AuthorTopic: My Old SNES Work: Mario is Missing Landmarks  (Read 1674 times)

Offline billzilla

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My Old SNES Work: Mario is Missing Landmarks

on: July 10, 2017, 09:23:28 pm
Way back in the day, I did a lot of SNES and other 16-bit development work. This here was the SNES edition of Mario is Missing, the special photo landmark pics that were rewards for people completing a level - or whatever. This bit here are the three Paris locations. I like Notre-Dame the best, the Eiffel was a bit rushed. Each of these usually took about one work day to do.

These were all hand-drawn without scanner or digitizer (or Wacom). Just eyeballed stuff from - wait for it - library books... After walking 10 miles in snow, of course. Pre-internet, of course. To maximize onscreen colors (old SNES artists will remember this) backgrounds and such were on 8x8 or 16x16 tile boundaries to each tile's individual palette. All these are a larger scale mosaic of 8x8's with variable palettes for each that you can see in DPaint or other palette adjusting app. Sometimes I'd screw up and the image would get bounced back out of the import tool and I'd have to go in and find that stray pixel. Tedious.

The game itself was done for Software Toolworks/Mindscape when I was transitioning from Visual Concepts (now 2K). The guy there, Dave Bringhurst, kind of headhunted me at the time and offered more $$ to come work for them, so wound up doing that.

So, hello people! I'm thinking I might do more pixel 16-bit style work again so I may be checking the forums. :D

« Last Edit: July 10, 2017, 09:31:29 pm by billzilla »

Offline Gizmonicgamer

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Re: My Old SNES Work: Mario is Missing Landmarks

Reply #1 on: July 12, 2017, 02:27:12 pm
Excellent work: I like Notre Dame a lot, but I think the Arc is actually more striking to me; the pearlier shades, sharp contrasted form and the shifting skyline and visible city in it's center do a lot for me.

Offline billzilla

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Re: My Old SNES Work: Mario is Missing Landmarks

Reply #2 on: July 13, 2017, 10:56:54 am
Thanks! I remember fiddling with giving it texture that wasn't too over-busy (like single pixel highlights and shadows). Just finally decided to do basic slight color stone variations without trying too hard for dimensionality.

My coworker (I think Duncan Knarr) did some really nice cityscape backdrops for some of the simplified levels. Some very atmospheric (hazy and nice slight color shift as each block got less distinct). Mostly silhouettes with implied details but still great stuff. I think the majority of the distaste for the game came from people expecting a more traditional Mario product and getting a rather clunky feeling edu-tainment adaptation.  :lol:

Offline Rydin

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Re: My Old SNES Work: Mario is Missing Landmarks

Reply #3 on: July 17, 2017, 08:38:00 pm
These are cool! What else have you done?
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Offline CFKaligula

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Re: My Old SNES Work: Mario is Missing Landmarks

Reply #4 on: July 18, 2017, 02:15:18 pm
this is really interesting, id really like to learn more on what pixel art was like in that time period, when it wasn't really seen as an artstyle. Did you use terms like dithering and anti-aliasing already?
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Offline Sersch

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Re: My Old SNES Work: Mario is Missing Landmarks

Reply #5 on: July 20, 2017, 02:14:45 pm
neat, remember the game from the 90ies. Where was the game actually produced? always thought everything mario came from japan :)

Offline billzilla

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Re: My Old SNES Work: Mario is Missing Landmarks

Reply #6 on: July 20, 2018, 10:39:56 am
It was produced at The Software Toolworks in Novato, CA circa 1993-94.

Offline mixiekins

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Re: My Old SNES Work: Mario is Missing Landmarks

Reply #7 on: July 21, 2018, 05:27:45 am
Wow, super impressive work, especially considering the limitations! Though, I for one am drawn to Pixel Art because the restrictions force ones-self to get resourceful about making the most of what's available. Getting the color resolution you have there on the SNES is making me see stars! It's reminding me of this one dude's project where he got Super Mario for the SNES running on an unmodified NES. (If you guys haven't seen that, it's over here-- super fascinating, too!)

And I second what Sersch mentioned, because for some reason I never got any impression that Nintendo hired contractors; I, too, was always under the impression that they only did stuff in-house, so whenever I'd hear stories like the Doki Doki Panic reskin I thought it was a very rare exception that they'd make use of outsider assets. (Let's forget the CD-I ever happened.) Though, after hearing the behind the scenes of BOTW where they mentioned having another team flesh out the bulk of the world's terrain, it's becoming more and more apparent. It's so weird how it never occurred to me until it was pointed out, haha! I suppose everyone (yourself included, Billzilla!) does such a great job of staying on model that it's easy to imagine all the assets being handled by a super small team.  :crazy:

Offline billzilla

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Re: My Old SNES Work: Mario is Missing Landmarks

Reply #8 on: August 22, 2018, 10:46:35 pm
Thanks! Yep, the constraints of the format require some creative thought for problem-solving and conveying the look or concept you're going for. I love it. :)

Nintendo has had outside developers work on games based on their IPs before. I don't have a list in front of me but I'm pretty sure they've had multiple companies helping out with art and stuff before. Mario is Missing was a little odd at the time, I'll grant you. A lot of people weren't expecting it to be the edu-tainment title that it was (like a Carmen Sandiego edition with Mario), hence a lot of negative reviews and press.