GIFs from Akira, the 1988 video game for Nintendo’s Famicom system

Last night I booted up Akira on an NES emulator and did my best to live-GIF the experience. Akira is one of my all-time favorite films and I remember hearing rumors of a 8-bit videogame version released in 1988, but it was only released in Japan for the Famicom. 25 years later, some volunteers worked their asses off to create an updated NES version of the ROM with english translations.

The game sucks. It’s filled with amazing pixel art and a really interesting (and at times experimental) chiptune soundtrack, but it’s downright painful to play without step by step instructions. It often requires clicking on an option that is hard to find (or off screen), or some convoluted sequence of clicks that require clicking on the same option a number of times even though the answers don’t change. At some point it briefly turns into a 1st person shooter, as you dodge bullets in the sewer, that’s super twitchy and kills you instantly, requiring a long slog through various dialogue options just to instantly die again. I hate this game so much.

But the graphics are incredible, so I captured a bunch of GIFs of the game’s best moments. You can download the ROM here and follow this guide for the best experience. FYI, I made it all the way to the final “boss fight” with Tetsuo and Kaneda before the game just glitched out. I’ll have to try another play through to get the ending animations, which I assume are beautiful.


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Fixing DC’s Batman wigglegram gifs

DC made an animated gif to promote an upcoming issue of Batman, which also teases a Watchmen appearance. It’s a nice gif that uses parallax scrolling to create the illusion of depth, but it does two things that bug the crap out of me:

  • The animation only pans from left to right
  • The animation alternates from Batman to Flash

So I decided to make my own edits to create a more traditional “wigglegram” effect. I think these look a lot smoother.

batman wigglegram gif 3d

I did the same edit with a Reverse Flash gif, just to show the effect can still work when the image is supposed to convey time. In the original gif, the camera pans left-right as the Flash gets turned into a skeleton. It’s a cool effect, but looks better when you “yo-yo” the animation back and forth.

The Flash Wigglegram gif

Here is the original GIF that DC shared. I think the wigglegram versions feel much smoother.

 

My process for 2D animations and game art with Hexels Pro.

The folks at 80 Level have recently published an interview with me about my process for creating 2D animations and game art with Hexels Pro. I’ve blogged a lot of my Hexels Pro “trixel art” here before, but this article is the most in depth I’ve ever gotten about the techniques behind that art.

making trixel art with Hexels Pro

If you live in SF, please feel free to hit me up if you have any Hexels Pro questions. OMG, here’s a snippet:

I usually start with a very small and simple sketch, then jump into Hexels Pro and get started in their trixels mode. There’s a template I use to start most new projects that is simply called “Trixels” and has a 48×48 grid. I then shrink the grid down to a much smaller size, like 10×10 and start working out my image there using just a few distinctly different colors that I’ll end up switching later. I know I’m going to go into higher detail later, but I really like to start in a very “low-resolution” kind of mindsight. If I can make a dope image there, then I know it’s going to look good later.