Random: Discover How Mode 7 Works On Super NES, In Just 10 Minutes

Mode 7 is definitely one of the coolest features of many SNES games. Remember when you got into your first Super Mario Kart kart and saw your favorite characters driving around in “full 3D” fields? Or play Secret of Mana and get on Flammy’s back for the first time and look at the world map? Don’t forget about Star Fox’s polygonal wings blasting their way through space!

This is only a small part of the games that used this unique feature, but as a child, it amazed us. Finally, video games can be in 3D! if you’re like us, you’ve probably always wanted to know how Mode 7 works.

YouTube channel Modern vintage gamer did all the hard work for us. They posted a video showing how the famous SNES graphics work; while mode 7 is probably what you’ll be watching the video for, the channel also looks at all eight different modes, with mode 7 being special.

This table shows seven modes (excluding the most famous ones) that developers could choose from. Essentially, each mode sacrifices layers for more colors, but there are some exceptions (as you can see in modes 5 and 6). Mode 1 was the most common, used by games such as Super Metroid. Mode 2 allows you to use two layers with the same number of colors, but both layers scroll individually – then it’s perfect for beat ’em up side-scrolling!

What makes Mode 7 different is that it supports scaling and translation effects such as translation, scaling reflection, and rotation. This creates this wonderful 16-bit 3D effect. You can’t create verticality in mode 7 – which explains why hills look squished on world maps in your RPG and why coins just lie on the ground in Super Mario Kart – but the way this retro technology creates the illusion of 3D is simply impressive.

We don’t want to spoil the video anymore, so go and watch it for yourself! And let us know what you like best about Mode 7 or any fancy graphic styles and features in the comments!

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