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I am finding it hard to figure out the meaning of the clause "giving a nod to the original looks" here:

He redrew game characters by injecting new elements while giving a nod to the original looks.

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There are two very closely related terms you could confuse here. 'To give the nod' means to approve something https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/give-the-nod-to

Meanwhile 'a nod to' means 'a reference to something'

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/nod-to

Note that the difference is between the nod, and a nod. In other words 'the nod' means 'the approval', which is presumably a one-off event, and hence takes the definite article, whereas 'a nod' is an acknowledgement, which could be one of many acknowledgments and hence the indefinite article.

Therefore the sentence is saying that while the characters were drawn from scratch, the designs still take inspiration from the previous version - they have something in common, and aren't completely different.

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