Plenty of developers create pixel art games nowadays. We usually see those efforts from indie developers, but even the big-name companies still employ pixel art in some ways. That said, there’s no denying pixel art titles aren’t as big as they used to be, and that’s thanks to the move from hardware that pushed pixel art first to platforms that favor polygons.

While there’s no doubt pixel art games will forever be a thing, it seems SEGA will be moving away from the art style in the future. (h/t Kotaku) This insight comes from Sonic Team head and Sonic Superstars producer Takashi Iizuki, who shared the following sentiment in an interview with GamesRadar.

“we look at the pixel art - it’s great - but when we think about 10-20 years in the future, we don’t think it’s going to be a viable art style or presentation for our players. And in order to advance and really step things up, we did want to make sure that we’re presenting something that 10-20 years down the road we’re still evolving and creating new content for.”

[Sonic Team head and Sonic Superstars producer Takashi Iizuki]

With comments like these, it seems like Sonic Mania may have been the last pixel-based Sonic outing in the hedgehog’s history.

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Comments (9)


23d ago

Funny since the more memorable games aren't games steeped in CGI/realism. Yeah there might be a period certain things like 2D or 2 1/2 style fall out of favor with players, but said things end up the most memorable in the long run.

What do you think is remembered more? Sonic 2 (Genesis) or Shadow the Hedgehog (the game)? And I don't mean in terms of gameplay. Art style only.

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But being memorable and translating into actual sales numbers isn't the same thing. Pixel art might be big in the smaller scenes, but it doesn't have mass market appeal, where the majority make it think old, cheap, etc, which is what these big companies want, and almost always need.

Super Mario Maker 2 literally has sprite work and is still memorable. Heck any spritework Nintendo does turns out to be memorable.

The reason big names don't go to sprite work is because the artists who do that sort of thing is lower than what most would doing CGI. And spritework has to be done pixel by pixel which is less tedious than CGI.

Pixel art is still better interms of animation though.


22d ago


Mario Maker is a gimmick pulling from old styles. Arguing it is the norm for the series when it hasn't been sprites since Super Mario World, or Super Mario Advance 4 depending on how you want to argue it, is not the gotcha you think it is. If anything, it shows what I'm saying that it's viewed as old and dated, and the only mass market appeal is to sell it on nostalgia. No one is saying the game isn't memorable, though, but it's one of the reasons they don't use sprites for the 2D Mario series anymore, especially when sprites on DS would have looked significantly better.

I honestly dont really know what you're trying to say with the second part. Sprite work is below them in a sense of scale, artistic direction, pay, etc? I legitimately can't tell. Either way, the other reason besides looking dated to the mass market that big companies don't do sprite work is that it's ungodly expensive compared to animating 3D models and you have way less flexibility in what you can do. Even the last holdouts like ArcSys, NIS, or SNK have transitioned to all 3D because of that.

Circling back to Sonic, Mania may have been a critical success, and the only sales number they've given is 1 million which is a good number, but that is lower than some of the worst 3D Sonic games, and significantly lower than Frontiers hitting 3.5 million in a shorter period. For a budget release that we don't know the scope of the budget, etc, that might mean significantly less profit which ends up being the most important factor. You gotta remember, Sega isn't just selling the games to us, they are also selling them to old men giving them money who are going to look at this and say stuff like "it's because that other game looks old it sold bad".

And then you have games like octopath traveller that uses sprite work and sold really well alongside triangle strategy.

Then you have Nintendo games that have new sprite work for certain moments. SMO had 2d sections that are sprites. Nintendo has used sprite work now and then most of the time.

Not sure what you mean that pixel art doesn't sell me cause the likes of smm2 and many other games like fire emblem have sprite work and they sell well.

Artists doing sprite work isn't expensive compared to 3d modelling CGI. Where did you get this idea that it's the opposite?

I meant that the number of artists doing sprite work is less than that of 3d btw.


22d ago


Octopath Traveler is a new style we haven't seen before, and while it uses some pixel art, it's pretty disingenuous to include it in the same. That being said, triangle strategy and octopath traveler 2, both better games on more platforms, have not come close to the sales the first have.

I'm not even sure how to respond to your Mario point because it's a tiny mechanic in a 3D game captilazing on nostalgia, like Mario Maker, but you think it somehow proves your point. What's next, you'll remind me of Super Mario Bros 35 or the anniversary Game and Watch?

You seem to be very misguided about the time to cost ratio of how expensive making huge scale pixel art games are too. Why do you think it's cheaper? But better question: if you think it's cheaper, wouldn't that then lead into the idea that it makes the game look cheaper to the masses? Exactly the point I've been arguing? And if it was cheaper, why would companies like ArcSys switch to 3D in a stylized way to emulate 2D?

What do you mean octopath traveller uses only some pixel art? It's obviously using sprite work for characters and others.

And triangle strategy and the octo sequel eventually sold well.

My point that pixel art is a viable artstyle. It doesn't matter whether it's used wholly or not. Just because pixel art looks cheap doesn't mean it's justified to have cgi that can look as cheap if effort is not put to it.

I was referring to 3d artists who are more expensive than the ones who do 2d work. 3d work requires a lot more powerful software to use compared to 2d. That doesn't mean that the latter is cheaper. It's just more affordable for tons of aa and indies to stick with it.

Arcsys tried 3d but with hand drawn feel that atleast works. They still do 2d sprite work time and time again. Even wayforward does it.


21d ago


The whole world is 3D modeled in Octopath Traveler. And it's convenient you can brush selling only 1/3rd the amount across multiple platforms under the rug because it doesn't fit what youve said.

No one is saying it cant be a viable alternative. But a pixel art game isn't going to be pushing 5 million in sales anymore, and in 10-20 years like he is saying, it won't cut it for Sonic unless specifically targeting nostalgia. It already didn't work well enough for Mania compared to even the worst 3D games, even at 1/3rd to 1/2 the price.

You seem to know little else about how the industry works, so us continuing to go in rounds isn't really getting anywhere. It's been clear for years it's more expensive and not a style that high profile games, series, companies can use anymore. Neither me or Iizuka are saying some indie schlub can't put out an game like that in 10 years from now. But that time for Sonic is clearly over.

Also ArcSys only uses 3D now, so I'm not sure what you're trying to say. they've absolutely mastered it in an extremely effective way in a short amount of time that you wouldn't get in 2D, especially at 4k. DBFZ and new Guilty Gear are incredible.

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Just FYI I worked on the industry. Most 3d artists salaries are more than that of concept and those that do 2d. And the time it takes to render graphics requires computers with beefy hardware so not really something that's cheaper than sprite work.

And if pixel art is expensive to draw why are indies still doing it? Nitrome makes tons of money doing sprite work all the time. You have octopath that does sprite work for characters even though the environments are 3d.

Obviously it means that pixel art is time consuming than 3d animation which is why they are moving over to 3d. Not because it's more expensive than 3d.

And we just got games like sea of songs and SMM doing wonders. It's a viable artstyle that can be used still.

I think you're just going to have to agree to disagree here.

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