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Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda

It all begins with an idea, or even a dream. Born in Kyoto, Japan, Shigeru Miyamoto is the brains behind the Zelda series. As a child, he was a curious young boy with a vivid imagination and enjoyed venturing off to discover new things. This reminds me of another young boy, or Kokiri as he is called. Link, the main character in The Legend of Zelda series created by Miyamoto, was a young adventuring Kokiri. Sent off by Princess Zelda to find the scattered pieces of the Triforce and to later save the Princess from Ganon’s evil clutches.  

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The Legend of Zelda was released July 29, 1987 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was the first role-playing game for its time. Since the game was created for an 8-bit cartridge, the range of colors were restricted. The designers had to recycle colors for certain lands and dungeons. These colors were flat and the only form of shading was by the use of thin to thick lines. In the first and brighter picture one can notice the attempt of texture by the use of patterns. The bushes are a repetative green and the rocks are identical. The main emphasis in this screen shot is the bridge. It would be the first thing the player spots because it is their only route to continue on their quest. The brighter contrasts in color suggest the player is outside, compared to the darker colors of the second screen shot of a dungeon. The dungeon uses deeper colors to create a darker and more spooky effect. The colors on Link are also lightly saturated, the hair and outfit are slightly different from his outfit in the sun. The proportions between the old man and Link are perfectly matched. The Legend of Zelda might not appear as a work of art, but for 1987, this game was a hit!


Years later Nintendo released a more complex system, the Nintendo 64. Named for the fact that it housed a 64-bit cpu, this product provided game designers with more graphics capabilities. On November 23, 1998 Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the N64. Also created by Miyamoto, this game was the first Zelda to be in 3D. It has a wider range of colors which helps create more texture. In the first screen shot one can easily decipher grass from dirt because of its use of lines and multiple colors. The map, health and action icons are all more vibrant colors compared to game-play for easier view. Link’s fairy Navi, is also bright and has an aura around her letting you know that she is glowing. The scale of the surroundings and creatures make the game feel more real, enhancing the role-playing adventure.  


The second picture is visually stunning! The sky changes from day to night creating a glare on the player’s camera view depending on the angle. The value of the land gets progressively brighter as the sun rises. Distant areas have a darker contrast and Link’s shadow moves in perfect harmony with the rising sun.


The final picture from Ocarina of Time, is a hallway scene. I chose this picture because of the dramatic use of lines. The rug and patterned wallpaper help twist this room as the player actively runs through it. The pillars closest to the player are more vertical, but as one looks towards the end of the hallway, they become more horizontal. This hallway, paired with eerie music and a dark playing room, gives the ultimate playing experience for its time.  


The most recent Zelda game to date is The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Released November 20, 2011 this game was inspired by Miyamoto’s love for impressionism. The sky is said to be his tribute to Cézanne. As the player looks off in the distance they will notice the images are blurred, but not how your average video game blurs. The distance blurs in Skyward Sword are more like brush strokes, similar to Monet. Also, the colors are brighter in comparison to Twilight Princess. Pastels rule the environment while vibrant colors decorate the main character, people and surrounding creatures. I was not a fan of the visual aspects of this game until I researched it. I have a much greater appreciation for the art in this title and I hope others can see the same.