5 March 2016

6 Old Games with Surprisingly Stunning Visuals

As they say, age is just a number

In less than half a century we've seen video games go from Pong to The Order 1886, and with each passing year and its demand for the next big innovation, graphics have always been a focus for improvement. Amidst all the hype around never-before-seen graphical realism and butter-smooth frame rates, it's easy to forget that there was once a time when gameplay could look good without the existence of high definition - and this post is an ode to those simpler days. Below are my top six games, all ten or more years old, with surprisingly stunning visuals for their age.


6: Shadow of the Colossus
One of the most beautiful and emotionally engaging titles for the Playstation 2, Shadow of the Colossus' sprawling environments and gargantuan boss enemies are just as nice to look at as they are intimidating. The mixture of fear and amazement that you feel watching vast and unexplored areas slowly fade in, or seeing a Colossus' fur flutter in the wind, is just as potent now as it was in 2005.


5: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Everything in Minish Cap is so bright, lush, and adorable that I reckon it gives Wind Waker's famed cuteness a run for its money. It's a bold claim, I know, but I have the hyperlinked proof to back it up right here. Considering also that the title is for the GameBoy Advance, a handheld console technologically inferior to bigger machines, the visibility and smoothness of minute details is astonishing.


4: Golden Sun
While Golden Sun is one of my most beloved series of all time, its spot on this list isn't solely down to favouritism. Maybe it's because the games were originally intended to be developed for the Nintendo 64 that their visuals are so much more vibrant and detailed compared to most other GBA titles of the same year. The first game was also highly praised at the time of its release for its dynamic, striking summon animations.


3: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
The first properly established Metroidvania and (some say) the best Castlevania of all time provides not only solid gameplay and an engaging story, but a feast for the eyes also. The character sprites are admittedly a little choppy-looking (as was standard for the original Playstation), but the attention to detail on those backgrounds is superb! Just make sure to kill all the enemies in a room before you stop and stare - this game is hard and those guys don't play around.


2: Splatterhouse
The standout feature of this side scrolling action arcade game is, of course, the gore, and it's just as well that it looks good because there's an absolute ton of it. Whether it's the enemies you're hacking to death or the backdrop to your murder spree, pretty much anything you'll encounter is oozing or splattered with some sort of flesh, blood, or slime, and the fact that it still looks horrifying in the era of games like Dead Space speaks volumes as to its quality design.


1: Contra
Despite coming out on the same console as the first Zelda just one year later, Contra makes such better use of 8bit art design and the NES' colour palette that you'd think it much younger. Just look at those dark yet vivid hues and that shading on the alien boss' head. Sorry, Link, but even Zelda II didn't look this good.