If people put effort into the sprites they look wonderful. But most people that use pixel art now is indies that go for Atari tier visuals.
Can indies latch onto a higher tier of quality? Maybe the next fad will be High resolution low poly count models.
Athena looks like shit now.
2002 version a best.
SNK was one of the best companies that used pixel graphics. They always tend to be ahead of other companies. Sadly, not all their aspects of their game were always that advanced.
XIII are hit or miss. Some look okay, but some of the older characters like Ryo or Terry just look worse. Also Atena looks like a generic animu grill from last season, lost alot of character.