I don't know what to say. I enjoy reading Joystiq -- aside from the odd scandal here or there (HUGE Nintendo Wii News Tonight) the site is an invaluable source of news and often links to excellent externally posted articles on gaming and other areas besides. However, as I write this, I'm stunned by something that they've published.
Vladimir Cole posted an interesting set of insights into The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess... absolutely slating it.
I'm of course open to any interpretations of Twilight Princess from anybody, despite how much I am anticipating the game -- but I just can't understand what he's getting at. I felt compelled to write an article as somewhat of a public rebuttal to what he's said, and also to try to make sense for myself and others of the points he was trying to make. His points are as murky as he claims the graphics of Twilight Princess are, and he gives little real justification, only making three real points. Here are my three real counterpoints.
All the leaves are brown... Yeah, I can accept that. Can I take it as a negative aspect of the game? Not quite. Shadow of the Colossus has a very beautiful art style -- however, it's made up primarily of dark, monochrome colours. Does this make the game bad? Does this make the art style or the graphics bad? Not in my opinion. Your point here, Mr Cole, is particularly badly made. You imply that with a lack of a broad palette of colours that all character of a town or village in the game is instantly lost.
To me this is absolute rubbish. There's far more to the character of a location in any game, from the supporting NPC characters to the music to even the actions your character can perform there. While art style is undoubtedly important, towns can still have plenty of character with a terrible art style -- and that aside, the darkened, murky colours of Twilight Princess are actually there for a reason. From the very announcement we have been treated to muddy browns and oranges, with much of the legendary E3 announcement trailer set against a blazing orange sunset.
The game is a darker title -- the dark, murky colours are supposed to evoke the adult, gritty and realistic feel that surrounds the rest of the title -- this can even be seen in the costume design of Link himself, his bright green of previous games replaced with a realistic colour. If you look at the difference between the Link of old and the Link of Twilight Princess, it is much like looking at the old Batman Movies and Batman Begins - like Twilight Princess, the latter character has a realistic, gritty design to that fits the style of the world he is in.
The same applies to Link -- not just in his costume, but also in the way he moves around and controls. Twilight Princess is more real. Undoubtedly if Twilight Princess was Wind Waker 2, there would be cried of "olol kidtendo!" and if it followed the middle road of the style that was in OOT, that too would've been called childish. They've gone for a realistic style, and now it's not colourful enough! Jesus Christ, Nintendo really can't win.
Okay, my final point on the leaves being brown -- different locations in the game are differently designed. The farm Link starts on is full of lush greens with a blue sky, and so are many other locations in the game. But Death Mountain is still too brown!
Okay, Vladimir -- The engine. Well, I can't say you grabbed my attention or entirely convinced me with the comment about the signs. The first thing you complain about is something that has been a part of the Zelda series from the outset. My question to you is this: If Nintendo don't want voice acting, do you really think they give a damn about having to press A to read a sign?
The fact is, in Zelda signs play a far bigger role than they did in Oblivion. I've clocked over 60 hours on Bethesda's RPG on the 360 and in all that time not once did I have to read a sign. Signs above stores were shaped according to the store, so all I looked for was a shape -- everything else was taken care of by the handy map in the menu. The other thing the signs in Oblivion were useful for were playing with the physics -- hurray for making signs above shops swing by hitting them! Fun.
In Oblivion, I am most disappointed that books do not actually have their name on the spine. Therefore in the castle bookshelves, I have to centre my cursor on each book to find out the contents. This is a disgrace and is ruining the immersion.
See how ridiculous that sounds? That's basically the same complaint applied to Oblivion. What's more, I really don't see what this has to do with graphics anyway -- as I said, it's customary of the Zelda series, and isn't really a huge issue. It isn't game-crippling, and as many of the screenshots have demonstrated, the graphics in Zelda are just fine for a jazzed-up Gamecube title, with some wonderful (but brown) landscapes being portrayed from what's been seen so far.
My final criticism of your article would be your closing comments. Interestingly, you say "To give any Wii titles a fair shake, we're going to have to compare them to Xbox, PlayStation 2, and GameCube games."
I find it particularly stupid and unfair to attack the console and it's line-up as a whole based on Zelda. While it is without a doubt the most anticipated Wii title, it began life as a Gamecube title and is undoubtedly graphically still only a slightly prettier port of a Gamecube title. To judge Wii games as a whole based on this is as bad as judging the Xbox 360's potential based on how Halo 2 looks upscaled to HD resolution and smoothed over by the 360's power -- which, let's face it, would be downright stupid. While we all know the Wii is weaker, Zelda is by no mark an indication of it's power, and you shouldn't treat it as such.
Well, that's my two cents. Thanks for reading, people.