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NES Color Palette of Choice 
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Post NES Color Palette of Choice
Note that I have made updates to my palette and offer a download link to each revision in a new post at the time of its release.

*You can also just grab the latest version here:
http://fast.filespace.org/AspiringSquire/ASQREALC.zip


[See my "website" for previous releases, if you really care to do so.]


----------------Original Post Below----------------

(If you're too lazy to read about it, just know that my file is linked below.)

~~~~The Story~~~~

I don't know about you, but I have never been fully satisfied with any color palette that has been available for NES emulators to use (.pal format).

The best that I found was custom work done by BMF. Since he got the colors directly from snapshots of the television screen (with special tools/software), it was closer to the real thing than anyone else's palettes, which most likely used hand-picked colors without a real basis for them. Still, I was disappointed that none of BMF's palettes seemed completely accurate.

However, through extensive comparisons (in several of my favorite games), I determined that the 4.0 version of his palette was the best of all his revisions (near perfect, actually), but it was simply too dark. He also had a "brightness-corrected" edition of v4.0, but it was too pale, and some colors were less accurate.

After searching for a palette editor, I found Palette Compare, a simple Windows program by Gavin that displays every color in a .pal file, along with the corresponding Hexadecimal value. It can even show two palettes at once, for easy comparison.

Using this as an invaluable reference, I was able to reliably hex-edit "bmfpal40.pal" to increase the brightness of colors—to a lesser extent than BMF's variation. I also made sure to do it properly, without disrupting the original color values.

The "Choice" NES palette has arrived.


I have no formal file-hosting right now, so you'll have to get it from here:
http://rapidshare.de/files/1618637/ASQ_PAL.zip.html


I'd appreciate any and all feedback (though positive feedback is preferred ;)).

EDIT: I corrected a glaring typo in the "Story", and I should probably re-upload the zip (for my own peace of mind) because of the same fix in the readme. :?

EDIT2: New download link for minor fix in readme.

EDIT 3: Added a note to mention revisions of my palette.

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Last edited by AspiringSquire on Fri Dec 15, 2006 8:35 am, edited 14 times in total.



Fri May 06, 2005 9:51 pm
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since that rapidshare site sucks, how about

http://www.ipherswipsite.com/files/ASQ_PAL.zip
http://www.ipherswipsite.com/files/ASQ_PAL2.zip

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Last edited by ipher on Wed May 18, 2005 11:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sat May 07, 2005 7:10 am
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ipher wrote:
since that rapidshare site sucks, how about

http://www.ipherswipsite.com/files/ASQ_PAL.zip

:o

Thanks, ipher! :D

Do you like it, then? ;)


Edit: And would you mind re-uploading for the new zip? :oops:

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Sat May 07, 2005 7:27 am
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I'll start using this palette, why not? ;) Nice work.


Sun May 08, 2005 6:00 am
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Only really glaring flaw I see is the lack of a true black. Your back is a light gray.

...

GAH! The greenish-blue is coming out as a blueish-green. This is where virtually every pallete I've ever seen fails.
Metal Storm stage 2 and Final Fantasy's swamp cave make extensive use of this color, if you'd like some reference point games for tweaking.



I might be able to get you some photos of these running on a real NES for comparison if you'd like.

Anything that increases the accuracy of NES palletes is worth the effort.


Sun May 08, 2005 7:23 pm
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Gil_Hamilton wrote:
Only really glaring flaw I see is the lack of a true black. Your back is a light gray.

It's a very dark grey, thank you very much. And the NES did not actually have a true black (at least in the U.S.). Or rather, it did, but it wasn't used because it damaged television screens. The true black is present in the palette, where it would be when used by some unlicensed games; Nintendo actually warned legitimate developers against using it.

Gil_Hamilton wrote:
...

GAH! The greenish-blue is coming out as a blueish-green. This is where virtually every pallete I've ever seen fails.

Yes... I've also had some issues against that. However, I did make a comparison directly with Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (for the brick walls of house basements), and it was close...

Crystalis also uses that color muchly for the Poison Swamp and the ice caves, and it doesn't look quite right, but I haven't pulled out the game for a real comparison.

I decided to stay entirely true to the colors of the source palette because it was based on software-captured snapshots of the NES displaying on a TV. I assumed/accepted the validity of his effort over the minor discrepancy I believed was there, coughing it up to my own perception.

If you look at the value of the color in a hex-editor, you'll see that it is a balanced blue-green combination—exactly the same amount of blue and green.


Does everything else look okay, though? I couldn't tell if you actually liked it, besides the "flaws" you found.


Gil_Hamilton wrote:
I might be able to get you some photos of these running on a real NES for comparison if you'd like.

I don't think it would be necessary to have pics; I have the system. Right now I'm trying some things with the palette, testing a few color values from some of BMF's other versions. Some of the options are looking better... I'll upload when I have something worth showing.

Gil_Hamilton wrote:
Anything that increases the accuracy of NES palletes is worth the effort.

I would agree with that. Have you selected any particular palette out there that looks more accurate to you than mine does overall?

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Sun May 08, 2005 9:24 pm
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AspiringSquire wrote:
Gil_Hamilton wrote:
Only really glaring flaw I see is the lack of a true black. Your back is a light gray.

It's a very dark grey, thank you very much. And the NES did not actually have a true black (at least in the U.S.). Or rather, it did, but it wasn't used because it damaged television screens. The true black is present in the palette, where it would be when used by some unlicensed games; Nintendo actually warned legitimate developers against using it.

It comes out lighter than my real NES.

I'd chalked the gray up as an attempt to emulate the washed-out blacks that most TVs generate by default. Nice to know I'm mistaken.


Quote:
Gil_Hamilton wrote:
...

GAH! The greenish-blue is coming out as a blueish-green. This is where virtually every pallete I've ever seen fails.

Yes... I've also had some issues against that. However, I did make a comparison directly with Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (for the brick walls of house basements), and it was close...

Crystalis also uses that color muchly for the Poison Swamp and the ice caves, and it doesn't look quite right, but I haven't pulled out the game for a real comparison.

I decided to stay entirely true to the colors of the source palette because it was based on software-captured snapshots of the NES displaying on a TV. I assumed/accepted the validity of his effort over the minor discrepancy I believed was there, coughing it up to my own perception.

If you look at the value of the color in a hex-editor, you'll see that it is a balanced blue-green combination—exactly the same amount of blue and green.

I dunno.
I'll have to do some closer comparisons.
But it looks too green, though admittedly closer to the real thing than most other palletes.


Quote:
Does everything else look okay, though? I couldn't tell if you actually liked it, besides the "flaws" you found.

Yah. It looks good.





Quote:
Gil_Hamilton wrote:
I might be able to get you some photos of these running on a real NES for comparison if you'd like.

I don't think it would be necessary to have pics; I have the system. Right now I'm trying some things with the palette, testing a few color values from some of BMF's other versions. Some of the options are looking better... I'll upload when I have something worth showing.

Wasn't sure if you had any games that made signifigant use of that color. It doesn't seem to be used an awful lot.

But if you've got it covered...


Quote:
Gil_Hamilton wrote:
Anything that increases the accuracy of NES palletes is worth the effort.

I would agree with that. Have you selected any particular palette out there that looks more accurate to you than mine does overall?

No. This is the best I've seen that I can think of right now.
...
Though that black&white one was fun...


Sun May 08, 2005 10:54 pm
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AspiringSquire wrote:
If you look at the value of the color in a hex-editor, you'll see that it is a balanced blue-green combination—exactly the same amount of blue and green.

I think I read somewhere that the human eye can detect green better than red or blue. Or maybe just shades of green.

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Mon May 09, 2005 9:31 am
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Yes, the human eye is most sensitive to the color green. So it's not too surprising when these little issues come up about the color.


Mon May 09, 2005 10:26 am
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That's also why 16bpp RGB 565 exists. 1 more bit for the channel where it'll have the most obvious effects.

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Mon May 09, 2005 1:59 pm
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Someone explain the thing about black damaging television screens.


Mon May 09, 2005 5:35 pm
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The Sage Of Time wrote:
Yes, the human eye is most sensitive to the color green. So it's not too surprising when these little issues come up about the color.
And least sensitive to blue.
http://nfg.2y.net/games/ntsc/visual.shtm
Check it out!
(link replaced with more comprehensive one)

Gospel wrote:
Someone explain the thing about black damaging television screens.
I suspect it was an attempt to reduce burn-in risk.
Kept the contrast lower, so the phosphers wouldn't wear as diffrently.

If that's the case, it ceased to be relevant rather rapidly, as things like background images became popular.


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creaothceann wrote:
AspiringSquire wrote:
If you look at the value of the color in a hex-editor, you'll see that it is a balanced blue-green combination—exactly the same amount of blue and green.

I think I read somewhere that the human eye can detect green better than red or blue. Or maybe just shades of green.

I'm red-green colourblind. Yep.


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I went to school with gavin XD, aside from that, awesome work AS. Keep it up ^^;

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kieran wrote:
creaothceann wrote:
AspiringSquire wrote:
If you look at the value of the color in a hex-editor, you'll see that it is a balanced blue-green combination—exactly the same amount of blue and green.

I think I read somewhere that the human eye can detect green better than red or blue. Or maybe just shades of green.

I'm red-green colourblind. Yep.
Well that sucks...


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LobStar wrote:
I went to school with gavin XD, aside from that, awesome work AS. Keep it up ^^;

Thanks.
You asked for it, and here it is:
http://rapidshare.de/files/1670098/ASQ_PAL2.zip.html

All users are strongly advised to upgrade. ;)


This new revision has exactly seven colors that are changed, including three shades of blue-green (taken from "BMFFINR2.PAL"), two shades of maroon/burgundy (from "BMFPAL50.PAL"), the bluest bright blue (also from "BMFPAL50.PAL"), and the impure "black" (just darkened a bit).

All of the colors were brightness-adjusted to match the relative levels of the colors that were replaced. The black was just semi-arbitrarily darkened to what looks like a "good" level because I have no established basis for where it should actually be, unlike the other colors.

Anyway, this should be more enjoyable than the first one I made; I estimate a 40% increase in enjoyment (on average) when playing a game that utilizes these newly improved colors. Have fun!


What have you to say now? :)

If you want to see the differences in most of the colors all in one place, check out the Mega Man 2 stage selection screen. There are probably plenty of other games you'd like to test and some where the changes might be more discernable to you.


Gil_Hamilton wrote:
It comes out lighter than my real NES.

You're probably right. I didn't have a good basis for "brightening" the black. My new revision has it significantly darker. Unfortunately, this is one color of the palette that requires guessing. :(

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Tue May 10, 2005 12:47 am
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AspiringSquire wrote:
LobStar wrote:
I went to school with gavin XD, aside from that, awesome work AS. Keep it up ^^;

Thanks.
You asked for it, and here it is:
http://rapidshare.de/files/1670098/ASQ_PAL2.zip.html

All users are strongly advised to upgrade. ;)


This new revision has exactly seven colors that are changed, including three shades of blue-green (taken from "BMFFINR2.PAL"), two shades of maroon/burgundy (from "BMFPAL50.PAL"), the bluest bright blue (also from "BMFPAL50.PAL"), and the impure "black" (just darkened a bit).

All of the colors were brightness-adjusted to match the relative levels of the colors that were replaced. The black was just semi-arbitrarily darkened to what looks like a "good" level because I have no established basis for where it should actually be, unlike the other colors.

Anyway, this should be more enjoyable than the first one I made; I estimate a 40% increase in enjoyment (on average) when playing a game that utilizes these newly improved colors. Have fun!


What have you to say now? :)

If you want to see the differences in most of the colors all in one place, check out the Mega Man 2 stage selection screen. There are probably plenty of other games you'd like to test and some where the changes might be more discernable to you.


Gil_Hamilton wrote:
It comes out lighter than my real NES.

You're probably right. I didn't have a good basis for "brightening" the black. My new revision has it significantly darker. Unfortunately, this is one color of the palette that requires guessing. :(
Great work! :D I've now tried both versions, and the second one is a definite improvement over the first. With the first one, I tested it on Legend of Zelda, and Link wasn't green enough (I was comparing it to my TV), and then I went to the first dungeon, and it (the dungeon) was too green. With the second one, it is far more accurate. Once again, Great Work! :D

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AspiringSquire wrote:
LobStar wrote:
I went to school with gavin XD, aside from that, awesome work AS. Keep it up ^^;

Thanks.
You asked for it, and here it is:
http://rapidshare.de/files/1670098/ASQ_PAL2.zip.html

All users are strongly advised to upgrade. ;)


This new revision has exactly seven colors that are changed, including three shades of blue-green (taken from "BMFFINR2.PAL"), two shades of maroon/burgundy (from "BMFPAL50.PAL"), the bluest bright blue (also from "BMFPAL50.PAL"), and the impure "black" (just darkened a bit).

All of the colors were brightness-adjusted to match the relative levels of the colors that were replaced. The black was just semi-arbitrarily darkened to what looks like a "good" level because I have no established basis for where it should actually be, unlike the other colors.

Anyway, this should be more enjoyable than the first one I made; I estimate a 40% increase in enjoyment (on average) when playing a game that utilizes these newly improved colors. Have fun!


What have you to say now? :)

If you want to see the differences in most of the colors all in one place, check out the Mega Man 2 stage selection screen. There are probably plenty of other games you'd like to test and some where the changes might be more discernable to you.


Gil_Hamilton wrote:
It comes out lighter than my real NES.

You're probably right. I didn't have a good basis for "brightening" the black. My new revision has it significantly darker. Unfortunately, this is one color of the palette that requires guessing. :(

I'm sure its just my NES thats dark, but kirby looks so vibrant with your pallette. <3

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Tue May 10, 2005 5:16 am
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Looks a good bit nicer now.

I still say someone should just emulate the whole dang color generation system instead of relying on a pallete.


Tue May 10, 2005 7:17 am
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How can anyone attempt to make a "true" or "more accurate" color palette by comparing an emulator on a computer screen to an NES on a television?

Doesn't every single CRT display device have slight differences in the way it displays color?

I don't doubt that Squire's color palette makes his computer screen most closely match his television screen, but what's to say that this palette will be at all accurate for anybody else's monitor and television?

Perhaps if you had a video-in port on your video card and could compare the NES image and emulator image side-by-side on your computer monitor, could you get a more accurate palette.

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Tue May 10, 2005 8:26 am
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bitcopy wrote:
How can anyone attempt to make a "true" or "more accurate" color palette by comparing an emulator on a computer screen to an NES on a television?

Perhaps if you had a video-in port on your video card and could compare the NES image and emulator image side-by-side on your computer monitor, could you get a more accurate palette.

Well, if you had read my explanation in the first post, you would know that I was not simply comparing between the monitor and the TV. My palette is based entirely on BMF's palettes, which were created from software snapshots of the TV output; I only adjusted the colors for brightness. It's pretty much the same as your recommended method.


Gil_Hamilton wrote:
Looks a good bit nicer now.

I still say someone should just emulate the whole dang color generation system instead of relying on a pallete.

Sure, but until such a time, you can still use the most visually pleasing palette available.

Gil_Hamilton wrote:
Though that black&white one was fun...

Did you find it somewhere as a separate file? I'd like to have that.

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Tue May 10, 2005 9:05 am
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EDIT: Ok, so I read the readme that came with his revision 3 palette. Sorry for the doubts. It would certainly be nice to have the color emulated directly.

AspiringSquire wrote:
Well, if you had read my explanation in the first post, you would know that I was not simply comparing between the monitor and the TV. My palette is based entirely on BMF's palettes, which were created from software snapshots of the TV output; I only adjusted the colors for brightness. It's pretty much the same as your recommended method.

By TV output do you mean he actually plugged the video output of the NES into his computer (or something) and used software to pickup the colors?

Or did he attach something to the front of his television that very accurately detected the colors coming from his television?

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Tue May 10, 2005 4:44 pm
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AspiringSquire wrote:

Gil_Hamilton wrote:
Looks a good bit nicer now.

I still say someone should just emulate the whole dang color generation system instead of relying on a pallete.

Sure, but until such a time, you can still use the most visually pleasing palette available.

Indeed.

Quote:
Gil_Hamilton wrote:
Though that black&white one was fun...

Did you find it somewhere as a separate file? I'd like to have that.

I THINK it was a standalone download, though it may have come with an emulator I was trying.

Let me see if I can find it...
...
Can't right now.


Tue May 10, 2005 8:46 pm
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bitcopy wrote:
By TV output do you mean he actually plugged the video output of the NES into his computer (or something) and used software to pickup the colors?

Pretty much. Here's what he says in the readme for 4.0:
BMF wrote:
I hooked up my NES to a Snappy video capture device, took a whole bunch of screenshots, and extracted the colors from the screenshots.



Gil_Hamilton wrote:
I THINK it was a standalone download, though it may have come with an emulator I was trying.

Was it Nester? I believe that has a black & white mode. No .pal file, though.

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Tue May 10, 2005 9:17 pm
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I really like the rocknes palette. Fx3 ripped it from Rockman Complete Works and used chris covells palette to fill in the missing stuff. I don't know if there's an external version of it though.


Tue May 10, 2005 11:50 pm
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