2d graphics "style" or "effects" that aged badly.

What 2d graphics do you think have age with less grace.

Something that i have started to associate with cheapness is rotating sprites. This used to be a tour de force effect that you showed off. But with more computer power it has simply become a cheap way of animating 2d graphics. Very common with modern retro knock offs.

Digitized graphics and CGI rendered sprites. Still looks good imo, but ends up looking like claymation.

Yea I agree that pre rendered backgrounds and sprites in general age poorly. They never scale properly on higher resolution displays either.

Also, I’ll just leave this here:


yeah…the remasters of FF games look terrible.

I made the mistake of buying Romancing Saga on the switch last week. My god its ugly.

The scaling effect in Arabian Fight was somewhat impressive in 1992, at least I assume, but it just looks really sloppy and uncanny now

Sprite scaling I’m mostly still okay with. Sometimes games use it to a hilarious degree (some of those tiny explosion sprites in Assault Suits Valken get blown up to near screen-size and look uuugly), but yeah I think rotation is a bigger offender.

While a lot of old hardware couldn’t do rotation or could only do it under harsh limitations, I find that at these resolutions the distortion is often not worth it and a sprite having individual rotation frames looks better even if the rotation is choppier. You get a cleaner final result and you can have more accurate lighting, too, I suppose. Of course these are generalizations and there are always good use cases for the hardware effect, but I think that a lot of modern retro games (as in newer games striving to look old) over-use it because it’s more convenient.

WHOA there maing, good pre-rendered backgrounds still look amazing. FF 8, 9, Chrono Cross, Baten Kaitos, still top notch. And of course they don’t scale up well, they’re prerendered :smiley: Still look top notch on a CRT.

Agree with everything else posted, especially sprite rotation. Mode 7 is the only blemish on a number of otherwise visually incredible SNES games.

Eh, scaling and rotation still look good to me. So do some pre-renders. Digitised stuff like Lethal Enforcers, yep I will get behind that, also pre-rendered videos from 90s games which mostly look like complete shit now, worse than the game graphics ironically.

Dithering designed for composite connections to blend is a bigger offender to me.

It’s kind of unfair to say sometimes though, as in some cases these things only look bad on displays they were never designed for, aka scaled to huge fixed pixel screens. Donkey Kong Country still looks superb on a CRT, but kinda crap via Framemesiter.

Oh man pixel smoothing filters can go right to hell though, agree there @peltz.

You’re right. Those weren’t what I was thinking of. I was more thinking of the DKC type look.

DKC looks best on a CRT. But I still feel like I’m seeing a lot stiff animations and other stuff that takes me out of the experience.

The animations yes, it’s a mismatch of decent approximations of a 3D look with lower quality animation that sticks out, a bit of an early uncanny valley effect. Just like cutscenes with procedurally generated face reactions in games like Mass Effect and Horizon now, yikes that shit is actually repulsive to me NOW and will look soooooooo bad in the future, when two technologies aren’t equal in progress it creates a dissonance that is so jarring.

That said, it’s not the pre-rendering then, but the application.

Digitized photo/video and CGI renders can look good, and I think the dealbreaker is how much manual touchup you give them after the raw conversions. Otherwise they have a tendency to just end up looking blurry and undefined (aside from the still crisp transparent edges, which makes it look even more jarring). From what I can remember looking at behind the scenes stuff of development of games using these technologies and being praised graphically, they were all carefully edited by hand after being digitized/rendered. The sculpture-based sprites in Doom may be the most famous example.

I think you can also clearly see the artistic progression of this method and how beneficial is is in the original Mortal Kombat trilogy. The leap in quality from MK1 to MK2 really highlights just how rough MK1 looks by comparison, where it seems like they digitized the source footage but then didn’t really do much to them afterwards.

As for scaling and rotation, I agree that it can look quite rough and ruin the cleanliness of the pixel art when used so casually everywhere. There was an alternative technique often used in Genesis games where sprites/backgrounds would be tilted on a per-tilse basis, and I always thought this looked better and more palatable in spite of being more technologically primitive. The downside is of course that you can’t really do this past a certain angle where it gets really obvious that it’s just the tiles being moved around, but for cases like where you just want something swaying around lightly to give more life to it, this is really the superior choice since it doesn’t immediately ruin the visual fidelity of the entire sprite.

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Personally I feel that the only old school sprite tech that hasn’t held up well is the CG stuff. I’m talking Killer Instinct and Donkey Kong Country on the SNES here. They look bad these days as do all the Mega Drive games that used it.
I’m okay with sprite scaling in most regards and even think some of the Sega Super Scaler stuff looks even better now. Check out Our Runners for an example or Power Drift.

I think that actually looks good.

Thing is though, pre-rendered backgrounds and a lot of these spritedrawn games just need to be played on a CRT or with some scnaline effect imo. They look terrible on modern TVs, but that’s not the best way to view them. It’s not just nostalgia kicking in either, CRT makes old games look like how you remember them and with RGB cables they look even crisper and better.

To me, none of them actually ‘aged’ badly. As in, I still find myself liking/disliking the same stuff that I used to like/dislike back then.
As a huge fan of 2D graphics, It’s always been a matter of art, style and effectiveness, so I can genuinely look back at my most/least favourite 2D games today, with unchanged feelings.

Interesting that pre-rendered graphics are brought up, and the importance of the CRT.

I can see one context where it did age badly: when it was applied as part of modern games. Two examples off the top of my head are the Mario vs Donkey Kong games, and DK Jungle Climber. Because these games were released for bright, backlit handhelds, with displays that contain pixel grids that aren’t as effective as a good CRT, I thought they looked bad to begin with and they still look bad now. The predecessor to DK Jungle Climber, King of Swing, used mostly hand-drawn pixel art, the designers at Paon must have known prerendered wouldn’t have looked great given the output.