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I have had trouble getting the money together to buy a digitizing tablet, and it would cheer me up to know what kind of digitizing tablet the artists were using to create classic games like Super Mario World and Sonic The Hedgehog. Part of me feels that maybe there is a way to make games without 2000+ pressure sensitivity levels. Does anyone know which models were widely used by console developers at the height of 2d gaming, and what their specs were?

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They either used tablets that were more expensive then than now, early versions of photoshop (or other art programs), or internal tools. –  thedaian Aug 28 '11 at 15:29
    
I doubt they used tablets. Light tables existed (a huge surface with a lightpen), but that was expensive There are some cheaper and still good tablets, like the Genius ones :) –  Ioachim Aug 28 '11 at 16:46
    
The kind "back in the day" would have most likely connected to the serial port (unless there was a proprietary add-in card for them), so hopefully that helps you to refine your searches a little bit. –  Randolf Richardson Aug 28 '11 at 21:56
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2 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I doubt they did. The majority of the true old school art (80's to early 90's) was done with a plain old mouse and pixel-pushing (raster) software like Deluxe Paint (now known as Cosmigo Pro-Motion).

As for when tablets did become really widespread and usable in the sense you know them today (perhaps mid 90's onward), Wacom was pretty much a big name throughout.

You can be sure that even the lowest end of what you buy new today will be better (and better supported in terms of drivers) than what they used back then. If I were to buy a new tablet now, I wouldn't go for anything too fancy, I reckon a Wacom Intuos 4 would be fine, IIRC there's a b5 size one that has what most artists need.

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Seems like Wacom is a pricey brand, you'd still slip €300 to 400 for an Intuos 4 M, and I guess that is the kind of money OP doesn't have. What about the cheaper brands? –  eBusiness Aug 28 '11 at 16:08
    
Yep you can go for cheaper brands, or just get a second hand Wacom, I got one off eBay myself for under £20. Also, I understand the Bamboo range are like Wacom's "economy class" tablets. –  Nick Wiggill Aug 28 '11 at 17:18
    
They definitely did not use tablets in the "good old days" on the games you mention as examples. DPaint was pretty much a standard and pixel art was all done with a mouse on an zoomed-in grid. Later in the era you'd have utilities to take scanned drawings on paper and position them in your grid to onionskin and draw over on different layers, etc... The best pixel artists could use NTSC TV artifacts to create some incredible shading from 15 colors, a pixel at a time. –  Patrick Hughes Aug 30 '11 at 21:01
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In addition to Nick, Wacom is the only brand that can be suggested with eyes closed & they have low price models.

I own 2 Wacom tablets, one I bought 3-4 or more years ago. The point is it still acts like brand new. Unless you break the pen (which can be bought separately), the touch surface shows no sign of age.

A few months back I bought another Wacom Bamboo. I suggest you to go for this one, as it's not expensive. I have heard a lot of high profile artist that still use their old Wacom tablet, cause it still works so well and they don't want to shift to something else for no reason.

Intuos are high-end artist models. See the feature list. If you don't need any of these, then simply go for the Bamboo series. It wont disappoint you. Paying a little more now will come back to you as a rare service in the long run.

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You ought to review your third paragraph, for the missing f in 'shift' leads to wrong impressions. –  sum1stolemyname Aug 29 '11 at 7:29
    
:( thanks for the fix @bummzack. –  iamcreasy Aug 30 '11 at 19:33
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