INSOMNIA

By Recap / Originally published on Postback on May 29, 2006 and translated for Insomnia from the Spanish by Emmanuel "El Chaos" Fernández Noguera


I stumble upon many an optimist lately, believer that the 2D graphics will keep having their place or that they'll revive Phoenix-style in the mid-term, even in spite of that recently celebrated tridimensionality party called E3 2006 where they were shown in their plenitude, now yes, on the three consoles that will star in the videogame market in the next years. It must be that they don't stop to think how the last redoubts are disappearing. So, why not, let's make a review from here.
   Let's begin with the arcade territory. Let's finish: it's dead. The very few companies that still bet on bitmap graphics are saying goodbye, although there are those who don't want to see it. It'll be rare to find even a King of Fighters XII in arcades, let alone a Metal Slug 7 or a new proposal by SNK Playmore. Atomiswave has been abandoned by its creator, so SNK Playmore would have to adapt to a new system again belonging to an external company. It'll be unlikely that we see it. Cave hasn't shown signs of wanting to release a new shooting game after the announcement of its Pink Sweets. Too much time has passed already and its last document for the investors revealed its interest tipping over to medal games. Last up is Arc System Works, who it is to be presumed will keep over-exploiting its Guilty Gear, although it also seems a totally new work is about to be officially unveiled under Type-X + which goes by the name of Battle Fantasia [ > ]. It's something, although it'll be brief.

the future is highly
obscure

   On consoles, and I fear I can only refer to PS2, Nippon Ichi and Gust are beginning to show symptoms of frailty with their latest productions, although the fact is that they have manifested their intention of keeping loyal to the sprites, even in the next generation. They don't quit the tiresome turn-based RPGs with ever less developed graphic elements, let's not fool ourselves. Like the ones small companies like Alchemist convert from personal computers from time to time. Very limited, generally. Flight Plan has three graphically more than hopeful projects on course, but they are all S-RPGs. It's a pity that its sole action RPG (Summon Night Extasy [ > ]) hasn't had excessive success. And well, perhaps Sega will surprise us with some good 2D remake of one of its old stars for its 2500 Series.
   We have left Atlus' yet-to-be-officially-announced Odin Sphere [ > ], which promises to take bitmap graphics to uncommon levels in an eminently action-based side-scrolling game, as told by those who have seen it. With Princess Crown's creator behind it, it won't be me the one who puts it in doubt.
   And full stop. For granted I leave out the handhelds. As one said: most of us are not children, after all [Italicized text in English in the original -Trans]. And, in any case, they are heading towards welcoming only polygonal games. Like the yet unborn desktop consoles, whichever brand they bear. We have to think that development of videogames is increasingly more globalized and more democratized. And for some reason, the Occident, we are told, doesn't like 2D. The Occident is very badly educated, we don't doubt that here, although we do doubt the companies' honesty in general, who, seeking protection in this kind of arguments, spurn the sprite's art because of the high cost it supposes. A mere matter of economics.
   Personally, in the same way I have been alerting for years about the art that is being lost because of the lack of culture, I am also convinced that one day the public will ask for sprites. The same as with traditional animation cinema. Because there will always be a legacy and an unofficial production from which it may become interested and breastfed. And the old turns new, and blah, blah. The gist here is that the industry will stop being prepared to satisfy it. And there's little turning back from that.