A look into their use in video games.
*I just wish to point out that in Ireland, it is spelled ‘colours’, but I can’t stand having a red line under my work for no reason.*
Color in video games, like everything else, has come a long way in twenty or so years of gaming. Modern developers have access to every color and it’s variations at the movement of the mouse, and as a result games have been able to evolve distinctive styles such as cell-shading, abstract and even Photo-realism. However, even in the N.E.S era, colors were being utilized by game artists to stand out and attract. Here’s an example.
A Franchise is Born.
Here is a screenshot of the very first Mario title.
Notice how even then, bright colors were used to the game’s advantage. Mario’s distinctive red overalls, the fluffy white clouds and of course – the iconic green pipe. Sure, there’s a lot of brown in this screenshot. Sure, the graphics were not among the N.E.S’ finest, but you know what? This game looked the part. It was bright and shiny and appealing looking. This, coupled with it’s pixel – perfect game play ensured that a hero was born, and a franchise created.
People often rant that Nintendo’s games never reach their full potential due to being on weaker consoles. You often hear things such as
Imagine what Mario Galaxy would have looked like in HD..
Personally, I feel that Galaxy and it’s successor don’t need HD, due to such a strong art direction. Take a look at the picture below.
Notice the use of bright primary colors on the two leading figures. The use of whites and greens to counter the dark background. Mario Galaxy is the pinnacle of gaming from a color view. It is so rare to see a game that uses such a broad palette and in such a creative way. Galaxy revels in colors, and for me that triumphs over HD definition.
There is another game that must be mentioned for using color as a standout point, but in an entirely different way. In this game, color is only conspicuous in it’s absence.
Stuck in Limbo.
Take a look at this screenshot from Limbo, in which you face off against a horrific creature.
That there folks, is the stuff of nightmares. Limbo, the downloadable gem from PlayDead, is completely void of color. Yet this is one of the most atmospheric games ever made. It’s art style lends itself to creating powerful contrasts that add drama and tension to even the most mundane of situation. No user interface only adds to the minimalism feel as well as drawing in players completely.
The decision to make the game in a film-noir style lends well to the horror feel of the game. Despite having a monochromatic color scheme, Limbo’s artistic style is one of the best ever used in video games.
Color in video games are vital in creating a standout game, and yet many people ignore it’s contribution to the industry. However modern examples such as Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2, as well as Limbo prove that some developers still believe in their importance over achieving photo realism. And these games’ success proves that gamers believe this too.