There is a lot of great work in the world, but sometimes you come across something that blows everything else out of the water. What makes it different? In many cases, it’s the attention to detail.
Attention to detail can be found everywhere. It’s why Helvetica is such a timeless font, used on road signs, office documents and everything in between. It’s why we hold Michelangelo’s “David” in high regard. This is why many people are willing to pay extra for a MacBook over a PC.
When I say “polish,” I’m talking about that high standard for quality. An expectation that goes beyond the base requirements. These high standards drive brand loyalty, often earning that all-important second glance.
Nintendo in particular has earned a reputation. Nearly every game it publishes, especially flagship titles, are highly acclaimed. Everything from music to mechanics is fine-tuned to offer an exceptionally engaging and rewarding experience.
Even as far back as the ’80s, Nintendo was setting the bar. Running through a dungeon as an 8-bit Mario may seem simple enough, but little things — like an extra life or a secret warp zone — made it feel deeper than it really was.
“Yoshi’s Island” managed to make chasing a screaming baby fun, and Pokemon created a world where it was perfectly fine to leave home as a child and make small animals fight.
These games are very different but follow a common thread. Each was exceptionally well polished. Every sprite was programmed with all the love and care someone could give to an 8-bit graphic. The stage designs were consistent from start to finish. Even the music was memorable and engineered to fit the themes.
You see the same care in every frame of a Pixar movie, each new Google doodle, or in the handmade arm rests of a Ferrari. These high standards elevate brands and bring loyalty and interest from consumers. In the case of Nintendo, polish makes for timeless and enjoyable experiences.
Care and scrutiny should be a lesson for all artists, whether they focus on interactive media, sound design or performance art. Don’t just stop when it’s good enough. Keep polishing until you’ve got a mirror finish. If you don’t, you might not make it through the Earth Temple.