I am enjoying the new resurgance of indie titles that want to capture the charm of old sprice based games.
But there is another reason what they are being more common today.
The people who grew up with pixel graphics games.
Today these same people have enough resources and knowledge to make a game and decide to pay homage to what they enjoy. Or in a more cynical perspective, they're trying to cash in on successful pixel graphic styles.
The thing is, many AAA games already focus on realism in graphics.
Indie devs are often times single developers, or small teams. They have absolutely no way to compete on the realistic graphics front with AAA titans like EA, Ubisoft and the like. Why bother with trying to make a 3D game and make it look like it's from the Playstation era, when you can actually create beautiful sprites and backgrounds in half the time?
It's cheaper (under the right circumstances), conveys the game mechanics just as well and looks far better than what they can do without a dedicated animation department.
It's also important to note that 2D worlds are far easier to code, since collisions can be far more precise and easier to predict. It's also less resource-dependant, which is crucial for indie games. When you create a product that's niche by design, why reduce your audience even further because of high system requirements?
It's also because of the tools that became available to the general public.
It's really easy to make a good 2D game using Game Maker, Multimedia Fusion or Stencyl, all of them free to use (or with free versions to try before buying). 3D is starting to slowly catch up (especially thanks to Unity and the new Unreal Engine), but they still have a way to go.
Doesn't mean there aren't those few who make more cartoony aesthetics, just like there's some indie devs who aim for more realism, but that just tends to be the trend.
Personally, I'm just thankful that the trends are slowly moving away from 8-bit imitations to 16-32 bit ideas.
Some might seem silly, but there's genuine art and talent behind a really good, well animated set of sprites. There's a certain artistic charm to it that's just lost in 3D a lot of the time. I'm a big fan of the approaches of WayForward or Lab Zero Games, who opt more often than not for hand drawn looking animations in lieu of pixel graphics, which hit a great middle ground in representing cartoony/fantasy places, while still making use of advanced technology.
I'd argue it takes a hell of a lot of skill to have high quality, HD hand drawn animations, even if it's not exactly breaking your processor or aiming for realism.
But, there are some who do use retro graphics for convenience instead of a deliberate art style or focus.
I hate the phrase, but sometimes it really does depend on a game by game basis. Does the developer want to evoke a certain style and feel that pixel graphics are best to represent it, or do they have limited budgets and prefer to focus on fine tuning the gameplay at the sacrifice of visual fidelity?
When I was in high school I used to play Runescape with some friends. The other day I decided to give it another try. And while I am not sure I will spare the time to play, it was nice to see, and I saw a guy walking around with a "Retro Hunter Cape" and it looked really freaking cool. This lead me on a somewhat unsuccessful quest of how do you get "Retro" skillcapes? I've looked everywhere online and I couldn't find anything whatsoever.
What I did learn was that anything with retro before it's name is keepsaked and equipped as a cosmetic override.
That's just the name it takes on.
There is no actual item named "Retro Slayer Cape" or anything like that.
When a skillcape that's been switched to the old version has been keepsaked, its name changes to Retro. They're basically just wearing the old skillcape design which can be toggled by speaking to any skillcape seller :)
I admit, I was disappointed when 3D took off, because 2D games became extinct. And their revival has been more towards option one, whereas I'd love to see what 2D games could be with current technology.
While not necessarily for the PS4, there are a couple adventure game companies that use high res 2D, and the games look stunning.
While I agree that it is certainly flooding the market.
From an indie developer standpoint, it is the cheapest thing to produce. Much, much cheaper than modeling, texturing, rigging, animating, and baking a 3d model. So don't expect it to go anywhere.
That means that you are missing out an important middle-ground in between 320×240 2D sprite-based graphics and 1080p 3D rendering: 1080p 2D sprite-based graphics.
Braid, Bastion, and The Binding of Isaac (original version) all have great non-retro 2D graphics, without having to resort to fully 3D rendered imagery. So the options are:
- 320×240, 2D sprite-based (very cheap, looks outdated)
- 1080p, 2D sprite-based (cheap-ish, looks beautiful)
- 1080p, 3D rendering. (very expensive, looks beautiful)
I'd say the middle option is under-utilized by current indie developers. I'd love to see more beautiful 2D artwork.
Fez is a great 2d game with a 3d aspect which I felt was unfortunantly overrated.
I really wanted to like it. The gimick is amazing, but overall actually playing it is boring.
The art isn't exactly bad, but it isn't that good either.
It seemed to go for the retro style because the artists weren't that good, and I always feel that's kind of a cop out.
That's forgivable, but all you do is hunt for puzzle pieces with not very well made puzzles. Nothing was hard, just everything seemed tedius and I never felt good about finding anything. It was a lot of "Oh this piece was just badly obscured."
Maybe the game opens up at some point, but it's such a yawn fest for the first couple of hours that I can't really get into it no matter how much I've tried.
I kind of wish somebody would blatantly still the awesome concept of rotating 2d levels in 3d and make a good game out of it. All the good ideas got used on the first area of FEZ.
Perspective was a much better take on the 2D 3D idea, imo. I played that one first so I guess it gave me higher hopes for what FEZ could be.
At least gameplay wise.
The television and the output.
Have you ever played a retro game on your PS4 with a new TV and think, god this game used to look so good?
Because you aren't playing it on a CRT TV!
You can fix this by sitting a good bit further back from it and it looks even better!
Look around for older LCD TVs that came out before HDMI became the standard, around 2004-2006 or so.
Or if you have a set you want to keep just use an RGB to HDMI converter.
These often have better composite upscaling because composite and component were still widely used standards and the manufacturers didn't skimp on that engineering like they do now.
Just look online at which flat-screen televisions handle standard-definition best. There is the xRGB stuff too, which is expensive but apparently great. If your TV doesn't accept vga you need an additional converter which introduces more input delay.
Your best/cheapest option is to take your console and try it on multiple TV's. They all upscale differently.
Some are awful.
Your PS2 should be played with a set of component cables on a modern TV. It's vastly superior to svideo in every way. Keep in mind that it won't magically output in hd with component cables. Most PS2 games are 480i which the TV needs to deinterlace. Some will do this well, others horrible.
720p does not "display better for retro games". If your investing in a modern TV just get a 1080p set.
Your best bet is a older CRT which can be picked up dirt cheap or even free. Look for a Sony trinitron with component inputs. They usually have several svideo and composite ports as well.
If you're set on a flat screen, modern, TV look for something with low input delay (this is different from response time although usually related) and something with a good built in deinterlacer/upscaler.
From here you can decide whether you want to get something like an xrgb or dvdo edge