AuthorTopic: Flashback HD & The terrible truth of remakes  (Read 35377 times)

Offline tim

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Flashback HD & The terrible truth of remakes

on: January 23, 2013, 03:55:34 am
Hello Pixelation.
After seing the announcement of the new Flashback HD, I was so disappointed that I couldn't resist but share my thoughts about it.

You all remember what Flashback looked like ?



Brace yourself, this is the new one :



What the fuck is this shit ? I mean seriously ?

• The background is filled with elements. No more fog, less mystery.
• The jungle doesn't feel "out of this world" anymore. It looks like it's made of common leaves and trees.
• All the assets and plants are oversized (probably to fill empty space easily instead of detailing everything).
• Poor readibility between the playable foreground and the background : same colors, same lighting. The miserable post process blur doesn't help.
• Why the laser ? Why the BIG red spot ? Does it need to be that visible and this huge ? Are we stupid ?
• Why the HUD ? Do we need to have poorly designed (and hard to read) HUD to display infos we don't need ?
• The character doesn't stand out anymore. It blends into the forest.
• Everything looks very generic and bland. No more "handcrafted" feeling. No passion in this…

If I take two examples of what Flashback could look today and what it looks like in our memories :

Orioto's take : Tete de bug's paintover :



Feng Zhu's painting (+ one hour video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azP1im6SznA)



It's a lot closer to feeling the game left inside me. The colors, the composition, the details, everything is much better and it took not even 1/100th of the time needed to make all the 3D assets of this poor remake. And you know what ? This drop in quality is almost the same for all remakes.

Rayman Origins



Ok it's still 2D but there is basically no frames, everything is animated by rotating, moving, skewing and bending layers. It still looks good because it's not pixel art but smooth, antialised art.  It shows that everybody in this industry is getting lazy, even with huge budgets.


Sonic 4
Horrible 3D cell-shaded art that really destroyed the original look of Sonic II. Less work = worse results.



Pokemon BW
Horrible sprites, frames aren't fully drawn, you can see they're using terrible nearest neighbor rotations…



It looks as bad as our own animated edits on this forum, when we spent only 20 minutes to block out the feeling of the animation, when it's still heavily WIP and not production-ready.  Do you realize it's fucking Nintendo ? For one of their best selling franchise ever ? Don't they have the money to pay animators ? I wonder, why there is such a discrepancy between today's 2D games and our older traditionnal, hand drawn games. I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

I'm wondering. Can't we try together with a new challenge to do something like "bring back 2D pixel art games to life"… And show the world HOW it must be done ? By hand ? With a palette ? With many frames of animations ? With respect of the original art direction ? We should do something like this. Even just a few animated mock-ups. To show the world it's possible. And what it can look like if done correctly.

I'm going to bed now, and I know it's going to be a sad night. Flashback is my favorite game ever. Goodbye my old friend.

« Last Edit: January 23, 2013, 04:49:34 pm by tim »
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Offline rikfuzz

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Re: Flashback HD & The terrible truth of remakes

Reply #1 on: January 23, 2013, 09:44:44 am
It's interesting.  To be fair, the individual elements look well crafted.  I really can't imagine this game had a huge staff, development time or budget. Everyone's worked on stuff they had to make compromises on, it sucks.  Giving the background another pass was probably too low on the priority list unfortunately.  :(

The concept art and paint over both look excellent, but they're just pictures, it's tough to compare. 

Yeah it's not all it could've been, but it coulda been much worse I think.  I can't honestly offer the same excuses to SEGA/Sonic Team though. Now that's just embarrassing!

Rayman is a remake (essentially) as well, and they did a good job at least : )

Offline ptoing

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Re: Flashback HD & The terrible truth of remakes

Reply #2 on: January 23, 2013, 09:49:15 am
Rayman Origins has some really good animation in it as well as using rotation and such to good effect.
It is seriously well done and work. Plus it was done by a pretty small team AND it is a fucking solid game.

That FB HD thing looks horrible tho :/
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Ymedron

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Re: Flashback HD & The terrible truth of remakes

Reply #3 on: January 23, 2013, 11:14:01 am
Admittedly the fact that they bothered to animate the pokemon sprites at all is quite marvelous - In the second gen they only had about 250 characters to work with -> handmade animations. Each generation they add another hundred, so to keep costs down they have to invent new ways to make it cheaper to animate.
I can agree the rotation/stretching/whatever they use for the sprites is dreadful though.
Also my art tumblr: ymedronart.tumblr.com

Offline Cage

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Re: Flashback HD & The terrible truth of remakes

Reply #4 on: January 23, 2013, 12:12:06 pm
That's... awful if you ask me :P

It's not that I'm against modern graphics in games (or in general) but it looks like they didn't even put the effort to follow the original style and mood.

It simply looks bland and generic. So generic it could pass as a game about dinosaurs or a commando stealth mission in a tropical country with WMDS CoD style.
Or WHATEVER taking a place in the jungle - on Earth. Not a familiar, yet alien, "where the hell am I?" jungle on another planet.

Maybe it's just me, but older games - heck, even just a few years older - where a lot more stylish and different from one-another. It's like almost all of them had a flavor of it's own and now it's just everything is more-or-less realistic and generic/utilitarian.

I've had a similar reaction to the idea of RoboCop remake - the new designs just look boring.

Maybe it's just nostalgia, but I feel that general creativeness in terms of designs of the characters/objects/locales in games/movies really went down during last few years (with exceptions of course). On the other hand - I love modern design as far websites, posters and printed media go.

PS. PokeMon - I've used rotations for parts of my animations too, but they didn't even bother to CLEAN IT UP  >:(

Offline rikfuzz

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Re: Flashback HD & The terrible truth of remakes

Reply #5 on: January 23, 2013, 12:35:36 pm
Sequels and remakes aren't really in a good position to be super original, since they're wholly derivative. Your best tallent is likely gonna be reserved for working on new IP, I guess, too. 

Not bashing the idea totally, I've worked on some little remakes for fun, and wouldn't say I'd never do it again.  It's fun to indulge now and then.  :)  I guess you have to have low expectations with commercial stuff, since loving the original can set you up for a big fall. 

Offline Helm

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Re: Flashback HD & The terrible truth of remakes

Reply #6 on: January 23, 2013, 12:55:31 pm

What the fuck is this shit ? I mean seriously ?

• The background is filled with elements. No more fog, less mystery.
• The jungle doesn't feel "out of this world" anymore. It looks like it's made of common leaves and trees.
• All the assets and plants are oversized (probably to fill empty space easily instead of detailing everything).
• Poor readibility between the playable foreground and the background : same colors, same lighting. The miserable post process blur doesn't help.
• Why the laser ? Why the BIG red spot ? Does it need to be that visible and this huge ? Are we stupid ?
• Why the HUD ? Do we need to have poorly designed (and hard to read) HUD to display infos we don't need ?
• The character doesn't stand out anymore. It blends into the forest.
• Everything looks very generic and bland. No more "handcrafted" feeling. No passion in this…

Calm down. First of all, the original game doesn't suffer in any way from this, how could it? Did it corrupt itself on your hard-drive because someone's making an HD version?

I agree the HD version doesn't look very good, but I don't understand the anger. Why care so much?

Offline YellowLime

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Re: Flashback HD & The terrible truth of remakes

Reply #7 on: January 23, 2013, 01:07:29 pm
You blew my mind with the Pokemon thing, I've seen the blatant rotation in them but I had never consciously put it in the correct context. (a multimillion company producing a game for one of its most successful IPs) Maybe because I've never really played the latest Pokemon games.

Or maybe because of what Ymedron said: I only really played the first and second generations, and when Crystal Version came around, I was amazed and glad that they had taken the time to animate the 200-something pokemon (not to mention there wasn't any fugly rotation). Back then I thought of it as a boon, a very neat extra that took a lot of work that wasn't necessary. "Poor guys, working unnecesarily hard to please my eyes even further".

But that was back in the second generation. The producers don't deserve any "pity" anymore, nowadays. Pokemon hauls in the cash, even though it is now one of the most stale game series EVER (even more so than the zeldas or the 2d marios, which coincidentally also are incredibly lucrative). If they're gonna keep feeding consumers with the same old stuff, the least they could do is use some of their millions to make it pretty.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2013, 01:09:25 pm by YellowLime »

Offline Ashbad

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Re: Flashback HD & The terrible truth of remakes

Reply #8 on: January 23, 2013, 01:17:58 pm
The Sonic 4 screencaps make me sad.  Green Hill Zone was always the ugliest Sonic zone, but they went and made it so the background doesn't even seem relevant to the foreground scenery at all.  The worst part is the large forest-ey tree layer in the background -- it looks flat and rushed.  Wouldn't stop me from getting the game, but it doesn't have much of the old Sonic feel left anymore.

Offline Cyangmou

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Re: Flashback HD & The terrible truth of remakes

Reply #9 on: January 23, 2013, 01:45:47 pm
The new flashback looks indeed terrible in terms of impression. It seems like the developers don't tried to find the best new style, instead they just took the first one they came up with.
If it's a small team they most probably just skipped their concept design process because they thought the time for design is better spent with creating some more final assets.
As you remarked all the assets are terrible off seen as a whole, but each piece seen on it's own looks like adequate quality. For me it's more like everybody worked on his details, without keeping the big picture in mind.
The laser dot and the HUD also indicate that the artists don't really knew how their pieces would look built together.

Orioto's Piece has a by far lower quality BUT the big picture and the impression is right.

Feng Zhu's piece look great, but it's just a painting and the great atmosphere comes also from the depth of the picture which you won't have in a game. I bet if they'd have build up all their art assets after some concepts like this it'd look rather impressive.

A simple recolor more towards the original would help the screenshot a lot.


I don't know why you mentioned Rayman Origins though. I don't see a problem with just rotating some parts as long as it looks just fine. Redrawing each frame in another position would add very little to the general impression of the animations, because the timing and weight is also with simple rotated parts there. And I think this game has a really good quality in terms of design and a great color impression.

Sonic 4 looks sub-par indeed. The style of the trees and the style of the foreground elements clashes, there is a heavy lack of depth and the character art looks off. I think it mainly looks terrible because the background elements seems more detailled than the foreground characters and the stuff doesn't blend together very well.
It looks similar to the Flashback Remake (but the quality is by far lower) - there was not a single thought given to the complete impression.

I also don't know what's exactly going on with Pokemon. THe animations themself are looking ok but unfinished. I think It wouldn't cost that much to create polished animations compared to how well they series sell. The workload for this would probably be 5 hours per monster. I don't exactly know how many monsters are in the new games, but even 50.000$ are peanuts if you think that they sell millions of copies from each game.

Quote from: tim
I'm wondering. Can't we try together with a new challenge to do something like "bring back 2D pixel art games to life"… And show the world HOW it must be done ? By hand ? With a palette ? With many frames of animations ? With respect of the original art direction ? We should do something like this. Even just a few animated mock-ups. To show the world it's possible. And what it can look like if done correctly.

I think we can't. You say "even just a few animated mockups" but the level of quality have to be maintained through a whole game. A simple change of 5 minutes per frame/time multiplicates itself by the number of art assets and you end up that even the simplest change causes a shitload of hours just with editing. And hell, there is nothing more pointless to spend a lot of time with editing if your budget is tight and you have to get a game done. And if you edit things you see one time in a game it's even more senseless and just taking money.

Just lots of people underestimate or don't understand the design process of a game. A common thing I hear often from indie developers is "Why should I spent money with design if I could just spent this money for increasing the content." The thing is that a solid design saves you lots of editing time and sometimes cuts down the hours per asset remarkable.
But it's not just the developer, also some artists don't know how heavily the simplest change in design can affect the whole artistically workload.

The worst thing is if inexperienced game artists and inexperienced game producers work together and nobody knows how the budget is planned in best.

I think it would be more useful to compare and analyze the art and style of games and why the art was most probably done in the way they are. There are some Commercial Critique Threads which were written before my times in the forums - but I read some of those and they were great.

Even Flashback doesn't look good on the pixel level nowadays. If we would do the same thing with the background like we did in last two cluster studies there woul dmost probably be surprisingly good results - but I doubt anybody would recreate a whole background, because it would take by far too long.

All in all I really liked this post  :y:
« Last Edit: January 23, 2013, 01:57:31 pm by Cyangmou »
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