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Square Enix says their HD-2D solution costs more than people think

Square Enix are renowned for their impressive HD-2D tech which has driven the visual style of their Nintendo Switch JRPGs including the well-received Triangle Strategy and Octopath Traveler. Speaking to Japanese gaming publication 4Gamer, Triangle Strategy producers Tomoya Asano and Yasuaki Arai, talked about the HD-2D art-style and revealed that the visual-style costs more than people most likely realise. Here’s what they both told 4Gamer:

HD-2D is a new technique, yet the quality remains consistent even when the developer changes. I imagine a thorough check is done before actual development starts. You have announced several titles that use HD-2D, like “Dragon Quest III” and “Live A Live.” – Is there any sharing of expertise among these titles?

Asano: There is. The teams on the former titles released information for the newer teams. If they have information they feel might be useful, we encourage the exchange of information across development companies. If a method of expression was used in an earlier title, there’s no reason it can’t be incorporated into the newer titles.

We talked before about ‘accurate’ HD-2D – have you put together a definitive bible or sorts for it?

Asano: We haven’t put together anything like that. The way it’s expressed differs per title, so the HD-2D flavor will be slightly different every time. With Live A Live for example, the atmosphere in the prehistoric section is going to be different to the sci-fi scenario. Our range of expression has increased thanks to the new ideas we’ve devised.

One thing I’ve wondered is why no other developers have tried anything like HD-2D. As indie games thrive, the number of games using pixel art has increased and I would have thought the technique could be applicable to those games.

Asano: It’s probably worth noting that it costs more than you’d think. In that respect, it’s a good match for the titles want out of Square Enix. There might not be much to gain from other companies copying it.

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Thanks to Greatsong1 for sending in the news tip!

5 thoughts on “Square Enix says their HD-2D solution costs more than people think”

    1. Much as I love what GameFreak has done, I wouldn’t call what they did even comparable. Theirs was very much still 2D, there wasn’t any mixture of 3D Assets, elements or even HD resolutions in there until X and Y, and which point it was fully 3D. What Square-Enix and Co have done here is more like the inverse of old PS1 classics like Final Fantasy and Resident Evil, where the backgrounds and environments were 2D but the characters and art style were 3D Polygons – this time it’s the characters and art style that are 2D and the world is designed as 2D Pixel Art using 3D Polygons.

      1. Many PS1 games were actually 2D sprites on 3D backgrounds as well, so this approach really isn’t an innovation in any sense.

        I really wish we’d get a visual patch for Triangle Strategy so that we can actually see the pixel art on the characters. Way too blurry for me to look at for long periods.

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