Low poly graphics are graphics that have a low polygon count. These are graphics that are reminiscent of the N64/PS1 generation. Whenever I say that I genuinely like the look of low poly graphics, people immediately accuse me of just being a victim of nostalgia. I guess enjoying a game that you played years ago and then picking it up and enjoying it again means that you are blinded by nostalgia goggles.
Yeah, I’ll admit that having good memories of playing a game can make a game seem better. It can be fun to try to recreate those memories that you previously captured. However, I’m not really talking about a specific game. I’m talking about the graphics style in general. I love the simplicity of the low polygon count character models and textures.
In the current year, there are tons of games with mind blowing graphics. Now it is reasonable to make a game that has super realistic visuals. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game that visually blew my mind when it came out. We are getting to the point where photo-realistic graphics are probably not far off.
With that said, one of the things that I love about games on the N64 is that photo-realistic games were not a possibility. These limitations on the developer made them get really creative with how games looked. I love the colorful and surreal worlds that these games take place in. Of course, in the modern day there are games that don’t look like the real world, but this was a necessity for almost every game in previous generations.
I absolutely love the art style and direction of games like Super Mario 64, Rayman 2, and the N64 Zelda games. As much as I love games with realistic graphics, I also like to sit down and suspend reality when I play a game. I want to step into the cartoony worlds.
When developers had to get creative with the art style in games, a lot of the time they had to reuse a lot of in game textures and models and it the end it saved a lot of time in the development process. I like when developers spend more time focused on the mechanics of the game and how to actually make it fun instead of spending so much time on making realistic looking games.
I think its important for game to have a focused direction for the art style of the game, but I think the gameplay is far more important than the graphics being perfect. I have played a lot of big triple-A titles that looked beautiful, but just aren’t that fun. I have also played a lot of indie games that didn’t look like anything special, but were really fun.
Modern Low Poly Games
There has been a big resurgence in games that use 16-bit graphics. Among indie developers, retro style platformers have been really popular over the last few years. I am hoping that the next step is for late-90s/early-2000s low poly graphics to come back. There is already a few examples of this.
Here are some modern games that make great use of this graphical style:
From the same developer as Macbat 64, here is Toree 3D:
Here is an N64 inspired horror game called Earl’s Day Off:
I recommend downloading and checking out all three of these games. They are all really fun and really different experiences. We need to give indie developers our support so that we can see more games like this in the future.