To say that the critical reaction to Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in recent weeks has been positive would be a huge understatement. Reviews for the flagship game for the company’s new Switch console have been unanimous in their verdict that the title is a true modern classic. So many elements have come in for praise from critics, but one specific aspect which has consistently been commented on is the stunning design work that has gone into the lush landscapes that Link explores during the game. In fact, a number of reviews point to the fact that the style is hugely reminiscent of the likes of Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, the celebrated works of the much-loved Japanese anime film studio Studio Ghibli.
Breath of the Wild is not the only game being released this year, which carries such influences. Developers Tequila Works recently confirmed that their much-anticipated puzzle and adventure title Rime – which is set to be released on the Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC – also carries the influence of Studio Ghibli, too.
These titles are just the latest in a long line to demonstrate how anime, manga and other Asian influences continue to have a lasting impact on all types of gaming. The link between Asian influences and consoles is, of course, massive, not least with Nintendo and Sega – two of the industry’s biggest names – being headquartered in Japan. However, away from consoles, Asian culture can be seen across a number of other types of gaming from arcades and mobile to even online casinos.
In terms of the latter, the Golden Legend online slot game on Guts.com uses traditional Asian imagery and music to create a unique and stylish atmosphere compared to other slot titles. Furthermore, many other sites of this kind offer takes on the traditional game of Pai Gow, which is based around dominoes. There is also Pai Gow Poker, a variation based around using cards rather than tiles.
Like online casinos, arcade games also carry a strong Asian influence in them, particularly through the use of ninjas and samurai’s in an action setting. A classic example of this is Shinobi, a side-scrolling action adventure originally released by Sega in 1987, which saw players take on the role of a ninja attempting to save a group of students from the clutches of terrorists. The game proved to be so popular that the original coin-op version was made available to download on both the Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360’s arcade services in more recent years.
Elsewhere, traditional Asian games remain a huge draw in mobile gaming, with Mahjong, of course being hugely popular. For the uninitiated, the solitaire-like game, which has its origins in China, sees players attempt to deconstruct a pyramid of colorful tiles by removing them in pairs. All in all, it is fair to see that Asian culture and influences have dominated the world of gaming for decades – and we haven’t even got around to mentioning Pokémon yet either. Breath of the Wild has undoubtedly shown that the demand for games, which take their cues from Japanese and wider Asian design remains higher than ever – whether it is in console gaming, online slots or elsewhere. It is exciting to consider how such influences will continue to be showcased in the future.
Andy has been writing since the age of 15 about animation, technology and gaming.
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