The Wii U is hardly the leader in terms of graphical or hardware power for the current console generation, and yet games like Super Mario 3D World (above) and Super Mario Kart 8 have an amazing sheen to them that blows all the competition out of the water. Sure The Witcher 3 looks stunning but it lacks that certain sparkle that makes a Nintendo game stand out. I first noticed it when playing Super Mario Galaxy, how every surface was smooth and colourful, with an attention paid to its finer details that means however close you peek you’ll struggle to find blemishes. Flat, otherwise blank surfaces have a character of their own: brickwork is actually raised, clouds are genuinely fluffy and gold actually shines. And this extends to the animations, where even the simplest interaction will result in a gleefully cartoonish shattering of brick blocks, or a delectably cute bouncing accompanied by friendly sounds.
Take, for instance, the Fizzlit:
Here we see the Fizzlit in it’s neutral form, a tooth-shaped purple blob with jagged mouth and yellow eyes. Note the smoothness in its contours and the shine on it’s jelly body. As it sits there, no doubt contemplating the mysteries of the universe, it wobbles and bounces. Soon though it will vibrate slightly more vibrantly, squashing itself down into this:
At first glance it may appear flat, but again it is not. There is a slight mound where it’s eyes and mouth exist, sloping down to the edges. The corners are rounded too. Nothing about this individual is blunt or ugly. Then, when it rises back into it’s purple form, it will do a little bounce as it settles again. Also take note of the bricks it sits on: soft, smooth, rounded. Super Mario 3D World, despite being populated by electric jelly monsters, vast pools of lava and mechanical spike traps looks and feels more like a children’s play area where all the sharp edges have been rounded off. It’s a beautiful place to look at.