How "oldschool" graphics worked Part 1 - Commodore and Nintendo -

How “oldschool” graphics worked Part 1 – Commodore and Nintendo

The 8-Bit Guy
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In part 1, I cover the limitations of color on older 1980’s computers and game consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Commodore 64.

The artwork of “The Mill” by Oliver Lindau
The artwork of “Halo J.” by Steven Day


  1. You list methods of generating colour, then in that list have a zx81 – the 81 was a totally monochrome computer that never did and never could handle colour at all.

  2. Do you need 8k of memory for a 1-bit image that's completely black? I'd think the actual memory used would only be where the pixels are white.

  3. Please tell me you arent someone who says “zee” normally but then says “zed-ex”

  4. If you’re wondering how NES graphics were stored in rom and ram, basically a single sprite used 1 palette of 4 colors and there were two bytes for a single row of a tile, and those bytes were called bit planes. Each bit plane has 8 bits (of course) which of course can either be a zero or a one. A bit of the first bitplane is the most significant bit in a 2 bit number, and a bit of the second is the least. Since it’s a 2 bit number, it can count up to 3, and we can use the 0 as the first color and so on. So if color 2 of the palette is green, to display a green pixel in the far right of a row would be like this: 00000000(first bitplane), 00000001(second). Since the 2 bit number is 1, it goes to color 2. If color 4 is red, if you want to have a red pixel at the start of the row you do this: 10000000, 10000000. Since 11 is 3, that goes to color 4 of our palette, which would be red. Then after the first row, you put the second row. Try to make a palette for mario and try making something that looks like mario
    I probably wasted my time writing this because not many will see this
    EDIT: Tiles = cells, 0 is commonly the background color

  5. In SMB2, 5 objects are used for the player cause color limits…

  6. Another thing they would do when it comes to color would be the use of dithering witch is mixing two (sometimes more) colors as doing that gives it a wider range of colors while still using the limited color palette

  7. 5:23 이 방식으로 8비트 컴퓨터에서 게임을 만들려고 모눈종이로 여러가지를 그렸던 추억이 있다.

  8. Спасибо, было интересно!👍

  9. 5:53 Can you do a tutorial on how to display these sprites on a screen on the Commodore 64? I want to try and learn how to make a game using the Commodore 64

  10. 4:27 b̵̗͖̄ư̵̜̲̝̓͋ţ̷̭̫͇̂͂̏̚͝ ̷̰͙͓̫̃̎t̵̛͙̉̌h̶̻͛̽̈́͜ē̶̲̝͈̮̅͐͐ ̶̯̹̦̰̖̌̀̊̋̋m̸̞͉̝͇̓̄͘ă̴̡̙͙̓̇͑͘c̶̮̝͈͖͚͒̌h̷͚̻͇̋̽́̓̚i̸̳̞͓͗́̾̃̇n̸̙͐̒̌ȅ̶̦ ̷̹̖̤͂̐̿̔͜͝r̴̘͎͖̯̩͑̓̽͘ẹ̵͉̯̞̹̑w̵͙̫̄͋̉̄͝ä̵̼̙̝͚́̑ȑ̸̡̫͇͍̐̅͒d̸͎͑̑̂͌̉s̸̛̜͙̩͚̫ ̴̯̦̜̫̔̂͘y̴̘̞̙̗͆̀͜͝ǫ̸̖̼̲̈́̐̒̓͂u̵̦̳͍̩͛̏̔ ̵̧͌͗f̵̟́̄̀͝͠o̵̫̾́͒̎r̷̫̺̮̈́͌̀́͜ ̸̘̘̗̃y̴̻̪̰̏̀̊̚ͅͅo̴̹̓͠ͅu̸̝͛ṙ̶̲̪̝̦̿́̒̓ ̴̰͚̲̃s̵̨̗̪̼͙̓̀̍̄̓a̴̡͚̪͉̓͛̔c̶̪̍r̷̉͋͆̾̃͜i̸̮̲̙͇̯͑͆͐͊f̶̖̿̆̌̊ī̸͇̳̪̹c̶̭̳̪̮̄ͅẽ̴̗̂̇͂̐ͅ

  11. Those crazy people with 64K of memory. We'll never need more than 32K.

  12. Architector, спасибо за перевод!

  13. I wasn't born in 1980 so I didn't experience 8 bit computers

  14. That princess on the thumbnail, labeled “SPRITE 2,” is actually two sprites locked together, not a single sprite. People with no knowledge of computers can see that, in action, when the game glitches and you see the top and bottom parts of Super Mario (“Mario Mario,” if you will… “). That is not to say that anyone can just know how a computer is working, based on that. Rather, my point is that people can check it out, for some experiential knowledge, if they have a Nintendo and a dusty SMB cart. Once one knows what a “graphics sprite” is, one can get that idea better. The Atari 400/800 and then especially Commodore 64s were great computers to use, to learn how to program sprites, because they both made huge strides in graphics capabilities, for their times (1979 and then 1982).

    When Commodore made the 64, they went all in, on graphic sprite capabilities, because sprites were the major paradigm for video game graphics coding, by then.They lasted well into the fourth generation, starting with 16-bit Genesis console (Oct., 1988) and Lynx handheld (September, 1989), plus the Super Nintendo (1991). So, Commodore was prescient to have jumped into them—making them accessible even for beginning programmers (weren’t called “coders,” back then) but also capable of being extremely complicated, by 1982 standards—and Atari was essential for that rise, with the 2600/VCS (1977) and their 8-bit line of home computers, two years later. Even in 1985, Nintendo leaned more toward fun and IPs than graphical prowess, given how comparable a C64 is, to the NES (and Sega Master System), its range of (onscreen) colors was nearly that of the 16-bit Genesis, which, despite its speed, only has 512 colors. Atari’s Lynx (developed by Epyx) had that and other comparable specs, ‘cause Genesis was all about rendering/playing speed.

    Great video! Thanks for sharing! 🍻

  15. Oh, that brings me back to the good old days!

  16. Really enjoying the trip. I did some solo game programming back in the 80's and 90's. I'm still proud of those early works. One of these days I need to dig out the XT class computer and see about finding that old code.

  17. I'm glad he stopped putting the camera all the way up in his face

  18. Can you stand a bit closer to the screen, please?

  19. cool channel man, im a 80's guy too, seen these is very nostalgic

  20. great information!! ok, I have an issue, I hope someone can help me out. I have an XBOX ONE about 8 years old, refurb. I went on vacation few years ago, took my controller with me, and then connected it to another console. came home and didnt do anything. month later my cable modem went down, got a new one( my XBOX is connected through WIFI) then at some point I went to try to play XBOX, the console could not recognize my controller, I tried to unplug machine, I tried hit reset button on controller. nothing. now the console when I start up wants to do an update, but since i cant use conroller I cant get to any other screen. can anyone help? is there a way to reset the console? a fix for me? send me msg if anyone can help.


  22. This is so interesting. It's a shame that this information will someday be lost. Thanks for sharing it!!

  23. Imagine being able to see this video back in 1986. It would have helped me a lot.

  24. God, I remember this. Always had to find a way around it to create pixel art. It was also difficult to explain to people why certain things couldn't be done. Thanks for this detailed, yet easy-to-understand explanation!

  25. On the Atari 800 I would use horizontal interrupts so that I could reuse the same sprite multiple times. The limitation of this is that the sprites had to stay in their respective horizontal boundary which I could move around based on sprite positions.

  26. 3:40 Surely they had programs and algorithms for calculating this? Doing it by hand doesn’t seem logical

  27. Wish I could have had this when I was growing up.

  28. After constantly recommending this video, I finally clicked. It was interesting 🤷‍♂️

  29. modern children do not understand how we could play these games … and how it could have worked with those ridiculous values today …

  30. That was very interesting! Thanks for this great video!

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