Street Fighter III will always have the best animation

2 min read


There’s something magical that we’ve lost in the transition over from pixel art to full-on 3D models and environments in our games. I’ll be the first to admit that current graphical techniques are jaw-dropping examples of bleeding edge technology when done right, but I still miss some of the old pixel art. Art that helped define plenty of retro games. And nowhere is that gap more evident, than in a comparison between Street Fighter III and Street Fighter IV.

That’s according to Dinofarm Games artist Blake Reynolds, who wrote a great piece on the studio letting go of pixel art for games, especially when he focuses on the animations of Street Fighter III and the first lady of the franchise, Chun Li. “Chun-li’s body in SFIII works like a whip cracking. When every frame is a new drawing, it allows for things like flowing drapery, muscles flexing and unflexing, the natural sort of warp the body takes when it moves in extreme ways, etc. The effect is nothing short of magical,” Reynolds wrote.


While I’ve seen far worse than Chun-li in SFIV, the animation is just kind of dead and sloppily done. There is no urgency, and many of her limbs and facial movements seem bizarre and out of place. Because of this, SFIV Chun-li  looks like she’s posing for a photo shoot, whereas SFIII Chun-li looks full of adrenaline and intensity… almost as though she were in a fight!

Basically, pixel art doesn’t get the love it deserves these days, with the glossy high-resolution models of newer games running at 60 frames per second being perceived as better. Maybe they, maybe they aren’t. I’m not knocking down Street Fighter IV at all, as the game looks simply stunning when its static. But when it moves, the animation can be jarring at times. Still, it’s one hell of an interesting read into an art form that is slowly becoming the domain of more niche games on the market.

Last Updated: May 19, 2015

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia’s M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

  • Ranting Raptor

    I really have to agree here. Animated pixel art has a special something about it that shiny new age graphics simply can’t capture.

    Pixel art usually feels more “alive” and exciting than fully rendered 3D models. It is a pitty that it’s a slowly dying artform. That being said, I also can’t imagine something like Metro or Witcher being the awesome games they are if they had to be done in pixelart format. Each art form has its place.

    • sy

      Pixels take up less memory space, when there were more limitations. There’ll be less of it, unless they design a retro or hybrid-retro game, or a game with pixel options in the settings. SF4 already has poster graphics in the options, if I remember correctly.

      • Ranting Raptor

        I’m not sure what you are trying to say? Sorry, it’s still early and only 1 cup of coffee down…

        • sy

          Newer graphics require more computer memory. Computer memory used to be limited, and games with bigger pixels took up less space.

          Another way to put it is pixels take less megabytes, and newer graphics take up more space, which is now more available, with faster diskspace, and graphics processing.

          Actually, all games are in pixels, it’s just the newer games have smaller pixels that aren’t noticeable. When I said pixels earlier, I meant pixels that are visible to the naked eye.

          * I made a small edit above to clarify a little bit.

  • Ranting Raptor

    Oh man what an awesome read that Pixel art article was you linked!

    I think I’ve realised why fighting games and such have lost so much appeal for me. It’s all about the animation and overly done they were when it was all pixel art.

    Things were over the top, people bending and moving in extreme ways that simply cannot be translated to a full 3D picture because it would then look unnatural.

    Old School FTW!!!!

  • SolidSilverAg

    Yes! I’ve been saying this for the longest time since 3rd Strike hit the arcade scene. Everything about the character design is so exaggerated and it’s a perfect fit for Street Fighter as a whole. Keep the old art style with new game mechanics would have been a knock out.

  • Hammersteyn

    I preferred the animation in the Alpha series.

  • CypherGate

    Pixel art will always have that magical charm and somehow brings games more to life than 3d. Sure 3d is great and lots of games looks amazing, but pixel art will always have a special place. Symphony of the night!

    • SolidSilverAg

      SotN is a great example of 2D pixels done right. The new 3D games are fantastic don’t get me wrong, but there just something about it being a side scroller/plat former that makes it better. Another good example would be the retro Streets of Rage series… Try thinking of this game in 3D. Fighting Force anyone? Just horrible.

      • CypherGate

        Yeah I know what you mean. 2d pixels somehow just makes me more interested in the game in a weird way. Streets of rage is just a classic. Everything about that game was just awesome. That game in 3d wouldnt really be great hence your fighting force suggestion of how horrible it would be. Hell im not very big on the 3d on a 3d style games either. Some works well, but a lot of them seems disjointed in a way. Mighty 9 looks great though.

  • Hendrik

    I don’t know, maybe it is like guys going back to vinyl. That is the stupidest thing I have ever seen. Sacrifice sound quality and convenience for “old school”. Bullshit!

    • Tbone187

      You do realise that digital music has been trying to add the white noises of vinyl and tape into it’s sounds for decades now, in the search for more organic and realistic results??

  • Tbone187

    There’s been Street Fighter editions after 2? Noooo ways!

    • Shahied

      hahahaha, thanks for this.
      I am eagerly waiting for 5, but still prefer playing SFII on my arcade system any day!

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