Submitted by snipes101 1209d ago | opinion piece

The 5 Best Uses of Cel-Shading in Video Games

In this writer's mind, there is nothing more beautiful in this world than a cel-shaded video game (I am guilty of purchasing games based entirely off of the inclusion of cel-shaded visuals). The vibrant colors and charming aesthetics bring a certain warmth to any video game world that is sadly not seen enough in a generation concerned first and foremost with gritty realism. It's sounds cliche and cranky, I know. But stereotypes don't appear out of thin air y'know. Here is a list of games that not only buck this trend, but do so using cel-shading in such a way as the visuals transform from just visuals into characters themselves. (Culture, Dark Cloud 2, GameCube, Jet Set Radio Future, Jet Set Radio HD, okami, PS2, PS3, The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Valkyria Chronicles, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360)

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MultiConsoleGamer  +   1209d ago
This author sums up my feelings perfectly.

My friends and I just had this headed discussion over the proper use of cell shading. One of my gamer pals HATES the cell shading in Borderlands 2, but he loves games like Jet Grind Radio and Zelda Wind Waker.

I personally prefer cell shading that looks cartoonish or like "living art," such as games like Okami.
ASTAROTH  +   1209d ago
Have any of you played The Darkness 2?? It looks like a fukn comic... Also Gravity Rush, SSF4, MvsC 3 and some others looks very good. But I think the selection is spot on...
BISHOP-BRASIL  +   1208d ago
The much I hate cell shading in some games, I love it in others... And it has nothing to do with art-ish vs cartoon-ish settings for me.

What makes me mad is that some games seens like they can't get the same feeling to everything. For example, Prince of Persia had some great cell shading in characters but they simply didn't set well with the environment, I don't know what it is technically but I got the same feeling from SF4/MvC3 engine and Borderlands.

I think Okami is a great example not just because it set a great art style with cell shading, but because it's able to give the same feeling to every corner of its beautyful world. This makes the whole setting more believable.

One game I would love to see with cell chading (if done right) is Infamous. The comic book "cutscenes" are great, would love to see the whole game looking like that... But as they say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", it already looks good and changing the franchise look in the third game would probably be awkward, but would love to see some superhero game with a real comic book art style.
InTheZoneAC  +   1209d ago
Hate the cel shading for Zelda.

Love it for Borderlands, Street Fighter, Marvel vs Capcom, Okami, Prince of Persia, Sly Cooper Trilogy, snd Rayman Origin's.
Lucretia  +   1209d ago
same, absolutely ruined link when windwaker came out. made him look like an egyption drawing but uglier.

the cell shading was great, but the art style was hideous and still is.

i also hated borderlands cell shading. and im not sure if rayman is cell shading lol, i think they are just 2d sprites, i could be wrong though :P

and okami is gorgeous
ThanatosDMC  +   1208d ago
Wind Waker had the best cell-shading back in the day.

Also, Budokai 3 isnt on here. Weird
InTheZoneAC  +   1208d ago
24 disagrees?

what If I said I liked every zelda games except Link's Adventure and dislike every zelda for n64, gamecube, and wii?

I'll replay all the one's from nes, snes, gbc, gba, but don't give a damn about all the new one's.

I'm expecting 30 disagrees and 5 agrees, get to it.
schlanz  +   1207d ago
Wind Waker is one of the best Zelda games and the art direction is timeless.
joab777  +   1209d ago
Borderlands look is great but I am sure that if it looked realistic it would be fine. Its the loot, classes and co op. That being said, the charm is there. Would the new ni no kuni be cell shaded or just cartoonish. It is gonna be gorgeous and great.
#1.3 (Edited 1209d ago ) | Agree(2) | Disagree(1) | Report | Reply
Chuk5  +   1209d ago
No Viewtiful Joe?
HammadTheBeast  +   1209d ago
No Gravity Rush/Daze? Really surprising. It's art style is amazing...
ASTAROTH  +   1209d ago
Im very anxious to see and play Ninokuni... that game could end up being something...
neogeo  +   1208d ago
No punch out Wii
LocutusEstBorg  +   1209d ago
No Budokai 3?
NukaCola  +   1209d ago

I love toon-shading and Wind Waker mastered it like no other.
Skizelli  +   1209d ago
Am I the only one who liked XIII?
hoolesy  +   1209d ago
No you're not, you beat me to it! XIII (or "thirteen" if roman numerals don't tickle your fancy), was quite groundbreaking looks-wise if I remember rightly. It was of course back in the day - 2003. I blatted in on the Xbox. Let down a bit with gameplay but like Jet Set it was very unique. Ze French people at Ubisoft Paree did a good effort.
mcstorm  +   1209d ago
Well said was just about to put this to. Amazing looking game for its time but imo JSRF and JSR are two of the best ever created for looks and game play.
AbyssGravelord  +   1208d ago
God I loved XIII still have it for PS2. I used to rock the online on Xbox Live back in it's early days. So much fun.
Skizelli  +   1208d ago
I wish they'd make a sequel. It had a really good cliffhanger.
listenkids  +   1209d ago | Well said
Fear Effect!
Information Minister  +   1209d ago
You deserve another bubble just for mentioning that game. Fear Effect did cell shading before it was even called cell shading... and on the PS1!
Menashe  +   1209d ago
That's the game with "the elevator scene", no?
christian hour  +   1209d ago
@Mensahe Just to clarify, That was Fear Effect 2 ;)

I must have been around 11 or 12 when my brother bought the first fear effect game, I remember everytime I was playing it, i was half terrified by the games atmosphere, and the other half from fear my parents would walk in and catch me playing what was essentially gore porn :P
#3.1.2 (Edited 1209d ago ) | Agree(2) | Disagree(1) | Report
godzilla72  +   1209d ago
Fear Effect 3 was supposed to come out for the PS2, but was cancelled. Then they were heavily considering releasing it for the PS3, still no word. Love the first 2 games, still have Retro Helix!
Dark_Overlord  +   1209d ago
lol Fear Effect, still have it somewhere, used to be able to speedrun it in less than 20mins :)
Serjikal_Strike  +   1209d ago
Im hoping for a new Fear Effect...
godzilla72  +   1209d ago
Fear Effect 3 was supposed to come out for the PS2, but was cancelled. Then they were heavily considering releasing it for the PS3, still no word. Love the first 2 games, still have Retro Helix!
SimpleSlave  +   1209d ago
Sadly Fear Effect was not rendered using Cel-Shading, like Jet Grind Radio was. Hence why it probably wouldn't fit on this list.

It does, however, emulate the style through texture maps though. And it does a good job at it. But it's not the same as the games mention in the list.

And if we want to get technical then I'll bring Aladdin, Out of This World, and Flashback from the sega genesis days as among the first games to truly emulate cel-shading style.

guitarded77  +   1209d ago
Don't know if those are indeed the 5 best cel-shaded games ever, but they are 5 kick ass games indeed. Should go ahead and make it a 6 list with Boarderlands.

@Skateboard (below)
Gravity Rush for sure.
#4 (Edited 1209d ago ) | Agree(7) | Disagree(1) | Report | Reply
Skateboard  +   1209d ago
Gravity Rush.
AznGaara  +   1209d ago
Agreed. The way objects fade into the background in that game is beautiful.
LiViNgLeGaCY  +   1209d ago
Yep, I also agree. The way it's used in that game is absolutely amazing.
dark-hollow  +   1209d ago
It's pretty sad that WW on dolphin blows a lot of "next gen" games in overall looks.
omarzy  +   1209d ago
WW without dolphin looks better than most of this gen as well
vickers500  +   1209d ago
That's the power of art style in gaming, and why it should be prioritized over super high res textures. Give a game the latest super high res textures, and it will look amazing for about 2-5 years (even less for console games), but once the next gen ushers in, those super high res games are forgotten and become known as great looking "at the time".

But give a game a great and creative art style, and the game will never look dated and ugly. Look at Shadow of the Colossus, Okami, Wind Waker, Super Mario Sunshine (looks amazing on dolphin), and those games which go for a very artistic direction instead of a realistic one.

Even today these games with great art styles look far better than a lot of the crap out there, even though they're inferior on every technology based level, they still manage to look amazing.

Games with beautiful art styles have even driven me to buy games just because of how beautiful the art style looked. A couple of examples of that are folklore and valkyria chronicles. I own both of them and I don't even really like the gameplay all that much, but Folklore was worth the 20 bucks because it's just SOOO damned beautiful and vibrant. It still remains one of the best looking games I've ever seen, all because of the art style and not some fancy shallow textures.

Not THE best, but REALLY close. The best looking game I've ever seen is Journey (when you're sand surfing and the sun is just beautifully reflecting off the gorgeous sand).
#6.2 (Edited 1209d ago ) | Agree(12) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
snipes101  +   1209d ago
Agree completely. Look at Xenoblade Chronicles. Not graphically insane by any standards, but the art style is so great that it makes up for it.

Cel-shading makes games future proof and far mroe attractive. Hell, I bought El Shaddai just because of the art style.
christian hour  +   1209d ago
A lot of games from the gamecube still stand up pretty well today, alot of people seem to forget that last gen nintendo had the more graphically capable console over xbox and ps2. The remake of resident evil one still surpsises me today with its ambient lighting and realtime reflections, even these days on 360 and ps3 that stuff is faked a lot.
nikoado  +   1209d ago
Is "Journey" considered a cell shaded game?

That game is amazingly beautiful.
#7 (Edited 1209d ago ) | Agree(16) | Disagree(1) | Report | Reply
guitarded77  +   1209d ago
Journey is not cel-shaded, but it is a beautiful game.
WildArmed  +   1209d ago
Prince of Persia was very nicely done too, beautiful cell shading
Information Minister  +   1209d ago
Indeed. I was surprised to see it wasn't included on the list. It's also a little sad that only 1 of those games is current-gen. Maybe the author should have done a top 10 list.
WildArmed  +   1209d ago
Indeed, we had some pretty nice cell-shaded games this gen.
Fyflin  +   1209d ago
Good list. I thought Wind Waker had so much effort and personality, being cel shaded really brought the characters to life.

Would love to see a couple of original cel shaded games next gen, they could look truly amazing in 1080p.
ACBAA  +   1209d ago
oh my god, Jet Set Radio Future.. my first game ever
damn i feel like im 7 again watching this gameplay video
DasTier  +   1209d ago
Hmmn I always though Borderlands looked pretty cool, but my favourite use of cell shading was in the original crackdown.
AznGaara  +   1209d ago
Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm series should be on this list, I mean it looks just like the anime. Hell even better.
Yangus  +   1209d ago
And Eternal Sonata....very nice cel-shading JRPG game.
#13 (Edited 1209d ago ) | Agree(8) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
nik666uk  +   1209d ago
BitbyDeath  +   1209d ago
Dragonball Budokai Tenkaichi Series (PS2)
#15 (Edited 1209d ago ) | Agree(5) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
Nakiro  +   1209d ago
Lack of Naruto on the list makes this list weak.
omarzy  +   1209d ago
ninja storm games have fantastic cell shading.
Menashe  +   1209d ago
Cel-shading almost lets a game mask its age. When you don't expect a game to look realistic you don't judge it with the same criteria.
kagon01  +   1209d ago
Rouge Galaxy, Tales of Synphonia, Crimson Tears, Oni, etc...
Skate-AK  +   1209d ago
Ni No Kuni
2pacalypsenow  +   1209d ago
No XIII?? And Borderlands?
#20 (Edited 1209d ago ) | Agree(5) | Disagree(2) | Report | Reply
Plagasx  +   1209d ago
Where the FUCK is Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm??

The game looked exactly like the show O_O
CanadianTurtle  +   1209d ago
I totally have to agree with you on that. I remember playing that for the first time and I was just blown by how closely the action looked to the anime.

Also, Borderlands looks great, but to be honest, the game's graphics grew on me. I hated Borderland's graphics at first glance, but as I gave the game a chance and started playing it a bit more, I realized how amazing the graphical style was. It was like a hybrid betweeen realism and cellshading!
snipes101  +   1209d ago
Herp derp I even played that game and I forgot it. Son of a...I had a list of cel-shaded games up on wikipedia for me to reference and everything.

I could have traded out Dark Cloud 2 for that in a second.
TheDivine  +   1209d ago
Tales of Vesperia, Wind Waker, Okami, Borderlands all were fantastic.

Im playing Gravity Rush right now and its pretty beautiful.
NeXXXuS  +   1209d ago
Dragon Quest VIII
vickers500  +   1209d ago
Oh how I wish that game would be remastered. That game would look even more amazing with no jaggies.
AKS  +   1209d ago
DQ VIII was one of the first games that came to mind. Level 5 is brilliant in using cel shading, and I am glad that their Dark Cloud 2 was included.
Menashe  +   1209d ago
Dragon Quest X is also cel-shaded but it actually looks worse than DQ8. Maybe that's because it's an MMO.
Infernostew  +   1209d ago
Killer 7
Ben_Giff  +   1208d ago
Yes, Killer 7 for sure.
tarbis  +   1209d ago
Atelier Arland series and Gravity Daze should be in that list too. =/
malypso  +   1209d ago
I was soooooo disappointed when I first seen The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, I was damn near in tears, as I was expecting the E3 demo they showcased showing off a mature Link fighting Gannon... After a few years I got over it, and gave it a shot; to my surprise, it really blew me away! The artistic direction Nintendo chose to go with was brilliant. I felt as if I was playing a cartoon 3D version of TLOZ: A Link to The Past. To this day, this game is the pinnacle icon of cel-shaded games, and just how fluid cel-shaded games can be.
InTheLab  +   1209d ago
Sly Cooper?
snipes101  +   1209d ago
I considered it, but this article was more about how the cell shading added to the game, not just how it made the game look.
HurstDarkStar  +   1209d ago
I'm amazed viewtiful joe wasnt one this list because it was like one of the most stylish cell- shaded games
attilayavuzer  +   1209d ago
Can we get a Dark Cloud 2 HD please? or a full blown sequel...
Drake117  +   1208d ago
Yes please
No_Pantaloons  +   1209d ago
Cell shading sucks. Lazy ass artists should be fired.
SeekDev  +   1209d ago
Glad you think them artists, they deserve the title.
Gigglefist  +   1208d ago
Cell Shading takes a great deal of work. I fail to see how it makes them lazy.
At least they're being constructive and not complaining about the art of others on a video game site...
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