Mario Soup is an information visualization project by Ben Fry that aims at "revealing a beautiful soup of the thousands of individual elements that make up the game screen. It used "the unpacking of a Nintendo game cartridge, decoding the program as a four-color image, revealing a beautiful soup of the thousands of individual elements that make up the game screen"
Any piece of executable code is also commingled with data, ranging from simple sentences of text for error messages to entire sets of graphics for the application. In older cartridge-based console games, the images for each of the small on-screen images (the "sprites") were often stored as raw data embedded after the actual program's instructions.
The images are a long series of 8x8 pixel "tiles". Looking at the cartridge memory directly (with a black pixel for an "on" bit, and a white pixel for an "off") reveals the sequence of black and white (one bit) 8x8 images. Each pair of images is mixed together to produce a two bit (four-color) image. The blue represents the first sequence of image data, the red layer is the second set of data that is read, and seeing them together produces the proper mixed-color image depicting the actual image data
Why do I blog this? I like this idea of "soup" and intertwined individual elements that eventually constitute a game screen: destructuring the game display.