Let’s Take This Outside

The most straightforward (but rarely the best) way of solving everyday conflicts is good ol’ street fight. While the real thing isn’t much to look at in aesthetic sense, the same definitely doesn’t apply to Capcom’s Street Fighter IV. SF IV can be considered as remake of the year 1991 Street Fighter II – World Warrior, since the cast of characters of SF II can be found entirely from SF IV and the overall feel is very much alike.

SF IV is a true visual masterpiece and a benchmark for its kind. It’s like looking at living, ever-changing oil painting which is updating 60 times per second – in real-time! The interesting thing is, that because SF IVlike its predecessors – is presented as a stage of a theatre, it’s been possible to target all the resources into relatively compact space. So, the resources-per-inch -ratio has to be record high on this one, which becomes evident just by looking at it. SF IV is absolutely gorgeous.

It’s also interesting how both SF IV and SF II adhere to the same visual principles (side-view, camera pans etc) even though the techniques that have been employed are completely different. This similarity provides the basis for the following comparison of the characters realized 17 years apart.

Above illustrates the rise of pixel count found in the characters as they appear on the screen. It would be, by the way, rather frustrating (if impossible) task to animate by hand a sprite of SF IV’s size, with reasonable frame-rate and proper shading.

Notice how the polygons used in SF IV are often a fracture of the size of the pixels found in SF II, which is pretty amazing and revealing how far we have come.

The 2D – 3D dichotomy is one of the most fundamental and profound concepts found in real-time graphics and it was intriguing to see how 3D, i.e. polygon-based graphics finally surpassed the hand-drawn 2D imagery visually. It was a long time when 3D was nothing but simple geometrical shapes with poor frame-rate, but now 3D can be, as said, on a par with a sophisticated oil painting.

So, when did this happen exactly?