Everything old is new again. The internet has been abuzz ever since the first sprites from Capcom's upcoming HD Remix of Super Street Fighter II were publicly released. The art, created by Udon, looks absolutely spectacular. We interviewed Jim Zubkavich, Artist and Project Manager at Udon, about their collaboration with Capcom.
How did Udon and Capcom first team up?
UDON began in 2000 as a team creating illustration/design artwork for comic book or toy manufacturing clients. After a couple years getting established, we decided to publish our own comic books. One of the first ideas that came to mind was creating comics based on licenses that all of us enjoyed growing up. At the top of that list was Capcom's Street Fighter property. After some negotiation and art samples sent back and forth, Capcom allowed UDON to create a new full color comic series that debuted in the summer of 2003. When the comic series began we would just send Capcom the script and artwork for approval each month. Eventually our relationship with Capcom grew stronger and they started communicating with us more frequently about the franchise and the strength of our artists.
In 2004, after the debut of our Darkstalkers comic series and translation of the Eternal Challenge Street Fighter artbook were well received, Capcom approached us about contributing artwork to their Fighting Jam video game. In turn, that strengthened the bond between the two companies even more. At each step we've strived to show Capcom how much we respect their properties and how much we enjoy being a part of their creative process.
With the 20th anniversary of Street Fighter coming in 2008, Capcom wanted us to be a part of the festivities. The high definition re-release of Super Street Fighter II Turbo is something we're very proud to be contributing to.
When were first plans for SSFIIHD discussed? How did Udon join the project?
Capcom first mentioned the possibility to us last summer. As with any video game project, schedules and budgeting can take a while to get hammered out. As far as we know, Capcom wanted UDON to be a part of the
project right from the get-go.
Certainly, there must be a lot of work involved with this remix. How much art is going into the game?
Our art crew was asked to redesign each character sprite based on the artwork of Edayan, one of Capcom's most respected artists. Our job is to create character model design sheets for the sprite animators to follow.
The game is an exact port of SSF2T, so the hit boxes and poses must be identical, even while the detail and resolution are increased to approximately 4.5 times the original. Along with character sprite designs, we're redrawing and painting each stage background to match the enhanced resolution.
In addition to the characters and stages, our art team is creating brand new artwork for the in-game intro, character selection and endings in the style of our popular Street Fighter comic. The project is a massive undertaking, far more extensive than our work on Capcom Fighting Jam.
How does an artist keep true to the original, while improving upon it?
It's important to look at all the different artwork of each character created by Capcom and understand what makes those characters so iconic. Fine details may change, but the main structure and forms that make each
Street Fighter character so recognizable stay the same. By using Edayan's powerful designs as a jumping off point and going from there, we're able to create a new and consistent look for the enhanced sprites.
The fan reaction has been incredible. What other things do you think will surprise the community?
While we will remain true to the original storylines for each character, we've been given flexibility to update and include new illustrations that reflect our work with the comic series. We're confident that we'll be able to impress fans of both our comic and the original game.
Games like Street Fighter II endure because of their rock solid gameplay. It's important that it play like the game people recognize and love, just with a graphic enhancement. If we can please fans of the classic game and have a new generation try out Street Fighter because of the enhanced artwork and internet playability, we'll consider the project a success.
We'd like to thank Jim for the interview, and we wish the team at Udon the very best of luck as they continue working on the Street Fighter remake. We can't wait. Super Street Fighter II HD Remix will arrive on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade later this year.