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Topics - RichterSnipes

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In 1995, Tecmo released Ninja Gaiden Trilogy for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. As many other companies had done during that generation, Tecmo ported some of their classic NES games to a more powerful, 16-bit system. Unlike the other companies, though, Tecmo put in as little effort as possible to bring over their games to the newer console. Let's look at the graphical side of the port. They're usually more detailed and better than they are in the original NES versions. However, they have no additional graphics added anywhere. In fact, some graphical effects have been removed from the SNES compilation, leaving less flair than the original games! The graphics we have here appear to have been just painted over the NES tiles and sprites with no additional graphics made.

Funny enough, this actually makes the compilation's graphics prime for extraction and reimplementation into a graphics pack for Mesen. I've been doing just that, and then some.

Graphics Packs

The first game in the NES trilogy. Its combination of solid action-platforming gameplay and then-revelatory storytelling through cinematics made for a special experience back in the day.

I made this pack awhile ago, long before Mesen 0.9.5 came out. The reason I never made a topic for it is because I'm fairly dissatisfied with how it is right now. Stage fade palettes don't really make any sense, and the LSD-like effect that occurs when you get a Game Over is too obnoxious to make hundreds of extra graphics files for. Ideally I'll be able to distribute a patch alongside the pack that standardizes stage fades to work similar to how they do in Ninja Gaiden II and remove the Game Over effect altogether. Until then, the game will display the NES graphics when these palette changes occur.

Regardless, every graphic in the game has been touched in this pack. Alongside porting the graphics from Trilogy, it includes the following changes:
  • Substituted several obvious cases of dithering with additional color.
  • Inserted additional detail into tiles to get graphics to blend together better.
  • Added detail to a few enemy sprites. Some of them were completely unchanged in Trilogy, like the soldier that fires a bazooka.
  • Removed censorship of hexagrams in the final parts of the game.
  • Added rudimentary support of palette fades in cutscenes. The method I use here is outdated and needs to be overhauled, but it's still more than Trilogy does. In the mistranslated words of Keiji Inafune, "It's better than nothing."

The sequel. Refined controls, well-balanced difficulty, neat stage design, and high-end aesthetics for the time make for one of the best games to ever come out for the NES.

I made this pack in tandem with the release of Mesen 0.9.5, so it makes use of extra conditionals included in that version and beyond. I'm incredibly happy with how it's turned out and consider it complete. Every graphic and used palette combination (besides the HUD, which actually has more unique detail in the NES version) should be covered in this pack, making most user changes just a simple touch-up in Paint/Photoshop.

Alongside porting the graphics from Trilogy, it includes the following changes on top of the SNES version's graphics:
  • Substituted several obvious cases of dithering with additional color.
  • Inserted additional detail into tiles to get graphics to blend together better.
  • Added detail to various graphics that were not touched up in Trilogy.
  • Changed many flash palettes that looked rather ugly in Trilogy to something that made more sense.
  • Added palettes for lightning flashes in Stage 3-1. Trilogy does away with lightning altogether and simply makes platforms visible at all times, completely ruining the stage.
  • Added flash palettes that were removed from Stages 4-1, 5-1, 5-2, and 7-4 in Trilogy.
  • Added an extra conditional to make separate graphics for shared tile/palette combinations in Stage 1 cutscene.
  • Fixed examples of wrong or mismatched colors in graphics.
  • Fixed graphics corruption of rock during the ending that occurs in Trilogy.
  • Fixed character graphics in various cutscenes. Ryu's gi and eye color is now consistent throughout the game, and Irene's sclera ("whites of the eyes") has been restored, among other things. Several tiles in the ending have also been fixed.
  • Removed censorship of pentagrams and blood in the final parts of the game.
  • Added full support of palette fades throughout the game. It relies on a lot of conditionals since many graphics fade out to full black before the entire screen is done fading. Fading is smooth and consistent throughout the game.

The red-headed stepchild of the NES trilogy. A ridiculous storyline and imbalanced and impossible difficulty (in the U.S. release) doom its reputation.

I don't know if I'll do a pack for Ninja Gaiden III. Aside from not caring for the game itself, the amount of time and effort it would take to make a pack for this game is significantly longer than for either of the other two games. Stage palette fades are so specific and numerous that it'd triple the amount of code needed to cover those graphics. That, and the fact that the Trilogy version of this game has less effort put into it than the other two games graphics-wise, puts me off of working on it. Never say never, but don't count on it.

Ninja Gaiden: Beta 1.0
Ninja Gaiden II: Full Release

Many thanks to Sour for all the work done on Mesen and for applying feedback to it in spectacular fashion. You'll need to use the latest version of Mesen to use these packs. Extract the .zip file for the pack to the HdPacks folder that Mesen creates. If you're using the standalone emulator on Windows, for example, it's under [OS Drive]:/Users/[username]/Documents/Mesen. If you're using the libretro core for Mesen, HdPacks is found in the "system" folder. Make sure the ROM file you load and the graphics pack folder for a given game share the same name.

This pack is designed to work specifically with the U.S. versions of the game. Some graphics won't apply correctly if you try to use it with the Japanese or European versions of the games.

All feedback is appreciated. Enjoy!

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