“While they look a bit pixelated, the character models look quite good” –IGN review of KOF XIII
This sprite is not “quite good.” It’s among the best 2D animation ever made in a video game. However good it is, it’s good in spite of it being “pixelated” according to many.
Blake Reynolds of Dinofarm Games was a pixel art purist. In this post he explains his recent change of heart.
The challenge was always in conveying to a lay person how lower fidelity artwork can be of higher quality than the apparently superior new product…
[…] it is easy to explain that the second image has a higher level of technology. Some may even be so taken with the spectacle of added color and resolution that they might mistakenly think Bubsy has the better artwork.
I could write you an entire book on why that is absolutely not the case, but that’s the thing – it’s not the audience’s responsibility to read that book. It’s my responsibility deliver them quality in a language they understand.
As for the future, I’m planning to shed purism and do my best to mature. I plan to embrace the medium, whatever that may be, and make the best art I possibly can.
Working in high resolution doesn’t prevent us from making great game art. The things that made pixel art great are the same things that make “HD” art great. Artists must make the decisions, not computers.
In this post there are some great examples of excellent pixel art and explanations of why some of the later 3D incarnations are actually inferior.