SNES Background Modes 0-6 – Super Nintendo Entertainment System Features Pt. 04

What are background modes and why do they exist? It’s all explained right here.
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40 Replies to “SNES Background Modes 0-6 – Super Nintendo Entertainment System Features Pt. 04”

  1. Two Water Guns

    Maybe I missed something, but it's not immediately clear why (using Mode 1 as an example) a 4 bit-per-pixel background would have access to 128 colors. Naively, I would think it would have access to only 15 + transparency (as there are 16 distinct 4-bit combinations). But you multiply that by 8 because each tile can have a separate palette?

  2. K1naku5ana3R1ka

    Interesting video, although your explanation of the scaling in Mode 5 confused me a bit, and it’s not really explained how modes like 6 were put into common use, but what’s up with all this about color overlapping? You keep referencing it and treating it like an issue, but what’s the problem with the objects and the background sharing parts of their color palette?

  3. shadowpod13

    I liked it when you showed game examples of the diffrent modes and what they'd be used for. Like with mode one you did the layers with the Aladdin game and the one layer being used for the status bar. Wish you had given more examples like that with the other modes. IE: shown a game that used each of the modes and why. Still, great work.

  4. johney supergd

    I was thinking that for XAMPLE if only 1 background can be used for 256 colors, and we want to ellusionize extra backgrounds, then we can use line scrolling & tile updates to give that ellusion of extra backgrounds,,,

    But what if we want to use 4 backgrounds but we are only limited to 16 colors per background thus 4x 16 = 64, well in order to ellusionize extra colors, we can do use colors swaps to simulate 256 colors onscreen.

    If we want to use the full resolution of the snes but have to deal with only 4 colors, then we can do use once again the color swap/mid-frame scanline trick to fake extra colors onscreen.

    This to VIRTUALY get around these limitations.

  5. IronLotus

    How the heck is direct color able to use the extra 3 bits that were used for palette selection? Do you just choose a small section of the RGB color space for the entire character to follow? Because what's throwing me is that the bits are in completely different places: one in VRAM(tilemap), one in wherever characters are defined in.

  6. Rask R

    199?.??.?? Nintendo Main Building:

    Director: Okay, we made new console with strong CPU and big resolution. Now we need to make it unique.
    Some guy: Let's do scrolling and mosaic effect!
    Some woman: Let's do 7 freakin' modes for background!
    Some bored guy: Let's do programming much easier and finally make API. If programmers want modes let do it themselfs.
    Director: * Looks at bored guy *
    * Bored guy falling out the window *

  7. Charles English

    How on earth did you learn all this? Your voice sounds too young to have been a SNES programmer back when it was new. Your ability to present it like this requires very keen knowledge on the subject. I’m guessing you just researched it all, and that’s impressive.

  8. Jeronimo

    These series of videos make me appreciate how such geniuses the game directors who could create masterpieces on the SNES were. Having to work with such restrains and being able to pull off stuff like A Link to the Past, Super Mario World, Super Metroid, FF VI, and many others is nothing short of incredible. True artists and geniuses in my opinion.

  9. Dennis Nyh

    This is a wonderful series, and I especially like it when these technical things are demonstrated using examples from real SNES games. I wish there were more of those, however, as they really help demonstrate to me how all these technical things work in practice.

  10. Daniel Dozza

    Examples of games I know:

    Mode 0:
    Yoshi's Island (Intro and corridor before the last boss).
    Super Mario Kart (Only the backgrounds. The track was Mode 7 – they could change modes at the end of each scanline.)
    Final Fantasy IV (Japan) II (USA) (Only the Menu)

    Mode 1:
    Basically every game.

    Mode 2:
    Yoshi's Island (The part shown in the video and the wavy lava level.)
    Star Fox.
    Chrono Trigger (Title Screen)

    Mode 3:
    Dirty Trax FX
    Stunt Race FX

    I've heard there are title screens using this mode, but I don't know any.

    Mode 4:
    Puzzle Bobble (I'm not sure)

    Mode 5:
    RPM Racing
    Secret of Mana (Menu)

    Mode 6:
    no game

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