August 25, 2007

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix impressions

My first impres­sions of the SSFII remix came from pho­tographs of a Cap­com pre­sen­ta­tion back in April. Wow! Ryu looks real­ly good, even if they did mod­i­fy his face to be more ani­me/S­FAl­pha-like.

Ken’s first sprite release was the icon­ic fire­ball pose. I thought it was decent enough, but the arms need­ed some work—more like rope than muscles—and his thumbs gained an extra joint or two.

Aku­ma took the mus­cled look a bit too far, but the style was still impres­sive. I’m not sure what the deal is with the flat blad­ed elbows, but I was­n’t very fond of the orig­i­nal SSFII Aku­ma sprite and this was an over­all improvement.

Guile was­n’t so crash hot. It was our first hint that not all Udon artists are cre­at­ed equal­ly. Dark spots for eyes, sim­plis­tic shad­ing and hor­ri­bly inac­cu­rate mus­cu­la­ture. His face did­n’t quite fit either, and the age-old sprite-mir­ror prob­lem was par­tic­u­lar­ly evi­dent with the flags on his arms.

A re-imag­in­ing of Chun Li’s defeat-screen ani­ma­tion came next. I want­ed to like it, but the nag­ging voice insist­ed there was some­thing wrong. Some­one in the blog com­ments point­ed out that she was sniff­ing her hand more than dab­bing her tears. Fol­low that with a com­par­i­son shot of the orig­i­nal ani­ma­tion (with com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent facial pro­por­tions) and a com­ment men­tion­ing bukakke and that was it for Chun Li’s new animation.

T‑Hawk, a char­ac­ter I’ve nev­er been com­plete­ly con­vinced about. There was a lot of dis­cus­sion on his first frame release. Every­thing was hap­py-la-la until some­one realised his head had been trans­plant­ed from anoth­er artist’s work drawn years ago. It’s fine to be inspired from oth­er artists; past­ing parts direct­ly on and then chang­ing half the sprite in order for it to fit decent­ly is anoth­er thing. There are plen­ty of things wrong with this sprite that the new detail-work can’t cov­er up, includ­ing an unnat­ur­al upper-body twist, a head that’s not scaled cor­rect­ly, and shoul­der and head posi­tions that don’t reflect any of T‑Hawk’s orig­i­nal impos­ing posture.

Splayed through­out the blog posts on the site are my crit­i­cisms, ques­tions and sug­ges­tions. I tried to avoid the “mon­key fling­ing poo” style of com­ment­ing so pop­u­lar on the blog (while cring­ing at the unwar­rant­ed fan­boy arse-kiss­ing). Through the com­ment shit­storm many rea­son­able ques­tions did­n’t get answered, but the prag­mat­ic part of me under­stands a con­ser­v­a­tive man­age­men­t’s unwill­ing­ness to give one per­son the reins to a title’s mar­ket­ing, espe­cial­ly in the direct com­pa­ny of the great unwashed.

After the T‑Hawk deba­cle Bri­an (the poor guy shoul­dered with the blog) focussed on Super Puz­zle Fight­er II X HD Remix for a while (which comes with its own col­lec­tion of low devel­op­ment bud­get issues). Many, like me, were hop­ing for a re-post of updat­ed char­ac­ters now that we’d made our opin­ions known. Instead, after weeks of wait­ing, we got this:

Balrog's SSFII stage, reimagined

Com­pare to the orig­i­nal SSFIIT stage:

Balrog’s stage from SSFIIT

Or even bet­ter yet, the orig­i­nal dark­er SFIIT version:

Balrog’s stage from SFIIT

Style-wise, the last one is the best of the lot. There’s a visu­al rich­ness that was lost with the SSFIIT change, and the new hires ver­sion takes even more away with flat, washed-out colours (too much mid­tone) and poor light­ing (way too much bloom). There’s scal­ing prob­lems (that must be an extreme­ly short or under­age gener­ic biki­ni-clad girl) and the back­ground char­ac­ters are drawn so blunt­ly that they look like extras from a low-bud­get Nick­elodeon cartoon.

Apart from the styl­is­tic changes which I dis­like, the increased detail and over­all bright­ness intro­duce a lev­el of visu­al noise that could make stages such as this dif­fi­cult to play on. Halfway down the blog a help­ful chap named Coy­ote links a pho­to­shop mock­up he put togeth­er using the back­ground and pro­to­type sprites:

Mockup of SSFIITHD Remix

Not jump­ing to con­clu­sions based on an unof­fi­cial mock­up, but if that’s a rough indi­ca­tion of what the final game will look like, then either the back­ground detail will need ton­ing down or a stronger colour con­trast between fore­ground and back­ground must be introduced.

Got­ta go!

posted by Andrew