Monday, January 26, 2015

Graphics and You

Giving a game a bad review or saying that a game is bad because of its graphics is an easy way to get laughed at by a lot of gamers.

the enlightened opinions of random internet users

Graphics matter - but not the way some people tend to think. It's not important how stellar the graphics are, it's not important if the graphics look "real", but rather the way the graphics fit into the atmosphere and the environment matters.

Minecraft has made hundreds of million of dollars with very low quality graphics, and no one has stopped playing the classics due to the higher quality graphics available in more recent games. Don't get me wrong, you can judge graphics all you'd like, and stellar graphics really do enhance a game's experience, but here's the thing:

Gameplay and graphics are mutually exclusive.

I could talk for days about why and how graphics do or don't matter, but the above statement is not just my opinion, it's fact. Based on the definitions of those words, the graphics of a game and the gameplay of a game are both mutually exclusive features. Graphics can add to or detract from the experience of a game, but this will occur more regularly because of bugs, glitches, or graphics that don't fit the setting or feeling of a game. Low quality graphics shouldn't naturally detract from a game as long as they are technically sound, even if they aren't aren't particularly stunning.

I've been playing a game lately where there aren't graphics.

unless you count the existence of words as 'graphics'.

The difference we need to recognize here is that 'bad' graphics aren't 'low quality' graphics, but graphics that are technically flawed in some way. If graphics are bad because the characters look ridiculous or absurd amounts of clipping or other bugs, then yes, bad graphics can detract from the experience of the game, but this is why it's so important that we begin to distinguish "bad" graphics from lower definition graphics.

If the graphic design is poor, like the characters look out of place, or are ugly or uninspired, that is a reasonable thing to dislike about a game.

For example, I got Yoshi's New Island for the 3DS when it came out. Yoshi's Island was one of my favorite games growing up. I played through the entire game multiple times, including attempting a 100% completion of every level, without a guide. I played through at least half of it even recently.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island had cute, pastel-like graphics that were just fantastic. I love them still to this day - they stand out to me as a fantastic example of stylized, theme-appropriate, immersive graphics that fit the flow and feel of a game.

absolutely stellar

Yoshi's New Island took one of the absolute most iconic part of this amazing game - these very graphics - and bastardized them into something absolutely atrocious.

what IS this

I understand that they had to make something that was 3D-able, I get that they were trying to modernize it... I suppose... and I mean, I guess they couldn't just take the same award-winning graphics, again... for some reason. The worst part about these graphics was the initial feeling of disappointment when I turned it on. I would have been 100% satisfied if I turned this game on and it had been a pixel for pixel transfer of the SNES game onto my 3DS and every cutscene, level, character, and the entire plot was exactly the same. I have an old CRT television for my old systems, but hooking them up is a chore and playing one of the best games ever created on my 3DS would have been just fine.

I genuinely attempted to get over the graphics. I really, really did. I mean, if you've made it this far, then you read what I wrote at the beginning of this post - gameplay and graphics are features that are exclusive of each other. That is not a statement I've come to accept recently, I've felt that way for many years. But try as I might, I could not get over this hurdle. The graphics had slaughtered the whimsical feel of this game for me and I was incapable of enjoying it.

I will never again know happiness

The graphics changed the entire game for me. The graphics are, from an objective standpoint, pretty decent graphics - but they don't fit. This is what bad graphics truly are.

Cubivore is a game with weird animals whose bodies and legs are made up out of... cuboid shapes.

I looked up that word

This was one of my favorite games for Gamecube. The graphics are low quality and they sort of get away with not really making character models by making all the creatures exist as different combinations of cuboid shapes, flat cuboids and varying colors.

you tear off and eat your enemies' 'limbs' -
- as in, their cuboid slabs

They take it and run with it, though, and the result is a game that was incredibly fun and immersive. If the game wasn't composed of cube animals that ate each other's cubes to gain their strength, it wouldn't have even been the same!

Graphics don't have to be HD, cutting edge, memory-hogging, stunning mirrors of reality to be "good," and you can ruin a game in the blink of an eye if you make graphics that don't fit the feel. This is the reality of the impact of graphics. If someone tries to tell you that "graphics don't matter," they are just as off-base as the kid who says a game is horrible because of its low quality graphics.


  1. What cracks me up is that two people found that guy's review of MC useful.

  2. I agree, sometimes a game would be stellar graphics but the gameplay is just flawed; like certain Xbox games that I won't mention. Other times they aren't that great, and unfortunately was one of the reasons I didn't start playing wow early '04/'05 because of my youthful bias.