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Kishi 05-30-2010 01:21 AM

Kishi's Gift of Gif
 
I hope three threads in two and a half years isn't too excessive, but sometimes I just want to cut loose and start fresh. Feel me on this!

Tonight, let's look at Earthworm Jim. There's no clear consensus on whether the extra level in the Genesis version of the game is worth more than the SNES version's pretty transparencies and background detail, but Earthworm Jim: Special Edition for PC certainly presents Shiny's "Digicel" sprite animation in its most vivid, complete form.



































Kishi 05-30-2010 01:22 AM

Jim is a character who simply couldn't have been done justice any earlier than the 16-bit era, and this owes at least as much to his animation as to the latent complexity of his design. With no cut scenes or dialogue to explain him to the audience, his nature and personality are embodied largely in his actions. From the most decadently elaborate idle animations to the most basic verbs of a side-scrolling action game, we can clearly see how straight Jim tries to play the hero role, only to be thwarted by his own flights of fancy and the whims of his super suit, which never seems to be completely under his control. Every time the suit pulls Jim out of its collar and uses his actual body as a weapon (or even a toy), we're reminded what a fractured and hapless hero he actually is—nothing more than a giant worm, in fact, and constantly at the mercy of the source of his humanoid empowerment.


















Oh my gosh


Octopus Prime 05-30-2010 02:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kishi (Post 771922)

There are no words for how much I love this animation.

Sheana 05-30-2010 02:50 AM

One of the big reasons I loved the Earthworm Jim games so much as a kid was because of the wonderful cartoony sprite animation. So much detail in those things, it's nice to see again.

Sanagi 05-30-2010 03:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kishi (Post 771926)


This was one of my favorite details - not only would Jim do things while waiting for you to press the buttons, you never knew what exactly he would do. The only idle easter egg I like better, off the top of my head, is Mario's mumbling in his sleep in Mario 64.

Paul le Fou 05-30-2010 04:38 AM

Man, Earthworm Jim really was a pretty great game. Also: a pretty, great game.

Also, thought from left field: who remembers the cartoon?

Sarcasmorator 05-30-2010 07:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Paul le Fou (Post 771968)
Also, thought from left field: who remembers the cartoon?

Me!

"What relationship?"

Violentvixen 05-30-2010 09:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Paul le Fou (Post 771968)
Also, thought from left field: who remembers the cartoon?

I only saw an episode or two, I seem to remember that it was at the same time as something else I always had to do.

I think I still have the poster for the game somewhere. I really did love it, although I never have made it to the queen without passwords. I beat the second one though!

Sprite 05-30-2010 10:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Paul le Fou (Post 771968)
Also, thought from left field: who remembers the cartoon?

Dan Castellaneta was the perfect choice for Jim.

Sheana 05-30-2010 02:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Paul le Fou (Post 771968)
Also, thought from left field: who remembers the cartoon?

Watched it all the time. Thanks for putting the theme song back in my head, dammit. Earthworm Jim! Through the soil he did crawl!

Dhroo 05-30-2010 06:16 PM

I watched the cartoon pretty religiously as a kid; the one thing that always sticks out in my mind about it is how Peter Puppy would recite the Litany of Fear from Dune to prevent himself from Hulking Out.

locit 05-30-2010 06:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sheana (Post 772161)
Watched it all the time. Thanks for putting the theme song back in my head, dammit. Earthworm Jim! Through the soil he did crawl!

Oh man, now it's in my head too. Craaaaap.

Donny 05-30-2010 06:44 PM

Its depressing that every port of Earthworm Jim (starting with the Gameboy Advance and beyond) seems to rely on using as few frames of those animations as possible. Its a damn shame because I'd love to see both Jim games remade with detail on par with something like Bowser's Inside Story.

Kishi 06-10-2010 09:08 AM

Following Earthworm Jim, I could naturally move on to EWJ2...and I intend to, eventually. But for now, let's go back in time and look at Disney's Aladdin for the Sega Genesis, developed at Virgin Games by the core group who would go on to form Shiny: Dave Perry, Andy Astor, Steve Crow, Tommy Tallarico, et al. (minus heart-and-soul Doug TenNapel). Aladdin debuted the aforementioned "Digicel" technique that would go on to define Jim's aesthetic, but it only made sense for a game based on an animated film. A relative of pre-rendered CG that still upheld the beauty of 2D, Digicel apparently amounted to sprites literally drawn by hand with the help of animators at Disney, which were then transmuted into digital form using a computer machine. (And if that doesn't sound terribly fancy given your scanners and tablets, remember this was 1993.)

The results were graphics that were not only large and lush but recognizable as a cartoon. Specifically, (aside from a couple of phoned-in levels toward the end) this game looks like Aladdin, with all the stretching and squashing and comic mischief that implies. In retrospect, the people who made this were a perfect fit to give life to Jim.




































Kishi 06-10-2010 09:09 AM

Now, when I mentioned Disney's Aladdin, I had to specify it was for the Sega Genesis—because, as children of the 16-bit era will remember, there's a game by the same title for the SNES that's completely different and wasn't developed by Virgin but Capcom. That's the same Capcom of a long list of beloved Disney-licensed games, and Aladdin is one of their best. Now, for a long time (up till recently enough that you could find posts to this effect here on Talking Time), I scorned the SNES game because it wasn't wrought in Digicel and "the sprites look like sprites." In my mind, Aladdin versus Aladdin was the same match-up as Mickey Mania versus Capcom's Magical Quest, where you had authentic-looking cel-based visuals compared to compromised, off-model sprites resembling touched-up NES fare. But that comparison was extended to Aladdin based on some pretty flimsy impressions of the SNES game, and when I recently took a closer look, I realized that what the resemblance to the film lacks in specific frames, it gains in Aladdin's actual actions: as Brickroad so eloquently explains, Aladdin is a thief, an acrobat, and Capcom wonderfully translated that into his abilities—swinging around, vaulting off enemies' heads, and automatically scaling ledges—instead of just sticking a sword in his hand.

Aladdin's SNES sprites are smaller, but only to accommodate the more involved platforming. If you want to talk animation, his run cycle has twelve frames to the Genesis version's ten. The game already has the advantage of the SNES's expansive color palette, but moreover, since Capcom embraced the fact that they were making a video game and not a feature-length film, they could splurge appropriately on things like shading. If they didn't make a convincing facsimile of mostly flat-shaded film cels, it was because they could make something that was their own and no less pleasing to the eye.




















Kishi 06-10-2010 09:10 AM

Epilogue

One visual device that Capcom used to emphasize that you're not just progressing through a series of stages based on the film but actually progressing its story is Abu. At the beginning of the game, he scurries along wherever you go; once you get to the Cave of Wonders, he runs ahead and excitedly points down to the giant treasure cache. Once you meet Carpet, he grabs its tassels and flies away. When he grabs the oversize ruby that turns the Cave against you, it's not in a cut scene but depicted in-game. He'll shadow-box to encourage you during the first boss fight and hop excitedly if you move to continue after a Game Over.







My favorite, though, is something that's easy to miss but could only have come from a game developed in Japan. Once you beat the first boss, Abu hops down from his perch and, as a sort of "Yeah, we bad" taunt, throws up a bras d'honneur.






That's great.

alexb 06-10-2010 09:17 AM

Does it mean that in the Japanese context, though? I always thought the Japanese gesture was more about showing the strength of that arm. Flexing it, basically. Less of a "fuck you" and more of an "I'm badass!" sort of gesture. No?

Zef 06-10-2010 10:00 AM

Yeah, I always thought it was a "Look at me rubbing my mighty bicep! I'm strong" thing. And even when Frog does it in Chrono Trigger, his arm swells up with previously-unseen muscles! I didn't even know it was also an obscene gesture until junior high.

Lady 06-10-2010 04:14 PM

omg, Iago on the thunder machine is incredible :O

shawn struck 06-10-2010 05:52 PM

Kishi,

Have you ever considered pitching retrospectives like this to 1UP for the retro blogs? Because these are all fantastic and I would love to click on articles centered around your insight and sprite ripping skills and to have the extra resources that sort of back would allow.

Nodal 06-10-2010 05:54 PM

Yesss, this thread.

ASandoval 06-10-2010 06:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by shawn struck (Post 781575)
Kishi,

Have you ever considered pitching retrospectives like this to 1UP for the retro blogs? Because these are all fantastic and I would love to click on articles centered around your insight and sprite ripping skills and to have the extra resources that sort of back would allow.

I second this. I don't post because I rarely have anything to say on them, but your GIF threads are some of my favorite reads on the entire board. This goes doubly for the girlfriend, an artist who just got started doing sprites for DS recently and finds this extremely informative.

Excitemike 06-10-2010 06:41 PM

Man, I was just thinking that this should be a feature somehow.

Destil 06-15-2010 01:58 AM

Having never played the Genesis Aladdin all I knew was that he had a sword (which always struck me as out of place) and that it was pretty well-regarded. The sprites are pretty impressive, now that I get a good look at them, and it's clear how much more 'gamey' the Capcom SNES ones are. The thunder machine, especially, is fantastic!

Perhaps I should track the Genesis game down and it a shot... I suppose games with this sort of licensing concerns are pipe dreams when it comes to Virtual Counsel, huh?

Falselogic 06-15-2010 05:38 PM

I love me some SNES Aladdin! I always felt that the the game matched perfectly with the movie. The music, animation, levels, etc. It all seemed so... so.. Aladdinesque.

The sounds effects are great too, I love Aladdin's grunt for some reason. You forgot the gifs of the Genie when you're in the lamp and he's building the level in front of you! =P

StrawberryChrist 06-15-2010 08:40 PM

The Genesis Aladdin was wicked hard and played much like a prototype Earthworm Jim (except you get apples instead of a gun and a sword instead of... yourself.) I seem to remember both of these games as being full of glitches, particularly in terms of scrolling the screen and triggering events that require to to scroll to a certain spot.

Capcom's Aladdin on the other hand was smooth and technically flawless, but disappointingly easy. My friends scorned it as the obviously less-masculine of the two games (being that we were ten at the time) but I still prefer it because as this thread has demonstrated, Capcom had the good sense to not stitch Aladdin's pant legs together.

The Genie's Lamp level is way cooler in the Genesis version though.

Brickroad 06-15-2010 10:54 PM

SNES Aladdin is one of the few games I can think of where I can spot specific frames of animation and use them as gameplay tools. The "swingin' back and forth" animation has a lot of play to it as far as which direction you can jump in and how much height you'll gain. You have to really master this if you want to collect all of the game's red gems. (It feels similar to playing with the grappling arm in Bionic Commando.)

I've always felt the game itself is exactly the right difficulty. There's a learning curve to pulling off Aladdin's acrobatics, but once you're fairly adept at them the game is pretty breezy. Really, who wants to play a hard game about a Disney movie? I certainly didn't, and that's why I've never cared much for the Genesis version.

Abu has a lot of life to him for such a little guy. If Kishi hasn't gone back and supplied us with a .gif of Abu snarfing down an apple by the time I get home from work I just might have to bring it myself.

Kishi 06-16-2010 11:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by shawn struck (Post 781575)
Kishi,

Have you ever considered pitching retrospectives like this to 1UP for the retro blogs? Because these are all fantastic and I would love to click on articles centered around your insight and sprite ripping skills and to have the extra resources that sort of back would allow.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ASandoval (Post 781586)
I second this. I don't post because I rarely have anything to say on them, but your GIF threads are some of my favorite reads on the entire board. This goes doubly for the girlfriend, an artist who just got started doing sprites for DS recently and finds this extremely informative.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Excitemike (Post 781608)
Man, I was just thinking that this should be a feature somehow.

I think presenting assets ripped directly from games with animations recreated precisely as they appear in-game would seem...if not actually illegal, then at least kind of sketchy. For a professional site, anyway. Just between you and me, though, there might be something like this in the works for something closer to home.

Moreover, thanks for your interest and comments of kindness. Without them, I just get paranoid that I'm gushing about stuff no one else cares about. You keep the gif-train a-rollin'.


Quote:

Originally Posted by StrawberryChrist (Post 785830)
The Genie's Lamp level is way cooler in the Genesis version though.

I agree, at least in terms of appearance. The SNES stage doesn't really resemble anything from the movie, whereas the Genesis stage turns "Friend Like Me" into a location.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Falselogic (Post 785629)
You forgot the gifs of the Genie when you're in the lamp and he's building the level in front of you! =P

Unfortunately, Genie moves around and changes shape too much for me to get a handle on how his frames relate to one another. It's just one of those things that comes up sometimes.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Brickroad (Post 785965)
Abu has a lot of life to him for such a little guy. If Kishi hasn't gone back and supplied us with a .gif of Abu snarfing down an apple by the time I get home from work I just might have to bring it myself.

That, however, I can do.


Balrog 06-16-2010 12:00 PM

That Aladdin run animation might be the best run animation ever. And those idle animations! So good.

Brickroad 06-16-2010 10:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kishi (Post 786387)

It's like... where is he getting all those apples from?

It's not Aladdin's inventory. I checked. (Although that would be hilarious.)

Azar 06-16-2010 10:15 PM

I watched my roommate play through the SNES Aladdin a couple months ago, and it was really a joy to watch. I noticed how wonderful the Abu animations were. I love games that add character to their world with little background details like that. It's how they really come alive.

Comb Stranger 06-16-2010 11:05 PM

I played it yesterday, and of course got a rom that bugged the first boss with invincibility.

Grabnar the Wanderer 06-17-2010 01:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kishi (Post 781089)
[/center]

That's great.

I concur!

Kishi 10-22-2010 12:30 AM



Lady was shocked and disappointed to learn that Hiryu's futuristic ninja glider only has one frame to it. It's understandable, since you only see it for a bit at the very beginning of the game, but she couldn't help but ask me to do something about it.

So I did.



Lady 10-22-2010 07:00 AM

it's exactly what I had in mind <3

Adam 10-22-2010 09:34 AM

Now I really want to see that sequence end with his toupee ripping off and blowing away in the wind.

Kishi 10-22-2010 10:22 AM

You're awful.

Kirin 10-22-2010 10:23 AM

I love that there's apparently an oil lantern hanging off the front of his super high-tech probably carbon composite glider. Never really noticed that before.

Falselogic 10-22-2010 10:32 AM

So if I date Kishi will he make me animated gifs? Because if thats what it takes by Wotan I'll do it! Damn my wife and heterosexuality!

=P

Wolfgang 10-22-2010 01:29 PM

Can your snes do this?


Can your snes do that?


Can your snes pull this


out their little hat?

Lumber Baron 10-22-2010 03:50 PM

The way SNES is capitalized there, I thought it was an excerpt from a Dr. Seuss book. The Star-Bellied Snes or something.

RT-55J 10-22-2010 05:59 PM

My attempt:

Falselogic 10-22-2010 06:03 PM

Any chance of one of you gif wizards putting together a little primer on how to do this?

or pointing to an existing one on the web?

Sarcasmorator 10-22-2010 06:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kishi (Post 884492)
You're awful.

No, that toupee is awful.

But seriously though that's pretty cool.

RT-55J 10-22-2010 06:20 PM

I, personally:

1. Took a picture of each frame using an emulator with layer disabling and frame advance (in this case, FCEUX*).
2. Opened the images using GIMP's "Open as layers" option.
3. Changed the background color of each layer to transparency
-- Layer > Transparency > Add Alpha Channel
-- Select > By Color (or just Shift+O)
-- Click on the background color
-- Delete
4. Cropped the image with the cropping tool
5. Saved the image as a .GIF, with the option that says something like "Save each layer as a frame".

I'm sure Kishi does it differently (better).

Also:

*I solved the "black on black" problem by fiddling with the "gNoBGFillColor" option in the config file.

Kishi 10-22-2010 06:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RT-55J (Post 884921)
*I solved the "black on black" problem by fiddling with the "gNoBGFillColor" option in the config file.

I'd weep with joy if every emulator had a fix for that issue.

Balrog 10-22-2010 07:38 PM

They're far from complete but I have a lot of luck looking at http://www.spriters-resource.com/

Lady 10-22-2010 08:39 PM

Kishi's method actually involves a piece of fine paper, a box of pigments, and a brush. He must mix every color precisely as it appears, and then painstakingly draw every pixel. It's beautiful. He's beautiful.

Comb Stranger 10-23-2010 11:36 AM

And the animation you see is Kishi personally flipping through a tiny sketchbook in front of a live webcam, twenty-four hours a day. He is a very dedicated giffer.

Excitemike 10-23-2010 11:53 AM

I came across this on my hard drive, not a videogame but it is the only gif I've ever made. It's the actors who play Tsukasa and Yusuke in Kamen Rider Decade during some down time.



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