On the Mega Drive, sprites are made up of 8x8 tiles that select from one of four palettes with a total of 16 colors. If you combine all those palettes together that’s a total of 64 colors. The tiles have to be pieced together to form a single sprite object. Ecco’s tile count varies depending on the animation but it can use as many as 18 or more tiles!
Ecco the Dolphin PC takes a different approach when it comes to its high definition sprites. It’s a method I somewhat prefer as it doesn’t require tiles. Tiles are only used in situations where the programmer needs to conserve memory. In the case of the Mega Drive there is only 64kb of memory to work with. This is contrasted with Ecco PC which was designed to run on a PC with 10MB of available memory (with all the graphical assets stored on a CD-ROM).
On Ecco PC each animation is separated into their own containers. An animation is a sequence of frames that represent a simple movement for Ecco (such as swimming to the right). A table tells the programmer where a new animation begins. This table is made up of indices that are measured by an individual frame. A new animation sequence occurs when all the frames for the previous sequence have been accounted for. Using a bit of math we can subtract an index of a desired sequence from the index of the next sequence which in turn will give us the total number of cels or frames.
Unlike the Mega Drive version, Ecco PC can select from a single palette of up to 256 colors. This is what allows the sprites to look so detailed. The high definition sprites were taken from the Mega Drive version and doubled in size. Some of the sprites were redrawn while others were interpolated using software and possibly adjusted by hand. The result was Ecco PC’s unique look and feel that can only be replicated using original hardware or emulation.
Our Ecco PC sprite collection was extracted directly from the games data files. All the high definition sprites are stored in .zlm files with the palettes located near the header of the stages .plz files. The format for these graphics were reverse engineered and dumped through a special program designed for this task.
In addition to providing sprites, we also provide sprite sheets for Ecco the Dolphin PC. Sprite Sheets are a way of organizing all the animation frames of a sprite into a single file. If you are interested in learning more about what a sprite sheet is and how our sprite sheets are organized then check out our Sprite Sheets section.
Our goal was to create these sprites for you! They are free to use for your own personal projects as long as you give credit to us by linking to our website: https://eccothedolphin.online