My newest pixel art; these dudes and dudettes are from a current project code-named "Ultimate RPG." Each one is animated to walk in place (similar to the Ultima games and the Japanese Dragon Quest 1). Also, each sprite has multiple pallet-swaps. Each sprite is being set up to have a variety of outfits in both black and white skin tones.
I have run into a development problem with hair color. Blonde hair looks like garbage on the yellow backgrounds (sandy areas), so those have to be changed. Similarly, I use a lot of black backgrounds so black characters don't look good with dark-brown hair.
I'm still in pre-alpha stages, just making some sprites, polishing the maptiles, and gearing up to create a full-on retro-style RPG. The battles and equipment systems will be similar to Dragon Warrior, but I want to offer some of the character customization of the roguelike genre. I also don't want to spend a lot of time animating multiple characters for battles, but perhaps that feature will get added. I'd rather spend the time drawing/creating great, memorable, and wacky monsters as well as having fun, trippy battle backgrounds.
Allowing the player to visit towns out of order will be a prime design. You could then pick up characters in the same manner as Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar. Either way, I'm off to play some Mother 3 and Lufia & the Fortress of Doom as inspiration.