Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Free game graphics: Tyrian ships and tiles

I stumbled across a personal treasure this weekend. Tyrian, the ancient vertically scrolling shooter from long ago still happens to have a fansite. While browsing through their forums, I noticed that Jason Emery, keeper of the Tyrian flame, had made the source code available and folks were actively digging through it.

My thanks go out to whoever ripped the graphics from the source code and posted them as PNGs. Somewhere in the mess of moving multiple times in the past decade, I managed to lose the original files. The freshly ripped files have some transparency errors here and the order is a tad confusing, but I am delighted to have copies again.

Hot summer, great job
I drew up the original graphics in about 4 months as my first real summer job. A friend of mine who shall go by the pseudonym "Ray" had sent around some of my artwork (without my knowledge, I might add) and I ended up getting a random email from a very young Alex Brandon asking me if I wanted to make some graphics. It was either that or another summer stocking beer in the 7-11 cooler. 19 and making games. Heck yes.

I had recently splurged on an Amiga 1200 and it managed to pay for itself that very summer. Alex sent me a short list of list of levels and said "Draw us some graphics." So I did. I turned up the radio and crunched away from 11am when I woke up to 11pm when David Letterman came on. There is some wierd stuff in there as a result, but no one ever complained. They just said "Make some more!"

Remastered and free
In hopes of contributing back to the great and eternal indie scene, I 'remastered' the graphics by removing some of the conversion dirt that had accumulated. Man, I haven't done pixel editing in years. I also took the liberty of stripping out as the various 'non-Danc' flesh-colored seahorse graphics that managed to make their way into the tile set. I may not have gotten all of them, so credit likely goes to Jason for the lovely hotdogs, etc.

I'm making the set available for using in your games, prototypes, animations, etc. Again, use and abuse them as desired. If you make something cool, let me know! Feel free to link back to this page so that others can grab the graphics and mess about. It is good to share old pixel graphics. :-)

And to think, all those hours of effort fit easily into a little more than a meg of pngs.

Download the files here
Remastered Tyrian (1.3 megs)

best wishes,

PS: I'm still missing the store graphics and the cutscene graphics. One day I'll get my hands back on the infamous 'Head on a spike' picture that caused so much consternation.


  1. Oh, gosh. I remember playing Tyrian as a real young kid and getting nightmares from that terrible Head on a Spike graphic.

    Danc, don't tell me YOU were responsible for that... =P


  2. Thank you for releasing the sprites, and for making them in the first place. Tyrian was (and still is) one of my favorite games, and a lot of it was because of its visuals.


  3. Wow. Maybe only a more than a meg, but to think you did all of these in one short summer is amazing. Perhaps I will make a space shooter someday after all =)

    Also wanted to let you know I have a worked a bit on Space Cute. Should have a build for you this weekend.

  4. Considering your obsession with games... I must be like your drug dealer or something... :) Your graphics were always so enviably crisp and shiny. I always wished I had half the talent for pixel art you did... Thinking fondly of you always!!


  5. Wait, this isn't Easter, it's Christmas! Awesome!

  6. Sorta off-topic: Whose idea was it to make the Tyrian font/logo appear the same when rotated 180? And was the name Tyrian chosen with this in mind?

  7. Hi, I'm one of the folks with the Tyrian source (nightmares of inline ASM! Augh!), we're working on an open-source port in C using SDL, as you may be aware. Eventual plans are to make it extensible and flexible, so if anyone wants to make Tyrian add-ons or extra episodes it'll be easy to do.

    Anyhow, I'm pretty sure the sprite rips were done without benefit of the source code, years ago.

    However, if noone else does, I'll see what I can do about finding the other art data and getting that ripped to PNG as well, when I have the chance, hopefully the guy who runs that fansite will host them, if not I can email them to you.

  8. Actually, Danc is responsible for the head on a spike thing. :)

    I even made a special version for one mother who told me that it gave her kid nightmares. Hehe. Way back when we used Compuserve and the Internet didn't exist.

  9. Great graphics! Thanks for making them available, they really bring back good memories. It was an absolute pleasure even just browsing them.

  10. Hey I'm the guy that runs the fansite mentioned above. You and Jason and Alex are the nicest game devs I've come across. You keep giving us cool stuff and letting us see behind the scenes of a game that's quite special to us. I appreciate it.

  11. Hi,

    Though I'd let you know we're using the tyrian graphics in a project of ours. Once we have something to show I'll shoot you a link. In the mean time thanks!


  12. Oh wow! Tyrian was so inspiring for me, both as game design and spriting goes! I always wanted to create a sequel. Maybe now I actually will! Too bad the large ship and gun graphics aren't included in this. I LOVED those...

  13. Haha tyrian!

    That game was awesome. Best space shooter ever made IMHO. I still play it occasionally.

    I still don't understand some of the plot though. That game got weird.

  14. Hi Danc!

    I've made a little prototype for a puzzle tactics game using your graphics here.

    Thank you so much for them!


  15. Hi, my nickname is zerobits, I'm doing a game with your sprites, is a Open Source Game for the Nintendo DS, I wish to participate in a competition of videogames in my country, nothing very serious, but I wanted permission yours to put your name in the credits of the game, but I do not know your name and I did not find in this Web some mail yours, please send me to this mail your name. The game will be released in some days for the competition and you have a lot of credit, sorry for my bad English, I'm not native...

    I'm student of sciences of the computer

  16. just copy my email 'cause is zero the four character, but looks like "O"

  17. Over 100 free open source games.

  18. Hi Danc,

    Again, I made a game based on these tileset, plus some of Hard Vacuum (all modified).

    You can find it here:

    Secret of Software 64

    Thank you very much!

  19. I have been looking for the name of this game for about 7 years just so I could play it once again.

    Thank you very much, you have no idea how grateful I am of your post.

  20. Any word on the menu graphics/ large ship sprites/ fullscreen sprites(head on spike)/fonts yet?

    I've got a flash project brewing!

    Thanks so much for releasing your amazing pixel art - I'd do my own if I was anywhere near as talented!

  21. Friend of mine linked me to your blog post, and these graphics are exactly what I've been looking for.

    I am programming a sci-fi themed 2D mmorpg titled Athrandir: End of Times. the website is and I would be happy to give you credit or link back to you, just drop me an email!

  22. Looking at the art pack for OpenTyrian it looks like the Tyrian art files where compiled down to a custom format. I'm assuming that there was a sprite definition that was human readable at some point. Is there a chance we could get that? Most of the sprites are pretty straight forward to put back together, but a few (explosions in particular) are quite a challenge.

  23. So we can use these sprites in a game and not have to worry about paying any fee and by doing so we will not be breaking any laws?

  24. Great game, great sprites, great blog!

  25. found this awesome game on Kongregate that uses Your Graphics (from Other games as well like sinstar etc..)

  26. nice. tyrian was one of the kick ass games when i was younger. as i want to make a spaceshooter now, i will use elements of the sprites if they are free. i will show you the game when its finished.


  27. Wait, the Tyrian logo looks the same when rotated 180 degrees...?


  28. Hi! I have used some sprites from Tyrian in my upcoming game.
    You can view pre launch trailer here :

    Thanks for sharing all this assets!

  29. Thanks for these awesome sprites!

    Used them in of my vertical shooters for the TI-Nspire calculator:;topicseen#new

    Thanks again!