Fluid animation adds delay and reduces responsiveness of control. Platform games of the past had less character animation and were highly responsive to control inputs. Characters more or less responded immediately to control inputs, spinning on the spot with little in the way of simulated momentum or animation sequences to slow down the transitions.
The size of the art character sprites also influences this. Simple animation is more obvious the larger the on screen characters are. Recent examples of games considered to control well such as Super Meat Boy retain relatively small player characters on screen. Does this allow the freedom of reduced frames of animation and contribute to the feeling of tight controls? I suspect so.
A modern example of compromise between the need to create smooth beautiful animation and retain tight responsive controls might be something like Rayman Origins. I have a copy of this on the Xbox 360 and will take note when I get around to playing it.
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