It’s common knowledge that fighting game sprites have grown larger and more refined as technology has improved, at least in those rare few games that still use them. But I never truly appreciated how big of a difference there is between the classics and their modern counterparts before now.
Modder X68000555 has spent the last week uploading short videos comparing Sion Eltnam Atlasia from 2002's Melty Blood to her more recent appearance in 2012's Under Night In-Birth. Separated by almost a decade, the Under Night version of Eltnam towers over the original when placed as-is in the Melty Blood engine.
Much of the height difference comes from the games’ native resolutions. While Under Night renders at 720p, Melty Blood came out in the age of standard-definition displays, meaning its sprites are a fraction of the size / resolution.
When the HD sprite is shrunk to the same size, the difference is even more stark, with the Under Night sprite naturally coming out on top in terms of overall quality. That said, the fancier sprite’s walk cycle is a little stilted compared to the more fluid motion of Melty Blood’s.
As most fighting games have moved away from detailed sprites in favor of 3D models, I’m looking forward to seeing if Melty Blood and Under Night developer French Bread will stick with this type of appealing 2D artwork (not to mention kick-ass music) when it comes time to make something new for next-generation consoles.