As good as gaming is nowadays, that doesn't stop people from complaining about how bad we apparently have it. Some of these arguments are less than intelligent, like the idea that Japanese gaming is automatically better than Western, and the Japanese industry dying isn't due to mediocrity, but because an injustice is being served to it. However one argument I could get behind is the inclusion of more color into modern gaming. I don't mind a little grey-scale in some of the bleakest of shooters, but that's not to say I wouldn't like a little more of this...
and less of this...
That's why I decided to compile a list of games this generation that dare to have more colors than black and grey. There is just one stipulation on this list though. A game can not be on the Wii unless it happens to be multi-platform and not a port of a Wii game. The reason being that Nintendo games are usually colorful by default and this list would be too easy if I included the Wii. So without further ado, I present to you; The top ten most colorful games this generation.
Number 9. Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga
While I only really care about the original trilogy side of the game, there's no denying, whether you pick the prequels (though why would you?) or the originals, you're bound to be treated to some colorful and cartoony graphics through the course of the game. Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to Lego video games and the visuals follow that lead as well. The environments do a good job of offering semi-accurate versions of landscapes you saw in the movies, just rendered in Lego form. What makes the game colorful is the fact that Lego's are already colorful, with dark colors being more rare than bright reds, blues, greens, etc, and when given an HD sheen, the colors really stand out. The only detraction from the visuals is that, while a lot of things in the environment are meant to seem built out of Lego bricks, the backgrounds and the actual environments themselves are pretty uninteresting and standard video game graphics. It would have been really cool to have seen every thing in the game to be apart of some giant Lego creation rather than a couple of Lego's here and there in a random environment.
Number 8. Ratchet and Clank
You may be wondering which Ratchet and Clank game I'm talking about...Well take your pick. They all stand out as visual achievements, not so much through graphical power, but more because of visual design. While I've never actually played a Ratchet and Clank game, I do know good visuals when I see them. Ratchet and Clank has you taking the role of some creature, called a Lombax, and his mechanical friend named Clank. While I won't pretend to know about the plot of the games, I will pretend to know about the visuals. The game is what you get when you mix a cartoon character with odd weapons and enemies and throw that all together into bright, futuristic, but mostly standard looking environments. While the visual style is interesting, I don't think its enough to get me to play those games. The gameplay has never seemed all that special to me.
Number 7. Little Big Planet
LittleBigPlanet 1 and 2 might just be the most unique games on this list, both in gameplay and in visual design. While I could fill up a whole blog doing a summary and review of LittleBigPlanet and ts sequel, this article is about visuals, regardless of gameplay. As visually stimulating as the story missions created by the developers are, the real interesting catch of this game is that the visuals can be improved upon by users. They can't improve the graphics, but they can make their own designs, light shows, and all sorts of other incredible inventions, many of which affect things like lighting, and backgrounds rather than gameplay itself. I created one level where you hop on board a stone wheel careening down a series of hills while a laser light show danced around you. That was just one section of many where I was experimenting with different lighting. One of my favorite community levels from the first game was a roller coaster that spun around a pitch black level, only lit by series of spinning colored lights. While the game itself boasts some visually incredible levels in the story mode, its far more exciting to see what gamers can come up with.
Number 6. Sonic Generations
This 2011 game in the Sonic franchise had a lot riding on its success. Sonic games hadn't been all that great in a while barring Sonic colors and sonic the hedgehog episode 1, but luckily Sega delivered an experience that satisfied in both the gameplay side and also the visual side as well. Playing as sonic was exhilarating and fast in the modern levels as well as being a satisfying platformer in the classic levels. An often overlooked success of the game is the visual style. Besides looking amazing graphically overall, Sega really captured the vibrancy of the sonic games with their latest outing. Colors in games rarely look this bright and appealing. Best of all, the visuals hold up and look great even when you're traveling hundreds of miles per hour and there's rarely if any slowdown despite the constant action. If you're looking for a visual feast, you can't go wrong with this game.
Number 5. Rayman Origins
Speaking of old platformers that got a breath of fresh air, here we have Rayman Origins which brought the series back to its 2D roots. While for my money, the series hasn't gotten any better than Rayman 2: The Great Escape, which peaked at its platforming and atmospheric best, you can't deny the charm that Rayman Origins packs into a single game. With graphics straight out of a cartoon, its hard not to be sucked into the crazy Rayman universe with this game. What really sells the visuals (which are fantastic in their own right) is the fluidity of the gameplay. A cartoon isn't as appealing if the animation is stiff and thankfully this game doesn't suffer from that problem. But back to the visuals themselves, there's a whole range of colors on display and it seems like every level has something new it wants to show you. All in all, this is a game hard not to recommend to platformer fans and Rayman fans alike.
Number 4. Team Fortress 2
While I am sticking to console games and the only noteworthy version of Team Fortress 2 is on the PC; It did get released on the Xbox 360 and PS3 through the Orange Box so it gets by on a technicality. What I said about Rayman Origins being ripped from a cartoon also applies here, but instead of a platformer, you've got a team based shooter. The environments are not this games visual strong point. What is however, are the incredibly well designed characters that are brimming with personality. You could put these characters in a cartoon for kids and you wouldn't need to change the visuals or character designs one bit. You might have to change the parts where characters are blown up or killed by mini guns...you know, for the kids.
Number 3. Marvel vs Capcom 3
It could be the original or it could be ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. The fact is whatever version you play you'll be getting the same experience visually. More than any other game on this list, the screen will be jam packed with colors in any given second. Colorful sprites that fill up half the screen will unleash super moves that fill up the entire screen. No color from the spectrum is left unused in this game. When you're fighting, you won't be exploring large environments or even leaving your one screen, but Capcom uses this to their advantage by having every inch of the screen go towards pure, color-filled detail. Some people say that Marvel vs Capcom 3 is unbalanced. I'm too awed by the visual spectacle too notice. This is an example where fantastic gameplay meld with fantastic visuals to create one of the most interesting fighters out there.
Number 2. 3D Dot game heroes
3D Dot Heroes was a Playstation 3 exclusive that tried its best to emulate the gameplay of Zelda for the NES. And you know what? It succeeded. As solid as its gameplay, the real notable feature of this game is its amazing and stylish art style. Using 3D dots as the title implies the world and its enemies are assembled in ways to resemble 8 bit graphics. It turns out that when you mix the High Definition graphical power of current generation systems with the art style of games made 25 years ago, you end up with a visual style that can't be beat. On top of that you can create your own HD 8 bit creations with the character creator, so the sky is the limit when it comes to the main character's look.
Number 1. Sonic and Sega: All Stars Racing
Finally we come to the number one most colorful game this generation and I really do believe that if this game is not the most colorful then it at least has the best use of colors of all the games. Playing this game is one of the best visual experiences I've had on current generation consoles. Unless you play this game, it's hard to explain how vibrant this game really is. The colors range from tropical to neon, but it's always appealing with maybe the exception being the House of the Dead levels which are predictably brown. I could talk all I wanted about the amazing colors on display in Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing, but I think it would be better to just show you.