I discovered Fornace after the release of Super Smash Land a “demake” of the Super Smash Bros series made for Nintendo systems. The Smash bros games take characters from Nintendo games and allow the player to battle them in cross-game setups. Fornace’s game does this in a similar way, however instead of creating state-of-the-art 3D graphics, Fornace decided to use a retro style for his “demake”.
Super Smash Bros Brawl, the latest instalment of the series available on Nintendo Wii.
Super Smash Land by Dan Fornace, available for PC.
The green/grey low-resolution setup is reminiscent of the dot-matrix display from the original black and white Gameboy and various other handheld devices. This gameboy allowed 4 shades of “grey” to define colours, although in reality these were very green and has resulted in this green pixel style. What amazes me (but does not necessarily surprise me) about this game is its ability to appeal to players as well as the original Nintendo series, whilst incorporating this pixel style which is incredibly simplistic. The graphics are inspired by 3D graphics, not the original low-resolution games that the characters are taken from. This is useful to me when thinking about how to convert large concept images into very small low-res images. This example has just handled this wonderfully.
Wikipedia says this about these so-called game demakes:
Although remakes typically aim to adapt a game from a more limited platform to a more advanced one, a rising interest in older platforms has inspired some to do the opposite, adapting modern games to the standards of older platforms, sometimes even programming them for dead hardware.
As well as this backwards development process, Dan Fornace manages to apply some very advanced GUI into his games (generally created using Game Maker software…) which a lot of bedroom-coded games fail to do so successfully. His menu systems work well and are graphically well-designed. Blackfoot, a side-scrolling platformer about weasels, uses this menu to demonstrate level and character progress within the game:
GUI (Graphical User Interface) and HUD (Heads Up Display) design were pretty non-existent in my last project, but I would definitely like to apply them more efficiently from now on as a way of using some of the graphic design skills I’ve picked up over the last couple of years. It’s always beneficial to the player to see important info as they are playing and to be able to change settings etc. by accessing a pause menu.
Dan Fornace has made a selection of really great pixel-art games, but Blackfoot is one of my favourites as the concept is just so weird. You can check out the stuff he does at his website here.