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Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Square Enix Desires Even More HD-2D Games

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - More than fine with me.

Of the... many unsettling developments going on in Earth right now, there's a positive point: SQUARE ENIX's President Yosuke Matsuda has directed Tomoya Asano's team to continue HD-2D titles. That's the style you see from Octopath Traveler, as well as the coming-very-soon Triangle Strategy and the farther out Live A Live remake and Dragon Quest III remake, which is described as SNES-like sprites but with high-definition effects.

It seems like they had a meeting and had to come up with a list of SNES titles that should be remade. At the top of the list was Live A Live, and then there was ActRaiser. Well, we saw that ActRaiser Renaissance was a remake that released last year, though not in this art style. We gave it zero attention.

Though we did have some attention to Live A Live before this month. The game has massive potential for improvement in graphics from what it was like on the Super Famicom. But I think we'll continue to see both older and brand-new games in this style if Square's president is this interested and people buy these, and I see that as a very good thing.

Triangle Strategy Dragan enough to drink Frederica
Dragan has had enough to drink, but we haven't had enough HD-2D.

I've actually read people say that they're already sick of HD-2D and it's already over-saturated, even though the only game with it right now that's released is Octopath Traveler. I wrote two weeks ago that, say, normal 8-bit games in NES-style are overdone. Game Boy Color-style 8-bit is pretty unexplored. HD-2D is very unexplored and really ought to be what standard modern sprite-based games should be by default, though probably made brighter. I mean, there's thousands of “realistic” 3D titles released every year now, but that's considered a standard. HD-2D is pretty much as good as sprites can get, and as a fan of sprites over polygons, that means unless someone innovates with even better stuff, new 2D sprite games won't be as good as these look.

I'd wager that if AlphaDream could advance their pixel art like this, they wouldn't be bankrupt. (Because AlphaDream literally lacked the capability of doing this kind of pseudo-3D high-definition work, which left them behind on working for non-HD systems.) Something to think about.

Something really important to mention: Gameplay is still way more important than what the graphics look like, and even if these HD-2D games are quite pretty, they still need to play well! And they also should have great stories if they're RPGs. That's a little problem that Octopath Traveler ran into. If you feel like Ludwig is totally wrong and HD-2D is bad stuff, feel free to explain in the comments section.

LIVE A LIVE does look pretty nice in this style.


  1. Been quiet in the comment sections lately, hasn't it? I definitely support the idea of more of these "HD 2D" games. I missed out on Octopath Traveler to not much but more than no regret, and I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm hyped for Triangle Strategy but the only game I've looked forward to more lately was for Banjo-Kazooie hitting the Switch.

    So, keep the good story stuff coming Squeenix, that's what I say!

    1. It's... quite possible that people want to read about things in Eastern Europe and not the things I'm writing about...!

  2. I agree that HD 2D needs to be brighter, probably my biggest gripe with it. But a lot of that has to do with the settings these games take place in. Would it be too much to ask square for less medieval? I know it’s their favorite but I’m getting a bit sick of the same drab castles all the time. Can you imagine how good the engine would look for modern settings? With real tall skyscrapers and immersive city traveling… sounds like a dream come true!

    1. Cities with tall skyscrapers cast large amounts of shade, which ain't bright.

      Hoping for open grassy sunny plains, though.

    2. Eh, only if it’s super duper bright. When you walk around at the early hours like the time of my comment, things are bright with little shadows to be seen. It would be neat to see a day night cycle, but I’m not sure how much effort those things cost. Especially if lighting on the buildings is taken into account.

      When they inevitably remake a(nother?) final fantasy game in the HD2D style, they’ll be plenty of grassy sunny fields. And muddy ones too!

    3. I'm reading your comment as "it'd be nice to see a day-night cycle in real life like when I'm walking outside in the city. Too bad that's expensive to develop!"

    4. I meant for the the 2d games, but I can understand how you would think that. My mistake.

      Are you hyped for Forgotten lands? I keep waiting for the day they decide to drop the opening cutscene. I mean it is getting awfully close to release and usually it’s one of the first things we see

    5. I'm... more hyped for Triangle Strategy. Kirby I'm... not totally sold on getting. I mean, it's a 3D platformer, so... that's not a genre I like. <.<;;;


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