With games like Guilty Gear Xrd and Dragon Ball FighterZ, Arc System Works has managed to basically make playable anime games. It looks like hand-drawn animation even if it’s really complex 3D. Daniel Floyd of YouTube channel NewFramePlus took a closer look at how it all works. It’s a fascinating dive into some of the most stylish games around.

Floyd, an animator who has worked for Pixar, might be familiar to readers as the former voice of Extra Credits, an educational series on game design. For some time now, he’s also run a YouTube channel focused on animation. He’s broken down Overwatch and outlined what happened with Mass Effect: Andromeda. His latest video uses information from a GDC talk from ArcSys technical animator Junya C. Motomura to explain how games like Dragon Ball FighterZ nail that anime vibe.

Part of the magic comes from ArcSys’ history on games like BlazBlue, where 3D models for each character were made before the pixel art process began. This allowed animators to pose them for reference and gave the studio a powerful tool for moving into true 3D fighting games. Floyd also explains questions animators need to ask, since ArcSys emulates the “limited animation” of anime. They need to achieve a fluid look without too many extraneous frames of animation. He also breaks down the power of visual effects on attacks and other important factors for nailing the feel of hand-drawn animation in 3D.

In all, Floyd’s breakdown is a chance to understand more about the hard work of game animation via one of the best studios around for intense and detailed action animation. Give it a watch and you’ll walk away with an appreciation for the craft and insight into why Goku really does look like Goku.

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