AuthorTopic: GR#127 - Super Mario Land - Gameart Revamp  (Read 19069 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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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.

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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 »

Offline Charlieton

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #10 on: May 16, 2013, 07:39:53 am
Recommended listening for browsing this thread: http://youtu.be/lH_u4pPZ1B0?t=1m46s

Giant seahorse and submarine/airplane, please!

Keep up the good work! :y:
Det skulle vara lätt för mig att säga att jag inte gillar dig, men det gör jag; tror jag

Offline Arne

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #11 on: May 16, 2013, 06:44:33 pm
It's certainly a different look for the game. I liked the simple clean look of the original but I enjoy my more cutesy version more tbh. Maybe it's like cooking one selves food.

Gave the fly back the club hands. Can see the appeal of those. Strange how large the 16 px enemies look in this game. Might scale a few down actually...

Running Maoi/potato is... difficult to work with since it moves using different physics. It appears they snap it forward a tile and change frame, making it very jerky looking. I've tried to be consistent with the Moai look across the board, but I tried to make a different kinda Moai so it's more... Marioverse.

I'm now at 99%, with that last % being the hard stuff and excessive tweaking.


Worked some in Arnimation. It helps so much being able to instantly see the animation.
My Pauline is so much less iconic than Mario, and is a bit messy with the diagonals. I've yet to see how she looks ingame. Animation is OK'ish looking. There are some shared tiles making things difficult/static. Doesn't appear to be any throw frame used for big Mario ingame, even though one was drawn.

(Edit: these frames are now dated)

Could make separate IPS'es for the player and Fay Wray characters I suppose. Trying to figure out who Pauline would rescue. Used the modern look for Daisy and Peach.


Edit: Found the water tiles using magic!
« Last Edit: May 21, 2013, 03:01:21 am by Arne »

Offline PypeBros

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #12 on: May 16, 2013, 07:52:20 pm
Trying to figure out who Pauline would rescue. Used the modern look for Daisy and Peach.
DK junior ?

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #13 on: May 17, 2013, 01:21:11 am
This was one of the first games I ever owned; really love what you're doing with the sprites: Keepin' it accurate but adding those tiny details really adds up. I'm not very experienced with pixel art yet so I don't notice tiny inconsistencies or potential improvements very well, but I see no major flaws with your stuff, it's all pretty visually pleasing overall and definitely a step or two up from the original work. Keep up the good work and do what you've gotta do would be my best advice I guess!  ;D
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Offline Arne

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #14 on: May 17, 2013, 05:40:23 pm
I went through the effort of marking all of the seemingly unused tiles and spotted this peculiarity behind the ship. It's a single static fame/sprite repeated twice.... might have been a ladder? It disappears some second after they have entered the ship.

I wonder if I could make something of it. Can't do a pilot character since it's repeated. Ladder would be hard since it misses the ship and isn't tilted enough. Maybe smoke puffs, but they wouldn't be animated.



I'm probably at 80% of that last 1% now.

Offline Helm

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #15 on: May 18, 2013, 03:58:18 pm
This is lovely stuff and it fulfills some sort of childhood fantasy for me to update the graphics of 8-bit games in-engine. I guess I should learn some basic hacking? I want to edit Prince of Persia, either DOS or original Apple II version and make it Princess of Persia (and you rescue the Prince).

Offline Arne

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #16 on: May 18, 2013, 11:07:22 pm
Page: http://androidarts.com/sml/sml.htm

I figured out the text strings! Enter Pauline! I'm limited to 5 characters though. ELLEN and ALIEN works. Just realized that her name might be intentionally similar to ALIEN.

Helm> Some games are harder than others to dump (I write my own tools but I'm sure there's stuff to download). Computer games can be tricky since the hardware is more flexible with graphics... no strict tile tables and such. The programers sometimes wrote custom file formats and if the data is variable width due to compression you're toast since any edited data will take up more or less space affecting offsets and such.

GB and NES games are generally easy because of the tile tables. Gets tricky once the games start streaming tiles (from some piece of code) into video memory though. SML only does it for the water effects.

Prince of Persia might be difficult to edit since the characters are variable width with lots of empty spaces. As a programmer working with limited memory I would be tempted to compress that somehow.

Offline Helm

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #17 on: May 18, 2013, 11:10:42 pm
Oh I'm 100% certain Mechner compressed the data to hell in the Apple II original, it's a technological marvel, should not exist on that machine. But! There's a c64 version written very recently by fans, I could get in touch with that coder perhaps, and the c64 is my favourite micro anyway.

Offline Arne

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #18 on: May 19, 2013, 12:59:50 pm

Offline Helm

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #19 on: May 19, 2013, 01:23:15 pm
Yeah, I've followed his blog, really enlightening stuff. Still do not know how to code at all.

Offline PypeBros

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #20 on: May 19, 2013, 08:05:31 pm
Oh I'm 100% certain Mechner compressed the data to hell in the Apple II original, it's a technological marvel, should not exist on that machine. But! There's a c64 version written very recently by fans, I could get in touch with that coder perhaps, and the c64 is my favourite micro anyway.
That was Mr Sid, who occasinally shows up here as well. He described his process pretty much in detail.

Offline Helm

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #21 on: May 19, 2013, 08:25:19 pm
Thanks. I'll get in touch with him if I ever do the character art swaps for Princess over Prince.

Offline Arne

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #22 on: May 19, 2013, 10:38:59 pm
I've put up a download link for the IPS file at the bottom of my Super Mario Land page. It seems to work.

Offline Arne

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #23 on: May 20, 2013, 08:47:37 pm
Made an Alien patch today.

Offline Mr. Fahrenheit

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #24 on: May 20, 2013, 10:39:40 pm
So how would I play this, do I just download a file or do I need some obscure emulator-ey thing?  ???

Offline Azuyre

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #25 on: May 21, 2013, 01:46:26 am
So how would I play this, do I just download a file or do I need some obscure emulator-ey thing?  ???
Just a GB emulator, the original rom, Lunar IPS and the patch. Once you patch the original game it'll run like any other. :)

Awesome work by the way Arne! :D I just came across this article earlier and the first thing I thought was "Hey, that looks like Arne's work", then I end up scrolling down and seeing that you actually did make it. XD

I've always liked working on 8x8 stuff, its pretty fun trying to make something that still looks good when you're so limited on space.

Offline Ai

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #26 on: May 21, 2013, 02:22:41 am
EDIT: nvm, looks like '502 bad gateway' doesn't occur on all topics. ignore this post.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2013, 02:24:59 am by Ai »
If you insist on being pessimistic about your own abilities, consider also being pessimistic about the accuracy of that pessimistic judgement.

Offline Arne

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Re: Super Mario Land sprite remake/edit

Reply #27 on: May 21, 2013, 02:39:06 am
It's pretty tricky to get everything to work since some animation frames/tiles are shared (inconsistently). Sometimes all I can do is minimize the garble/impact.

Just put a Pauline patch up. Hope it works. I don't have/need the IPS thing myself. I provided an MD5. Patches might not always work as some dumps differ.



... still haven't highlighted the letters properly.