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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:

LaPeche (5 days 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 month ago)
great webpage! Great memories...
Jeff (5 months 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 (10 months ago)
awesome page man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Subj1 (3 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

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