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Is Sea of Stars' 2D Artstyle a true evolution of the Golden Age of SNES 2D Pixel Art?

Rat Rage

Member


Sea of Stars looks beyond pretty. The artstyle is pretty awesome. However, the real kicker here is the execution of this pixel art artstyle. Everything has an amazing amount of detail, without being convoluted. Same goes for the animation. Hit detection looks great, too: you can feel there is a certain weight behind attacks, and the enemies react to your actions with nice little animations, too.

Seriously, this game's artstyle execution is an evolution of Chrono Trigger's pixel art. In fact, It's an absolute love letter to it. It's mind blowing how pretty this game is!

In an alternate video game industry timeline, this is how JRPG's would look like on an "SNES Pro" in the best case scenario.

Fuck "HD 2D" that so many upcoming pixel JRPGs use as their pseudo-evolution of 2D pixel art. EVERY "next-gen" 2D JRPG franchise should look like Sea of Stars. Heck, Chrono Trigger 2 should look like that! A new Breath of Fire should look like that. A new Final Fantasy Tactics should looks like that. A new Dragon Quest should look like that. A new Tactics Ogre should look like that. Secret of Mana 4 should look like that. Secre of Evermore 2 should look like that. Eiyuden Chronicle should looks like that. Final Fantasy 16 should look like that.

If you think about it, Sea of Stars artstyle is doing something extraordinary, because I think a lot of pixel art potential went missing during the transition from the 16 bit era to the 32 bit era, or better the infamous transition from 2D to 3D. I always felt that this transition happend too fast and that inbetween this transition, a lot of potential for beautiful 2D pixel art that both feels like an organic evolution of the 16 bit era and yet is not too far of a deviation of that era, remained untapped.

However, Sea of Stars feels like it is doing JUST THAT! To me this is a true evolution of the timeless 2D pixel art artstyles of the golden age SNES era, not "2D HD". I swear, when I saw the trailer for Sea of Stars, I was mesmerized. THIS is how I always dreamed something like a "Chrono Trigger 2" would look like...

I REALLY hope this becomes a new trend (hopefully some AAA JRPG developers start following, too)

What do you think?
 

Alexios

Cores, shaders and BIOS oh my!
What makes it a true evolution when it so closely resembles what was possible on 16 and 32 bit consoles for 2D games? By default going for pixel art, ie, low resolution 2D visuals, is not an evolution but a harkening back to that era as it was. It's hardly the first modern game with great pixel art.

Which doesn't mean it shouldn't be celebrated naturally, pixel art is still a worthy medium and can have good and bad results just like anything. But at the same time there's zero reason to put this one on a pedestal over so many other games that came before it and offered great art and content.

Whether already released (even old) like Owlboy, CrossCode, Cave Story, Eastward, The Last Spell, Blasphemus, Iconoclasts & many more or upcoming like this, Gestalt: Steam & Cinder, Bushiden & much more, plenty 2D games are showcasing the prowess of talented pixel artists & the medium.
 
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jshackles

Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the capability to make the world's first enhanced store. Steam will be that store. Better than it was before.
What makes it a true evolution when it so closely resembles what was possible on 16 and 32 bit consoles for 2D games? By default going for pixel art, ie, low resolution 2D visuals, is not an evolution but a harkening back to that era as it was. It's hardly the first modern game with great pixel art.

Which doesn't mean it shouldn't be celebrated naturally, pixel art is still a worthy medium and can have good and bad results just like anything. But at the same time there's zero reason to put this one on a pedestal over so many other games that came before it and offered great art and content.
This is what I was thinking as well. The real "evolution" of SNES-era 2d pixel art is found in games like Octopath Traveler and the upcoming Triangle Strategy and Dragon Quest III remake games.


 

Alexios

Cores, shaders and BIOS oh my!
The real "evolution" of SNES-era 2d pixel art is found in games like Octopath Traveler and the upcoming Triangle Strategy and Dragon Quest III remake games.
Those games look alright but I would prefer to have them in real full on 2D/pixel art or even modest low budget 3D (or a combination as seen in games like Ys Origin and Trails in the Sky that have both pixel art and old school low poly 3D like 32bit games) instead of this "HD 2D", it's not evolution.

I guess, technically, evolution would be the early move from low res 2D pixel art to high quality hand drawn art, introduced by Guilty Gear X back then, but it seems most games doing this since, especially in HD, lose something in animation, character, shading, etc., 2D is just hard & costs a ton 🤷‍♂️
 
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Knightime_X

Member
What excites me about advantage pixel art is how much animation is involved without looking like a 60fps 3d polygon model.

Slightly more detailed than standard pixel art but not enough to look like fluid 3d.
 
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Ozzie666

Member
This is what I was thinking as well. The real "evolution" of SNES-era 2d pixel art is found in games like Octopath Traveler and the upcoming Triangle Strategy and Dragon Quest III remake games.



It's nice, but I get where the OP is coming from, there is something slightly off about Octo. I think the other games are more a throw back and refinement of 16bit pixel art, which the OP may find more appealing, probably same with me. I think it's more than a coke vs pepsi thing here, but same ball park, and both look great. IF anything Octo might be to advance.
 
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TLZ

Member


Sea of Stars looks beyond pretty. The artstyle is pretty awesome. However, the real kicker here is the execution of this pixel art artstyle. Everything has an amazing amount of detail, without being convoluted. Same goes for the animation. Hit detection looks great, too: you can feel there is a certain weight behind attacks, and the enemies react to your actions with nice little animations, too.

Seriously, this game's artstyle execution is an evolution of Chrono Trigger's pixel art. In fact, It's an absolute love letter to it. It's mind blowing how pretty this game is!

In an alternate video game industry timeline, this is how JRPG's would look like on an "SNES Pro" in the best case scenario.

Fuck "HD 2D" that so many upcoming pixel JRPGs use as their pseudo-evolution of 2D pixel art. EVERY "next-gen" 2D JRPG franchise should look like Sea of Stars. Heck, Chrono Trigger 2 should look like that! A new Breath of Fire should look like that. A new Final Fantasy Tactics should looks like that. A new Dragon Quest should look like that. A new Tactics Ogre should look like that. Secret of Mana 4 should look like that. Secre of Evermore 2 should look like that. Eiyuden Chronicle should looks like that. Final Fantasy 16 should look like that.

If you think about it, Sea of Stars artstyle is doing something extraordinary, because I think a lot of pixel art potential went missing during the transition from the 16 bit era to the 32 bit era, or better the infamous transition from 2D to 3D. I always felt that this transition happend too fast and that inbetween this transition, a lot of potential for beautiful 2D pixel art that both feels like an organic evolution of the 16 bit era and yet is not too far of a deviation of that era, remained untapped.

However, Sea of Stars feels like it is doing JUST THAT! To me this is a true evolution of the timeless 2D pixel art artstyles of the golden age SNES era, not "2D HD". I swear, when I saw the trailer for Sea of Stars, I was mesmerized. THIS is how I always dreamed something like a "Chrono Trigger 2" would look like...

I REALLY hope this becomes a new trend (hopefully some AAA JRPG developers start following, too)

What do you think?
Yea I prefer this style to ugly, cheap-looking cell shaded style. It's beautiful.
 
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No, not really. For starters, it's not as fluid (at least in that video OP linked) as the best-looking SNES/MegaDrive/PC-Engine games of that generation. And while the resolution is obviously higher, color usage isn't as rich as most of the top-end JRPGs from that era, or the PS1/Saturn era for that matter (tho that could be due to the impression from seeing the specific areas in the video).

Meanwhile I think you can easily find several 2D games on PS1 and Saturn that are above this in everything but native resolution visually. I'm not trying to rag on the game, just the idea it's an evolution of big-budget 2D JRPGs on systems like SNES, because it doesn't really look the part. But keep in mind I'm only talking in terms of technical details; the artstyle itself (some choppiness on animation aside) looks great and in line with bigger-budget 2D JRPGs from PS1 and Sega Saturn, and with a higher resolution to boot.

It's nice, but I get where the OP is coming from, there is something slightly off about Octo. I think the other games are more a throw back and refinement of 16bit pixel art, which the OP may find more appealing, probably same with me. I think it's more than a coke vs pepsi thing here, but same ball park, and both look great. IF anything Octo might be to advance.

IMO Octopath is more an evolution of 2D PS1 and Saturn JRPGs/strategy-RPGs. Like if Final Fantasy Tactics got a 2D sequel on PS2, then got upresed for Switch. That's what Octopath Traveler feels like an evolution of to me.
 
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Alexios

Cores, shaders and BIOS oh my!
No, not really. For starters, it's not as fluid (at least in that video OP linked) as the best-looking SNES/MegaDrive/PC-Engine games of that generation. And while the resolution is obviously higher, color usage isn't as rich as most of the top-end JRPGs from that era, or the PS1/Saturn era for that matter (tho that could be due to the impression from seeing the specific areas in the video).

Meanwhile I think you can easily find several 2D games on PS1 and Saturn that are above this in everything but native resolution visually. I'm not trying to rag on the game, just the idea it's an evolution of big-budget 2D JRPGs on systems like SNES, because it doesn't really look the part. But keep in mind I'm only talking in terms of technical details; the artstyle itself (some choppiness on animation aside) looks great and in line with bigger-budget 2D JRPGs from PS1 and Sega Saturn, and with a higher resolution to boot.
Probably a case of rose tinted glasses, games didn't have that intricate animation, maybe if you imagine something that combines the detail and smoothness of Mark of the Wolf or Metal Slug and the expansive content of a Final Fantasy, Mana or Zelda game you'll get that but no game like that existed. Final Fantasy sprites are notoriously static (sucks they copy the "style" in their "HD 2D") and even ace 32bit 2D games like Suikoden didn't have that much animation in every little detail, far from it. It wasn't just technical specs stopping them but also the amount of work that involves.
IMO Octopath is more an evolution of 2D PS1 and Saturn JRPGs/strategy-RPGs. Like if Final Fantasy Tactics got a 2D sequel on PS2, then got upresed for Switch. That's what Octopath Traveler feels like an evolution of to me.
Why would a FF Tactics sequel on PS2 have worse animation and stuff than FF Tactics on PS1 (and GBA even). You went from rose tinted glasses thinking all games matched or surpassed the animation quality seen here to dissing the old games by likening them all to Octopath's static style, lol.
 
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This is what I was thinking as well. The real "evolution" of SNES-era 2d pixel art is found in games like Octopath Traveler and the upcoming Triangle Strategy and Dragon Quest III remake games.
Nah, the evolution of 16–bit graphics was in the PSX (SOTN) and Saturn (Guardian Heroes), then on the Dreamcast with games like Guilty Gear (higher resolution art, better fx and animation).
 

Fictive

Member
No way is this an evolution to CT’s art style. CT seems to have more shading going on, this looks flatter and simple. It benefits from perhaps a higher frame rate and more memory/storage for animations all around.

Gotts love the music and references otherwise. I too have something very much inspired by CT.
 

Renoir

Member
these little indie games are really a breath of fresh air. I look forward to these games wayyyy more than most AAA games. Im glad the indie scene keep churning out these gems.
 
I like HD-2D and won't bad mouth it, but Sea of Stars does look incredible. The graphics are sublime. Holiday 2022 can't get here fast enough.
 
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It looks like pixel art inspired by the SNES, but a few scenes reminded me of 2D Saturn sprite art.

Game looks really good in any case.
 

Rat Rage

Member
This is what I was thinking as well. The real "evolution" of SNES-era 2d pixel art is found in games like Octopath Traveler and the upcoming Triangle Strategy and Dragon Quest III remake games.


I think stuff like this looks more like an evolution:

My problem with "HD 2D" is that I don't feel like it is an organic evolution of the SNES Golden Era pixel artstyle; it's too much of a deviation, because:

A) it's not fully 2D pixel art, since it adds elements that are not pixel based.
B) regarding the colors, it kind of adds a "piss-filter", not ass pronounced as in certain PS3/360 Era 3D games, but still.
C) the colors look dull. One of the best things about pixel art in general and SNES Era pixel art in particular is that it's beautifully colorful, therefore HD-2D doesn't look as joyfull.
D) it adds a very weired harsh one angle lighting that - I think - doesn't suit pixel art at all.

Therefore, I feel "HD 2D" is more like a deviation (it's not partulcarily bad - it's just different).

What I mean by organic evolution of a particual artstyle, I try to make clear with a Pokemon analogy. Let's take a look of the following 3 pictures:





(This here is fan art: a fake evolution of Rowlet)

All these pictures show something what I would call an organic evolution of the original artstyle. You can clearly see every evolution after the original progessively gets more complex, adds more detail, new features, but still uses the same artstyle and remains firmly within in without adding anything extra. Every evolution is made of the same ingreadiends as the previous one - not like "HD 2D" which adds completely new and foreign elements to traditional Golden Age SNES 2D pixel art.

IF for example the 2D pixel artstyle of SNES Chrono Trigger is, let's say Bulbasuar/or fake Rowlet, then I feel the artstyle of Sea of Stars would be something like Ivysaur/fake Rowling.
THIS is what I mean when I say I feel Sea of Stars artstyle is an evolution (and by that I mean an organic one) of Chrono Trigger's SNES 2D pixel artstyle (or even SNES 2D pixel art in general). It's not only an evolution in regards of pure sprite work, but also in regards to animation (which I think it features a certain percentage more than Chrono Trigger, though not too much).

I really wish more 2D pixel art games would do what Sea of Stars is doing in regards to their artstyle philosophy.
 
.

Seriously, this game's artstyle execution is an evolution of Chrono Trigger's pixel art. In fact, It's an absolute love letter to it. It's mind blowing how pretty this game is!

In an alternate video game industry timeline, this is how JRPG's would look like on an "SNES Pro" in the best case scenario.
Um what? No. This looks like it was made by westerners even lunar sssc and eternal blue complete looked better

Octopath style is far superior
 

NeoIkaruGAF

Gold Member
CT seems to have more shading going on, this looks flatter and simple.
Yeah, this is something that never fails to catch my eye with a lot of modern 2D games. True 16-bit games had a lot more shading, it’s also very clear in those FF4-6 comparisons between the originals and the new “pixel perfect” remasters. Newer games in that style almost always look flatter.
 

SlimeGooGoo

Party Gooper
This is not an evolution, it looks worse than SNES era games.
Also, it's a mixed bag. It looks good in some parts, but really plain in others.

This is how an indie JRPG should look nowadays (although I'm not a fan of Child of Light's character art and design)
 

ACESHIGH

Member
No I don't think it is. Looks like an XBLA high end game. I am sure that it will be great and certainly looks the part. However, I always get the idea that indie devs don't seem to find a happy medium between the 16bit era and a more modern art style.

Maybe because 2D and pixel art was abandoned during the 5th and 6th gens in favour of 3D polygon based graphics. And by the time we got to the 7th gen we got A) Devs with a massive hard on for the 8 bit era, still persists to this day sadly or B) Indie 2D games whose gimmick was being "HD" but lots of them resembled Newgrounds creations.

The way I see it, the evolution of the SNES/Genesis pixel art, was just the machines of the 90s they were trying to emulate: The arcades. Then stuff like higher end 90s consoles like the NEO GEO. Some Sega CD games, some PS1 games from Japan...
 

Ebidramon

Banned
Old 2D games were made with CRTs in mind with low resolution to begin with.

IMO, you can't exactly replicate, nor properly evolve from it for post HD era.

The only way it could work would have been to make low resolution 2D games again, and offer them with CRT shaders, or something.

CRT shaders for emulators, for instance, are incredible things.
 

supernova8

Member
This is what I was thinking as well. The real "evolution" of SNES-era 2d pixel art is found in games like Octopath Traveler and the upcoming Triangle Strategy and Dragon Quest III remake games.


I think Octopath traveler looks lazy. Sure the environments are really nice but they're pretty much using SNES level (ie shit and basic) character movement/attack animations. Compared to Sea of Stars it looks lazy as hell (especially considering how much more they have in terms of resources to make a game like Sea of Stars if they wanted to).
 

Alexios

Cores, shaders and BIOS oh my!
snipped so nobody suffers twice.
Equating Square's HD 2D with the amazing looking Eiyuden Chronicle is pretty damn ridiculous and ignorant, no matter how much pokemon bs attempts to explain the heresy.

As for elements beyond pixel art not appearing like an organic evolution, to play the devil's advocate, it doesn't hold any water, games post 16-bit did evolve in exactly that way!

I'm just posting RPG-like games since that's the topic, but naturally pretty much every game genre used such techniques as they went from pure 2D to faked/partial and full 3D.

Even with the eventual move to full 3D, certain games did evidently and clearly show somebody put some skilled pixel artists to work, as seen in Vagrant Story right below here.
 
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