AuthorTopic: GR#127 - Super Mario Land - Gameart Revamp  (Read 12719 times)

Offline Arne

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GR#127 - Super Mario Land - Gameart Revamp

on: May 13, 2013, 05:28:04 pm
I found an old dump that I made of the SML sprites and couldn't resist fiddling with the sprites. The originals use a lot of black lines. Maybe it shows up better on the LCD screen, or it was just the style of the artist. I quite like some of the original sprites, like the Shellcreeper/Koopa and the spear fly (look at that death frame... so sad, like it's philosophizing, empty-eyed, over its own wingless demise). Its huffing and puffing is very cute.

The live fish needs a bit of work. Perhaps it can be turned into a chibi-blooper (edit: meant cheep-cheep) instead of the rigid thing it is now.

I think the koopa turned out OK-ish. Some jumpy black pixels to clean up, but it's overall more readable than I expected despite not being a flat black silhouette anymore. However, it would be interesting to make it bipedal, like the SMW ones. Might yield another pixel of horizontal space!

My Moai heads are dull. Needs some sort of design gimmick. The 2 designs are more consistent now though. I made it look like it runs using the wings.

Some death frames are air-to-ground drops so I curved the bodies a tad so they look OK in free fall, hopefully. Pionpi now looks a bit more like the artwork, but I randomly gave it a skull on the death frame.

The ball is a bullet fired by Tatanga which splits three-ways. Tried doing a glob. The rock was... strange so I tried to make a character of it. The crushing hand felt silly so I did a falling... spiky block thing instead.

Looking at it now, I spot a few supposedly moving masses with stuck static pixels. I'll fix it next iteration. I have a few enemies left, like bosses, plants, spiders. Spiders will be tricky due to leg count and stripes.



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« Last Edit: May 13, 2013, 07:36:17 pm by Arne »

Offline Ymedron

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #1 on: May 13, 2013, 06:43:15 pm
Wow, amazing how you made the sprites so much more detailed yet they are practically the same size.
(The black lines having to do with visibility makes sense to explain it, though)
I especially like the robot and seahorse-creatures, they are very fun to study. The goompa could benefit from having the eyes more symmetrical in the death frame, the perspective doesn't work on it that good when it's so small + goompas are so iconic when they get squished.

The frontview moai looks very nice as well, though the single wing confuses me. I suppose it was like that in the original, too? I've never played SML games.
It'd be fun to see the head lilting in reaction to the lack of support from the other side.
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Offline numlock

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #2 on: May 13, 2013, 09:55:08 pm
looks neat, much better than originals and convey the mario artstyle that we are used to imo

Offline Arne

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #3 on: May 13, 2013, 10:49:31 pm
Moai has 2 wings, but it's a mirrored sprite. I didn't flip mine in PS, that's all.

The Goomba death frame looked sort of wonky either way. Had to make it taller than the original to fit the shut eyes, but it looked too... orderly when symmetrical. Might have to noodle some more on it. I have a few other things to fix as well, but It'll have to wait until I've plowed through everything.

I rewrote my GB gfx dumper and discovered that the characters are stored very orderly in the ROM (read order, pretty much). It might be very easy to write an injector. Maybe a task for tomorrow.

The crushable blocks ... can't decide. They need to look light and brittle, and look OK if tiled in various directions. I do like the original, chocolate ones, but I still wanted to experiment. Favs are top left, or maybe checkered ones. Pretty pleased with the plant I think. Got teeth and doesn't look too distorted despite being squeezed into an 8*16. Sphinx boss animation is sort of wonky. Might have to reduce the body size to give limbs room to move more. Top of the head is a locked shared sprite though.

Experimented with replacement fish, Gloop and Cheep. Details too small and noisy, me thinks, tho Gloop might work.

« Last Edit: May 13, 2013, 10:53:50 pm by Arne »

Offline Carnivac

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #4 on: May 14, 2013, 07:21:56 am
The originals use a lot of black lines. Maybe it shows up better on the LCD screen, or it was just the style of the artist.

I think it was most likely the best way of making very tiny sprites as visible as can be on one of the blurriest, poorest screens for gaming there ever was.  And also it was a very early title for the system too.
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Offline PypeBros

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #5 on: May 14, 2013, 08:08:58 am
The originals use a lot of black lines. Maybe it shows up better on the LCD screen, or it was just the style of the artist.
Yep, I'd love to give the game a shot with those new graphics.

It could possibly work well when plugging the game into a GBA with retro-lightning, but trying to identify a koopa's hit box on light background on a 1st-generation GB in level 1-1 or 2-1 would certainly have made me curse hard time at the developers :P

Offline Arne

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #6 on: May 14, 2013, 11:30:51 am
I've kind of forgotten how the display looks, been so long since I had one. I'm guessing it's pretty low contrast with some pixel fading during movement.

I'm not sure how the hitboxes work in SML. I could frame step and figure it out, perhaps. I've changed the size of some of the characters, but not too much.

Wrote a quick gfx patcher. Press of a button and my image work file plops into the game. Running in VBA with custom FB/BG palettes here:



I might lighten the background terrain line art so it doesn't shine through the transparent white parts of the characters as much.

Offline PypeBros

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #7 on: May 14, 2013, 12:06:56 pm
Yep, clearly, a dedicated palette for sprites will solve the readability issues.

As an experiment, I imported the koopa as well (with no dedicated palette) and applied a 25% and 50% contrast drop. Imho, slight touches on the koopa's head (leftmost version) could keep it more readable even when battery depletes (oh yeah. That ancient thing had contrast really fading as batteries got older). It might be less appealing with the  hue-shifting palette of your original post, though.

Well, all that being said, I don't think it's that important to check for readability of 2013 sprites on 20+year-old device unless it is important to you, but imho, it puts the mostly black/white design of original sprites in due perspective.

Offline Arne

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #8 on: May 15, 2013, 10:01:18 pm
If there are flash card things for the original GB I suppose one could check.

Good news: I'm 80% done. Replaced title screen, all terrain and character sprites, and fonts. It's a joy to play the game with one's own sprites.


UFO! Maybe the ladder should have a perspective shade so it matches the angle.
Water is animated. This is my frame but I'm having trouble finding where the second frame is at.
Missed the W and a whole buncha stuff. Animation is the hardest. Gonna have to boot up Arnimator...


I liked the spear fly so much it inspired the spider remake. Sausagy it wobbles down. Sheelcreepers now walking, but I'll have to tweak them a little still.

Problems:
1.) Wanted to replace the DAISY string with Pauline or POLLY or some such, since I drew Pauline. Can't find the strings even with relative byte value searches though. Even tried letter pairs since the strings might be 2x2 blocks. Perhaps searching for the names ending credits will yield insights into the string routine.

2.) The animated water tiles are forced into the tile table VRAM programmatically, it seems (index 221). I'd like to replace them. No clue where they come from though. Might be stored in a different format.

3.) The 1UP is a heart in this game. I didn't like that, so I turned it into a heart. This caused 2 problems. Hard to tell tell it apart from the regular shroom, and the sprite is also used as * pause * icon, and as a heart when Mario rescues Daisy. Solution: I turned the sprite into a pair of panties ._. Now, if only the game was about Pauline... I'd have to repixel the hardest characters though, the animated Marios... which were a pain to make and still aren't working.

4.) I wanted Pauline/Daisy to pilot the ship at the end, so I drew her in the cockpit. Mario is probably too tired to drive. The problem is that it looks like she's already in the cockpit when the couple approaches the ship... Might have to revert to my indistinguishable silhouette solution.

Edit:



Title screen. Very demo-fonty I suppose. Done no tile placement editing here. I'd populate the horizon better if I could. Placed some Moai heads there but they feel a bit even-tall (with the messy hills) and too densely packed. Cleaned up Mario a lot and was able to give him a shroom in homage to the SMB1 jp/eu cover. Doh! Missed a highlight pixel on the M.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2013, 12:29:22 am by Arne »

Offline Facet

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #9 on: May 16, 2013, 01:12:47 am
SML is one of my favourites, enjoying the process a bunch; that hopping ghost particularly.

In some ways I feel like the move more towards the 'house style' in places is a bit of shame 'cos the game is something of a curiosity. Minor gripes: the old concertina robot death was something I really liked, as were  the pumping fists of the fly-looking guy from the first level; he was quite a threatening dude for the early game, I reckoned he was a scarab beetle or suchlike.

The bouncing rocks I could never figure out: maybe a beach-ball would work here?*  To livening up the Moai: I thought the jumping one was some sort of tribal mask, could be a interesting way to go. I say try something a bit different with the baked potato too; the run-cycle you have now makes me think ostrich, but maybe a Indiana Jonesian rolling rock would make more sense.

Roll on that 20%!

*Duh, just remembered all the protracted bouncing-on-spikes and they're reused for the boss projectiles; high time for a replay!
« Last Edit: May 16, 2013, 02:13:46 pm by Facet »