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Ghost of Tsushima isn’t the first: when video games are black and white

Ghost of Tsushima isn’t the first: when video games are black and white

The Ghost of Tsushima developers put a black and white mode into their game, but they weren’t the first to do so. Let’s see them together.

Ghost of Tsushima will have an option called Samurai Cinema, which allows you to play the entire adventure in black and white to remember Akira Kurosawa’s films. There aren’t many games that adopt this particular graphic production, but in several cases their quality has been quite high. Between blockbusters, independent games, particular levels and strange DLCs, we retrace those memorable times in which we played without colors, or almost.

Just to warm up the engines, let’s start with a game that could only be in black and white, after all Pong it came out in 1972, when monochrome TVs were still the most used in the United States; for the record, the first color broadcast in Italy dates back to 1976.

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That of Saw And Platinum Games, is the only high-budget game in history to focus entirely on black and white. The only exception that is allowed MadWorld it is the red of the blood that will literally flow in streams anyway. The stylistic inspiration is clearly the Sin City by Frank Miller, while as regards the gameplay the Platinum Games have dusted off the classic hyper violent futuristic television program, a la Running Man to be clear. The result is a great little Nintendo Wii masterpiece that deserves a multi-format remastered sooner.

The Playdead game is the equivalent of Mad World in the field of independent games. Limbo is a rather classic platformer in essence, built around an at times extreme difficulty which, combined with the brave graphic style, made it a little too exclusive to bewitch the general public. It remains a very fascinating experiment whose diffused light, its impenetrable chiaroscuro, bring back to the great German cinema of the 1920s and to the deepest nightmares of each of us.

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Another quality independent game, totally in black and white, is the bewitching Night Call for PC. Despite some flaws, this sort of graphic adventure acquires an extraordinary weight thanks to its enormous visual impact, a fundamental piece of a dense and captivating atmosphere, just like the Paris at night in which it is set.

Then there are those games that allow you to activate black and white as a special effect, in some cases particularly suited to the atmosphere of the product. For example, Team Bondi’s LA Noire did it, where 1940’s California looks even more glamorous deprived of its original vivid color, and Ninja Gaiden II did it for the same reason it will. Ghost of Tsushima: pay homage to Akira Kurosawa. SquareEnix also played splendidly well with black and white, in the level dedicated to Steamboat Willie in Kingdom Hearts II, and through a DLC also Capcom in the remake of Resident Evil 2.

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Not exactly in black and white but still rather stingy in color, naturally by stylistic choice, we close with the very fast Fotonica, a charismatic endless runner like few others, and the wonderful The Return of Obra Dinn, where the graphic detail is drawn just as if we were playing on an old green phosphor screen.