Saturday, 21 February 2015

Video game textmode art part 14: ASCII Art!

I wanted to do a blog post on an unrelated topic to cleanse the palate, but those ones all require work while I have ... more than 15 of these sitting around gathering dust, waiting to be unleashed upon the world. Someday this will be something other than the textmode video game art blog, but for the time being, that's most of what you'll be seeing here. (The ads for old video games never made much of a splash, but they sure drew a long tail of Google Image Search viewers who, admittedly, never read a word of the blog. Looking at the traffic numbers comparing and contrasting this going concern with the shuttered ghost town over at "video game comic book ads", a good day here is equivalent to a bad day there. Switching streams is hard! But then again, many worthwhile endeavours are. (Not that I will flatter myself with living up to any imagined mission here.)

But I digress! Video game ASCII art is the subject of today's post! I was over visiting the astounding collection of Usenet and BBS-era captures over at textfiles.com for some arcane reason I can no longer recall (and considering my prodigious memory for the most trivial of arcane details, that must have been pretty marginal indeed!), and I discovered that an area of the site was set aside for ASCII art! Unsurprisingly much of it was either pornography or boxy emoticons of emotionally-troubled cattle, but when I held it upside-down and shook it down, several pieces of video game ASCII art came out.

What is the difference between ANSI art and ASCII art? The former is the more glamorous member of the family, traditionally focusing on a (16-)coloured pixel-art aesthetic through the arrangement of rectangular picture elements at 80x25 resolution, using vertical and horizontal half-blocks (and four intermediary shades interpolating a foreground colour with a different background colour). There is coloured ASCII art (and monochromatic ANSI art) and ANSI artscene traditions resulted in the cultivation of a "scene" ASCII style -- two of them, actually, a "newschool" tradition focusing on nuanced carving away of outlines and contrast through use of negative space (positive pixels typically filled with dollar signs) and an "oldschool" tradition (two, counting the parallel but separate Amiga style) of slanted, often 3-D logotype line art focusing on use of forward and backslashes, hyphens and other straight lines.

The ASCII art medium is one of the original styles of textmode artwork, inheriting an earlier tradition of TTY art developed by bored radar operators during the Cold War and the still-earlier flash in the pan of typewriter art.

These specimens aren't necessary examples of any of the above styles -- many of them are just things people scribbled out with what they had at their disposal: a text editor, a keyboard and a screen (or heck, forget the screen -- a printer will do!) Part of the beauty of ASCII art is that it really is one of the most accessible of computer artforms, requiring little in the realm of specialised software to render it out. Odds are good that these were just hammered out in Notepad or Vi and intended to stick on the bottom of an e-mail, back when everything was being read in fixed-width system fonts.

               *****   *****
              ******* *******
             *****************
            *******************
IIIIIII     *******************       XXXXXXX
 IIIII      *******************     XXXXXXXXXXX
  III       ****************       XXXX0XXXXXXXX
  III       **************        XXXXX/X0XXXXXXX
  III       *************          XXXX0X/XXXXXXX
  III        ************           XXXXX0XXXXXXXX
  III         ************           XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
  III          **********             XXXXXXXXXXXXX
  III           *********              XXXXXXXXXXXX
  III            *******                XXXXXXXXXXX
  III             *****               XXXXXXXXXXXXX
  III              *****             XXXXXXXXXXXXX
  III               ***             XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
  III                *             XXXXXXXXXXXXXX
  III                             XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
  III                              XXXXXXXXXXXXX
 IIIII                              XXXXXXXXXXX
IIIIIII                               XXXXXXX

      PPPP      A       CCCCCC
      PPPPPP   AAA     CCCCCCCC
      PPP  P  AAAAA    CCCCC..C
      PPP  P AAAAAAA   CCCC..CC
      PPPPP  AAAAAAA   CCCCC    ###
      PPPP  AAAA AAAA  CCCCC
      PP    AAAA AAAA  CCCCCCCCC
      PP   AAAAAAAAAAA CCCCCCCCC
      PP   AAAAAAAAAAA  CCCCCC
                                             TM
                M      M      A      N    NNN
                MM    MM     AAA     NN   NNN
                MMM  MMM    AAAAA    NNN  NNN
                MMMMMMMM   AAAAAAA   NNNNNNNN
                MMMMMMMM   AAAAAAA   NNNNNNNN
                MMMMMMMM  AAAA AAAA  NNNNNNNN
                MMMMMMMM  AAAA AAAA  NNNNNNNN
                MMMMMMMM AAAAAAAAAAA NNNNNNNN
                MMMMMMMM AAAAAAAAAAA NNNNNNNN


                       MMMM
                      MMMMMM
                     MMMMMMMM
                     MM/MM/MM
                     MM/MM/MM
                     MM:MM:MM
                     MM-MM-MM
                     MMMMMMMM
                    MM ("") MM
                    MM(    )MM
                    MMMMMMMMMMM
                   MMMMMMMMMMMMM
                   MMMMMMMMMMMMM
                    MM   M  MM
PAC-MAN C. 1980 BALLY MIDWAY MFG. CO.
TM BALLY MIDWAY MFG.CO.
A/N INTERPRETATION BY R. SHAW
"I &heart; Pac-Man, an interpretation by R. Shaw." I don't know if it improved the overall contours of the shapes here, but we can see that R. went the extra distance and formed every individual Pac-ish letter out of the very letter it was representing: the A is made up of a pile of As, the N with Ns, etc. The dash is an exception, made of octothorpes, and of course the ASCII character set does not contain Pac and ghost characters to conveniently build the characters out of here. (It does have a heart, as part of playing-card suit characters, but that may be part of the extended "high-ASCII" set that wouldn't be supported on all terminals.)

And of course, Pac-Man has taken a chomp out of the heart. Har har har. (And of course of course, Pac-Man belongs to Namco, not Bally Midway. Perhaps they played some role in early Pac-Man imports to North America, however.)

-={ Vivi Ornitier }=-
                         .------.
                       .'        '.,
                      /         .  |
                     /          |`':
                   .'         [/] `'.
                  /   '----[/]-'|   ;
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        .'`    '"';;::;| .'"`       ;:'.
       |;._____.,',;;:;(; _ __,;;:;);;:'
       (_______.;;',----';__________;;'` zi.

Zi is a Final Fantasy fan, and here is hir rendition of the series' perpetual Black Mage class. (Oh wait, I see: Vivi Ornitier is a specific Black Mage from FFIX.)
-={ chocobo }=-
               ('(=--.
   .           ;  o  _\
  (`(/,       / `/'`
`-\` '.______/`  \
 \`'-      -=`\   )
  `={   -= = _/  /
     `\   .-'   /`
      {`-,__.'===,_
      //`       `'\\
  _.;'  jgs/zi.   '"
   `\==.
                 ('(=--.
   .             ;  o  _\
  (`(/,        .' `/'`
`-\` '.______.'   /
 \`'-      -=`\   )
  `={   -= = _/  /
     `\   .-'   /`
      {`-,__.'===,_
      //`       `'\\
  _.;'  jgs/zi.   '"
   `\==.

Zi collaborated there with "jgs" to render a couple images of running Chocobos (their necks differ slightly, perhaps in the service of a bobbing-pigeon-head effect), also from Final Fantasy games. (If you like Final Fantasy games, stay tuned -- their iconography, textmodified, is going to be the subject of a whole separate exclusive post to this blog series.) (But now, we go off on a different tangent:)
    ,                           .::.
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      MMMX   "MMMM"  MM       ~%:           !Mh.""" dMI IMMP
      'MMM.                                             IMX
       ~M!M                                             IMP
                      .---------------------.
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                      |       ,             |
                      |    PokeMon # 101    |
                      |      Electrode      |
                      `---------------------'
                      .---------------------.
                      |AMC   ..-----..      |
                      |99  .'_        '.    |
                      |   : ( O-_)  .-~~:   |
                      |  :  `-..'   `O_.-:  |
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                      |      ''-----''      |
                      |       ,             |
                      |    PokeMon # 100    |
                      |       Voltorb       |
                      `---------------------'
                 .-----------------------------.
                 | AMC 99                      |
                 |            .~~-.      _.    |
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                 |    ,                        |
                 | PokeMon # 040 - Wigglytuff  |
                 `-----------------------------'
                .------------------------------.
                | AMC                .'.       |
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                |      .''./._______.'| '.'    |
                |      '..'         | |        |
                |                  |~~~|       |
                |     ,             ~~~        |
                |  PokeMon # 081 - Magnemite   |
                `------------------------------'
              .----------------------------------.
              |                                  |
              |  AMC         .----..        .'.  |
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              |   9    .'    .~  '''...  ..''    |
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              |   '.'~~    ~--...__~~~_.-'   `~  |
              |        ,           ~~~           |
              |     PokeMon # 079 - Slowpoke     |
              `----------------------------------'
     .---------------------------------------------------.
     |            .---.                                  |
     |  AMC    .-~     \  __                             |
     |   9   .'   `.._.'-~  `.                           |
     |   9  ;                 ;                          |
     |    .--.            _...'   ____                   |
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     |  ..''   __----~~~~~        ~~~....~~      ---''   |
     | '....---__________-------~~~~~    ~~~~~~~~        |
     |                   ,                               |
     |                Pokemon # 089 - Muk                |
     `---------------------------------------------------'
                 .--------------------------.
                 |         .''''''.         |
                 | AMC    ;        ;        |
                 |  9    ;  HP  HP  ;       |
                 |  9   ;   H   H    ;      |
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                 | og  h   hgfgfj   f  j gh |
                 |   gh h  h      hg  g     |
                 |     ,                    |
                 |  PokeMon #050 - Diglett  |
                 `--------------------------'
In 1999, AMC was a big fan of Pokémon, and didn't care who on UseNet knew it. There are seven creatures from the Pokédex, and, well, others have taken on more of them:
               Pikachu   
  .__                           __.
   \ `\~~---..---~~~~~~--.---~~| /   
    `~-.   `                   .~         _____ 
        ~.                .--~~    .---~~~    /
         / .-.      .-.      |  <~~        __/
        |  |_|      |_|       \  \     .--'
       /-.      -       .-.    |  \_   \_
       \-'   -..-..-    `-'    |    \__  \_ 
        `.                     |     _/  _/
          ~-                .,-\   _/  _/
         /                 -~~~~\ /_  /_
        |               /   |    \  \_  \_ 
        |   /          /   /      | _/  _/
        |  |          |   /    .,-|/  _/ 
        )__/           \_/    -~~~| _/
          \                      /  \
           |           |        /_---` 
           \    .______|      ./
           (   /        \    /        Amw
           `--'          /__/

                                                        Squirtle
                                                           ___
                                                      _.-~~   ~~~-.
                                                     /         _   ~.
                                                    |#`       /#`    \
                                                    |-'|      |-'|    |      Amw
                                                    /--        --     |-.
                                                    \__   .  .        / /\_  
                                                     \ ~~--___---~~/\| |   ~-.
                                                  .---`~~--____---_)  \ \-__  \
                                                  ) <    |__    __\_   \ \     |
                                                  ~-.__ /   ~~~~   \   \ \     |
                                                       ~-.   |     .~-.-' |    |
                                                        | \___|___/     / /     | 
                                                        | /   |   \     | |  /  |
                                                         \     |   ~-___ \ \/  /
                                                         /\__ / `._ /   ~-\ \_/
                                                        /    \_____|      |`~
                                                       |      |    |      |   
                                                        \     |    |      |
                                                        >______)   /_/\/\_\
              Psyduck
          
                     // //  //
          __    ____||_//  //
        _/__--~~        ~~~-_
       /  /___        ___    \
      /  /(  +)      ( + )    |
     /  |  ~~~    __  ~~~   _/\/|
    |    \  ___.-~  ~-.___  \   / 
     \    \(     ` '      ~~)|   \
      \     )              / |    \
       \/   /              \ |    |
       /   |               | |    |
      |    /               |  \__/
      |    \_            _/      |    ___
      \      ~----...---~       /_.-~~ _/
       \_                      |    _-~ 
         \                    /  _-~ 
          ~-.__             _/--~
         _.-~  ~~~-----~~~~~
        ~-.-. _-~     /_ ._ \   Amw
             ~       ~  ~  ~-



                                                                           Geodude

                                                       ___                __..-~-_.--__             __
                                                    _-~   ~--..      .--~/  ~-..~ .-~~ |          -~  \
                                                   /     ~-.._ )    /      |~-..` ..-  |         |\/   \
                                                  |      -._ _) |   |_     |  ( | |) | |         `-\/_ /
                                                  |     \.  /__/    |  _   |_.--~ ~--.  |        _-   |
                                                   \  /\.-~'        .-~    ~  .------.  |       /    /
                                                    \   ~-.        /   /-  .-~--.---  ~-  ~-.   |  __|
                                                     | \   ~.     |   /  _/          `.\     \_/ _/
                                                     \  \   |    /   / \  \____________/|-.  / _/  Amw
                                                      \  ~-  \__/  _/   ~-._______...../   ~\_/      
                                                       \___   `   /
                                                           ~-.__./

               Jigglypuff 

      --_                       _--
     ||\_\__                 __/_/||
     ||  \  \__...-----...__/  /  ||
     \\  _\_/    /     \    \_/_  //
      |_/       |       |       \_| 
      /    __   /     _/    __    \
     /  .-~--~-.\    / ) .-~--~-.  \
    |   ||    || \____/  ||    ||   |
    |   `-_--_-'         `-_--_-'   |
    |      ~~               ~~      | 
    |              ___              |
    |              `-'              |
     \ \_  \                /  _/  /         
      \_ \_/                \_/  _/ 
        \___                 ___/   Amw
        ..--\__           __/--..
      .~    __-~~~-----~~~-__    ~.
     (__.--~                 ~--.__)
                                                            Ditto
                                                         
                                                       /~\_.-~-._,--.._
                                                      |                ~-.._   
                                                       |     .     .        \
                                                       |                    /  Amw 
                                                       |     --....,       | \ 
                                                       /                      \
                                                      |                        |
                                                      |                        \
                                                      /                         |
                                                      \_.-._  __...___.._______/
                                                            ~~
                 Eevee
  ._                            _.-|
  |_~~`--._                 _.-~   /
    ~-._   ~-._.-~~~~~~~-.-~    _.~
        ~-._ /             \_.-~ 
            |  .-.   .-.   |      Amw
            |. |_| . |_|   |         __.-|
            /    .__,      |    _.--~    |
            \             /_--~~  \     / 
            /~-._______.-~  \     |____|      
           |  /         \    |        /
            ~|_       |_|_-~~        / 
             | ~-\_/-~    |        _~ 
             |   |   |    /     _-~ 
              |  |  /    |__---~ 
              |,_|,_|____(   

                                                        Bulbasaur
                                                               __....___ ,  .
                                                           _.-~ __...--~~ ~/\
                                                 Amw      / /  /          |  |
                                                         | |  |            \  \
                                                   __ _..---..-~\           |  | 
                                                  |  ~  .-~-.    \-.__      /  | 
                                                  /     \.-~        .-~-._/   // 
                                                 |/-. <| __  .-\    \     \_ //  
                                                 || o\   \/ /o  |    ~-.-~  \/         
                                                /  ~~        ~~              |      
                                                \__         ___--/   \  _-~-  \ 
                                                 / ~~--.--~~    /     |/   __  |
                                                |/\ \          |_~|   /    \|  |
                                                |\/  \__       /_-   /\        |
                                                |_ __| |`~-.__|_ _ _/  \ _ _ _/
                                                ' '  ' ' ''   ' ' '     ' ` `

Seven more Poké-creatures by Amw! But it was a monster franchise (sorry, unintentional humour -- I meant, massive), and consequently -- there's still more of them! Or at least one more. You can probably guess which one...
quu..__
 $$$b  `---.__
  "$$b        `--.                          ___.---uuudP
   `$$b           `.__.------.__     __.---'      $$$$"              .
     "$b          -'            `-.-'            $$$"              .'|
       ".                                       d$"             _.'  |
         `.   /                              ..."             .'     |
           `./                           ..::-'            _.'       |
            /                         .:::-'            .-'         .'
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         :                  `"--'             |    `-.     \
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        |##:                      :###:        |        >     >
        |#'     `..'`..'          `###'        x:      /     /
         \                                   xXX|     /    ./
          \                                xXXX'|    /   ./
          /`-.                                  `.  /   /
         :    `-  ...........,                   | /  .'
         |         ``:::::::'       .            |<    `.
         |             ```          |           x| \ `.:``.
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            |                     `'            |tbap\
             \                                  :MM.-'
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               |   .:::------------\       /
              /   .''               >::'  /
              `',:                 :    .'
                                   
OK, let's leave these Pocket Montsers behind us now. Here's a character we don't get to see in textmode that often -- a rendition of Atomic Bomberman by NamelessOne:
(Atomic) Bomberman
                         .-.
                         '-'
                        //
               _..---._/|
             .' ."     '-.
            /__/          \      *
           ====_____     __|     :
          /#   #""" |   /()\    :    ..*
          |#   #    |   \__/    : .'' 
          \#___#____|      /   :::.. .
           \______________|_...ä_: .. '*
  ()       // /\||||)))))))      '   . .
 .( \_     \\_\//   _-'.'/        |   * ..
( )  |^|^|^|ooo/  _#\.//"""_      |   . . .
(_)_.'v|v|v|     / \#  \_ / '_  _'    . .  
           | _ _/_/     /'./_-|"         . .
           /#_#__"""-._ /#  \__)       .  .   
           |__   ""-._ |##               . . .
           |  ""|-"""-_/##              . .    
           /""--\__.-|                       .
           \-_.-<__ /                   .   .
           /-_| /  \
           \-_| \_-<.                        .  .
           <_-/ <_.-\                    .
           <_-|  |_.-|                        .
      .----|   \__\  |                 .
     |     ."""   '.  |                       .
      .___|        |__|  (c) NamelessOne
          '.__..."""  

I feel a bit redundant IDing these characters when the text spells it out, but here it all is in one place at least: another portrait by "zi" of Meltina from 1999's Valkyrie Profile for the PS1:
                              valkyrie profile 
                                     _
    _  | |      _ .  _    _   _  _  (_ . |  _
\/ (_| | |( \/ |  | (-   |_) |  (_) |  | | (-
            /            |

-={ Meltina }=- 
                          .'""'-'"'-.,._.-.--'.
                        /`                    /'--.
                      /`,                    /""'`|-.
                     / /               )    /:::::\ |
                    |.'  .:/          /    /--.;):::\)
                  .' .:::;'       ,..'  _.'     \::: )
                /` .:;'`       ,.::'  ,' -="""'. \: /
              .'--'"`.   .--.,.-'"'` /           | /
             /   _.-'       .--.__.--'  ,zNHHKml ;'
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And one bonus ASCII, a logo from the relatively fanart-less "the 7th Guest" -- not part of the textfiles.com collection, but rather by Alan de Smet:
                                                                       
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       d|:::::|8    8888   8888 8888   8888  8888  Tb 8b "888b  8888   
      d|:::::::|b   Y888b  8888 Y888   8888  8888  _  88  Y888b 8888   
      8|::::::::|b   Y888  8888b Y88___8888  Y888  8  88   8888 8888   
      8|:::::::::|b_  "Y8oo88P""  """~""""""  `Y8b 8 d88   8888 8888   
      8|::::::;;;|||boo                         `Yb8 888   "888 8888   
      Y|:::::;|||8P"                              `" 8"8o  p88" Y88P   
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        "P"                                                      YP