Junkboy’s Next Gen Demakes
These are Junkboy’s pixel art “demakes” of current videogames commissioned by Level gaming magazine. According to the Swedish artist, “many of these were made quick and dirty (relatively speaking) in order to make deadlines, so they’re not all that pretty to look at.” I would have to disagree with Junkboy’s downplaying of his art. Not only are they visually interesting to look at, but I feel Junkboy was able to cut to the core of most of these games. Each picture summarizes the primary gameplay mechanics and past game influences of its respective title.
For example, let’s look at the Bayonetta piece. It’s loaded with weaponfire, enemies, and collectible items. The game is all about navigating through chaotic combat via lightning quick reflexes. It also works because the actual game itself is filled with many callbacks to classic Sega titles from the pixelated era.
The demakes that translate well from current visuals to pixels are Soulcalibur, Starcraft, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Pikmin, Metroid: Other M, and Super Mario Kart. Unsurprisingly, many of these are Nintendo games. Nintendo for the most part has a track record of not emphasizing graphics over other elements like gameplay, character design, and story. It’s probably perhaps for this reason that many of their franchises continue to carry over into each successive console generation.
In the case of Soulcalibur and Starcraft, they come from genres that remain relatively unchanged to this day, fighting games and real time strategy games respectively.
I find it interesting that Junkboy chose to represent first person shooters like Killzone, BioShock, and Mirror’s Edge as sidescrollers. There certainly were pixelated FPS games like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. On one hand, certain aesthetics are lost via the change of perspective. On the otherhand it does show that a shooter is a shooter, whether it be first person, third person, top down or sidescroller.
Several of the demakes aren’t as striking as the rest, but that probably has more to do with the original incarnations of these games. For example, Guitar Hero was never about visual imagery. Its primary joy consists of playing alongside the game’s music with mock instrument peripherals. That aspect simply cannot be displayed via demake or regular incarnation. Althought Little Big Planet was developed as a throwback to classic platformers, it’s incredibly deep level building tool was the main attraction. That specific features does not translate well into a single snapshot of a level.
Probably the one thing to take away from these demakes is that at their core, videogames haven’t strayed too far from their roots. This is especially true with long lasting franchises like Final Fantasy. We can all marvel at the progressively higher resolutions and polygon counts of each new game, but none of that matters as much as the enjoyability of the gameplay or the likeability of the characters. Pixels are simply a type of medium that can be used to visualize the important elements of videogames. I feel like I could enjoy playing any of these demakes were they to exist in reality.