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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: 8x8 Pixel Fonts in Old Arcade Games
EDIT: Check out the Arcade Font Generator!

As you may have read in another thread I forced myself to learn some pretty interesting programming skills in order to create [Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/y-fz/x-dynamic%20images%20from%20arcade%20fonts.]  It was hugely educational, and since I finished that I've been digging up old fonts from all kinds of arcade games.  It's really fascinating to see what can be done with an 8 x 8 pixel block.

<images removed - check out this thread instead>

Perhaps you can't tell at this resolution, but there's a wicked variety here, not only in the letter shapes themselves but the colours and combinations used.  You wouldn't think a cursive serif font would work at this resolution, but there it is.
BLEARGH
This post was edited 3 times, last on 2011-01-07, 10:54 by NFG.
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Two new fonts added tonight:

[Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/fonts/mars-Mars Matrix (Capcom).png]
Mars Matrix (Capcom / Takumi)

[Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/fonts/sdi-SDI (Sega).png]
SDI (Sega)

I had done most of Legendary Wings and accidentally closed the window...  It was cool, and will come again soon.  I've worked out a faster method for ripping these, so while each game still takes about 20-30 mins, the colour variations only take a couple of minutes each after that.
BLEARGH
This post was edited on 2009-06-22, 17:23 by NFG.
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Now that I've got a larger body of fonts available, I thought I'd remark on some similarities I found.  It's pretty hard to not have very similar looking fonts when you've got a total of 64 pixels per character, of course.  Throughout my research into this, I found some blatant copying, but also some subtle variations.  Consider [Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/y-mars/z-9/x-Mars%20Matrix] and [Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/y-nds/z-3/x-Dangerous Seed]:

[Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/y-mars/dbl-4/z-9/x-NFGworld]

[Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/y-nds/dbl-4/z-4/x-NFGworld]

Despite being basically the same face, the two are markedly different.  One has a shadow, the other does not, and for this reason the latter font tends to be wider.  Only one has a lower-case character set.  Finally, while both use colour gradients, one is top-to-bottom dark to light, and the other is light in the middle and dark on top and bottom.

Then there's the rather unique case of [Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/y-shinobi/z-1/x-Shinobi].  The advancements in technology meant that the followup game [Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/y-shda/z-3/x-Shadow Dancer] had many more colours to work with, giving us an opportunity to compare a font for the same game series from two different generations.

[Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/y-shinobi/dbl-4/z-1/x-NFGworld]

[Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/y-shda/dbl-4/z-3/x-NFGworld]

Interestingly the new hardware didn't result in a better font.  Shadow Dancer's letters are thicker, have a gradient and a 3D look, the details are compressed and the result, especially at small sizes, seems smudged.  Shinobi's font seems to be a little less attractive, but is much more readable for it.  When enlarged however the reverse is true: Shinobi's plain pixels are harsh to the eyes.

All that in only 64 pixels each.
BLEARGH
This post was edited on 2011-01-07, 10:57 by NFG.
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Three Four new fonts tonight:

[Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/fonts/dspir-Dragon Spirit (Namco).png]
Dragon Spirit

[Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/fonts/dsab-Dragon Saber (Namco).png]
Dragon Saber

[Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/fonts/drbr-Dragon Breed (Irem).png]
Dragon Breed

[Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/fonts/libr-Light Bringer (Capcom).png]
Light Bringer
BLEARGH
This post was edited 2 times, last on 2009-02-18, 20:05 by NFG.
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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I'm totally obsessed with this stuff, and I spend most of my spare time screencapping and assembling fonts, and working on the script.  In a remarkably clever move I made the script's first draft quite open to extension, so when it came time to make it do more interesting things, it was dead easy to add the new functionality.  So now it does extra-large fonts, both 16x16 and 8x16. 

These fonts typically didn't come into existence until relatively late in the arcade history, but some games make extensive use of them (see screenshot from Capcom's Alien vs Predator).  Others use hardware that doesn't seem able to handle 8x8 sprites, so a 16x16 block is used with an 8x8 sprite in the middle of it (Seta is bad for this, as is Jaleco).

[Image: /grafx/games/AvPFonts.png]

While the script is very much able to handle these new, larger fonts, there's more work involved in ripping them, so I doubt I'll do many styles, and certainly fewer colour variations of each.  Capcom really loves their fonts: Alien vs Predator had no fewer than 3 sizes and four distinct styles (1 each 8x8 and 8x16, 2 16x16 fonts).  That's a lot of ripping, and I lose interest quick.  =)

[Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/y-avp816/h-16/w-8/dbl-2/x-AvP%208x16/.png]

[Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/y-avp16/h-16/w-16/dbl-2/x-AvP%2016x16/.png]
BLEARGH
This post was edited 2 times, last on 2009-02-18, 20:01 by NFG.
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Here's the running tally so far:

[Image: http://nfggames.com/games/fontmaker/font-sampler.png]
BLEARGH
This post was edited 2 times, last on 2009-02-18, 19:59 by NFG.
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Subject: Ripping Super NES fonts
Ripping console fonts is quite a bit more difficult than working with arcade fonts.  The ROMs don't include palette data, so the colours are all wrong, and since cartridges generally didn't have space to spare, most games have compressed data that is usually impossible to identify.

Super Mario AllStars was a pleasant surprise, though it wasn't always easy.  It had several font sets in it, and some of them were easily located and ripped, but the Super Mario Bros 3 font...  Well, it was a bit tricky.

This is the raw data for this font.  In order to save space, every second letter is combined with the previous one. 
[Image: http://nfggames.com/games/fontmaker/Marios-1.png]

Once ripped, the process of separating the letters is a fairly straightforward matter of palette replacement.  Some pixels are only used in one letter or the other, so you simply replace the pixels in BOTH with that colour, and the pixels from the OTHER letter with the background colour.  This was made easier by the fact each letter was only one colour.  Two letters + background = 3 colours.
[Image: http://nfggames.com/games/fontmaker/Marios-2.png]

Next, I spaced the letters out, and put the other pallete's alphabet underneath it.
[Image: http://nfggames.com/games/fontmaker/Marios-3.png]

Slide 'em together, and presto!  Mario font!
[Image: http://nfggames.com/games/fontmaker/Marios-4.png]

The numbers were trickier.  Since they had an outline, there were six colours in total (two each for outline, number and background), and while I didn't think it'd be much harder, it really was a bit of a mind bender.  The fonts didn't start to look right until the very last, so - much like the middle stages of a Rubik's Cube, it's very easy to lose track of where you're at and have to backtrack.
[Image: http://nfggames.com/games/fontmaker/Marios-5.png]
BLEARGH
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There are some new fonts added (the current tally is [Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/y-pabom/z-6/count-1/]) and I've been working on the font engine again as well.  I worked out a way to handle large fonts without breaking the font machine, which means that seven new fonts are available to play with once again. 

Four 16 x 16 fonts.  These large fonts were used in newer games, which had ROM space to burn.  Quite an extravagance when you remember that some old games didn't even have one full alphabet 'cause space was at such a premium.

This large, happy looking thing comes from Taito's Bubble Memories.  The game also included a half-width 8x16 font, in addition to the standard Namco font, and a cool looking alien font.
  • [Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/h-16/z-2/w-16/y-bubmb/x-Bubble Memories 16x16]
  • [Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/h-16/z-2/w-8/y-bubm/x-Bubble Memories 16x16]

Having multiple fonts in a single game isn't at all unique.  Capcom's CPS2 games, with their scandalous amounts of storage, often had three sizes:
  • [Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/y-armo/z-0/x-Alien vs Predator]
  • [Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/h-16/w-8/z-0/y-avp816/x-Alien vs Predator 8x16]
  • [Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/h-16/w-16/z-0/y-avp16/x-Alien vs Predator 16x16]

As you can see!
[Image: http://nfgworld.com/grafx/games/AvPFonts.png]

Here's Aero Fighters, which also had two sizes.  The large font is a more detailed version of the small one:

  • [Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/y-aerof/z-0/x-Air Buster]
  • [Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/h-16/w-16/z-0/y-aero16/x-Air Buster 16x16]

The 16x16 font isn't entirely attractive - the H seems half finished, and the verticals on the M have different widths.

Burglar X is a very modern (1997) game from Unico has a font that might be straight from a font library if not for the excellent pixel work.  The shapes are consistent and attractive, which is not usually the case when fonts are converted from another type.

  • [Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/h-16/w-16/z-0/y-bglx/x-Burglar%20X]

Finally, Seibu's Raiden Fighters series includes a very unusual 16x8 font.  In all my wild adventures scouring fonts from the wild MAME archives, I've never seen another font that's wider than it is tall.

  • [Image: http://nfggames.com/system/arcade/arcade.php/h-8/w-16/z-1/y-rf168/x-Raiden%20Fighters]
BLEARGH
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