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Was the 2D sprite to 3D model transition inevitable?

Discussion in 'General Pokémon Discussion' started by Italianbaptist, Aug 26, 2019.

  1. Italianbaptist

    Italianbaptist Informed Casual

    This actually came into my head while watching The Geek Critique’s video on Sonic 06. In it he said some of the questionable character designs had to do with the push in the field towards “realistic graphics” but that now the industry is sort of pushing back. He uses Cuphead as an example of a game that is 2D and unrealistic but highly stylized, and still taking advantage of the next gen systems’ extra power. With all the Sword and Shield drama I can’t help but wonder if the Pokémon franchise should have taken a similar track with the main series games.

    We all know about the jump from sprites to models with the 3DS, and at the time it was a pretty big deal. But in hindsight I have to wonder if it was in fact a good thing or even necessary to begin with. I’ve seen multiple posts all saying that the models seem pretty lifeless compared to the old sprites or even the older Stadium models. I’m not sure it’s as pronounced of a difference for me but I at least get where they’re coming from. And then things got even more complicated with the issues surrounding Sword and Shield and particularly Game Freak’s explanation for not including all the Pokemon.

    It really makes me question whether they could have done something 2D or sprite based as a “stylistic choice” and then we wouldn’t have some of the headaches we do now. Of course, there would be other headaches to replace the current ones but still :p
  2. MockingJ

    MockingJ Banned

    I don't think it was. Gamefreak could've kept things 2D and while alot of fans would've complained, I think that the majority would've accepted it because graphics were never Pokemon's main appeal.
    Lunalah and AgentKallus like this.
  3. Leonhart

    Leonhart Imagineer

    I think it was inevitable that the games would make full use of 3D graphics eventually, although that doesn't mean that I liked that change. The Gen IV and V games were a nice balance of 2D and 3D, which was a good middle ground and one of the reasons why those games were my favorites.
    Lunalah and MockingJ like this.
  4. Bolt the Cat

    Bolt the Cat Bringing the Thunder

    Thing is, 2D sprites are generally only accepted in lower budget entries where the developers don't have the time and/or money to do full 3D. Cuphead is a $20 indie game, it's reasonable not to expect complex, realistic graphics from that sort of experience. Full scale retail releases? Not so much. Generally if you're selling a game for a full $60 nowadays, it's expected to be a AAA game with high end graphics and gameplay. So since Pokemon trends more towards the full scale retail side of the market, and now it's even being sold as a full $60 console game, adapting to 3D graphics was expected. The only thing they could've done to get away with not going 3D would be to sell the games as a budget digital title, then it wouldn't carry the expectations of being a AAA game and there'd be no need to push the graphics. Ultimately, 3D graphics aren't the root cause of Sword and Shield's drama, it's the $60 price tag. There'd be less of a stink over things like Dexit and the graphics if this were a $20-$30 eShop game instead of a $60 retail game.
    Lunalah and Italianbaptist like this.
  5. TRNRLogan

    TRNRLogan Active Member

    I think we could have delayed it till gen 8. It's probably worse that we didn't tbh what with the lag and such.
    Lunalah likes this.
  6. Lunalah

    Lunalah Well-Known Member

    GF should've waited until they had the right technology to implement good 3D graphics instead of doing it as early as Generation 4 and having scaly looking 3D graphics.
    Leonhart likes this.
  7. Leonhart

    Leonhart Imagineer

    I do think that the 3D graphics back then were pretty grainy, although in Game Freak's defense they were just testing the waters and were hindered by the DS's technology back then, which just wasn't advanced enough to give us crisp 3D graphics.
  8. janejane6178

    janejane6178 XY over SM (ew) ANYDAY!!!! <3 (Anything actually)

    I think that since the transition, GF focus less on new Pokemon and more on other stuff. Maybe its just me
  9. Trainer Yusuf

    Trainer Yusuf VolcaniNO

    Pretty much. All of the major JRPG franchises besides Disgaea have shifted to 3D slowly. Some have temporarily "regressed" to a 2D sprite based form for sake of DS, 3DS and the early mobile releases (like SMT: SJ and SMTIV returning to official arts as sprites after NOCTURNE and IMAGINE, or early FF mobile games being sprite based), but outside of them many of them have shifted to a partial or full 3D model formula.

    In the case of Pokémon, the transition has been significantly slower as each game in each generation had roughly the same development structure to each other (ie. D/P/Pt/HG/SS are fundamentally the same game with different maps, story and mechanics), and all generations in the same hardware had to be very close to each other due to hardware limitations (Gens I-II, IV-V, V-VI are all developmentally similar to each other). However, since Switch's base power level was between 360 and Xbone, and there wasn't a significant update between this generation and the previous generation compared to other previous gens, this meant Switch could be the place of the big update to modern game design, which is why we are here.

    I think the bigger question is where they will go beyond this. Logically speaking, most of the JRPG that shifted to an open world structure either moved to action-RPG and/or MMORPG genre, not turn based games, with the exception of DQ11 (Persona and mainline SMT don't fully count since the former only shifted to modern consoles very recently and the latter moved back to 3D models mostly for reusing the assets from the Dx2 mobile game and Persona 5).

    Note: While in terms of gameplay development developing 3D models with their animations and textures is harder, reusing them as future assets for other games is much more easier than 2d sprites. Since JRPGs are all about updated rereleases these days, 3D models are objectively better for Pokémon in terms of development, despite being less aesthetically pleasing for older designs, particularly for Gens I-III, which are less anatomically correct and more stylized than later gens.

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