Recently we reported about the release of the MSX Pixel Art Preservation Collection Vol.1, and today we're proud to announce its successor, MSX Pixel Art Collection vol.2, a Pixel Art Collection composed by more than 300 images created by other artists that were "arranged" to the MSX video modes.

"Arranged" is used here as an analogy to the music arrangements that we see being released for the MSX all the time. They're usually tracks composed by other artists, and arranged by a 3rd party for a specific MSX soundchip. The person who does the arrangement also adds his personal touches to the composition in the process.

MSX user sd_snatcher liked this concept very much, and decided to try the same for Pixel Art.

Please keep in mind that these are not your typical "run off the mill" image conversions, like blindly throwing the images into some converter and saving the output. Such an automated process rarely yields good results, so the conversions required a lot of careful pre- and post-editing by sd_snatcher.

Relevant link: MSX Pixel Art Collection vol.2

Comments (18)

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (3044)

sd_snatcher's picture

27-03-2018, 23:44

I'll post here the previews that were shown in the forum thread, in case someone ends up here via a web search.

Screen-2, without sprites:

Screen-3, without sprites:

Screen-5:

Screen-6:

Screen-7:

Screen-8:

Screen-10:

Screen-12:

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (3044)

sd_snatcher's picture

28-03-2018, 00:03

Bonus tip: some .MAG files have larger (or taller) than screen resolution (banners), like those two below. Remember to scroll them on DMAG.COM using the keyboard direction keys to see the entire image.


And here goes some bonus samples:

Screen-2, without sprites. I abused the color illusion tricks on this conversion. ;)

Screen-12. Playing tricks to hide the color bleed even on a colorful image:

By Grauw

Ascended (8366)

Grauw's picture

28-03-2018, 00:17

Looking nice! Especially the screen 12 one Smile, very colourful! But also the screen 2 one, can you point to a specific colour illusion?

I’ll check out the others when I have some spare time Big smile.

By JohnHassink

Ambassador (5405)

JohnHassink's picture

28-03-2018, 01:58

Thanks again, sd_snatcher. Really gorgeous, a feast for the eyes.
Some of the results are really impressive, but particularly, I never would have guessed that screen 6 could look so pretty. I guess you could convincingly display CGA graphics with that (even if the screen resolution is different).

By Pippo

Champion (420)

Pippo's picture

28-03-2018, 06:25

Another wonderful picture collection, really!! Big smile Big smile
Snatcher, you are a very great curator as usual! Smile

By Manuel

Ascended (15680)

Manuel's picture

28-03-2018, 08:46

Indeed, which color illusion tricks and which tricks to hide the color bleed? I only see some bleed in the bushes.

By mariocavalcanti

Expert (68)

mariocavalcanti's picture

28-03-2018, 23:47

Screen 5 always surprising. And the two examples with Screen 2 are beautiful. Smile

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (3044)

sd_snatcher's picture

30-03-2018, 16:42

Are you sure you want me to explain the tricks? Because it's kinda like explaining a magic trick: after you learned how it works, it will ruin the illusion. You'll only focus on the guy pulling the black bag from the back of the table to place it inside the hat. :)

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (3044)

sd_snatcher's picture

30-03-2018, 18:02

Someone asked me in private if the trick was to use enhanced MSX2 palettes on the screen-2.

I assure it's not. While there are some screen-2/screen-3 images in the collection that feature enhanced palettes for the MSX2, like COUNSIDE.SC2 and NYANCAT.SC*, these are the exceptions and the palette is there just to make them look closer to the originals. Those are not images with color illusion tricks.

All other images for the MSX1 modes feature an embedded palette that best try to mimick the TMS9928/29 palette with 50% saturation that most of the MSX1 machines had. This is necessary because the default V99x8 palette is very different/with pure tones, and usually ruins the shades. This even happens on classic MSX1 games.

But the V99x8 9bit RGB can't reproduce the TMS9928/29 15bit YCbCr perfectly, specially the yellow tones. It would have required at least a 12bit RGB for that. Because of this, when necessary the yellows were tweaked on some or other images to better reproduce the necessary contrast/tones for that image image.

As a proof, here's how the SUNSTCIT.SC2 looks on an emulated Philips VG-8010 (MSX1) on openMSX:

You can see that the image produces the exactly same effect, but the details of the sky are more noticeable due to the better contrast.

I'll give some tips about the color illusion on this image, while trying not to spoil it too much:

First, notice how the effect is increased when the image is displayed without zoom, with 1:1 pixels:

(I had to separate the smaller image from the larger, otherwise it doesn't work that well. It's an illusion, remember. Just scroll to see the image below)

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Later, remember the MSX1 palette with this color bar:

Notice how the sequence of colors from the farthest to the closest in the sunset city image is interpreted like a continuous gradient, while when you look at them separately at the color bar, many of the colors of that sequence just shouldn't make sense on a traditional coherent gradient.

The trick used here is exactly the same of the famous The Dress image. It has to do with how your brain interprets the illumination of the scene and how the colors are affected by this. The wikipedia article has excellent scientific explanations that are better than anything I could write here, so be sure to read it if you're really interested on the subject. :)

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (3044)

sd_snatcher's picture

30-03-2018, 18:02

Also, notice how the lights on the top of the buildings look as they're being brightly lit. The same goes for some of the windows on the buildings, and the lights on the posts.

The sun also look yellowish and warm, while you consciously know that the MSX1 doesn't have such color. Not to mention the sensation of depth, where they should just look like lines of buildings stacked upon each other.

If you replace the colors of the buildings with other colors from the MSX1 palette (the greens and gray, i.e.), the illusion is ruined.

By Grauw

Ascended (8366)

Grauw's picture

30-03-2018, 18:51

Thanks for the elaboration! Big smile Interesting to think of the colours in this way.

By Samor

Paragon (2029)

Samor's picture

31-03-2018, 12:23

That's a really clever use of colours Smile

By Samor

Paragon (2029)

Samor's picture

31-03-2018, 12:31

By the way, I'm just gonna leave this here...

I like the intro image from R-Type on the Amiga, even if its a quite loose interpretation of the source material.
I did a quick conversion to SCREEN 8 using BMP2MSX (MSX-DOS) from TRIPLE SOFT. The colours are not 100% the same as the original image but a pretty close match. I cut off a small part from the image to make it fit the MSX screen as the original is 320x200.

Link to the SC8 file:
https://1drv.ms/u/s!At2URH9aT-e6iJ1xd1SKlo086ZalKw

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (3044)

sd_snatcher's picture

31-03-2018, 14:22

Very nice! It translates easily because it's in fact an image from the Atari-ST (*1). It has 16 colors, so the best option is to use screen-5, because screen-8 has only 2 bits for the blue channel.

The truth is that all Atari-ST images can be just displayed on the MSX2 directly, given that both machines feature the same RGB9 palette, and the ST is limited to 16 colors. The images can be cropped to be displayed in screen-5, or just displayed as a smaller image on screen-7.

*1 (Side comment): The Amiga had a lot of Atari-ST ports just like the MSX1 has plenty of ZX-Spectrum ports, and the MSX2 has a plethora of PC-88 ports.

By Samor

Paragon (2029)

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31-03-2018, 18:47

Thanks for the info Smile

By JohnHassink

Ambassador (5405)

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01-04-2018, 08:15

sd_snatcher wrote:

and the MSX2 has a plethora of PC-88 ports.

I always assumed that most of those were developed in tandem. Did the MSX2 versions actually come almost as an afterthought?

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (3044)

sd_snatcher's picture

07-04-2018, 16:09

It definitely seems like so. Most of their graphics are still limited to 8 colors without any real reason, only using a slightly improved palette on the MSX.

The programming in such games is as hastily done as the ZX-Spectrum ports. I.e., Snatcher does the absurd of using black sprites to cover areas of the screen where it should simply have used the HMMV command to clean. Given that the sprites are enabled all the time for this, the blitter copies the animations slower than it could.

Try to use an emulator with the sprites disable to see where they used this.

Many games busy wait for the blitter to finish its job before doing anything else, because this routine just replaced the one from the PC-88 that used the CPU to draw on the screen. Needless to say, this wastes a lot of CPU.

By Samor

Paragon (2029)

Samor's picture

07-04-2018, 19:05

Snatcher is a curious case as they did take the time to create a good SCC soundtrack.
Either way, the game could've been a lot better.