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5 Games Which Prove That Cel-Shaded Graphics Are Here To Stay

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Cel-shaded graphics are representative of a bygone era for some. In the modern gaming landscape, it is a visual style that is rarely seen in AAA releases; barring the Vintage Comic Book Suit seen in Insomniac’s Spider-Man game. Instead, cel-shaded graphics are more commonly used in either AA or indie titles and may be seen as a way for a studio to cut development costs.

Frankly, it is bizarre that this is the case given the sheer amount of older titles which still look great, all thanks to their cel-shaded graphics. In this list, we will list five examples that speak to the enduring longevity of cel-shaded graphics and why that style still has a place and deserves to be utilized more in the contemporary era of gaming.

Cel- shaded graphics


The amalgamation of the cel-shaded textures being used, the distinctive Speed Racer-like costume design of the characters and the sharp color palette seen in Rollerdrome make the whole game pop. Regardless of what environment the player happens to be playing in, the comic book-esque visuals blend perfectly with the visceral level of bloodsport on display.

The combination of bold colors and unique character design evokes a nostalgic fusion of Saturday morning cartoons and captivating Pop Art. The futuristic, dystopian aesthetic calls to mind something akin to the gritty action and sci-fi movies of the 1970s like Death Race 2000 or Rollerball.

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Hi-Fi Rush

Remember when Insomniac’s Ratchet and Clank reboot first launched and it was compared by many to the video game equivalent to a Pixar movie? Well if you have fond childhood memories of the shows of the Cartoon Network’s heyday and have always wanted to play a game in that style, then Hi-Fi Rush comes highly recommended.

The cel-shaded graphics in Hi-Fi Rush are extremely stylish and are a huge part of what makes the game so visually stunning. The immaculate presentation of the cutscenes in Hi-Fi Rush does a fantastic job of showing off the gorgeous cel-shaded textures. All of this means that despite using cel-shaded graphics, Hi-Fi Rush is undoubtedly one of the best looking games released so far this year.

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Ultimate Spider-Man

Although Ultimate Spider-Man was released in 2005, the game still looks great today which speaks to the timeless appeal of cel-shaded graphics. This artistic choice adds a certain charm to the game and it also works here on another level too, as it is reminiscent of a comic book illustration. By utilizing cel-shading, which emphasizes bold outlines and vibrant colors, the game successfully captures the dynamic and energetic essence of comic book storytelling.

Despite the progress made in video game development technology in the years since this game’s release, Ultimate Spider-Man’s cel-shaded graphics remain visually stunning through a modern lens. This deliberate design not only pays tribute to the source material but also ensures the game has aged gracefully. The clean outlines and the distinct color palette help to enhance visual clarity, making the game instantly recognizable and strikingly appealing.

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A few years ago, a remake of XIII was released. Despite the litany of technical issues which that game suffered from, it was the choice to depart from the iconic cel-shaded style of the original game that truly hammered home the remake’s failure. For some bizarre reason, the developers opted to go for a Fortnite-esque aesthetic for the remake, which did not go down well at all with fans of the original game.

Due to the immense backlash received, the developers then went back an implemented an update to the game, which essentially applied a cel-shaded filter over all of the in-game visuals. This did admittedly make the game look closer to the original, however it still failed to look as appealing as the version released in 2003 and bafflingly it only applies to gameplay sequences, meaning that the pre-rendered cutscenes still carry that ugly original look.

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Like the previous two entries, Killer7 is another title that first released in the mid-2000s and was renowned at the time for its unique and unconventional visual style, which set it apart from its contemporaries. The distinct artistic direction is achieved by blending cel-shaded graphic with surrealism and film noir camera techniques to create a visually striking experience.

What sets Killer7 apart from other games that use cel-shaded graphics is the seamless integration of surreal and abstract elements into the game world. Suda51’s masterpiece features dreamlike environments, distorted perspectives, and bizarre character designs that blur the line between reality and imagination. Even today, Killer7’s unique visual style remains a testament to the studio’s unwavering artistic vision and has solidified the game’s status as an undisputed cult classic.

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More cel-shaded graphics

And there you have it, five examples of games that use cel-shaded graphics and prove that it is a timeless art style. Are there any other examples of stunning games that use a cel-shaded aesthetic that we missed out on this list? Let me know over on Twitter @danboyd95 and be sure to follow FandomWire for more entertainment coverage on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

Written by Daniel Boyd

Daniel is a 27-year-old writer from Glasgow. He graduated from university with an honours degree in 3D Animation, before pivoting to pursue his love for critical writing. He has also written freelance pieces for other sites such as Game Rant, and The Big Glasgow Comic Page. He loves movies, video games and comic books.