Upscaling from the Perspective of my own Pixel Game Art

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2021-09-26 05:00:22

A question often asked in the topic of upscalers and retro gaming is, what did the artist intend? I am not a great artist. But having done nearly all the graphics for my games, even if it’s just a step above “programmer art”, still gives me some opinions. So let’s take a look at Space Ava 201, and I’ll tell you what I think about different ways to play it, and my own opinions. You can consider this a follow-up to my post about making graphics; this is about looking at them.

Let’s start with something irrelevant to gaming: the book. I read a lot of e-books on the Amazon Kindle; this is clearly a different environment than the paper book. Since pagination and fonts are handled on-device, any author’s intent there disappears. Usually, this is quite fine, but there is the rare occasion where the author really did intend for the book to read a certain way, or placed things on the page, and that gets lost. Indeed, I find the Kindle almost useless for reference books. But in general, it’s a perfectly fine way to read, say, a light novel. And with a waterproof one you can do it in the bathtub, if you’re decadent.

Or another example. Great Giana Sisters, like many European computer platformers of its era, uses the up button to jump. Since I grew up on multi-button systems like the Game Boy, I use a modded NES joystick which now has an Atari-style port, and maps one of its face buttons to “up”. My guess is that nobody who developed this game intended for you to do that; but they also probably spent a lot of time playing up-to-jump platformers and were used to it.

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