes to their minds is usually the husky voice of the narrator. People tend to forget how downright gorgeous the hand-painted visuals really are. The different environments change and paths are formed as the player approaches the edges, creating an experience unlike anything else. The dynamic voiceover may be outstanding, but the bright visuals shouldn’t be overlooked.
1) Ni No Kuni
Everyone has been talking about this Japanese role-playing game for quite some time now. More precisely, everyone has been talking about Ni No Kuni’s gorgeous visuals. The game is the result of the collaboration between two beloved companies: Level 5 (Dragon Quest VIII, Dark Cloud, Professor Layton, White Knight, Inezuma Eleven) and Studio Ghibli (My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, Castle in the Sky.) On the surface, Ni No Kuni’s graphics replicate the traditional animation style of Studio Ghibli, but I don’t think you’ll hear a lot of people complaining about that.
Notable games that have been omitted for various reasons include: Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, Crackdown and Crackdown 2, Killer 7, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, Sly Cooper, Sly Cooper 2 and Sly Cooper 3, Viewtiful Joe and Viewtiful Joe 2, Dark Cloud 2, Valkyria Chronicles and E.X. Troopers.
Did I forget anything? Is there a game in particular that should have been included in this feature and wasn’t? As usual, feel free to share ideas in the comments below.