Thursday, March 20, 2014

Video game ANSI art: supplemental

Due to the surprising and quick response on the somewhat unprecedented material in the previous post ("here", I thought, "is something you can't find at any other blog." Probably for good reason!) I figured I may as well share the rest of it. Yes, I must confess -- I didn't just plunge my hand down a hole and pull up a fistful of gold nuggets. I wanted you all to think, "oh, textmode art was so cool and sophisticated!" but really, that would be fudging the history of things. A lot of it was off-tinted, malproportioned (heh, even worse than the Image comics source material!), and basically... not being the best representation of the source material. These were typically released in smaller art groups whose names you wouldn't have been conversant with, and -- worst of all -- made with TheDraw for PD (public domain) BBSes whose denizens were like the inhabitants of Plato's cave, grateful for any ANSI art on their boards without realising they were just looking at silhouettes of the real thing flooding in from outside. (Except in this case, outside was "the underground".)

So here's the stuff I filtered out, filling in the rest of the picture -- but hey, the gunk at the bottom of the drain can still be of interest! To be fair, I will make myself the first lamb led to the slaughter. This was an idea sketched out by Talonswift, a creative Unitarian lad who taught us the Chairman's game and is quite handy with a pencil and paper, having somewhat fallen down the rabbit hole of the Life Drawing Cartel. Like any editor, I liked the taste better after I peed in it; Mistigris had closed up shop with some loose ends hanging around, so in the spirit of Mistigris' annual "joke packs" in April (for April Fool's, artists would release amateurish works in formats in which they were not practiced) this piece was submitted to the artscene's Dada outlet, The Project, and released in 1999.

A fugue on a similar theme, but this time rendered by someone who was capable of drawing ANSI well if he so chose -- the elusive Spirit of Illusion from our very own area code 604, an enigmatic character who somehow managed to transcend local artgroup politics. Instead of rendering a masterpiece he felt playful, and this time he instead decided to filter his subjects through a haze of the Game Boy's original pea soup display -- a platform exclusive wherein Mario and Megaman crossed paths for the first time.
And here's an earlier work by him -- you see, with practice, folks can manage to pull themselves out of the ghetto of being bad artists -- later they just have the option to exercise the commission of bad art. The subject is Konami's Sparkster! Lightnin' Hopins was legendary in the 604 -- there were warez boards (such as this one) so elite, they had zero local members with the exception of the SysOp, and were used solely by long-distance couriers from faraway places as waypoints to drop their 0-3 day goods.
Here are two further charmingly naive (and, dare I say, PD) takes on the MegaMan character.

And another charming piece -- a coloured ASCII rendition of a round of Pac-Man. This is real outsider art -- work in this format was never seen in any artpacks:
Now here's something nicer on the eyes: yes, you saw Jed's Sonic preciously, but this must be the earlier version -- as in the games, that one had him indicating "2" with a hand gesture, while here he is extending only one finger. (Is it just me, or does it look like his middle finger? Easy there, Sonic!)
And another Sonic, this one in coloured ASCII art -- but reflecting the h/p/a mentality of the underground cyber-scene, a d00b-smoking "Chronic the Hemp-hog". Of course. Making this would have been so much work, and sadly I'm not sure that it was entirely worthwhile. But we must all develop our skills with exercises of one sort or another!
The first of those two Sonics was by the great ANSImator Jed, and he takes us from the mascot of one 16-bit home console, the Sega Genesis, to another -- Hudson's B.C. Kid, aka Bonk!
This is just a problem of character design: it's a very faithful rendition of Wonder Boy, circa Sega Master System. The crapulence of the end product is not the artist's fault, except perhaps for their choice in subject.
This could more fairly be described as a case of operator error -- what you are intended to be looking at is a portrayal of Raiden, from Mortal Kombat.
This one isn't so bad -- you saw one of Jinx's MegaMen above, and now here's his Luigi:
BBS folks never forgot their roots -- most of us were MS-DOSsing like it was going out of fashion, but there were parallel clusters of boards run on Amigas, Atari machines, and even a few Commodore 64s into the '90s, running the BBS off of one floppy drive with all the user data on the other! This next piece isn't game-inspired, but a logo for a board named after its technological predecessor: Atari Blues. (Note to self: potential album title someday.)
And while paying homage to the digital companies who populated our cyber-landscape, here's one final piece -- a rendition of a company logo itself inspired by nature, the famous "Half Dome" in Yosemite National Park. The company was, of course, Sierra On-Line -- the image repurposed to promote a BBS named, in homage, "High Sierra".