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For a top down style do people usually make the walking animations like isometric or do they use the 4 direction animations?
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I tried doing just 4 ala Link to the Past for a while. That was the number one complaint previews of my game received until I took the time to do the rest of the animations.
I think it all depends on the art and game play involved. Games like Nuclear Throne and Binding of Issac don't even really have 4 directions they fully animate in but they still look great IMO. Play around with it and see what works best for you.