First, a disclaimer: I don’t play Valorant. Truth be told, I don’t usually play any kind of online game, even less so when it’s a co-op game. The mere fact of having to consider coordination with other people to achieve a common goal, with the stress that includes, makes it sound similar to a job in my mind. I’ve tried it a few times, but the experience always turns out to be a little exhausting.

However, my life partner chose a very different path, with days full of competitive gaming with her teammates, in a constant march towards the next level: a superior rank, a better fortress, or a new pair of wings.

Even if our gameplay styles in my opinion seem to not be compatible, I was still interested in learning about the mechanics of co-op FPS and MMORPGs, and also in the specific games she use to play. It was here where, little by little, I discovered that Valorant not only had attractive characters but a complex sci-fi story underneath.

And if there’s something I like in a game, is the lore. That, however, is a story for another day. In the middle of the research process, the idea of making a pixel art piece related to everything I had learnt about the game was taking form, but the sketches in my head were much more complex than what my knowledge and skills could take to the screen. It became necessary to take my ideas to a known field, that allowed me to explore new ideas without the intimidation of something completely unknown.

Coincidentally, or perhaps as a consequence, I tried to discover the meeting point between my wife’s gameplay style and mine: the co-op and the solo player; the competitive and the recreational; the modern and the retro. To my surprise, I concluded that none of those styles was exclusive to the other. In fact, they shared many aspects.

One of my favourite games is Final Fantasy. Yes, the first game in the series, released in 1987 for the NES, whose influence on the genre is undeniable. In each session, I focused much time wandering around the map searching for encounters with random enemies, so I could get enough experience and money to equip my characters to battle the next boss. And it’s that to move further into the story, hours of grinding were a requirement, something that doesn’t differ much from some experiences with mobile games at the current time (again, a story for another day).

Final Fantasy - Lich Battle

The thing is that, back then, games were made extremely difficult as part of a commercial tactic which demanded more play time, thus extending renting from players, and granting more income to videogame stores and producers. Because of this, in Final Fantasy, taking care of each one of your characters became a vital task. On repeated occasions, sometimes finding myself in the most inhospitable corner of the map, I had to go back to the closest town to spend all my money on potions, antidotes, new equipment, and stronger spells; sometimes risking losing everything I earned in a sudden battle with a powerful enemy in the middle of the way.

I felt as if I fulfilled an additional role in my team, without which they would be completely lost in the middle of an unknown world. My duty was to take them to victory and to do that I must keep them safe. It was exactly at this point that both worlds met. The way I felt when playing Final Fantasy, was exactly how my wife felt in every Valorant match. Essentially, we both fulfilled the same role in our teams, sharing the very same goal.

No team, no victory.

With this in mind, I decided to make a crossover piece with both games, as a symbol of this new meeting point I had discovered in our lives. Due to Final Fantasy restrictions, though, I decided to keep a 4 players team. The chosen characters were based on my wife’s teammates: Brimstone, Sova, Reyna, and Sage. Each one with its own 3 colour palettes, chosen carefully (and fearfully), to match its original models.

The map was her suggestion: Haven. I must say I had a hard time choosing a particular place on the map that allowed me to work with a 4 colour palette (including the transparent background), so I resorted to watching many gameplay videos and looking for a bunch of screenshots of the map to find that exact point. I finally settle for C Site, a place monochromatic enough for my comfort, after working with more colours than I could tolerate for a few days.

Haven: C Site

As expected, the Final Fantasy scene I chose was the battlefield, where, as suggested by her once again, I decided to face the team with one lonely opponent; one with enough skills to be able to defend a site by herself: Killjoy.

In this new piece not only I found new shapes and colours, but also new music. Valorant playlist on Spotify kept me company in every pixel, and one particular song in it reached my most listened songs:

With this beat, I could finish a piece which not only allowed me to step out of my 4-colours comfort zone but led me to explore new aspects of my relationship with my wife.

No team, no victory


Palette: Aseprite NES

Size: 256x240 (resolución NES)

Software: Aseprite