Video: My Favorite Game Animation of 2018 – New Frame Plus
Hello, and welcome to New Frame Plus! It’s been a good year for video game animation, and since 2018 is just about wrapped up I thought it might be fun to list some of my favorite examples of game animation I saw this year. Not necessarily the BEST Animation of the Year, Hands Down, just the stuff that impressed or excited me most. We have got a lot of games worth talking about, so let’s just start running down the list! I want to start with God of War. Sony Santa Monica has always done amazing work, especially when it comes to combat animation and big set pieces.
But the thing that impressed me most this time around wasn't the big bombastic moments, but the small ones. The moments of stillness and quiet. I’ve never seen a God of War game put so much emphasis on character performance, and I love it. There is some really nice, subtle character acting in here, and I love that the game gives these little scenes the time they need instead of just rushing through to the next fight. If this is the direction they want to take God of War in the future, then I am 100% on board. Also, it has to be said: nobody sells scale through animation quite like Sony Santa Monica. Hot dang. Next up… Smash Bros Ultimate I already made three videos (and counting) about what makes the character animation in this game work, and everything I already said is still true of Ultimate. It is genuinely impressive how Smash Bros somehow manages to make this enormous grab bag of characters all feel like they belong together in one game, without sacrificing what makes any one of them unique or special.
That is a daunting challenge, and yet, no matter how many new characters they add to this roster, Smash Bros just keeps making it look easy. Next up: Moss This mouse is amazing. I’ve only had the chance to see bits and pieces of the game so far, but Quill is already one of my favorite video characters. Her animation is just loaded with appeal and extremely polished, which is all the more impressive given that (I think) Polyarc only has one animator on their team? I mean, Richard Lico has been in this industry a long time, so I’m not SURPRISED the animation’s this great but I am still impressed. And my favorite part of all is that, as you play, Quill communicates with you, the player, using sign language. Sometimes to give you a hint for a puzzle or something, sometimes just to tell you how she’s feeling.
As far as I know, Quill is the first video game protagonist to communicate using ASL, (at least, outside of the educational gaming space). This is a specific form of inclusivity that gaming hasn’t really done much of yet, and it just makes me love this mouse all the more. When I do eventually pick up a PlayStation VR, it is primarily going to be so I can finally meet this mouse, and I am REALLY looking forward to that. Next up: Just Shapes & Beats If you watch our sister channel, PlayFrame, then you already know that this rhythm bullet hell was one of my favorite games of the year, but one of the things that most surprised me about it was how effective it’s minimalist animation was. I mean, the entire game is just simple shapes: the environments, the projectiles, the enemies, the characters..
. but the animation on all of them is still really charming. And (this I did NOT expect)… in some cases, it comes together in some downright impressive spectacle! I highly recommend checking this one out if you haven’t yet, because… It is a DELIGHT. Another one of my favorites this year was Monster Hunter World. Now, Monster Hunter has always had some of the best creature animation in the business, but with World finally bringing the series back to home consoles and cranking up the AAA fidelity big time, that amazing creature animation is finally getting a chance to really shine. The physicality on these creatures is so good, and the way these games encourage you to improve by learning each monster’s body language to predict their next move is just so well-executed. The player character’s animation is top notch too, with some really impressive weapon attack combo work. And, of course, most important of all… it has MULTIPLE cutscenes in which an army of chef cats make you dinner.
So…. your move, Rest of the Game Industry. Next up: Spider-Man I already made a video about this game’s animation, and everything I said about that particular Zip-to-Point swing applies to the rest of animation in the game. The web swinging animation looks amazing, the combat work looks great… and all of it perfectly capturing that unique Spider-Man movement style. It’s just exceptional work all around. Not to mention some really effective story scene performances. Kudos to both the animators and all of the motion capture performers for bringing this character's world to life so effectively. And it would definitely be silly if I did not also include on this list: Red Dead Redemption 2 I already did a whole video on this one too, but whatever misgivings I may have expressed in that episode, there is no question that the attention to detail on display here IS incredible. And not just because of all the realistic ways your character performs mundane actions (although those do look amazing) Even just the fundamentals of movement and aiming your gun and riding your horse just look so darn solid. Like, this is probably boring for anyone who’s not me, but..
. I really like Arthur’s crouched movement animation set. Just that hunched over walk, the way he settles onto one knee when you stop, and the little fidgets as he tries to get into a comfortable kneeling position… Say what you will about the sluggish movement, but these little natural details are so fantastic and they are EVERYWHERE in this character’s animation. Another salute to the animation team behind this gargantuan project, and I still hope your employer starts to treat y’all with the respect and sustainable work conditions you deserve. Moving on… Super Mario Party Any time you have to animate a wide variety of characters performing the same task, that's a great opportunity to create some contrast and express each character’s personality by showing how THEY specifically look doing that task. But with a character like, say.
.. Goomba you’ve got an opportunity to get REALLY creative, because they CAN’T do most of these activities like the rest of the crew. They gots no hands. And I love that the animators took this opportunity to actually try and show Goomba doing each of these games in their own way. Balancing stuff on their head… grabbing stuff in their mouth… It is ADORABLE. And they just look so happy to finally be at the party! Look at how much fun they’re having! I love ‘em. Now we had some really great pixel animation work came out of the indie scene this year. We had Dead Cells with their really clever 'pixel art/3D animation' hybrid technique. We had Octopath Traveler, which didn’t necessarily break any new ground on the animation front, but did feature a uniquely gorgeous 3D implementation. And we finally saw the release of Iconoclasts, which is remarkably well-animated for a single-person project.
Whenever an entire game is being made by one person, I don’t usually expect to see the same quality of animation that I would expect from someone who specializes in it, but Robin’s animation in this looks awesome! Just her run is so charming. And really distinct! I’d be impressed by this run if a full-time animator made it, and the fact that the guy who animated this ALSO made the entire rest of the video game? That's amazing. And speaking of great pixel animation… have y’all seen Bomb Chicken? Dang. Look at that. I honestly don’t know what else to say about it. This game is just pure pixel art appeal. Look at that wild squash and stretch when it lays a bomb! Look at that animated explosion! Look at it’s bouncy walk! Aww and look at the way it settles when you stop. Highly recommend checking this game out. this is seriously some of the best pixel animation I’ve seen all year.
Also the gameplay is really clever and fun, which… that's a nice bonus! Spyro Reignited Trilogy Now I don’t personally have a childhood history with the Spyro games, but I do really love some of the animation work I’m seeing in this remake. Toys for Bob had a really exciting opportunity here to not only reproduce the charm of the original but to amplify and build upon it. And I'm so happy that they went all in on this. I so love that they not only gave so many of these characters more detailed and distinct designs, but also more distinct animated performances! It’s really fun going back and forth between the originals and the remakes and seeing how the animators delivered the more specific, nuanced acting choices that these higher-fidelity character models are capable of. I mean, look at some of these complete animation overhauls! "Oh, hello! We didn't get a chance to introduce ourselves before. My name is Elora.
" "Uh, hi! I'm Spyro. What are you? Some kind of goat?" "I'm a FAWN, you dork." "Oh! Sorry." "Oh no." "Oh, hello! We didn't get a chance to introduce ourselves before." "My name is Elora." "Uh, hi! I'm Spyro." "What are you, some kind of goat?" "I'm a fawn, you dork." "Oh! Sorry." Seriously, way to bring an old classic back with more character appeal than it started with. Finally, it would be utterly ridiculous of me to not include in this video: Dragon Ball FighterZ. Or Dragon Ball Fighters? I don't know what it's supposed to be. Look. People have been trying to emulate the look of hand drawn anime in 3D games for a long time. Some of them have been reasonably successful at achieving that goal.
Others, not so much. But what Arc System Works has been doing with Guilty Gear Xrd and now Dragon Ball FighterZ is some next level stuff. The amount of care and detail work that has gone into trying to make these 3D character models convincingly appear to be 2D animation is incredible. I might have to do an episode on this later. It's just so stupidly cool. And that they’ve done this well on their first and second attempts makes me REALLY excited for what they’re gonna be capable of a few years from now. Oh! Also… I haven’t had a chance to play this one yet, but I’m just gonna give an Honorable Mention to Gris? Because… I don’t know. I just have a feeling it’s going to belong on this list. Hot dang. And I think that’ll do it! Did I miss anything? I probably did, honestly. Between animating at my day job and running two YouTube channels, it’s pretty hard for me to keep up with everything that comes out in a year. But if you do know of some amazingly-animated game which isn’t on this list, go ahead and call it out in the comments because I would hate to miss out on something cool. Anyway, here’s to all the great game animation that 2019 no doubt has in store for us! It’s been an exciting first year for this channel, and I’ve got a lot of videos planned for next year which I am also very excited about.
If you haven’t already, go ahead and subscribe to make sure you don’t miss any of them. Thanks for watching and have yourselves a lovely new year!.