In the past couple of decades, video game graphics have come a long way, a very long way. But who says realistic is always the best? There was something strangely majestic about old-school adventure game graphics, and maybe it’s just a nostalgia thing, but they can be way more beautiful than the modern day stuff. Take, for instance, these 8-bit color-cycled landscapes by Mark Ferrari, a LucasArts veteran. They’re absolutely stunning, and hardly state-of-the-art. They are running on HTML 5 though. Time to get excited for the potential of browser-based adventure games I think.
For any of you who aren’t familiar, color-cycling is an animation technique that was used in many classic adventure games because 8-bit processors weren’t able to handle more traditional animation methods. Typically, animation at, say, 24 frames per second means that over the course of a second, you flip through 24 frames (obviously), each one loaded from scratch. An 8-bit processor can’t handle that kind of action though, so if you want some 24 fps animation, you have to cheat somehow.
That’s what color-cycling is, a work-around. With color-cycling, the artist designs a static image so that when the color pallete is changed underneath it — a process that requires WAY less processing power than loading a whole new frame — it creates the illusion of animation. It takes a special kind of skill to make a picture in this style, and the results can be totally stunning. They also give you that old nostaligia jolt, and who isn’t a fan of that, right?
Aside from the artistic prowess and prettiness of the thing, it’s running on HTML5, which gives it all kinds of potential for in-browser and mobile use and the code, by Joseph Huckaby, is totally free to use. I don’t know about you, but I could go for a color-cycling Renaissance.
Scroll down for a few more stills, or check out the site to play with the actual animations.
Seriously though, you gotta see ’em in action.
- 8 and 16-bit demakes of today’s games
- Jurassic President, the best 8-bit game to never exist
- 8-bit demake of the Game of Thrones theme