From Pixels to Polygons

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In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation. In this final installment, Andrew Passafiume and Jeff deSolla discuss the evolution of the RPG legend, Dragon Quest.

We’ve covered many iconic franchises in From Pixels to Polygons, but few share the same legacy as Dragon Quest. Originally introduced to the West as Dragon Warrior, the DQ series helped craft Japanese-style RPGs, becoming the poster child for the genre long before Final Fantasy took the spotlight. Its evolution over time is steady, but significant, as it consistently remains aligned with its roots while still providing small, meaningful steps towards the future.

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In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation. This time, Chris Dominowski and Graham Russell look at Ubisoft’s mascot platformer: Rayman.

Starting in the late ‘80s, it seemed like every gaming company had to have a cartoonish platformer mascot. The trend kicked into high gear in the ‘90s, when advancements in hardware allowed for more expressive characters and worlds that couldn’t have been done on past machines. Many mascots fell to the wayside, failing to live up to the sheer dominance of Mario and Sonic; to be fair, none of them ever did approach that level, but many did at least survive. This is the tale of one such survivor that beat the odds to deliver some superb platformers that a crueler market would have forgotten. READ MORE

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In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation. This time, Chris Dominowski and Jeff deSolla take on Namco’s long-running Tales series of JRPGs.

While the West prefers its action-RPGs to be open-world, narrative-light romps that emphasize freedom, Japan has another take, and no series embodies these goals quite like the Tales series. From its SNES debut to the most recent releases, the series has made many adjustments to try to find its footing in a shifting JRPG landscape. READ MORE

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In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation. This time, Andrew Passafiume and Lucas White look at Ninja Gaiden, the classic Tecmo action series.

Few series have made as painless a transition from 2D to 3D as Ninja Gaiden. It began its life as a notoriously difficult (yet surprisingly addictive) 2D series before becoming a notoriously difficult (yet surprisingly complex) 3D series. Boiling down Ninja Gaiden’s formula like that doesn’t do the series justice, however, as there is a multitude of small, yet meaningful changes made along the way.

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In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation. This time, Graham Russell and Andrew Passafiume look at Intelligent Systems’ strategy-RPG series, Fire Emblem.

The evolution of the Fire Emblem series has largely been from capability to intention. On the surface, the formula hasn’t changed much; you’re still moving units around top-down square grids and pitting them in menu-based combat. Once you dig below the surface, though, you’ll see that the series has become increasingly defined by how and when it chooses not to progress. READ MORE

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In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation.

After months of looking at the evolution of gaming’s biggest franchises, it’s time to end this year’s run of From Pixels to Polygons by looking at the game (and series) that helped put Nintendo on the map: Donkey Kong. It may not be as popular as Mario or as well-received as Zelda, but Donkey Kong has a long and storied history and is still going strong today.
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In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation.

The franchise that famously saved Square from its looming demise in the NES era, Final Fantasy has gone on to define a genre for many. It’s done so by not shying away from change, and the result is a convoluted path of series evolution that’s doubled back on itself as many times as it’s stepped into uncharted territory. READ MORE

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In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation.

Maxis’ SimCity franchise, the game that brought designer Will Wright into the forefront, is a historic franchise. It led to the creation and popularization of many Sim-based game franchises, including SimCity spin-offs such as the beloved Sims series. Although 2013’s release of the new SimCity is behind us now, it’s time we took a look at the series’ evolution and, more importantly, how it ended up where it is today. READ MORE

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In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation.

From its cult following beginnings to its mainstream blockbuster success, the Grand Theft Auto series has always pushed boundaries. Today, we explore the evolution of the controversial series.

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In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation.

Few games inspire an entire genre the same way Nintendo’s classic Metroid series did. Quite a few games these days are described as Metroidvanias, a weird amalgamation of two once entirely different series (which is now considered the best way to describe an entire subgenre), but Metroid is where it all began. The series has changed drastically over the years, but at its core has remained fundamentally the same, for better or worse. Here’s a look at the history of everyone’s favorite bounty hunter, Samus Aran, and her many intergalactic adventures.

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