What's old is new again, but not without a lot of hard work.

As a JRPG enthusiast I was intrigued when I heard that Toki To Towa was being brought to North America and Europe in the form of Time and Eternity , mainly because of the new use of an old art technique.

So just how do hand-drawn characters work with a modern three-dimensional game you say? To find out I sought out whatever specifics I could find to illuminate just how this was accomplished and how it looks when you cross CG and straight-from-the-paper animation.

VentureBeat got a hands-on with Time and Eternity and a few words with Namco Bandai Producer Kei Hirono who spoke about the animation process,:

“It was really challenging because for anything that’s polygon-based or 3D-based, there are a lot of resources that we can use. There’s a lot of middleware, and a lot of places are already doing it — it’s easier to make something like that. But since here everything is hand-drawn, we actually had to make the game around the animation rather than making the animation around the system itself.”

Terminal Gamer also got to go hands-on with T&E and had some interesting comments about the visuals:

“To understand the concept of hand drawn animations, is to understand that the team behind the game took over 3 years to draw these animations. The game takes a 3D world and uses these character animations almost flawlessly. To see the game in play, and to actually have the character moving around how you are telling it to move, was beyond impressive. These weren’t 3D created characters that we were controlling, but actual hand drawn creations. It’s like creating a unique anime scene without needing to know how to draw, and it worked.”

No sprites, not the 3D cel-shaded beauty of Ni No Kuni, but maybe something in between? That sounds good to me. Whether the game is your thing or not you have to admire the ambition of a 3 year illustration project to make this vision happen. Who says JRPGs don't innovate?