Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The 2018 Birthday Haul

I know, my blogs really have been thrown under the bus. It seems that these were ways I exorcised frustrated creative energy that might otherwise be expended curating, packaging, distributing and promoting computer artpacks. That wasn't an issue so long as I wasn't in a position to resume my teenage hobby, but since reviving Mistigris in 2014, it slowly but steadily increased its pace with annual reunions, annual joke collections, official discharge of never-released period computer art, re-releases of lost or corrupted material, and finally full-bore monthly artpack releases since October 2016, plus a series of side projects. If we were to chart Mistigris activity against my blog post frequency, I think a clear inverse ratio would leap out. That doesn't mean that I've run out of things to share, just that I don't allow myself enough time to do it anymore. (Having two kids certainly adds another x-factor to these scheduling equations.)

That said, if I don't soon share details of the video gaming / retrocomputing gifts I received for my birthday two weeks ago, I'll soon be out of relevant opportunities to do so entirely... and that would be too bad, because there are some lovely curios here!  My thesis is that my wife must love me and know me well, because she made me very happy with a few birthday presents that, to an outsider, might resemble a random assortment of refuse and detritus.

We'll open with a handful of confusingly-priced random Gamecube / Wii titles, picked up at a random thrift store visit while taking the day off work for my actual birthday. My haphazard game acquisition has really slowed down if only because it turned out I was accumulating significant quantities of duplicate games while buying batches and lots. Initially I made a giant list of "All The Video Games That I Own", maintained on my laptop and Dropbox-synched to my phone, so I could always just check before putting money down whether this was money I had already spent... anyway, the high and low of things is that once your game collection exceeds 1000 pieces, most of the items you find live in the wild will be redundant to what you've already accumulated. So mostly the accumulation of little discs has peaked. Every time we advance a generation of technology and I wind up advancing to the previous generation (as I have a rule: don't collect games for systems which you do not own), a cohort of hitherto uncollected (and recently, sold-in-stores) games enter the secondhand space and I get to gobble up another couple hundred, then simmer dozily for the next 5 years or so. But I digress, let's take a look at these games! Anything good here?

OK, a licensed Nickelodeon Gamecube title, a tie-in to a cartoon I've never watched. Why? Ehh, you know -- how good does it have to be to be worth dropping $2 on? I bet I can get $2 worth of enjoyment out of it. If I went to a movie theatre and bought a large popcorn and soda, it might run me $30 and last about two hours. That same $30 would buy me 15 $2 games and I'm sure that's not enough time to even get through all of their opening cinematics and unskippable tutorials, let alone play the five minutes needed to determine conclusively that none of them are worth playing!
A couple of Wii titles also -- one looks like an extension of the GBA's venerable "Advance Wars" series, a cartoony taste of military strategy... the other, a compilation of House of the Dead parts 2 and 3? I can tell you how long it would take me to drop $2 on one of those in the arcade, and -- done. (The only question -- do they require a light gun or is there another ingenious adaptation of the versatile Wiimote? Getting the games for a song is the easy part, but finding time to actually try them out, there's the kicker.)

All right, what else have we got here? Gaming Quiz cards. I can confirm: the questions on these cards pertain to video games. The difficulty level is a tricky thing, because they're all a bit too easy for me while being simultaneously way too hard for anyone else in my household. It's kind of like that time I, a young classicist, got 100% on my Grade 9 Greek Mythology quiz... that everyone else in the class failed. (The teacher applied a bump across the board so everyone passed, resulting in my earning something like 115% on that quiz, or as I like to put it, a grade of A++. Shortly thereafter the teacher took me out of the class and told me to run the school newspaper during that time every week instead. But I digress.) Maybe we can use them at my upcoming gaming party (I hold them twice a year, pull the systems out of storage, we play all day and all night... are you coming? Saturday April 28th!) to settle disputes over whose turn it is to choose which game on the big screen. (Finally, we can stop duelling to resolve these disputes!)

OK! Moving on! Aha: here we have a truly blogworthy specimen: an edible Super Mario Maker maker kit! I was first exposed to this phenomenon in the context of a "most preparation needed ramen" viral video; this follows the script relatively closely -- the package includes various little packets of colouring, emulsifier, etc, and tiny moulds, mixing bowls, stir sticks etc. A very patient person can follow an elaborate set of instructions to manufacture for themselves a few pieces of Mario landscape, and then, when they tire of this diversion, eat them. (Would that all passing fancies were so easily removed from the stage!)  Hm, made by the toy company Bandai, which owns the video game company Namco... basically, Pac-Man (already the authority on eating things) is selling you Mario for lunch.  The plot thickens...

This is one of those things that would be nothing to the average, normal, healthy person, but to this desperate technological nostalgist is A Big Deal. A thrift store my wife was passing through had some 5.25 inch floppy diskettes on the shelves! Some of them contained video games! (Granted, even application software from the floppy disk era is a joyful curiosity, but documenting it sure is less sexy!) She picked up one for me, and upon seeing how excited I got, went back for the rest of them. I can't even think of how long ago it's been since I had a machine working with a 5.25 disk drive stinking up a drive bay -- I'm thinking perhaps circa 1993 or 1994, contemporary to when I would have been taking my first baby steps online with a borrowed 1200 baud modem. (But if these floppies had been available, I could have saved myself a lot of time downloading at 1200 baud!) One thing for certain: I most definitely have no way of reading their contents today! All of the games in this batch (not pictured: Jill of the Jungle episode 1) had been documented as existing on Mobygames, but for most of them my media scans were the first indication that any of them had ever been distributed on physical media and didn't exist solely as BBS-distributed shareware. Also amusing: the multiple rounds of price tags on the goods, deteriorating slowly but surely through the decades, some shopkeeper unwilling to admit (until apparently liquidating the entire section at a thrift shop) that their unsold merchandise had entered the trough of no value. (The experience is reminiscent of my visit to a Castlegar Radio Shack a few years into the new millennium; amazed to find late-'90s adventure games on the shelves I thought I'd permanently missed the opportunity to play, I hoovered up Zork: Grand Inquisitor, Gabriel Knight 3 and Starship Titanic, and the disbelieving staff kindly knocked a hefty portion off the final price tag after I did them the favour of relieving their burden of unsellable stock. But I digress.)

Did someone hear me say "Radio Shack"? That's today's magic word! It brings us to the coup de grace: the Tandy dedicated chess-playing computer, prepared to deliver me 1987-calibre chess AI if I have a burning need to play a round and no friends.  I hope to have this one set up at my vintage gaming party and if we're lucky, we just might make it through a round over the course of the day's events!  Truth be known this one probably isn't going to remain in my collection for very long, but learning of its mere existence, let alone in such a concrete fashion, sparks delight.  (Really with Tandy, as with Coleco, any technological fruit bore from the tree that sprouted from seeds of leather craft kits is already so delightfully improbable... a chess computer?  Why not!?  It was the '80s, and any business pivot seemed possible.  Just fake it 'til you make it... or break it.)

... which brings us to the present! Sadly, I won't have another slate of presents to report on until Christmas... unless any of my (purely hypothetical, at this point) readers feel like sending me a surprise in the mail or delivering a hopelessly antiquated technological artifact to my doorstep at my upcoming party. But don't feel it's necessary -- I already have enough hopelessly antiquated technological artifacts for all of us to enjoy!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Better late than never: Christmas roundup 2017

Here we are, the closing minutes of January 2018 and look at me, sitting around with an open tab containing a WIP post describing my Christmas video games haul. It's already kind of pathetically late, but on the other side of this imaginary dividing line of time it will be even more so. Should I even post it or give up on it? Well, I did go to the effort of staging the goods and taking the photos, so I wouldn't want to have wasted my time that way... unless I get to waste your time along for the ride! So please, join me for a whirlwind tour through some curios I received a month and a bit ago! [Edit: making it even more pathetic, the post as completed in the final few minutes of the month failed to successfully post, so here it is bashfully sneaking out in early February.]

There it is, the big haul.  Typically there will be a prime batch that makes up the lion's share, orbited by odds and ends, and this motley bunch of gaming paraphernalia lives up to that tradition.  Let's take a closer look at some of these curios:

A bootleg NES controller from 2009?  Why not!  I don't know precisely what the market for such a product looked like then, but I'm glad to find that someone was carrying the torch.

One of these products is genuine and one is a bootleg.  You be the judge!  Presumably for legal reasons, the shell used on the knockoff doesn't read "GAME BOY" on the plastic, just "BOY", just as the sticker proclaims the game "only for COLOR" rather than "only for GAME BOY COLOR". I have to level with you, I didn't even know that Super Mario Bros. Deluxe was a thang -- given that art and that logo in this context, I expected a Hong Kong Special bearing some only very loose relationship to the license depicted on the sticker.

Plus Pokemon, not bad!

Of the whole initial Genesis generation of Sonic games, I've got to confess that this is one of my favorites for the way it fearlessly eschews convention, mashing-up genres and delivering you a very different kind of game from what you might have expected from the license (making it among my kids' least favorite Sonic games.  I guess you need to have grown overfamiliar with the genre tropes before you can delight in their detournement!)

A hefty lot: a shady Atari 2600 of unknown provenance, with no cables... does it even work?  Isn't that kind of even beside the point, who wants to play Atari 2600 games?  (I understand that there are some of these people out there.  That generation of games I see like Johnson's famous dog walking on its hind legs, remarkable because of what it's doing at all, not necessarily because it's being done well.)  A couple of solid, classic titles (see me contradict my previous statement almost immediately!) accompany the station wagon - I appreciate the tradition of treating a gifted console like a wallet, which is considered unlucky when given "empty" (without games).  Always give a console with at least one game!  One non-terrible game.  

I didn't even know that the Wii came in black!  I've only ever seen them in cute and cuddly white before, like Eve from Wall-E.  Whoever owned this black unit must have been a badass.  I gather that we're enough generations along now that old Wiis are becoming a dime a dozen, but I was surprised to see that the seller included the Gamecube controllers -- I figure that whatever my mother-in-law paid for the machine was probably worth it for the GC controllers alone, like they threw in the console and other parts for free.

???! What is this I don't even.  In what world do I want to incorporate storage of Nintendo DS cards into my Lego constructions?  Get out of my stocking and stay out.  Granny, there's a good reason someone had bequeathed these to the thrift store unopened.

That's a nice array of really random Wii games!  Something for everyone.  Again, when I saw these, I figured that whatever "Granny" paid for all of them was probably worth it for the relatively hip games in the middle row (Smash Bros, Kart, DK) alone, with the rest thrown in with a kind of "promise not to bring them back" caveat.  Underwhelming as many of these discs are, I can report that my 5 and 2 year old daughters were OVER THE MOON about the Dora the Explorer game.  Look at that cover.  Look at it!

At my twice-annual vintage gaming party, bryface wanted to play a modern Russian Roulette NES cart which required an NES zapper.  I was sure I had one, but couldn't find it.  Then I got one for Christmas.  Now, I have found the other one.  But I do not have the cart!  Well, I suppose that next time we do the party we can host two rounds of Russian Roulette simultaneously.  There's a dystopian situation if taken out of context!

I don't know if I've ever before seen socks with a copyright message.  Do they have the Nintendo Seal of Quality?

More of the same -- not just Mario socks, but Luigi and Boo ones also.  PS, these are for my kids' feet, sadly I doubt they make Nintendo socks in a men's size 15.  I had a pair of Mario boxer shorts but they disintegrated in the wash.  Where can you get quality video game underwear for larger men?

Pardon the blurry photo, but here my eldest is wearing a shirt emblazoned with the alphabet, spelled out in tiles from Super Mario Bros.  It's awesome.  I received a couple of good shirts also...

Spot the plumber!  This design is actually a bit of a headache to piece apart, so busy with uncoloured pixelated outlines of Super Mario sprites, but nearly everything important is crammed in there somewhere.  The flash of spot colour isn't just ink, it's embroidered on!

Different T-shirt, same license, different gimmick.  The pipe is the breast pocket on the T-shirt; flat against your chest just the two heads peep out, but if you open the pocket you see their little bodies within.

A comic book history of video games?  I gave comics myself to my wife last Christmas -- as the parents of small children, we need literature that is good for short bouts of reading, because those are often all we get.  (Hers were more on the Kate Beaton side of things, but this proves to be a compelling read in an accessible medium!)

And there you have it -- the most penetrating insights about the specific items populating this pile of gifts I was able to come up with in the final sliver of my next-month window to report back on it.  Merry Christmas!  Happy New Year!  See you all in February, hopefully with some more posts on textmode art.  Cheers!

Sunday, 21 January 2018

The video game box art typography game

I forget precisely where I picked up this habit, but ever couple of years I like to stump my fellow video game scholars over at Mobygames in a curious but creative way, collaging up a logo using letters sourced, ransom-note-style, from the distinctive box art of celebrated video and computer games. Eventually I began CCing these challenges to the old blog, and even to this new blog. But the fact remains I haven't done one for quite a while. Well, I guess I've got momentum; I put one together... and went on to scrape together another one! The first took the experts about a week to solve: you can warm up on it before we switch to "expert mode" and I defy you to fill in the blanks yourself:
Now are you ready to have revealed the sources of these letters? Spoiler warning: here they come! The leading M comes from none other than MegaMan 4. (Where possible, I like to source a letter from the beginning of a word. Sometimes that's not always the interesting letter in that word, but it's a bone I toss to the puzzle-solvers: looking for an M, what's an M-game? A game starting with an M (especially alliteratively, as here) will naturally be where their mind wanders first.)
As just mentioned above, here's an exception to prove the rule: "No More Heroes" contains three "O"s, all more interesting than the other letters in the words. I guess it's more like a guideline.
This "B" caused a lot of problems for a lot of people. I didn't think of Marble Madness as a forgotten game, and I figured that the NES version would be one of the most-seen... but its logo was burdened by being part of a wave of logos that reeeeally wanted to remind people of Indiana Jones for some reason (think that's bad, A Boy And His Blob does it with the logo AND the theme song!) and folks were just finding every game using this font except for the one I actually used.
So down the line I actually updated the collaged logo with this more distinctive B sourced from a different platform's release of the same game. Early EA game boxes: so classy!
Not every letter needs to be a mystery to unravel; sometimes I toss people a bone and just give them an easy win. Hence this "Y", from Destiny 2:
New line! This G served to be quite a bit trickier than I'd anticipated -- I gather that SSI may have figured more prominently in my particular circles than in the wider world. But it's nonetheless quite distinctive, from "Dark Legions":
Electronic cover art doesn't give you as much to work with, but (as with Destiny above) I like to work with modern classics as well as the genuinely vintage ones, so the "A" came from "Don't Starve":
The second "M" was a bit of a postmodern mis-en-abyme self-indulence: for my ransom-note-style collage I have sampled game box art with a ransom-note typographical conceit, for a game with "ransom" in its name. River City Ransom of course:
I thought that this one would be easier, but its American marketing and packaging always was quite at odds from the game content, so there may remain some lingering cognitive dissonance. The messy "E" originates from "Zombie Nation":
And to help keep things interesting, I flipped this letter so as to better fit -- a second SSI game quoted, this "S" comes from A Line In The Sand:
(and I like to include tastes of extraordinary video game experiences in the background: in this case, it's the boss screen from F.Godmom, shareware puzzle game famously beloved of Tom "Ion Storm" Hall!)

OK, now "MobyGames" is easy, it only contains nine letters. You can try your hand at "Pixel Pompeii", with 25% further challenge!

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Underground Computer Art Roundup: Queen

OK, first things first: let's queue up the tunes. Here's a .SID arrangement of the song "A Kind Of Magic", made in 2 days by Martin Galway for the Ocean Software Commodore 64 video game adaptation of the 1986 movie Highlander (and by all reports, the best part of it.)

Got the song rolling?  Good.  Here we go: there's no good explanation for it. My specific demographic cohort got involved with the artscene roughly contemporary to the culmination of the enterprise that was the band Queen. There it was, we were in early high school, 1992, Wayne's World was in the theatres (making Bohemian Rhapsody the only song to ever be the UK Christmas #1 song in two different years, '75 and '91), and everyone who was anyone performed at the '92 Freddie Mercury memorial concert at Wembley Stadium (did you see the look on Axl Rose's face after Elton John hugged him?)

It was all a bit of a curiosity to me, but to my classmate and colleague Nitnatsnoc (nickname sourced from an Immersion Francais Sciences Humaines unscramble-the-word exercise about the late Roman Empire) the Queen seed that the context planted took root and grew like a flourishing weed.  He had caught the bug, and between dreams and schemes to set up our own BBS, he kept trying to share what he felt were the most fascinating nuggets of dank Queen lore.  "Did you know that after Freddie Mercury died, he was castrated?" "... ?!" "Sorry, did I say castrated?  I meant cremated!" Even once we got our BBS together, the first Mistigris WHQ (world headquarters) The Screaming Tomato, he would hold forth on all matters Queen (such as they were -- as he noted many a time, there are only so many breaking developments in your favorite band once their lead singer dies) in the message bases and at meets and even allude to it in the headers of his ANSI art illustrations (here's an example from MIST1094, where he mentions Queen in all his scrollers save one. The following month, he reports: "Remember? I was that guy who never stopped talking about Queen in his ANSI headers." You might think he'd have gotten over it by 0195, but think again. March? Nope! He doesn't mention them in the Mistigris April 1995 collection, an artpack which he was in charge of assembling, but look a little closer: the "file separators" are all Queen song lyrics!)

So even though the band formed in 1970 and made its most audacious leaps forward before we were ever born, due to my close association with this freshly minted Queen mega-fan, memories of the early '90s still resonate in a very Queen-ly way. Turns out, some other computer artists and textmode specialists feel the same way! Here's as complete a gallery as I've been able to lazily come up with. I'll try to go in a meandering chronological-by-subject sequence.

Kicking things off like one of Freddie's legendary vocal warm-ups, here's a 2017 Horsenburger teletext screen of the album artwork to 1977's News of the World:

For a bonus, some 20 years closer to the source, the same image appeared in a still from the 1987 C64 demo "Queen Alive" by the Norfolk Cracking Service (and, who knows, there might be further such goodies to be found within should anyone care to actually run the demo in question):

Here we have a contest-winning Fat Bottomed Girls / Bicycle Race (1978) piece by teletext genius Horsenburger from the early 2017 Block Party convention:

This is a monochrome piece by Russian ANSI artist dman_pcb depicting Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in his "yellow leather jacket" period circa 1986-89. No colours, but it still gets the idea across:

That yellow leather jacket is alluded to here again, followed by a distinctly Nitnatsnoc-ian (it was inevitable, really) toony ANSI art interpretation of the Queen crest:

CCCfire of Mistigris also drew the crest in ANSI art, beneath Mick Rock's distinctive group shot used in the album cover of Queen II (1974) as well as closing (and opening, Nitty points out!) the Bohemian Rhapsody music video:

Horsenburger took a crack at reproducing that group shot in teletext also:

The artist is sadly unknown, alas (MZ-700 is the machine), but the same scene again was attempted (quite successfully, in my estimation, given the limits of the format) in the SHARPSCII character art medium:

and, OK, this is no textmode art at all -- pixelart but still very a propos, one final no-one-can-get-more-minimalist-than-this take on the same scene:

While we're on the Bohemian Rhapsody wavelength, we interrupt this gallery of visual art for some further (non-underground) chipmusic adaptations of Queen songs. Here they are, the notorious abysmal fragmentary arrangements of "Bohemian Rhapsody" from the SNES and Sega Genesis versions of the 1993 Wayne's World movie video game tie-in -- fanboys claim that the Genesis version is worse, but it's an academic distinction. (The Genesis version, conversely, implements the headbanging quite a bit better!) The separate Game Boy WW version somehow manages to have a superior arrangement of Bohemian Rhapsody, picking up where the others leave off. (Ironically, a member of my band once contacted me late at night, letting me know that she was stuck at a party sitting next to a man whose chiefest claim to fame was apparently having composed the music for the Game Boy version of Wayne's World, and did I have any questions for him? It was put together by local developers, so the claim checks out -- she must have been seated next to one Paul Wilkinson. Little did I realise I'd someday be dedicating a paragraph in a blog post to that very subject or I might have passed along some follow-up questions. Alas!)

(Of course, even the least of these is still realms beyond the execrable recording of Bohemian Rhapsody made an a basement TABmeet and later released in an April Fool's artpack.)

Settled your stomach yet? This striking teletext screen depicts the album art to 1989's The Miracle, originally computer art itself -- composited using Quantel Paintbox -- as drawn by Horsenburger:

And closing down our hit parade chronologically, teletext organizer Illarterate drew this screen in honour of what would have been Freddie Mercury's 70th birthday in September of 2017:

And that's it for the visual art, but here's one more tune, an uncredited arrangement of 1980's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love, from the opening and closing (credits) to the 1983 Commodore 64 game "Frantic Freddie" (no relation):

BUT WAIT! The Queenmeister himself, Nitnatsnoc, has emerged from retirement to make a couple of further notes:

Speaking of music videos, not sure if you know, but the video for The Invisible Man (by Queen) has a video game theme [ed. looks a lot like Activision's 1985 Little Computer People], and starts with a shot of a shelf full of real C64 titles. Also, there was a Queen video game in the 90s called The eYe which had several instrumental and remixed versions of Queen songs, although by then you couldn't call it "computer game music."
(Jan, 2018: "Mister Girls", trying somehow to poke fun at my computer art collective, release a very strange artpack including the following piece, an ANSI art adaptation of Queen's 1982 album Hot Space:)

Friday, 22 December 2017

Textmode art roundup: Star Wars Episode V -- The Empire Strikes Block

It's that time of year again -- the days are short, there's a nip in the air and everywhere, everyone is electric with the energies of this unique season...
I speak, of course, of the time of year Disney has chosen to release a new Star Wars movie three years running. (December meant box-office lucre for Peter Jackson in the LOTR trilogy, so I guess the House of Mouse has found no reason to interfere with a sure thing.)

I was going to imitate the opening crawl here, but wouldn't you rather see this post sometime this year? (Besides, I can't really trump Kirkman's feats in this field...)All right, without further ado... I know what you're all thinking about: Atari's 1983 Star Wars vector graphics arcade game!
                                   LAUNCH ZONE
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This post has been so long in the waiting I can no longer recall from which website I scraped that HTML version of the arcade game's difficulty setting screen from... but fortunately I retained the provenance of the following teletext screen, drawn by Jason Robertson!

OK, that really is about it for the games. Well, there's the Star Wars roguelike (from which I apparently stole the header logo) but really, despite being both textmode and Star Wars, there's really not much there to look at. So where should we visit next? That's right: canonical sources. Dig that textmode artwork of R2-D2 (or: an egg with legs) on the front cover!

OK, now engage the fixedwidth textmode hyperdrive!

It really wouldn't surprise me if that magazine was the original source of that Dog Star Adventure PETSCII Darth Vader we ran last time... as well as this PETSCII Stormtrooper! He's got a bit of MegaMan gun-hand business going on here, besides which rather than firing blaster bolts it looks like he's misting for mosquitos, but... I'm sure that so doing would increase his chances of actually hitting something!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I believe we were just looking at some droids? Could we get a better view of the protocol droid? Here's C-3PO ASCII art, printed and framed!  (Also, almost assuredly machine-generated -- though in this case, maybe that's not so inappropriate.)

OK, nice one, goldenrod, but what about the R2 unit? Here he is, drawn in UTF-8 (my eyes would have suggested Shift_JIS, but I don't think we're quite there.)

OK, now was someone saying something about Stormtroopers? Here's an ASCII bust of one:

And here, ANSI art from my trophy case of Stormtrooper helmets. This one came from Outworld Arts:

No one can bang out a boffo Stormtrooper head in teletext quite like the accomplished Mr. Biffo -- and check out the spiffy Death Star interior background:

OK, here's another Outworld Arts ANSI rendition of a trooper -- this time a Snowtroper from the Battle of Hoth:

It's hard to tell for sure at this low a resolution, but despite looking more to me like Snowtroopers from Episode V, I imagine what the artist was intending to depict here is Lord Vader flanked by two Stormtroopers:

SPEAKING OF Darth Vader... this big portrait is entitled "Can You Feel The Force", drawn by "trash0r" ... I believe I found it on Deviantart. I don't believe it uses a single half-block, thus making it an excellent candidate for machine-conversion suspicion. Or maybe trash0r just prefers the moody ambience of the shading blocks... Yes, I take it back, a couple of half-blocks are used near the bottom at his neck-bolts, and in the Star Warsian font also:

Thrasher of Fuel's Vader is also light on half-blocks, but his technique is explored and interrogated in the accompanying text:

This Vader (by "lefraggle") is a little smaller and suggests more of the fine details through the use of ASCII characters:

On closer scrutiny, I think this Vader is actually pixelart and not textmode art at all, but in the final rendering the aesthetic is sooo similar I folded it in here by accident... and left it in due to laziness. Dig those tall rounded bubbles in the background, also seen in Biffo's Stormtrooper teletext above:

Nail draws a superior specimen of the Sith here, an appearance in the Blocktronics ANSIlove pack, a conspicuous omission presumably delayed or otherwise slipped between the cracks from their previous SW special, which will prove the main source of my next post on this subject:

Here's Outworld Arts' most handsome SW ANSI art yet, of Darth Vader (implied, really -- more a Vader shaped black hole) flanked this time by Imperial Royal Guards:

These are just getting smaller and smaller! Here's a UTF-8 (this clinches it, I have no idea how to distinguish this from Shift_JIS visually) Darth Vader:

And here, this must be just about as small as an ASCII art Darth Vader can get:

Strange, how Vader got more and more diminished the more of him we saw... kind of like our conception of Anakin in the SW prequel movies around the turn of the century. But surely one Star Wars villain could remain unscathed in our memory, Boba Fett! Outworld Arts really liked this bounty hunter -- here they present a RIPscrip vector art rendition of him. (Mea culpa, not textmode but in wide use in the BBS artscene contemporary to the golden age of ANSI art.)

That portrait might be a little bit too much of a close-up, but fortunately they drew another one from slightly further back:

And in ANSI art? Outworld Arts just LOVES Boba Fett!

OK, that's enough bad guys, let's take a break and run some good guys. Can we get a Yoda in the house? (er, in the ... hut?)

OK, uh, sorry, Public Domain ASCII artist, but that's a bit rough. Can we try a little harder here? Here's a UTF-8 attempt, with quite a bit more true-to-form detail:

Is Outworld Arts around? They had good success drawing a green villain, how about a green hero?

Before leaving Yoda we do, draw in PETSCII we much attempt. Shine?

Well we're not going to top that! OK, let's take a break from the portraits for a while and look at some of the distinctive vehicles of the Star Wars universe. Here's an ASCII art AT-AT walker:

Even though many of the same characters are in use (hello, pipes and quotation marks), the UTF-8 version of the same subject manages to achieve a species of smoothness surpassing what the ASCII art version can aspire to:

OK, going airborne now, here's some machine-generated TIE Fighter ASCII art, printed and framed. (I don't much see the point myself -- if you want to print out machine-generated ASCII art, you could easily wallpaper your entire house in it.)

Much preferred among connoisseurs of textmode art is bespoke artisanal ANSI art, and Outworld Arts is here pleased to oblige with a handcrafted take on the same subject:

Here the TIE Fighters are mere gnats swarming around a massive Star Destroyer, drawn in the simultaneously extended (in palette) and limited (in proportions) ANSI art spinoff FANSI used famously at the 8bitMUSH:

And teletext god Horsenburger was much applauded for his own take on illustrating a Star Destroyer using his big sixels:

From a Star Destroyer there's really only one way to escalate, a depiction of the Death Star. Too bad this one's pants!

You know how I said that hand-drawn ANSI art was always preferable to computer-generated ASCII art? This final Death Star, in the context of the above piece, really puts the lie to my assertion:

Thus concludes our digression into vehicles and vessels. We'll wind down this post with a series of one-off character portraits. Here you can enjoy Mr. Biffo's very Empire take on Luke Skywalker:

Admiral Ackbar, what do you think about Universal Basic Income?

Princess Amidala may not have delivered much as a character, but her virtuous design inspired more than a few righteous works of ANSI art. This portrait is by Mongi of iCE:

And her daughter, an apparently hand-drawn piece of Princess Leia ASCII art, diminished in virtually every regard:

Let's get big again, with Misfit's portrait of Edrio "Two Tubes" from Rogue One, an under-fan-arted instalment in the series to date. This one also missed the boat for the official Star Wars Blocktronics artpack, but fortunately I'm here to curate these pieces semantically.

Got Porg? Enzo and Avg draw for the ANSI art supergroup Blocktronics, whose May 2017 artpack will be the focus of the next post in this series. This piece pertains to some new critters from The Last Jedi, in theatres now, but they drew it back in September, when most normal people weren't yet up to speed regarding the deep lore of the approaching Star Wars blockbuster. I can't really explain it, but ... here it is:

ANSI art isn't the whole show -- here's an epic teletext screen by Uglifruit:
As referenced above multiple times, the May 2017 Blocktronics artpack, "Detention Block AA-23", was a 100% Star Wars-themed joint. Not only did their stable of godly ANSI artists channel their earliest and most profound fandoms into ANSI art, I also sent my colleague teletext cottage industry Horsenburger their way to show the ANSI kids just what one dedicated man and a teletext editor could make happen. Again, you'll be seeing all this in the next post in this series, probably around the time "Young Han Solo" hits the theatres. Something particular to this 67 artpack is that it had a call for submissions posted quite a bit in advance. The below piece, bearing all the hallmarks of an Enzo small-scale production, graced a call for submissions with a deadline of Jan 31st. The artpack release itself was scheduled for release in May -- we figured they were targeting the prefab consumerist neo-holiday May 4 (for "May the 4th Be With You", blarrgh) but that date came and went (in its honour I vented all the Star Wars-themed pieces from the Mistigris back catalogues on our Mistigram Instagram feed) and they stayed quiet until May 25th, marking the 40th anniversary since the original theatrical release of Star Wars.

Enzo, a central Blocktronics organizer, was pushing the Star Wars pack hard, and made sure he had a good body of work saved up well before the artpack's release deadline. Then he made many of them available on his personal ANSI art commerce website, from which I scraped the following pieces some time prior to the artpack's release. I was in a position to spill the beans and share them early, which would have been a kind of jerky thing for me to do, but fortunately for him my recent duties attending to my own monthly Mistigris artpack releases kept me too busy to scoop him -- one of those prickly ethical problems that solves itself if you just sit back and think about it for a while! So anyhow, rather than giving you an unauthorized sneak preview of the Blocktronics Star Wars artpack, I'll give you a sneak preview of my next Star Wars ANSI art Pixel Pompeii post. Here was the call for submissions, depicting Han and Chewie springing Leia from the Death Star in ol' Episode IV:

You can tell Enzo is a serious fan because he's also been exploring the recent movies, not just the original trilogy. Here's BB-8 from The Force Awakens:

And still more recent, Director Krennic from Rogue One!

That said, it can be difficult to resist the draw of the classics. Here's [SPOILER WARNING] the climax of Empire Strikes Back (points for hidden Blocktronics logo in the background):

... and another scene from earlier in that movie, with Luke training on Dagobah with Yoda:

And here he explores the eternal question: are R2 and 3PO a gay couple? We may never get to the bottom of that one, but R2 is putting on a bold display for Pride:

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! Horsenburger has had to relax his maniac pace of teletext production, but just before he did, a few teletext screens celebrating the recent Star Wars movies were among the last to come down his assembly line. Now first, let's set the scene...

From The Force Awakens, here's the mysterious Snoke:

But if you want to get to him, you're going to have to get through his Elite Praetorian Guards:

Here's a pensive Old Luke Skywalker:

It's been a long time, he has a lot to think about!

From The Last Jedi, Luke and Kylo face off:

Here's Kylo Ren with his helmet on...

... and with it off:

And that's all of those for now. But for a special treat...

OK, sharing Jar-Jar here is kind of like Rickrolling, and I apologise for the troll. But if you can forgive me for one last piece, you may be vindicated in your suffering through Jar-Jar Binks, though this ASCII animation seemingly promises more than it explicitly delivers. I present to you: The Death of Jar-Jar Binks!

I gather it's a cautionary tale about touching super-powered batteries with your tongue. Until next time folks!