Sifting through the rubble of the electronic games industry, going over artefacts of nostalgic tech detritus with a fine-toothed comb.
Friday, 24 June 2016
Video game textmode art part 21: old (old!) ANSI art
True to form, no sooner to I get a foot-dragging not-ANSI-art post out the door then another ANSI feature tries to shoulder its way through before the thing even has a chance to close again. Has it really been six months? The sad part is that this isn't even diminishing my stockpile of video game textmode art -- these are just additions to it (barring this introductory image -- the splash screen for Elite for Emacs, no joke) I extracted from the giant textfiles.com PD ANSI art midden (and a few contemporary finds from the earliest underground ANSI artpacks.) The stockpile remains looming massive on the horizon. I look forward to discharging at least one installment per month from this point onward or I will grow old and die before getting through them all.
So. It's the late '80s / early '90s. What are people playing games on?
That's right, here in North America, they're fogging up their brain on their Nintendo Entertainment Systems (nice work, BP!), playing games such as Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link (hats off, Michael!) ...
Metroid... (Samus by Posyden of iCE -- using high ASCII characters in place of latin letters in your handle was cool for about one week in 1993)
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out (Soda Popinski by Flying Frenchman -- a kingly handle if ever there was one -- of SDA (??) and DEVO -- which was a local 604-based courier group! Fair enough -- Bone Crusher was a renowned 604 warez board SysOp, and the number listed is in the 604!)
and Final Fantasy 3 (Mog the Moogle by Hung T. Nguyen... this is, incidentally, a very strange way to be looking at TheDraw. He must have had a 50-column session open on a Windows '95 system. The characters look different -- certainly the letters do, too bad no shading blocks are used here! -- but it's undeniably ANSI, and it's confirmed legit right down to its date of creation 8)
Other home gamers might have run other games on other machines -- for instance, if they had a PC Engine (sorry, TurboGrafx-16) they might have been playing Bonk's Adventures (this likeness by Pyro of GRiM -- that must be an easter egg, I don't remember that particular altered state being part of my gameplay experience) ...
... or its retrofuturistic spin-off, Air Zonk. (TSP of iCE cranked out this almost overly-compact likeness.)
Did I mention Air Zonk? (Posyden strikes again -- this rendition is quite a bit looser, as though every one of his facial features was just floating near the others without any of them being connected.)
My memory and all existing records must fail me here, because apparently the kids simply couldn't get enough of their Air Zonk! (Darkman of ACiD delivers.)
But OK, enough with the console games. We weren't calling up BBSes from our consoles! When our big brothers wouldn't share the joysticks, we went over to the computer room and played computer games! Here's a lovely "Ultima" font by Groo of SDA, celebrating episode 7 of this wonderful game the colleagues of the artist have just helped you to steal from its creators without paying them:
And this is a new one, perhaps the first time in history that someone drew a piece of ANSI art in celebration of an Infocom text adventure. Why? Because while they could be represented in a textmode screen, what you would see there, nineteen times out of 20, was ... pure text. Beyond Zork was no exception -- sure, some platforms' releases featured a splash screen celebrating (as here) the cover artwork on the game's box. We won't come across anything else like this, probably ever!
Hey, don't you know it's rude to point? Anyone who has ever played Space Quest 4 (sorry, Space Quest XII: Vohaul's Revenge II) will remember this sorry cyborg shambling around the ruins of Xenon prepared to ruin the player's day, ANSIfied by Dr. X of Hype. (Don't worry, there are also ANSIs out there of the Energizer Bunny, everyone is treated fairly here.)
And ending on a real high note, here's a rendition of Blizzard's first taste of fantasy, The Three Vikings, by Elminster of Legacy. Next time we return to Video Game Textmode Art Theatre, most likely we'll be looking at considerably more recent works. See you then!