Judging by my notes, this happened some time after my birthday, as it was lumped in with mention of a belated birthday present I'd received -- a copy of the Dark Domains DVD from no less than RaDMaN, founder of ACiD! (ACiD, for those not in the know, was essentially the first -- or at least pre-eminent -- ANSI art group during the art form's peak period in those halcyon '90s. For a time I, based on a "how StUdLy are you?" quiz I published in my school newspaper, was the group's secretary. This not only gave me elite kudos and access to late-night conference calls of dubious provenance, but it turns out was also responsible for my graduating high school, yielding an adult's signature endorsing my extra-curricular activities in fulfilment of our work experience requirement. But I digress.) This DVD was jam-packed with all the onetime contents of the Artpacks Archive FTP site ACiD had maintained, after Trixter (who would end up creating MobyGames) gave the pirate-associated ANSI artpacks the heave ho from the demoscene-themed Hornet archive. (Since, after all, the loaders and intros epitomizing the demo art were in no way linked to the cracking and couriering scene, he exhaustingly sarcased.)
The ANSI art format was painfully limited, but it was the right material for its time -- an effective beautification scheme for dial-up BBSes at middling modem speeds, in an age when downloading a Cindy Crawford swimsuit .GIF might take an hour. A focal medium of expression for thousands of teenaged boys (and a few notable exceptions, of both gender and age), it could be used to express anything -- but mostly derived its influences from graffiti (in its typography) and comic books (in its subjects) -- tragically, the stylish launch titles of Image, some of the most highly-polished turds to ever grace the page. But... I digress!
Still in, if admittedly stepping out from, a pixelart era, the pseudo-pixels (tall rectangles in the default MS-DOS screen mode of 80x25) of ANSI art also made it an effective medium for revisiting video game sprite artwork -- and of course, given that access to the subterranean river of wareZ was a critical motivating factor for many aspiring ANSI artists, the subject was never far from their minds in any case.
My birthday is rapidly approaching (you may be hearing about my drumming up the next instalment of my retro game parties), hence the raw material for this post must have been sitting around collecting dust for the better part of nine months now. (Sorry for dropping off the face of the blogosphere in the middle of my D&D spree -- things have been hairy lately and a breath of fresh air will probably make this blog more of a joyous undertaking than another dreary responsibility.) Though my computer at the time didn't have an optical media drive of any kind, I was still able to avail myself of the web interface to the artpacks archive at sixteencolors.net and dig up some interesting specimens of video game art, ANSI style, for your enjoyment and edification!
Anything visual was fair game for conversion to ANSI art, as my opening indicated, though certain (chest-heaving) themes would prove more popular than others. Here, to set the scene, a couple of specimens from the visual vocabulary of the company Konami:a master of ANSImation, or animated ANSI art. This piece is not a specimen of that black art (and indeed I am not sure how one would even go about embedding such materials into web pages) but it remains a good example of his style -- unsophisticated, but very effective. Sonic the Hedgehog is an excellent choice of subject for this piece, presumably celebrating a warez-couriering group named after the speed with which they deliver the goods. my stack of Nintendo Powers weren't in deep storage, I would take out the copy to check!) Red Dead Redemption (aka Grand Theft Horse!) on a somewhat grander scale. the first release by Mistigris, and as you can see, I'm warming up to celebrate it.