Monday, December 29, 2014

Video game ANSI art part 10: the Konami show

First, a second version of the theme music to M.U.L.E. from another Mistigris-affiliated musician (ironically, given my devotion to these endless tapestries of ANSI art, my own computer art group had much stronger ties to the considerably-more-difficult-to-showcase-in-a-blog medium of computer music)! This one was by Melodia of Digitallusions, a veritable music machine who may feel more than a little kinship with M.U.L.E.'s auteur Dani Bunten Berry!

Now, ending the previous post with some egregiously amateur ANSI art, I said that the next one would have to be another showcase. This here, my friends, is the work of a finely-honed specialist. Previous instalments of "video game ANSI art" have just been thrown-together piles of thematically-related work -- the curatorial equivalent of shovelware. This is another case altogether: far and away, today's feature artist has drawn more video-game themed works of textmode art than the second through tenth most prolific practitioners of that arcane-niche-within-an-arcane-niche. This is their grab-bag post, but there will be more in which they dwell on individual companies, series or even specific games. You've seen a handful of their works in previous posts, but here comes a motherlode. Many nicknames have been used (eg. Dr. Shizuma), but by far the one to which the majority of these works are credited is Konami: not the company, but the legendary artist with a knack for not just reproducing concept or promotional art, but rendering the characters in a condensed form in a personal visual shorthand, in new positions and situations and in extraordinary styles. (Textmode nonwithstanding.)

When he learned of my blog series, he offered to dig into his back catalogue and make recommendations, starting with a dozen cool pieces. And then another dozen. And then... well, then I needed his help in identifying the characters portrayed across a wide range of titles from an age in the gaming industry I'm woefully under-experienced in. It must have taken two or three days just to sort out all the submissions and cluster them thematically, and now it falls to me to share with you the fruits of that colossal curatorial task.

Without further delay, I bring to you... the overture of the Konami show, part 1. We begin with individual games his bird of genius alights upon only once:

That piece, a transcription of sorts of existing character artwork, depicts Regina from Capcom's Dino Crisis.
That there is Aya from Square's Parasite Eve. Most of what remains will be of the coloured ASCII art variety of textmode artwork -- still using the colour codes ANSI provides, but with the additional edging and texture permitted by using the other characters traditionally the domain of the ASCII artist.
Above we see an original take on the hero from Dragon Quest III.
Here was an original rendition of Odessa from Suikoden.
And a piece representing Koei's historical wargame of strategy and politics, Nobunaga's Ambition.
That was a presentation, derived from an external source, of the character Heather Mason from Silent Hill III. " I remember little things thing about most things I drew; like where I was etc. The Silent Hill 3 was instantly one of my favorite asciis and still is, lifted from a rental at a blockbuster on a cold winter day. A greyscale ascii going into some color on the edges... It's actually rather unfinished but I got to this point it just looked right, sorta dirty and spooky looking."
This here was a collaboration with Filth, a rendition of Sofia from Battle Arena Toshinden, from magazine artwork.
These two pieces illustrate characters from Chrono Trigger, my favorite Square game. The above picture was of Lucca, and the following one is an original portrayal of silent game protagonist Crono. It is the final piece of what would generally be considered "ANSI art" in this gallery; the remainder all leans heavily on virtuosic use of similar but distinct ASCII art techniques.
While we're on a JRPG kick -- a trend which will prove to be pretty much a guiding theme through most of Konami's portfolio -- here are characters from Luna Silver Star Story:
That was an unoriginal (I'm not being judgemental, it is simply adapted from existing work) picture of Lucia, and here are two original depictions of Leo.
Last one! Leo, are you ready for your close-up?
Now changing tacks, these are characters from Square's Xeno games:
One original picture of a character from Xenosaga: Episode I, and next up an adaptation of artwork for Elly of Xenogears.
One more Xenogears character awaiting, Citan Uzuki in an original presentation.
But because no one can survive on a diet purely consisting of JRPGs, even Konami veers astray from time to time and plays some beat-'em-ups. These characters are all from King of Fighters games:
That was an original picture of Iori Yagumi (a nick that saw some use in Mistigris artpacks, whose source I have only just now learned of!), and here comes another one:
I was scrutinizing my notes because I was sure I had written down the name of this next character incorrectly -- but it really does appear to be "K'".
Here's Terry Bogard in his distinctive red baseball cap!
And finally, a picture of Mai. (All these KOF portrayals are original.) "The Mai ascii was drawn with T-Bob, a fellow fighting game fan who was one of my best friends in the scene, we actually drew it in his student apartment in Montreal, which I visited for a few days just for fun. We played a lot of Capcom vs SNK 2 and the quote is from that game."
And that's, whew, well, that is merely the beginning for old Konami. His works are to end up the exclusive subjects of at least three posts in this series. Hats off, ladies and gentlemen, for the living embodiment of all that is good about this blog series. Stay tuned for more! But first -- the remainder of my game-related Christmas presents!