Comparison between CGA, EGA and VGA graphics

The graphics artists not only had to draw graphics using very little resources, many games needed separate graphics for all different graphics adapters. The designers of the CGA graphics adapter choose 4 horrible colors in the default palette: black, white, vile cyan and magenta. Making graphics look good using those colors is almost impossible. Here is a comparison between Hercules monochrome, CGA, EGA and VGA graphics of some games.

Commander Keen 4: Secret of the Oracle

Apogee also released a CGA version of Commander Keen. Here's a comparison between the CGA en EGA graphics:

Commander Keen 4 titlescreen in CGA
Commander Keen 4 titlescreen in CGA
Commander Keen 4 titlescreen in EGA
Commander Keen 4 titlescreen in EGA

The Shadowlands map in CGA
The Shadowlands map in CGA
The Shadowlands map in EGA
The Shadowlands map in EGA

The Hillville level in in CGA
The Hillville level in CGA
The Hillville level in in EGA
The Hillville level in EGA

Space Quest III

For Space Quest III, they could just rely on the SCI engine to do the conversion of graphics for different graphics adaptors. It just replaced the EGA color with a dithered color for CGA graphics, and most of the times it looks okay, but sometimes it just looks bad. I remember playing Space Quest III on a monochrome screen, and it was just impossible to find out what you're looking at.

Space Quest Opening in Hercules Monochrome:
Space Quest Opening in Hercules Monochrome

Space Quest Opening in CGA
Space Quest Opening in CGA
Space Quest Opening in EGA
Space Quest Opening in EGA
Planet Ortega in Hercules Monochrome:
Planet Ortega in Hercules Monochrome

Planet Ortega is quite boring in CGA
Planet Ortega is quite boring in CGA
And really cool in EGA!
And really cool in EGA!
Planet Phleebut in Hercules Monochrome:
Planet Phleebut in Hercules Monochrome

Planet Phleebhut is still purple in CGA, but much darker.
Planet Phleebhut is still purple in CGA, but much darker.
Planet Phleebhut in EGA!
Planet Phleebhut in EGA!

Prince of Persia

The title screen of Prince of Persia is completely redrawn for every graphics adapter.

Prince of Persia title screen in 4 colours CGA
Prince of Persia title screen in 4 colours CGA

Prince of Persia title screen in 16 colours EGA
Prince of Persia title screen in 16 colours EGA

Prince of Persia title screen in 256 colours VGA
Prince of Persia title screen in 256 colours VGA

Soko-Ban

For Soko-Ban, they didn't go through the process of creating new graphics for the different graphics adaptors. The EGA version of Soko-Ban uses exactly the same graphics as the CGA version, but with a less painfull colour palette. A bit of a shame though, as 12 colours are unused now.

Soko-Ban title screen in CGA
Soko-Ban title screen in CGA
Soko-Ban title screen in EGA
Soko-Ban title screen in EGA
See also Soko-Ban for more CGA - EGA comparisons.

Budokan

Subj1 told me in the comments below that I should check out the marterial arts game Budokan on various graphics adapters. Check out the results:

Budokan title screen in 4 colours CGA
Budokan title screen in 4 colours CGA

Budokan title screen in 16 colours EGA
Budokan title screen in 16 colours EGA

Budokan title screen in 256 colours VGA
Budokan title screen in 256 colours VGA

Budokan in 4 colours CGA
Budokan in 4 colours CGA

Budokan in 16 colours EGA
Budokan in 16 colours EGA

Budokan in 256 colours VGA
Budokan in 256 colours VGA

Tagged:

Cga graphics   Ega graphics   Vga graphics   Graphics adapters   Cga graphics  

Comments:

william lewis (one month ago)
You don't show prince of persia in hercules mode . it was pretty awesome as i discovered by accident that my otherwise text only gfx card suddenly could do high res!
imperia (2 months ago)
Prince supports Hercules mode too i think.
DHeadshot (2 months ago)
Great comparison, though you missed Grand Prix Circuit (Hercules, Tandy, CGA and EGA).
armonicoenfuga.com.ar (one year ago)
Awesome!
robot (one year ago)
viva monochrome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
bhm (one year ago)
jmnghjhjm
LaPeche (one year ago)
Thanks for this article!
We remember how low res were terrible.
Please note Budokan in 256 colors is not VGA but MCGA.
Anthony (one year ago)
great webpage! Great memories...
Jeff (2 years ago)
CGA was horrible with a lot of later bitmapped graphics games, but some of my fondest memories was playing some of the earlier CGA games, when EGA was just showing up. I was just a kid then, and perhaps that has a lot to do with how I remember it, but those CGA games were still a ton of fun. I couldn't care less about the color palette of games like Qbert and Dig Dug.
captain awesome (2 years ago)
awesome page man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Subj1 (5 years ago)
Great article, finally someone gave tribute to this great aspect of DOS games - how they had to be made to run on different adapters. You should also through the DOS versions of Golden Axe and Budokan into the mix, as they had some of the best real-time dithering algorithms for different adapters, including the 2-color Hercules Graphics Card

Comment on this story

Your name:

Comment:

Bar Games (1989) Solution and Cheats  thumbnail
The most interesting part is Pick-up Artist where you use your smooth lines to pick up EGA girls!
Jill of the Jungle: Jill saves the Prince  thumbnail
The ground is pretty hot here.. if only she could reach that arrow!
CD-Man  thumbnail
In the second level you are in the ocean, being followed by angry sharks!
Vinyl Goddess from Mars  thumbnail
She throws knifes like no other. Look at that dude chilling in the background.
  thumbnail
Insane timed jumps in this level.
  thumbnail
"Passengers in our rear smoking compartment may smoke 'em if you gottem."
  thumbnail
The opening screen: Conquests of Camelot
  thumbnail
Chasing a bird. Look at that great photo on the background
  thumbnail
It's Commander Keen's helmet in the acid pool! That's really cruel.
  thumbnail
And this is as far as we get with Stephanie in this game. Very romantic!
  thumbnail
Fawaz the butcher, and some sort of antiquities shop.
  thumbnail
Tell time in the tell-time dream
  thumbnail
What dessert do you order to share with Michelle? Fresh strawberries of coarse!
  thumbnail
Level 27: Animal Farm. The snake is eating my apples!
  thumbnail
Ugly creatures on planet Muckamock. Those bridges bend when Jazz runs over them!
  thumbnail
A brand new 1963 Corvette
  thumbnail
The Apogee title screen
  thumbnail
You've beaten the king of the county.
  thumbnail
The mule likes the water from the Pool of Siloam.
  thumbnail
The most interesting part is Pick-up Artist where you use your smooth lines to pick up EGA girls!
  thumbnail
Normally i don't post menu's, but you've got to love this one!
  thumbnail
Jumping around in the sweet candy world Candion.
  thumbnail
Ggoh thig you sogh mg fgor regscuing mgge! Blub. Another Counsil member saved!
  thumbnail
Jill escaped Montezuma's castle!