For decades, Nintendo’s artists have been stuck churning out cartoon art to fill the halls of the Mushroom Kingdom. Which is fine! But in recent years, the company has let them off the leash on games like Splatoon and ARMS, and the results have been nothing short of extraordinary.

Nintendo, the home of Mario and Zelda, is the last major studio on Earth you’d expect to be coming up with stuff that is contemporary, and fashionable, and cool, yet here we are: regardless of how they play (and Splatoon plays very well anyway), they’re two of the most striking and identifiable titles in modern video games.

Just look at this art released for ARMS and Splatoon 2 earlier today. Look at the character design on ARMS, drawing from pop culture tropes in a way that feels fun rather than forced. Look at Splatoon 2, managing to nail streetwear (and sneakers especially) better than any Grand Theft Auto or skating game ever could. Look at both of them and the way they incorporate clean, modern graphic design in their logos and signage.

I’m not saying this is new and sudden; if you wanted to really poke at it, you could see the genesis of Nintendo caring more about appearances by drawing a line from Wind Waker’s stylised and timeless art through to Mario Kart 8's course and kart design. But it’s exploded with these games, it’s a revelation, and I love it.


To see the images in their native resolution, click on the “expand” button in the top-left corner.

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Fine Art is a celebration of the work of video game artists, showcasing the best of both their professional and personal portfolios. If you’re in the business and have some concept, environment, promotional or character art you’d like to share, drop us a line!