Anyone else tired of retro NES-era graphics in games?

So, I’m a big fan of tactics games and was intrigued by the image promoting Chrono’s latest offering Voidspire Tactics:

Then I see the actual screenshots of the game:

Not quite what I was expecting :disappointed:

Don’t get me wrong, I love games with high-quality, retro-inspired pixel art. A few that come to mind are: Hyper Light Drifter, Dead Cells, Legend of Dungeon, Chronicles of Teddy, Owlboy, Phantom Breaker: Battlegrounds and Okinawa Rush. The pixel art in these games strike the perfect balance between retro and modern.

On the contrary, I find the pixel ‘art’ in games like Voidspire Tactics utterly unappealing. This is not to say the game is bad - and I understand that small indie developers may lack the art budget/talent - but these NES-era graphics, which are so predominant in indie games, just feels lazy to me… and usually makes me not want to buy the game.

Anyone else feel the same way? Also, how often does the art style of a game influence your decision to purchase?


Calling that “NES-era graphics” is an insult to actual NES-era graphics and the memories I have of admiring them on a CRT TV while the room was bathed in the amber haze of the setting afternoon sun on a warm summer evening…

Not to say that there wasn’t a lot of bad pixel art around during that time also, but a part of that were the limitations imposed by the hardware they had to work with. Nowadays pixel art is pretty much only limited by budget/time/skill, so the distinction between bad and good pixel art is maybe more apparent than ever.

I have to agree about being turned off by the in-game graphics of this particular game though and this isn’t even the first time it has happened. It could very well also be a bad screenshot, or maybe a still image just doesn’t do the art of the game justice (some pixel art only seems to come alive when animated).


Couldn’t agree more. Most “retro-inspired games” just take this as a pretext for poor quality, low investment graphics that turn out ugly. In fact, far uglier than actual retro games.
While I love good pixel art like the ones you mentioned, I’m getting really tired of these ugly supposedly retro games too.


Sorry but I love pixel art and I don’t care what you say! :kissing_closed_eyes::notes:

Just kidding, but I really don’t care if it’s minimal quality pixel art or godlike. I won’t buy a game just for it’s graphics.

P.S.: Game is Mercenary Kings, artist is Paul Robertson.


I probably should have said “8-Bit graphics.” I certainly didn’t mean to imply that all NES games are as awful looking as Voidspire Tactics. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have a game like Shovel Knight which reminds us of the NES at its best.

I too have fond memories growing up with the NES, but I don’t necessarily want to keep reliving that period of primitive graphics with every other indie game I play.

I love the pixel art in Mercenary Kings. Of course, that is more equivalent to the Neo Geo than the NES.


This isn’t “NES-era graphics”, this is just poorly-done art. It’s the pixel art equivalent of 3D like this. It’s just enough to convey the important information to the player, but not much more than that. It’s adequate art - it does the job, but it’s “meh.”

Skilled artists that can breathe life into the art and create an interesting and cohesive aesthetic for a game, whether in pixel art or some other medium, are often beyond the budget of small indie games. This “style” of merely functional pixel art is so common compared to other “styles” largely because for an artist of low skill, it’s quicker (= cheaper) to produce than higher-res art of equivalent functionality, and it’s easier to get results that look at least decent in pixel art than in 3D and high-res 2D. I’d not be surprised if a lot of the mediocre pixel art game art out there was actually programmer art.

As you can probably guess, the art in a game matters a lot to me, and art that looks incompetent or boring often hinders my enjoyment of the gameplay. I like to see interesting art styles that complement the gameplay and setting, regardless of how fancy or advanced the graphics are.


8-bit graphics isn’t really any better, just call it (bad) pixel art :stuck_out_tongue:. Sure the NES had an 8-bit CPU, but the limitations of the PPU (Picture Prosessing Unit) used were stricter than those imposed by the 8-bit word size (8 bits per pixel, meaning 256 possible colours). Voidspire Tactics is probably using 32 bits per pixel anyway, even if they have chosen their palette in a way that only uses a small subset of the available colorspace.

But once again I agree, pixel art has been a popular choice for indie developers for many of the reasons already mentioned in this thread and one can grow tired of it quite easily, especially if the art isn’t that great. Low polygon count 3D model aesthetic has also been popular for the same obvious reasons. Even more so now that 3D game development is very accessible thanks to engines such as Unity and Unreal Engine 4.


Of course retro games are poor quality but if you like retro inspired games you don’t care of graphics.


You’ve got enemies in small places! :laughing:
I’m not sure why your posts were flagged when conversations have slowed down a bit.

The now far away OP was disappointed that the game cover art was 3D looking but the game was flat pixels with less detail.

It takes less time to utilize pixel art than to do 3D. Especially since that looks like…16-bit? It looks very simplified. I think the eyes being 2 pixels implies 8 bit but the background looks 16 bit. It’s hard to tell…

It’s definitely a game focusing on gameplay. Most of the other games the OP linked are very detailed pixel graphics that look very nice.

To be fair. The developers look indie and made 5 games so far with the same graphics. People are buying their games so somebody is enjoying it.

But yea. Pretty art does get me more easily interested in a game. I would probably check out the reviews and see if others enjoyed it. I mean, if it looks that bad, the gameplay has to be better to make up for it. :v:


As I’ve learned with the likes of Rise of The Robots and Balan Wonderworld, graphics don’t make the game.

However what’s happening is that the market has been saturated with these pixel games much like what happened to Battle Royale and Zombie games, and as such people get bored of seeing more of the same all the time.
I can’t blame indie developers for this since this is probably all they can do with what they have, so the way is to be creative and distinguish yourself from the ocean of similar games you see on Steam, Itch, Epic Games and etc.


I wouldn’t call that NES-era graphics.

To answer the question, no. I’m only annoyed when it’s clearly done for cash grab purposes, but that generally falls more along the lines of them just going for cash and not necessarily with the graphical style choice.


As tiring as it is to hear, as several have said, it’s likely because of time and money reasons. Maybe (and I mean this in the nicest way possible) even just that they are trying to find their own talent or skill, which may mean they could flub up in the art department. Sure, it’d be nice to get something like Celeste everytime, but remember they don’t often have a big publisher or even be associated with big name developers, whether studio or a notable person.
I’d personally wish for something along the lines of an SNK tier animation, or heck even the lines of SF3 and the PS1 Mega Man games again, but deep down it’d be a pain for developers to even consider doing that.

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Y’all, this topic is 4 years old, and I’m pretty sure the reason it was bumped up was to spam. OP’s not been here in over a year.


Some indie devs are solo and do mostly programming, they hire others for ui design and art. :wink:


You mean a grey name account that hasn’t posted in 3 years came back to spam a dead website’s forum?

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How did I actually not know that, I guess my mind’s too occupied with my academics more than usual to really care.
On the other hand, it’s fun to revisit old topics if we have new perspectives or something. Maybe.

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