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Unexpected Art Upgrade Moment

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Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure: TOP: Normal Gameplay, BOTTOM: Episode 2's ending screen
Normally, a medium's depiction of characters may be limited by its size or ability to display them. A manga or comic may have its pages split up into smaller panels and the detail within that small space is limited, an illustrated story may have text mixed in with the art, causing the art to be shoved into corners, and a video game may have its characters depicted in pixels, which, at most, are about the size of your thumbnail, and the amount of which can also be counted within the number range of unpopped kernels in a bowl of popcorn.
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Suddenly the next page (or even two pages), or screen of a game, explodes with stunning detail, or a closeup/larger version of a character that has never (or has extremely rarely) been drawn in that much detail. However, this can also be used to great effect in horror, as if the entity involved is malicious and has transcended a metaphysical barrier (say, become an Eldritch Abomination) relevant to the media. If it's near the end of the story, it may symbolically mark a turning point, a momentous occasion, or even a shocking moment; or, if it's also at the artist's discretion, it may be an opportunity to show off their artistic skills. Usually, old comics would have a special page (usually called a "pin-up"), dedicated to showing off the skill of the artist, and would either take up the whole page or a two-page spread, and old video games may have a full-screen still image (or very large sprite) as part of the story, or as congratulations to the player.

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This can also be used to highlight the detail that a peripheral, or a special overall upgrade to the medium, brings to the game or system when compared to previous entries on the same basic platform.

As this trope deals with limited-detail print, still-image, or video game media, please don't list examples from films, animated media, or TV shows, since the quality of the imagery can often vary wildly from shot to shot. Since some of this media also uses this trope to portray a story-changing, shocking, or other special event, all spoilers are unmarked.

In Manga, it often overlaps with Splash Panel.

Compare:

  • Gross-Up Close-Up, which also uses the extra detail for grotesque effect and IS used in animated media.
  • Animation Bump, which is this trope in animation form.
  • Art Shift, which is where the medium will suddenly change into a different style; usually this is done for parody or homage purposes.
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Examples:

Manga

  • Usually a given for manga. Examples listed here, but not elaborated on, are for general highlights within the series.
    • Ai Yori Aoshi: Usually Played for Drama, but also Played for Laughs.
    • Futari Ecchi: Multiple times during the manga's run, usually as a (sexual) pinup scene. (Such as Yura and her husband Makoto having sex for the first time, and the page features a full-page image of Yura in the nude.) However, one notable instance happens in Chapter 120 when the couple babysit an acquaintance's child for a few days, Yura finds it in her heart to start a family and have a baby, meaning that she and her husband can be much more intimate, and much less careful, than ever before, without contraceptives. Of course, Makoto, being ever-hungry (but not obsessive) for intercourse, is ecstatic. After a few nights of several close intimacy sessions, Makoto accidentally (but fortuitously) causes Yura to climax for the very first time, which is detailed in an enormous two-page spread.
    • Love Lucky: After several heart-breaking failures in love, Average Everyman Fuuta Kinashi's one remaining romantic anchor is his crush on the beautiful J-Pop Idol Singer "Kirari", but vows to keep trying. At a matchmaking party, Fuuta meets a shy mystery woman, because she wears a mask then and at every date after. They fall in love over each other's interests and decide to marry in private. When they return to his home to acquaint themselves further, Fuuta wants her to "show him" [her face]. She misinterprets this, not knowing how to approach their new life, so she completely stripsnote , sans her mask. When Fuuta gets flustered and clarifies, she finally takes off her disguise, revealing in a fully-detailed one-page image that she is the very same Kirari that he's a super-fan of, and he's seeing her full uncovered body right in front of himself.

Comic Books

  • Sonic the Hedgehog: At least once every serious comic storyline, (e.g. the Death Egg Saga note , Mecha Madnessnote  or issue #50's arc note ), you could expect to see a full-page or two-page comic spread of a fight, or a detailed image of an emotional or climactic moment.

Comic Strips

  • Calvin and Hobbes: In this strip, C&H find a dead bird. The first panel consists of a rather detailed closeup of it. In a bit of Reality Subtext, it's a sketch of an actual dead bird that Bill Watterson found one day.

Literature

  • The Berenstain Bears:
    • ...Visit the Dentist: Sister Bear finds that she has a loose baby tooth, and coincidentally, Brother Bear also needs to go to the dentist for a checkup. After being preoccupied with the tooth for the whole story, the dentist seats Sister in the examination chair, takes a piece of gauze, and gently, but firmly, pulls the tooth out. On the next two-page spread, a closeup illustration shows Sister Bear looking joyously at the first baby tooth she has ever lost in the hand of the dentist.
    • ...and the Bad Dream: Brother Bear is an enormous fan of the "Space Grizzlies" line of action figures and playsets, and he bargains for Sister Bear to role-play (by playing games and activities that Sister wants to do first), and they eventually both get into the fun. When it's announced that a Space Grizzlies motion picture is releasing to cinemas soon, Brother Bear is, of course, thrilled. However, the cinematic experience proves to be a bit intense by himself, on Avengers level, if the two-page spread of the battles blazing on the movie screen is anything to go by. This leads to the eponymous bad dreams (made up of the Space Grizzlies characters and the various activities from earlier in the story) that he and Sister Bear experience that night.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown features a full, two-page spread of chaos during the climactic snowball battle. It's the only book in the series to have an illustration that seamlessly spans two pages.

Video Games

  • Bubble Memories: The Story of Bubble Bobble 3: Happens with the Super Dark Great Dragon, who happens to look like a giant version of Bub in knight's armor.
  • Chrono Trigger: The game uses sprites in battle and regular play, but the remakes add animated cutscenes during important moments like Frog opening the way to Magus' castle or Ayla beating the crap out of some Reptites. It then shows the same scene with the sprites, which can be... underwhelming.
  • Cosmo's Cosmic Adventure: The endings of each episode, especially episodes 1 and 2, use this. Episode 1's is used for cliffhanger shock value (as this was a Shareware title, so you needed to buy the rest of the series to see the conclusion), since in the final level, Cosmo has fallen into a pit and is eaten whole by a giant alligator-like monster, with the proceeding image being a full-screen image of Cosmo's point-of-view looking straight down its throat and into seemingly certain doom. Episode 2's, however, is more on the "call-to-adventure" side, as it shows a detailed image of Cosmo looking out over a nighttime vista, towards a city that he believes his missing parents have been taken to, and also believes where they will be devoured by a villainous monster. Subverted in Episode 2 & 3, though, in that the title screen is the image that uses high-resolution versions of Cosmo and some of the enemy characters.
  • Commander Keen:
    • Invasion of the Vorticons Episode 3: the ending image is the sole detailed image in all of the trilogy: a full-screen high-resolution image of a Vorticon hand holding a photograph of Keen posing with his heroic medal with a now-liberated Vorticon.
    • Subverted in Goodbye Galaxy! and Aliens Ate My Babysitter!, and the sequel fan-made "The Universe is Toast!" trilogy, in that the title screens are the only elements to use high-resolution full-screen detailed images. (The story pages only use character icons and small lower-resolution images.)
  • Doom: Subverted with the title screen, but after seeing nothing but low-res (256 x 256px normally at most) textures representing your surroundings and environment, Episode 2 ends with an image of the Deimos base floating over Hell, Episode 3 ends with a panning screen showing your home town ablaze, and Episode 4 ends with a fully-detailed splash screen of the Doom Marine (without his helmet, no less!) clutching his recently-decapitated pet rabbit in satisfied vengeance.
  • Knuckles Chaotix: Brought up with the title screen as this was meant to highlight the somewhat massive upgrade that the Sega 32X provided, close to the end of the console's lifespan.
  • Heretic: Players may be surprised to find the ending of episode 3 to be a vibrant full-256-color image showing a Disciple of D'Sparil watching Corvusnote  leave D'Sparil's domed city.
  • Hocus Pocus: The final animation is a detailed image of Hocus kissing his now-bride, Princess Popopa.
  • Ristar: Being released (in 1995) close to the end of the Sega Genesis's lifespan, the intro is animated as a full cutscene, with a large sprite of Ristar at the "Press Start" screen, the boss enemy sprites are large and colorful, and the ending credits and splash screens feature large colorful art of battles against enemies within the game, with the final shot of Kaiser Greedy looking up at an image of Ristar in the heavens in the Japanese version, and Ristar reuniting with his father, the Legendary Hero, in the English/International version.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse: The game normally has a typical anime art style (odd demon design notwithstanding). So it plays this trope for horror to great effect when Flynn is transformed into a hyper-realistic fusion between him and the divine snake Sheesha.
  • Sonic 3D Blast: As this was close to the end of the Genesis/Mega Drive's lifespan, naturally this was to occur. However, what's unexpected is that for a 16-bit console, the intro logo is smooth-fading low-color 30-FPS full-motion video, and what comes next is a FULL-MOTION CINEMATIC CUTSCENE, which has been packed onto a cartridge with a full-fledged game!
  • Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic & Knuckles: All of the ending freeze frames of the games feature a large high-detail image of each of the characters.
  • Star Fox 2: Used with the large character icons at the character select screen (The only other art seen before this was the title screen and low-color, low-detail communication icons in Star Fox), and used for horrifying effect with Andross' cybernetically-enhanced face at either Game Over screen; and in the final boss battle of the game, one would think that the blue and red shell one encounters IS Andross' sole facial appearance due to game limitations like in the original Star Fox, with the cubical core being his essence. Not so in this sequel, as in higher difficulties, the shell is just that, a mask, hiding a Super FX model head underneath that has been upgraded to a much-more-detailed and accurate representation of his face! (Unlike the original game, which used a silvery metallic representation of a human face.)
  • Super Mario Bros. 2 ends with an impressively animated on-model cartoon Mario sleeping in bed. Take note that this was on the NES, where this was rarely seen.
  • Super Mario World: The ending splash is a high-resolution image of Princess Peach flanked by Mario and Luigi.
  • Undertale: Used to horrifying effect when, up until this point in the game, the art style has stayed in a low-color, comparatively low-detail style like late-1980s/early 1990s video games. It isn't until after Flowey steals the human souls and crashes your game, requiring a restart, that he reappears as the gargantuan Photoshop Flowey (also known to fans as Omega Flowey), with photorealistic full-color spiny plant tendrils, metallic H.R.-Giger-like machinery and pipes, fleshy face, eye, and mouth parts, and a vintage 1970's television set which shows a psychotic version of his normal face. Also included are photorealistic weaponry that he uses against you, including flamethrowers, fly swarms and Venus Flytraps, literal finger guns, and even nuclear bombs.
  • Wario Land 3: As opposed to the white-only representation of his clothes and peach-tone skin during gameplay, a full-color image of Wario congratulating the player is used for when the player finds all of the treasures within the game.
  • Yoshi's Safari: In a subversion to the trope, this does not happen just in one moment or scene in the game. ALL of the enemy character sprites (including Yoshi himself) have been upgraded to larger size, high color, and detail, compared to their appearances in previous games, and Super Mario World a few preceding years earlier!

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