Friday, 18 March 2016

Video game textmode art: Baud Dudes from Blocktronics

I'm torn, friends! I can be timely, or I can present materials in a fashion that preserves the context in which it makes any goddamn sense... and if I tarry too long with the latter, the former becomes impossible. Fortunately for video game textmode art, the hows (with a computer) and whys (because they gosh darn felt like it) aren't that critical to enjoying the specific works, so I'll just try to chug along here with the whats and whos from the recent "Baud Dudes" collection of Blocktronics ANSI- and ANSI-inspired art. ("Baud Dudes" = Data East's beat-'em-up arcade game Bad Dudes plus a bit of '90s telecommunications humour, the baud rate being the speed at which a modem could transmit data. Speeds during the golden age of the artscene ranged from 1200 baud to 144000.) This textmode video game art series has traditionally celebrated lost and forgotten works from the vaults of artpacks released decades ago, but challenging that narrative... the Lego masters in Blocktronics continue to crank out videogame-related works at an astounding pace: here in the future, the present challenges the hegemony of the past. Which isn't bad -- after all, life is for the living.

A number of these pieces were created to appear as part of a textmode art tribute presentation in The Game Awards 2015; others from that particular batch appeared in the previous Blocktronics collection, Block to the Future ... they will eventually be washing up here also, fear not.

Kicking things off in a big way, it's a double-wide ANSI piece celebrating Metroid on the NES from the artist MyPalGoo:

Misfit presents the iconic Vault Boy from the Fallout series. (If you like this, you'll love my upcoming piece on the ASCII art in Fallout 4!)
Reset Survivor draws more video game ANSI art in a year than you will in a lifetime. This one is commemorating 20 years of Pokémon (uh, but not continuously) with silhouettes of Squirtle, Charmander and Bulbasaur, the three Kanto starter Pokémon. (Deftly interweaving three of my grand passions, he also included an ANSI Choose Your Own Adventure patterned after Bad Dudes, which I have made web-playable at my hyperfiction blog over here.)

Here are some PETSCII pieces from Otium, inadvertently left out of the last Blocktronics artpack -- this one promotes Konami's Metal Gear Solid 5. I'm sadly not up to speed with this series, and my attempts to glean which one of the game's numerous characters this picture represented immersed me deep in an ocean of shots of actress Stefanie Joosten's cleavage. Hopefully someone can set me straight.
Here, Otium draws us a PETSCII rendition of Sagat from Street Fighter 2 (and, well, from Street Fighter 1 for that matter.) That dent in his head is a scar, and its presence there is canonical!
Otium gives us one final piece of PETSCII, this one of Geralt of Rivia, hero of The Witcher 3 (and indeed the whole series). I believe it was a direct adaptation of the picture here, and am consistently blown away by the clawlike rendition of his gloves.
Finally, there's also a black and white ANSI piece by him (along with ASCII, one of the textmode art mediums he'd mastered before moving on to explore the possibilities of PETSCII) of the venerable Lara Croft, for Rise of the Tomb Raider:
Now to the meat of the matter: BAUD DUDES. Ndh spun this ANSIfied variation on the video game's original logo, which reminds me -- I'm pals with Marc Erickson, the fellow responsible for a pile of classic video game box art, including Bad Dudes, whose recollections are informative, revealing and entertaining. (I passed him along a link to this collection of work and he found it quite droll.)
And saving the most sprawling, epic piece for last: here's a mega Bad Dudes sprite comic in ANSI by Enzo. Enjoy and see you again soon!