Well, that was all very silly. Oh, Internet, you are so very temperamental.

I’ve been meaning to write about a book I read recently, having picked it up on a whim after some other blog dude mentioned it. Probably Danc at Lost Garden, but it’s early in the morning and I’m too groggy to look it up. It carries the deceptive title of Character Design for Mobile Devices, but do not let that fool you — it is in fact a 150-page love sonnet about sprite art.

The book does pay special attention to portable systems and mobile phones, since that’s about the only place you’ll find bitmaps being crafted these days, including a detailed if not-quite-comprehensive history of handhelds. It probably could have used a little editing since the author has a tendency to write something, and then write almost exactly the same thing a few pages later; also, there are quite a few captioning goofs. Minor problems, though, for a book that basically exists to say “look at the beautifully-made pieces of pixel art. Please do not let this art form die.”

It appears to be a European book, but offers all the benefits of its origins (gorgeous layouts) with none of the typical quirks (it is shockingly light on the UK-centric stuff like Spectrum and doesn’t coddle Rare). All in all: worth getting just to be able to curl up and look at lovely sprites writ large. Even if my evil nemesis Brandon Sheffield is given special thanks. (It’s hard to say what exactly he contributed as I saw no anime porn art whatsoever in the book.)

I guess it’s even more appropriate to write about this today after all the Ultimate Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins hand-wringing, since UG’n’G criminally replaces the series’ intricately-crafted bitmap art (always among the best in its time) with poorly-made polygons. This judgement is based not on nostalgia seeing as I have no strong feelings about the series one way or the other; rather, it’s derived from a simple appreciation of things that look nice. Stiffly-animated, badly-textured 10-poly character models buried beneath garish lighting effects: not so nice.

6 thoughts on “SO ANYWAY

  1. Did you find this in a regular ol’ bookstore or did you have to order it specifically? It sounds interesting, I’m just not sure where I could find it.

  2. I did Amazon. I doubt most places carry it, although you could probably special order it. It’s $15 off at Amazon, though.

  3. Parish, as a forum regular at Insert Credit, I want to tell you that your comments about Brandon were low blows, especially that last bit about anime porn.

    A careful perusal of the site would reveal that Insert Credit generally only reports on homosexual anime porn, while your comment seems to imply that we care about the typically heterosexual stuff, a topic already covered well by Something Awful. Please update this news post to reflect the site’s true content, or we will proceed to the legal step.

  4. By “homosexual anime porn” you mean “mostly lesbian anime porn,” which is created for straight men anyway. The statement stands as originally published.

  5. I don’t think sprite art is all that forgotten these days though even in mainstream circles, it’s just instead defined more generally by indie software. Cave Story was a beautiful example of that and Pixel, the author, released many pieces of pixel art relating to the game. Wonderful stuff, all in all.

    I’m perfectly happy with this style resting in the hands of indie developers these days though because the indie developer of today is the hygene-challenged ZX Spectrum keyboard-jabber of yesteryear. Except possibly with better hygene.

    Hm, seems that book is up on Amazon UK too and there are only three of them left. I think I’ll take this chance to deprive UK Toastyfrog fans of at least one of those books, primarily because I actually want one, as opposed to say strangely desiring to spite total strangers.

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