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NES Color Palette of Choice 
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I recently got back into working on these palettes. This time around, I have an HDTV with balanced RGB output display, so I hooked the A/V NES up to it and started testing various game colors again. the ASQC file was remarkably close, except for about 8 entries in the midtones for browns and greens. Notable examples were Zelda II overworld trees and grass, as well as Contra's jungles stage. I also noted the dark grey used for the black tones was not dark enough, so I lowered it from 16 to 8 and it looks closer. ASQ's purples as in the curtains in Zelda's room were quite accurate, so I did not need to change those. His entry for the flesh and desert tones in Zelda II were way too pink compared to the real output, so I corrected that entry.

Here's the new file, which is a combination of mine and Squire's work:

http://www.firebrandx.com/downloads/fbx2pal.zip

I've got about 100 cartidges I can continue to test colors on. Pretty much the top 100 games for the NES as it is, so I should get a good cross section to work with. Let me know of any game colors you have issues with and I will verify them from my end. Thanks!

Edit: corrected entry 59. Original entry had too much blue mixed in. Example is the waterfall on the original zelda title screen. I've updated the same zip file with the corrected entry.

Edit 2: corrected entry 44. Too much blue, not enough green. Example usage is on Crystal Man's helm on the select screen for Mega Man 5

Edit 3: corrected entries 22 & 55. Example of 22 is the dark red tone on the select screen of Mega Man 4. The tone was slightly too bright. Example of 55 is the light flesh color used on the select screen of Mega Man 3. Tone was too dark. I'm starting to really like the palette now as most games check out fine on colors. I will keep checking popular games to make sure.

Edit 4: correct entries 43 & 6. Entry 43 was much too blue. Example is the cutman stage foreground graphics. Entry 6 was too bright and is also used in the cutman stage.


Last edited by FirebrandX on Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:42 am, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Jan 28, 2009 3:09 am
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Sisyphus would be proud. Who says impossible tasks must be impossible?


Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:27 am
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Actually I've been making a lot of progress. As I've been making adjustments to the hues and intensities of each color entry, the overall palette is starting to look like a smoother transition of colors. Having a large collection of the physical carts is helping a lot of course.


Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:46 am
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Here's an example based on the latest update. The left image is a snapshot using the ASQRC palette, while the image on the right is from my updated fbx2 palette. Notice there is a much better distinction of the foreground graphics from the background hue in the new version. The image on the right is identical to the output from my HDTV using the AV out jacks from the front-loading NES. My HDTV has already been calibrated to be "digitally neutral" on hue and brightness/contrast. That aside, you can tell it just looks more correct regardless:

Image


Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:59 am
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can you do a screen shot comparison of Wizards & Warriors III near a yellow building in the starting area or a screen shot comparison of the theifs test in action?

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Wed Jan 28, 2009 8:03 am
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Huge update. I've calibrated entries 7, 8, 23, 24, 33, 34, 38, 39, 40, 49, and 60. About 80% of the entire palette is done, with mostly the light tones left to go (which are the hardest to track down in games).

The link again for the updated version:

http://www.firebrandx.com/downloads/fbx2pal.zip

franpa, I will get right on that comparison of W&W III asap.


Wed Jan 28, 2009 9:31 am
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franpa wrote:
can you do a screen shot comparison of Wizards & Warriors III near a yellow building in the starting area or a screen shot comparison of the theifs test in action?


Okay I got a comparison pic done. W&W III is not one of the games I own, but thankfully the colors used are ones I had already re-calibrated with other games. It turns out the yellowish building uses the same color as the highlight in the dirt walls of Contra's jungle stage. I've put comparison pics of Contra as well so people can see the difference there. The pics on the left are RealityC.pal, while the pics on the right are calibrated from my A/V NES HDTV output:

Image

The cool thing is the sort of greenish tint on my version of the dirt walls in contra match exactly what I remember them looking like for years of playing Nintendo in the late 80's & early 90's. Also of note is the greens are more "green" in the grass and leaves compared to the brownish tint in the RealityC version. Also as mentioned before, I've toned down the black level to look less "washed out" as it does on the RealityC version.


Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:04 am
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that was palette for NTSC system?

iirc, someone said if NTSC palette was used on PAL game (or vice versa) the color will horribly in-accurate.


Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:10 am
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wow cool, thats exactly how Wizards & Warriors III should look like :D and good job on contra as well, granted I'm only fond of Contra Force or whatever that other NES one is called >.>

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Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:14 am
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franpa wrote:
wow cool, thats exactly how Wizards & Warriors III should look like :D and good job on contra as well, granted I'm only fond of Contra Force or whatever that other NES one is called >.>


I think there's THREE NES Contras. Contra, Super C, and Contra Force.

And then after that there's Contra 3 on the SNES.
And Contra: Hard Corps on the Genesis(which I think is a spinoff game like Contra Force).


Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:45 am
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Oh sorry I forgot to clarify: My palette is strictly based on NTSC A/V out from the NES front loader.


Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:07 am
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Updated the zip with calibrations for 2,11,18,25, & 27 using Mega Man 5 stages. It turned out RealityC was WAY off on a few bluish-purple entries, where the file had them almost entirely blue compared to the NES output that showed a distinct purple hue. This was most evident in the opening sequence of Mega Man 5, where the villain robot character has a purple darktone on his helm, while the RealityC version had the darktone completely blue.

Anyway, with the exception of a couple shades of blue and redish-purple entries, all of the mid & dark tones are done. I'm pooped and will call it a night for now. I'll check all of the Mega Man 6 stages for any new color entries not yet calibrated tomorrow.


Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:21 pm
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blargg wrote:
Sisyphus would be proud. Who says impossible tasks must be impossible?

FirebrandX wrote:
Actually I've been making a lot of progress. As I've been making adjustments to the hues and intensities of each color entry, the overall palette is starting to look like a smoother transition of colors. Having a large collection of the physical carts is helping a lot of course.

Would palettes still be required when using a NTSC filter?

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Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:40 pm
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No palette is needed for the NTSC filter, though it allows use of one in case one wants to have some of the colors wrong/different (the customer is always right and all).


Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:17 pm
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blargg, whether or not you agree with my project's intent doesn't matter. Its there for people to use if they want to. I've been thrilled with the results so far, and being able to load up a nestopia image, turn around and see the exact same color output from my NES is exactly what I wanted in the first place.

Just to clear, my palette is based on an unfiltered image, so using an effect filter like NTSC may change the intended result. In the case of a scanline filter, it will appear to slightly darken all the colors (which is easily corrected by the user if desired).


Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:13 pm
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I've knocked out a couple more highlight color entries using Mega Man 6 stages. I also found my earthtones were slightly too green, so I toned them down slightly. This changes the Contra comparison pic. So I closely checked the new tones and indeed its a little more accurate to the NES output. Here's the updated Contra comparison pic:



Image

This update finishes the majority of the file calibration I wanted. Only a few straggling highlight colors remain, but its getting difficult to find usage of these colors in games. If I do find them, I will update the file, but for now I'm calling it finished.


Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:01 am
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What if it's never finished? :wink:

Palettes might be like emulating the SNES on an opcode-level instead of cycle-level, i.e. it can never be correct for all cases.

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Thu Jan 29, 2009 1:15 am
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Well I don't profess to this being the "correct" color palatte. As Blargg points out, its effectively impossible to have a "correct" palette. My reason for this project is to have a palette file that is about as close as I can get to what my NES looks like on its own NTSC composite output. With the current version, I can load up any game, compare it to my real NES and have it look damn close. That's all I really wanted.


Thu Jan 29, 2009 3:16 am
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Sorry for my attitude above. My point was just that you can't get the colors right for all games, since their appearance in small areas depends on neighboring colors. You might calibrate for one neighboring color, then find it's wrong in another game and try to calibrate for that neighboring color, only to find that the original calibration must be done again, hence my reference to Sisyphus. Blaster Master is a good example, where the rocks in the first area appear a different color than that same color would appear in larger solid colored areas, or next to other colors.


Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:37 am
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Oh I agree. This became apparant to me specifically with the earth tones. Ultimately I went with the largest color fields I could find in each game, then I would cross-reference with other games that had small details mixed with other colors. In the end I was able to come up with the closest average between the two samples, and I can't even notice the difference now when I load each game up to compare.


Thu Jan 29, 2009 5:48 am
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Gil_Hamilton wrote:
franpa wrote:
wow cool, thats exactly how Wizards & Warriors III should look like :D and good job on contra as well, granted I'm only fond of Contra Force or whatever that other NES one is called >.>


I think there's THREE NES Contras. Contra, Super C, and Contra Force.

And then after that there's Contra 3 on the SNES.
And Contra: Hard Corps on the Genesis(which I think is a spinoff game like Contra Force).


actually Contra III came out on the SNES BEFORE Contra Force, but after Operation C on the gameboy. And yes Contra Hard Corps was a spin off and so was every other Contra game until Contra IV for the Nintendo DS.

see wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contra_(series)

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Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:15 pm
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'shirtless guy with a gun' needs no continuity

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Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:29 pm
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And robots don't need shirts. :)

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Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:50 pm
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grinvader wrote:
'shirtless guy with a gun' needs no continuity

It's shirtless guys (or robots) with guns you lonewolf.

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Panzer88 wrote:
Gil_Hamilton wrote:
franpa wrote:
wow cool, thats exactly how Wizards & Warriors III should look like :D and good job on contra as well, granted I'm only fond of Contra Force or whatever that other NES one is called >.>


I think there's THREE NES Contras. Contra, Super C, and Contra Force.

And then after that there's Contra 3 on the SNES.
And Contra: Hard Corps on the Genesis(which I think is a spinoff game like Contra Force).


actually Contra III came out on the SNES BEFORE Contra Force, but after Operation C on the gameboy. And yes Contra Hard Corps was a spin off and so was every other Contra game until Contra IV for the Nintendo DS.

see wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contra_(series)

I think they shoulda just left numbers off totally.
Like how Super C is Contra 2.
Hell, it doesn't even say Contra. Just uses the big flaming C and assumes you can figure it out.

grinvader wrote:
'shirtless guy with a gun' needs no continuity

Contra is gay now. Are you happy?


Fri Jan 30, 2009 6:33 am
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