Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Video game ANSI art part 6: still more?

So since my previous post on the subject, all kinds of people have come out of the woodwork saying "what, the last of this amazing series of video-game-inspired ANSI art? There's got to be more!" Several historical ANSI artists, retired and otherwise, even dug deep into their back catalogues, offering up specimens I might have overlooked in my highly unscientific survey methods (keyword spelunking in sixteencolors.net, which leaves out all pictures of Pitfall Harry which aren't explicitly labelled "Pitfall Harry" somewhere in the picture.)
Anyhow, I've amassed an enormous pile of game-themed ANSIs, which I'll be doling out in three more blog posts.

In short, welcome back to


Yes, that's right, I said


It's the place where I like to talk about


In fact, here's someone playing on a Game Boy right now!


The mohawked skull look is a good one -- at least the equal of anything in that run of weird Game Boy ads recently.  But I'm just fooling around here.  Now for the main attraction! The theme of this post is the splendid odds and sods -- game characters and franchises I could find only single portraits of and references to. The underdogs, if you will. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to predict ANSIs of Sonic the Hedgehog, but Mappy?


It's a rare case of using ANSI to basically do pixel-perfect sprite conversions (and it's a rare case for anyone to care about a Namco game, especially one from 1983, by the mid-'90s.) In truly extraordinary cases you could find ANSI blocks acting as pixels for extremely low-resolution games, but by and large they were considered to be somewhat too chunky to do them justice on a single screen. (But mice are small subjects, so they can just about fit.)

Now here's something different, a BBS named after a video game (or, admittedly, the novel or AD&D module it was bound up with in cross-promotional synergy.) Now, this logo doesn't bear much resemblance to the game's logo, but... well, for the purposes of this post, I am going to allow it under my umbrella. We'll see a few more of these in a future post...


It's a good thing this one is labelled as being connected to Half-Life, because truthfully I wouldn't have grasped the link on my own.


On further reflection, it's eminently possible the second half is an entirely unrelated work of art (I can't read the logo to definitively tell one way or another -- that would certainly be a pretty abstract Gordon Freeman, with no glasses, beard, crowbar or suit -- or body for that matter! but the filename does include the suffix -GORD) in which case the game ANSI here is the depiction of the Greek letter Lambda.  Now draw an ANSI Omega and I can say it's a God of War ANSI! 8)


James Pond, the fishy secret agent (no, not that one) was a popular hero of numerous games on the Amiga platform, a funny animal protagonist based on some mild wordplay without a dram of subtext, irony or Poochy-ness.  So in the post-Sonic era, obviously he had to go.  I know that in the Amiga textmode scene, ASCII was vastly prevalent -- and subtly distinct, with a slightly tweaked character display mode -- so I don't know if it was even possible to produce WYSIWIG ANSI art on Amiga machines.  Which might explain the relative dearth of Amiga game characters in these annals.  When Amiga users wanted to produce computer artwork, they just made mind-blowing demos instead.


This bit of Samurai Shodown fan art is perhaps somewhat weak by general ANSI art standards (still holding its own here on this blog post -- game ANSI was apparently often on the feebler side of execution, getting a free ride on fondness for the subject regardless of the panache with which it was pulled off) but it does a fine job at conveying the salient details of its subject, plus some Japanese text and backgrounds.  In any case, black-on-black-on-black is hard to pull off.  Some might say that this ninja picture fails because you can see the ninja.  What I like is how we have here a depiction of a SNK character made for a game first released on their Neo Geo platform -- and then what do we see at the very bottom of the picture but a celebrated (and lovingly depicted) slogan for their competition Sega.  Go figure.


Look out!  We're square in the sights of Samus from Metroid.  I only hope it's the ice beam she's got armed, then when we get shot the effect will wear off eventually.  It's surprising that we don't see more of the Nintendo greats, but their star was already fading.


This is an early piece from a group local to me, so you might otherwise never have had this somewhat deformed Sparkster inflicted on you -- Visionary got much, much better.  My understanding is that Dax led to Pain which fed into NWA and then iMPERiAL, and from there we got Mistigris (and then, heck, Hallucigenia).  You think the technological underpinings of ANSI art were hard to explain, it had nothing on the political square dance.  (Frankly I'm very surprised this artpack ever left the 604 area code and ended up on the artpacks ftp site!)


That piece is unusual for two reasons.  First: Chip's Challenge from Windows Entertainment Pack?  Not only is it no Sonic, it's not even much of a Mappy.  Ironically, it probably was one of Epyx's most-played titles in the late stages due to its inclusion in the Windows Entertainment Pack, in the same period where the Lynx handheld it had developed was going unplayed.  The other bit of strangeness for this piece is that it demands to be viewed in 80x50 mode -- where 80x25 was the standard MS-DOS textmode.  Its square text elements probably made it more suitable overall for doing and reproducing pixel art...


You got that right -- the immortal Tempus Thales of iCE has, for reasons known only to himself, opted to reskin that tomato Kwirk.  (Perhaps not his proudest moment.)  Apparently he's a cop now (twirling around a pair of handcuffs?) so as to better fit with the theme of the BBS' name?


This piece is great for two reasons:  not only does it depict a Polar Lemming from DMA's Lemmings 2: The Tribes (Did You Know: the makers of Lemmings went on to explode their success by making Grand Theft Auto?), but the board's abbreviation is presented on the Lemming's parka in the style of the similar OS/2 operating system IBM was trying (and failing) to introduce to the PC marketplace.


How can you tell I just made a last-minute dip into some iCE packs?  Here's the second of our WarCraft pieces (I had a couple of misfires as well -- at a passing glance, it's hard to know exactly which green-skinned orc is from WarCraft and which is from Warhammer).

And now, we're going to end on a high note, presenting a more contemporary game.  I had the pleasure of meeting this artist in Sweden in 1999, and you saw his work long ago at the start of this series with a giant Angry Bird.  Mongi is back, with this ANSI depiction of the world of Sword & Sworcery.


That's all for now!  The future ANSI posts are already in the can, but I'm going to try to stagger them out with postings on other subjects in between, so stay tuned & stay blocky!