You know one of the key differences between product and art? It's in the craftsmanship. Lots of people can churn out a 3D model of an alien, few can hand-draw and then animate lush, vibrant, 2D sprites. So those that can, we treasure. And we treasure SNK! Speaking yesterday at the Tokyo Amusement Show, King Of Fighters XII producer Masaaki Kukino spoke at length about not just their upcoming fighter, but its "traditional" graphics:

Overall, it's a very hard process that could take 16 months for even an experienced designer to do alone. In terms of data, the character size is about four times larger [than in previous installments]. But when considering the extra errors that come about in doing the [bigger] pixel art, the trouble is more than four times what it used to be. Each character in KOFXII has around 400 to 600 [sprite] patterns. Every single one of them is hand-drawn, and it's something that we're proud of. I'll only say it here, but we believe that this is something that no other company can imitate, something that only SNK Playmore can do.

Amazing. King of Fighters XII knuckles up next year [GameSpot]