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Take 10 minutes to learn the way Tremendous Nintendo graphics work

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I’ll admit that I by no means actually knew what “Mode 7 graphics” meant after I used the time period as a child. By means of context clues, I pieced collectively that it referenced video games that had a faux-3D look. However I didn’t know what was really occurring beneath the hood of the Tremendous Nintendo to make that doable — till now.

A new video from Trendy Classic Gamer on YouTube breaks down how Tremendous Nintendo renders its visuals. In simply over 10 minutes, MVG covers the tile system that brings background layers into reminiscence in addition to the completely different graphical modes (the Tremendous Nintendo really had eight “Modes”).

Whereas Mode 7 was undoubtedly probably the most well-known graphical mode on Tremendous Nintendo, loads of video games used Mode 1. These modes consult with what number of colours and results builders may apply to the system’s 4 show layers. Mode 1 supported three layers. Tremendous Metroid, an excellent instance of Mode 1 visuals, had a 16-color entrance layer and a 16-color background together with a 4-color third layer for its HUD.

The opposite modes may add extra colours or extra results however often by sacrificing these further layers.

Mode 7, in the meantime, solely had help for one background layer. However that layer may use 256 colours and, extra importantly, it may help a lot of scaling and warping results. This allows the layer to scroll previous the participant’s viewport creating that faux-3D impact.

Visualizing how Mode 7 graphics work

MVG does a fantastic job of exhibiting precisely what is occurring with Mode 7 graphics in Tremendous Mario Kart. Take a look at this:

Mario Kart is working on the left and on the best are the tiles that the Tremendous Nintendo is pulling from. The highlighted space is the present a part of the map that’s within the participant’s viewport. However with Mode 7, the Tremendous Nintendo is ready to warp and remodel these flat tiles into one thing that skews out flat. This makes it seem as if Mario is driving over the a 3D course.

After all, this additionally has its limitations. You can not create verticality utilizing Mode 7 as a result of, once more, the console is pulling all the data from flat tiles. The Tremendous Nintendo additionally couldn’t scale and remodel the sprite layer concurrently with the background layer, which is why it couldn’t natively do 3D video games. For that, Nintendo wanted the SuperFX graphics chips constructed into the cartridges.

The video has much more data together with how the Tremendous Nintendo faked transparency by averaging the colour of a number of layers. You possibly can watch the entire thing for your self by clicking play above.

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