[8-Bit] Battle! (Champion Cynthia) | Pokémon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum

I can't remember the last time I was put in a corner like this!

⬇ Dᴏᴡɴʟᴏᴀᴅs

📒 Mʏ Tʜᴏᴜɢʜᴛs

I dedicate this fideo to my best friend Amarizo, who is a wonderful person and who greatly increases the enjoyability of my existence. Happy birthday, the day on which those who care about you thank you for everything you’ve done and everything you are and not the day on which annoying people annoy you with empty words, unwanted surprises and stressful social interaction.

I’m sorry for not posting anything for a month. The April fideo was very stressful and allowed for little sleep, as usual. In addition, before the fideo, I worked day and night as well for bi-weekly fideos and things like the drawing with 12 Pokémon to cheer RockBomber up. And then there are the tortoises, of course. Or were. The second one of the two original ones is now dead as well. Only the one that replaced the first dead one is still alive. It has been sick two times, but apparently recovered. For months now, I tried everything and spent so much time to learn about them, to do things for them and to get my mum to treat them properly. A couple of improvements were made but the situation is still unacceptable. It seems that it just wasted a lot of time and made the relationship between me and my mother even worse. But I can’t be happy or work efficiently knowing that my mum has tortoises again like in my childhood and treats them terribly again, one dying after the other and being replaced. And if they survive the terrible conditions, it means they are perfectly fine and happy. She seems to consider animals either as food or as cute furniture, but not as living beings. I even have nightmares about them. And all of that was too much after I released the April fideo. I felt terrible for a month, I couldn’t do anything and I had the worst existential crisis in a long time. Oh yeah, and then there was the whole Corona situation as well which didn’t help. Actually, I started working on an 8-bit cover a couple of days after the April fideo, but I made almost no progress for 4 weeks. And that was the song that I originally intended to publish on April first as well. How foolish of me. But fortunately, like 2 weeks ago, my motivation, happiness and the little self-confidence I built up in the last couple of years returned slowly, though still damped a lot by things like the tortoise situation and family situation. I finished the song and started working on the visuals, but then I had to pause and start working on something else because, for Amarizo’s birthday, I wanted to cover a song that he likes. He wrote a letter and sent it, to Hyrule HQ for me, telling me of all the songs, he would want me to cover. I felt like doing something fast, action-packed and challenging like a Pokémon battle theme. So I started working on this song. And doing it not just for me, but for someone I care about a lot, gave me even more motivation. And of course the nice words of Iso as well. Thanks to both of you!

First off, the original music file from the game is called "SEQ_BA_CHANP" for some reason. The music file that plays when talking to Cynthia is named properly. Always those incompetent coconuts, I mean game developers! Anyway, the search of the right BPM was once again difficult. This time though, I collected everything I’ve learnt myself and everything that’s on the wiki to fully analyse the BPM system, even finding things out that are nowhere to be found on the interwebs yet. Then, I passed the knowledge on to Amarizo, who made a Python script that tells you all possible perfect or at least close to perfect values to put into FamiTracker to get the desired speed. This is incredibly useful and if you use FamiTracker yourself, I recommend you to use it. I will put everything up on my website soon.

Coincidentally, I recently looked up what an orchestra hit is. Apparently it’s every instrument of the orchestra played at once. And coincidentally, if my ears didn’t deceive me, it’s used in this song. To recreate it in 8-bit, I had the idea to make an arpeggio, which basically plays multiple notes at once, combined with a duty cycle envelope that cycles through different duties, therefore playing multiple different wave types at once, just like in a real orchestra hit. I’m not sure if it sounds good, but it certainly sounds interesting. As always since Aegis Cave, I used arpeggio attack envelopes to make the usually boring 2A03 bass sound more interesting. Just to test how it would sound without it, I deactivated the envelope and it’s incredible how different and boring it sounds that way. I’m glad I had that idea. For the electrical guitar, I used a similar envelope, in addition to a duty attack that’s really a volume attack, using the much higher possible volume of the sawtooth channel and I really like how it ended up sounding. That’s my favourite part of this cover. In the last part, when pulse 3 and 4 play that slowly descending and fading note, I lowered the channel volume alternately. When I lowered them at the same time, each change was very audible and it sounded horrible. This simple change though made it sound completely smoothly, at least to my ears.

The song has 3 percussion parts that play at the same time. A simple alternating kick and hat, a timpani and a snare. The word "timpani" doesn’t sound fitting at all. It sounds cute, quiet and high, not loud and deep. The german word, Pauke, pronounced POW-kuh, seems more appropriate. When the hat-kick and snare part play at the same time, the former are barely audible in the original, so I replaced them with snares when they both play, except for a couple of very short exceptions. The most defining percussion part is definitely the snare. But the timpani is interesting as well and I wanted to include it in addition to the snare. So I thought, if I only have one channel for percussion, why not play both instruments in quick succession, just like arpeggios solve the problem of chords in only one channel? The delay in the timpanies (Is that the plural? Romanes eunt domus?) is clearly audible unfortunately, but I think it’s acceptable. It’s a good thing I worked at a low speed setting which allowed me to place the timpanies between the other percussion elements.

In respect of the drawing, it was interesting to draw at a lower resolution again, since everything is so small. Because of this, I used a lineless style again and I’m really starting to enjoy using it and I like the way it looks. I think, Garchomp might have turned out a little small, but as usual, the dex size and official images don’t make sense and I never know how the sizes are measured, is it height or length, is it in their default pose or standing perfectly straight, so it’s probably not a big deal. Also as usual, I thought it would turn out terrible, but I surprisingly really like how the Pokémon turned out. Drawing the little profile picture things was good practice and a lot of fun because I only had to draw a small portion of the Pokémon and then move on to the next, instead of spending hours on them and getting frustrated because of my lack of self-confidence. Originally, I planned to let them all be black silhouettes except for Garchomp and Infernape, indicating that they’ve all fainted and it’s the final fight. But the Pokémon would probably not be recognisable as silhouettes at this resolution, so I scrapped that idea. Just know that they are their last Pokémon.

The human drawing practice was also badly needed. The small ones turned out just acceptably, the low resolution was really challenging, especially for the faces. But the resolution for the human profile pictures was just high enough for mouths and necessary details. First I drew Lucas who turned out like a boring emotionless default pose, but it also kind of looks like being stiff and nervous for being photographes and of course regarding the upcoming battle, and that would fit to me and also Amarizo, so I kept it. Cynthia on the other hand turned out really interesting, I didn’t expect at all how good that looks. I really like the scoreboard idea and how it turned out. The rest of the room is boring as usual however, and I have no idea how to draw a perspectively correct circle. The back part has to be shorter, but everything I tried looked horrible. So I just placed a regular circle in a way that doesn’t look wrong if you don’t look closely. Unfortunately, everything in the fideo drawing was too small to use in the thumbnail or would look terrible enlargened. But I really liked the Cynthia face and drawing the rest of the body would surely be big enough. Before this fideo, I had no confidence at all in drawing humans (and almost no practice, just a couple of very low resolution humans in Snowpoint City and Canalave City and two disgusting "humans" in Celestial Tower), but the face made me want to try a full body again and I had to do something for the thumbnail. So I tried, and I had fun and it surpassed all of my expectations. Unfortunately, the resolution was now exactly as high as the yellow part in the thumbnail, and that was still too small. So I doubled the size and it still looked good because the drawing is of a high enough resolution to look good. Also, I’m not sure if I should always limit myself to the NES colour palette. It’s good for some things and bad for others. This time, I cheated a little bit by using transparency, technically creating colours that are not in the pallet but it would probably look way worse otherwise.

I think I’m satisfied with the song and the drawing and I can say that I improved in both areas. Maybe the fun and educational experience of creating this fideo will finally tell my self-confidence that I can achieve what I want if I try, instead of preventing me from trying in the first place.

👆 Lɪɴᴋs
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🕒 Exᴘᴇɴᴅɪᴛᴜʀᴇ ᴏꜰ ᴛɪᴍᴇ
67.51 hours total
Song: 24.81 h
Drawing: 31.59 h
Editing: 3.13 h
Thumbnail: 3.38 h
BPM: 4.6 h

💾 Pʀᴏɢʀᴀᴍᴍᴇs ᴜsᴇᴅ
8-bit audio production: FamiTracker http://famitracker.com/
Pixel art: Aseprite https://www.aseprite.org/
Video editing: DaVinvi Resolve https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/davinciresolve/
Extracting music from game: ndssndext https://gbatemp.net/download/nds-sound-extractor.28818/
Midi editor: MidiEditor https://github.com/markusschwenk/midieditor/releases
Screen recording: OBS Studio https://obsproject.com/

🎵 Mᴜsɪᴄ ᴜsᴇᴅ
Original song: Pokémon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum – Battle! (Champion) https://youtu.be/DvlHaZIrndA
[8-Bit] The Legend of Zelda – Overworld Theme https://youtu.be/qc1RTNB6Rwc
[8-Bit] The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – Ilia’s Theme https://youtu.be/IWw9-V1yJtk