I’m taking over AAF just for this week, as the Hamza “CTZ” Aziz is at PAX and apparently can’t be bothered with “common” posts such as this. Not only is CTZ much sexier and charming than I am on camera, but he’s also getting to live it up with the Penny Arcade guys while I just sit here in my smelly underwear and think about where it all went wrong.
All this self pity got me thinking in a “What if” sort of way, as in “What if I was as dripping with sex appeal like CTZ, would my underwear still smell?” and “What if Super Smash Bros Brawl: the Sub-Space Emissary looked and played more like Castle Crashers? Would it still smell?” That’s thought finally led me to the “what if” that is actually relevant to this post, which is “What if more Western videogames actually looked like Western 2D comic book/gallery/animation art like Hugh‘s does? Wouldn’t that be awesome?”
Hit the jump for more blather from me on how things ought to be done, or just pound the gallery for more of the two dimensional art stylings of Hugh the pencil ninja, featuring such favoriates as the Super Mario Bros., Captain Commando, and the ever popular Death.
So like I said, I want more Western produced 2D games, but Western game developers don’t seem to want to make them.
Take Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD for example. What if the game dropped it’s UDON team, which is basically just utilizes an alternate take on the “Capcom Illustration” school of art and design, and instead employed a look similar to Hugh’s art seen here, specifically his take Akuma and Bishmon? Wouldn’t Hugh’s amalgamation of Eastern and Western cel-painting styles fit better with SSFIIT HD goal of appealing to people who have actually moved their taste in visual ascetics beyond the year 1998?
And why do so many games based on Western comic books totally abandon the comic book visuals they birthed from? Why do we continue to get the ugly 3D models in the Marvel Ultimate Alliance series, games which are basically 2D gameplay experiences, when guys like Hugh are churning out beautiful 2D Hulk and Wolverine art on a regular basis FOR FREE. Wouldn’t these games,based strictly on Marvel’s “Ultimate” line of comic books, be better served if they actually looked like the comics they’re based on?
I don’t mean to say that some Western developers aren’t trying to produce quality 2D work. The Behemoth is doing great things with Western-style 2D illustartion and animation, but they average about one game every four years, which isn’t enough to approach anything resembling a movement. That goes double for Vanillaware, and triple for Luc Bernard, who is an exceptional artist, but thus far has been forced into the use of the “rag doll” animation style which does very little to showcase his technique.
Then there’s games like Braid, which contain visuals that are equal parts professional and generic, clearly afraid of taking too many risks with their already risky decision to reject polygon based graphics. That was not the case in the PS1/Saturn days, when a new 2D game with bold visual art direction was common, even more common than polygon based games featuring pocky skinned guys are today.
Isn’t the world ready for a new 2D Earthworm Jim‘s or a new 2D Marvel vs Capcom? Flat, computer aided, but genuinely 2D animation is still alive and kicking on today’s television screens, so why are games like Castle Crashers the exception and not the norm?