AuthorTopic: NES, Super NES and Mega Drive/Genesis Palettes  (Read 12854 times)

Offline TiagoJ7

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 6
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

NES, Super NES and Mega Drive/Genesis Palettes

on: April 30, 2009, 04:18:48 pm
Hi there.

I've been wanting to make NES and Genesis/SNES styled sprites. But for that I wanted the original 8-bit and 16-bit palettes of each console.
Is there somewhere I can find them?
Or maybe I can use emulators, load a rom, take screenshots and copy the colors I like. That... solves it. But I don't know if the palettes the "computer" displays are to be trusted. Well, I trust an emulator more than some sprite sheets that can be found on the web. I've compared several sprites in sprite sheets with the colors of a screenshot from an emulator taken by me. The difference is sometimes big and sometimes small.
I kind of feel confused.
I think I'll just take the colors directly from the emulators' screenshots, but first I'd like to know whether the colors are the real ones.

I'll appreciate any tips you got.

PS: I hope I'm not breaking any rule with this topic.

Offline willfaulds

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 217
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: NES, Super NES and Mega Drive/Genesis Palettes

Reply #1 on: April 30, 2009, 05:33:00 pm
Hi TiagoJ7

You can find lots and lots of information on this forum about these things.

Generally worrying too much about colour reproduction of older systems is a waste of time - most if not all of them went through a multitude of manufacture runs and core components may have varied slightly... plus with consoles that connect to a tv you've a whole load of other considerations.

So don't worry about it.

However have a good search around this forum and you'll find a number of best fit palettes that are plenty good enough. http://www.wayofthepixel.net/pixelation/index.php?topic=7639.0

If you have trouble looking here wikipedia is a good source too.

Offline TiagoJ7

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 6
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: NES, Super NES and Mega Drive/Genesis Palettes

Reply #2 on: May 01, 2009, 01:57:46 pm
Generally worrying too much about colour reproduction of older systems is a waste of time

I'll say. I checked the link you gave me, which took me to other links, and I discovered there weren't just a color limit on a console or C64. There was also a color limit to be shown on screen. Personally, I don't care about those restrictions, because I'm not working on games to be played directly on consoles. I just care about the colors used in the games. ;) At least, for now.
But I guarantee it wasn't a waste of time to read. Thank you for showing me, and thank you to everyone who posted on those topics.

Quote
plus with consoles that connect to a tv you've a whole load of other considerations.

Yeah, but I'm not going that far... So no worries there.

I'm just curious about some things:

1. When Nintendo, SEGA, Capcom, etc. were making their games for their 8 and 16 bit consoles, did they have a palette available of what colors they could and could not use (colors each console would "admit" in the game), or did they just have a limit of how many colors they could use?

2. Why are the colors in the sprite sheets different from the original colors (the ones I get when I take a screenshot from an emulator)? When I make my own sheets I get the colors right.

3. Do all the games on the NES, for example, have the same colors? It's again that console palette subject.

I may have more questions later, but I can only think of these right now.

Offline Ai

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 1057
  • Karma: +2/-0
  • finti
    • http://pixeljoint.com/pixels/profile.asp?id=1996
    • finticemo
    • View Profile

Re: NES, Super NES and Mega Drive/Genesis Palettes

Reply #3 on: May 02, 2009, 01:02:35 am
Quote
what colors they could and could not use (colors each console would "admit" in the game), or did they just have a limit of how many colors they could use?
Yes to both, and also local limits (like, NES supports 3 colors per sprite (+ transparency), and 4 colors per tile; genesis supports 15 colors +transparency per sprite, 15 colors+transparency per tile, 64 colors total onscreen.;)

2. That's just down to the differences between emulators.

3. No; You'll have to read up on the exact limitations for whatever system, but eg. on NES the number of say. 4-color palettes available for tiles was limited, the amount of total colors onscreen was limited, and the master palette colors could be selected from was also limited.
Even today on modern PCs, the number of onscreen colors is limited and the colors you can choose from are limited.
If you insist on being pessimistic about your own abilities, consider also being pessimistic about the accuracy of that pessimistic judgement.

Offline Squiggly_P

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 66
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: NES, Super NES and Mega Drive/Genesis Palettes

Reply #4 on: May 02, 2009, 05:00:51 pm
Quote
2. Why are the colors in the sprite sheets different from the original colors (the ones I get when I take a screenshot from an emulator)? When I make my own sheets I get the colors right.

It CAN be the emulators, but it can also be due to the way the hardware handeled colors.  With the NES, you could change the pallets, which is how they did the flashing effects, for instance, when you get a star in mario, or when you get the fire flower...  you turn white, but it's the same exact sprite and animation with a different pallet (or the same pallet with different colors being applied?  I've never figured that out...).  You can find examples of that technique being used all over the system for a variety of effects, from simulating movement in the backgrounds to weapons to fading in and out on some characters, etc.  I'm not sure how the sprites get stored on that system, either, so it could have just been a shortcut for the devs (doing the sprites in one global pallet and then re-mapping the colors to the 'correct' pallet or something?)...

The NES had some serious limitations, but it had a lot of fun stuff like that which allowed for some pretty awesome graphical tricks.

Offline TiagoJ7

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 6
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: NES, Super NES and Mega Drive/Genesis Palettes

Reply #5 on: May 02, 2009, 08:31:28 pm
Thanks for the answers, guys. :)

I'm still confused about the 2nd question. I use Nestopia for NES, Gens for Mega Drive and VisualBoyAdvance for GBA. So what you're saying is that the colors I see in those emulators may not be the originals?
One other thing I noticed is that usually the sprites in some sheets have slightly darker colors than when I view them on an emulator. I think I noticed it better in every sprite sheet of the first three Sonic games.
If the way each emulator treats the color is different, how can we tell how the colors really are?

Oh and...

4. What's the scanline in some emulators? What are they for? Why is it possible to remove it only sometimes?

Offline Squiggly_P

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 66
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: NES, Super NES and Mega Drive/Genesis Palettes

Reply #6 on: May 04, 2009, 09:59:07 pm
It could be the emulator or it could be the rips.  i dunno how to rip sprites, so I dunno if they have to re-map the colors to a normal pallet or what that whole process entails.  It could be the rips have the incorrect colors.  i dunno.  With the NES, all you have to do is just alter the colors to match the NES's closest colors if the colors are off on the sprites.  With the 16 bit systems, there are so many colors that getting them just right will probably be hard if the rip or screenshot is off.  I dunno.  I think Sonic will be recognizeable regardless of what specific shade of blue he's got.

There was one other thing I forgot to bring up, tho...  I know the older systems had a limit on how bright a color could be.  Their pallets generally stopped before they got close to being pure white or bright bright yellow to prevent screen burn-in.  Maybe the emulators are brightening the colors to compensate?

The scanlines, I do believe, are a way for the games to look more like they did on TV's as well...  You can't turn them on unless you're playing at at least 2x the original resolution.  Then the emulator will just tint every other horizontal line a bit darker.  on a CRT TV you couldn't really see individual pixels very well...  everything sorta blended in ith the pixels surrounding it.  On modern LCD monitors, tho, playing at 2x or 3x the resolution of the original games will result in huge blocky pixels and the scanline options are there to soften that effect a bit.

Offline TiagoJ7

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 6
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: NES, Super NES and Mega Drive/Genesis Palettes

Reply #7 on: May 07, 2009, 01:52:08 pm
Thanks for your answers.
Things got clearer to me now.

Offline Arne

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 431
  • Karma: +1/-0
  • Panties.
    • View Profile
    • AndroidArts

Re: NES, Super NES and Mega Drive/Genesis Palettes

Reply #8 on: May 07, 2009, 03:34:40 pm
That colors look different in the emulator than they do in Photoshop or on the web might also depend on color profiles (likely the case if you use a Mac).

Quite often the emulator has several available color profiles too.

Also, sprite sheets found online are often not accurate. If the 'ripper' has used screenshots, the pixels can be messed up due to scaling, clumsy attempts at alignment, attempts at manual pixel cleanup, paint bucketed backgrounds (resulting in lost colors), added outlines... etc. Rippers also needlessly increase the color count by adding stupid little sigs where they demand credit.

Because of this I always have to dump the graphics myself. IIRC, 'dumping' is the term for extracting the graphics out of the game data with some kind of program. I wrote my own, and it mostly does the job with a few lines of code and a button press (hardly labor to take credit for). The advantage with this method is that you also get the unused sprites and an insight into how the game was made. The disadvantage is that you won't get the proper palettes, although that's not that hard to add afterward. Some games like Solar Jetman have enemies which are made from a million bits and pieces, so in that case you almost have to play through the game to see how everything looks.

Anyways, just a warning: Don't trust sprite sheets if you want perfect pixels and complete sets.

Offline TiagoJ7

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 6
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: NES, Super NES and Mega Drive/Genesis Palettes

Reply #9 on: May 08, 2009, 11:38:02 am
I rarely have troubles with sprite sheets. Except the colors. Apart from that, they rarely miss anything. BTW, even if a sprite ripper puts on a sig, it doesn't necessarily change the palette. If they're using Paint, everything stays well. At least, this is what I hope.

I'm thinking about moving to Photoshop for my pixel art.

Is there any program that takes a screenshot of every frame of any program? For example, I said in another topic I wish I could turn Mario's model, as I look at it when I play the game, into a sprite. But since the DS has many fps, it's hard to get every frame, at least the ones I know I want, simply by tapping the snap-shot button in Fraps. I wanted something to take the screenshots for me, and not letting any frame out. Does anything like that exist? Does any of you use it? When I use VisualBoyAdvance, I can go from one frame to another, but the option I have to take a screenshot seems to change the color a bit. Besides, that would come in handy in all other emulators.