Posts Tagged ‘Pixel Art’

You would be hard pressed to not have noticed the return of hand-crafted pixel art to the world of gaming. Some of these have launched indy developers into mainstream success. Some big name developers are jumping on board as well. I can’t say I mind. I was always a huge fan of a well crafted sprite. I once designed a series of sprites for a (long since abandoned) RPG years ago. It brings back a welcome nostalgia as well as challenging artists to work within a much more limited palette. Here are a few examples over the last few years.

Minecraft (2009)-“Wait a minute” I hear you say. “This game is in 3D!” Well, yes. It is. But everything is built, primarily, of 3D pixels. I put this here because it helped modern, younger games get used to the aesthetic. For so long, games were “MORE BETTER FASTER” but along comes Minecraft with its charming low-def polygon cubes and it became about the gameplay. Not exactly on point, but a good starting point!

Mega Man 9 & 10 (2008/2010)-One of the kings of old-school games, Mega Man is looked on with nostalgia and reverence. They made many, many sequels as well as spinoffs, but sometimes you just can’t beat the old classics. So, Capcom, paying attention this once, went back and published a sequel years after the fact, going all the way back to Mega Man 1-6 for inspiration. The whole production screamed NES.  This was in large part to the success of downloadable legacy games on the consoles. The old master, Keiji Inafune, was back to his roots making the kind of games he wanted to again. Nostalgia was ramping up!

They Bleed Pixels (2012)-A strange combination of Super Meat Boy and Castlevania. Very retro looks with lightning fast gameplay. Not for the easily frustrated!

Retro City Rampage (2012)-This game started as a low def, NES version of Grand Theft Auto. It slowly took on a life of its own. Now, it is a nostalgia bomb with a look and feel reminiscent of the era without being completely hamstringed by the technology.

Hotline Miami (2012)-Less on homage and more an inspired by, Hotline Miami is a hyper-violent, top-down shooter in the vein of Smash TV, but amped up to splatter-flick levels. More colorful than most NES style games, but still having a similar look.

Thomas Was Alone (2012)-Talk about low-resolution! You play as several undefined boxes. Surprisingly deep with a very engaging narrative.

Shovel Knight (2014)-The current king of the retro pixel video game world. This one looks, sounds and feels like an old NES game despite being in high definition with none of the technical limitations of the era. Absolutely amazing that a new game from a new franchise (I have no doubt sequels are forthcoming!) could bring up such nostalgia. Definitely one to put on your list!

Boss Monster (2013)-Whats this then? Its not a video game. Its a card game! Featuring pixel art. Seriously. Highly recommend if you have a friend or two that like to sit and play games the old fashioned way while still feeling nostalgic about video games. Lots of fun and simple to grasp. In a stroke of brilliance, they are bringing things full circle with a video game adaptation over on Kickstarter. You can even buy the physical version as part of your pledge.

Obviously, this trend is fairly new, but doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Art can truly be at its best when given limitations. It forces the artist to consider things in a different way, giving rise to something truly special. What new games are you enjoying that use this throwback art style? Let us know in the comments!

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