sprite
A 2-D graphic that can be moved around the screen by the program or game. Older hardware, for arcades and consoles, had limits to sprites in terms of size, numbers of colors, and how many could be on the screen at once.

In most older game systems and engines (especially gaming consoles), each sprite is broken down into a group of smaller squares. Using small squares of graphics in hardware sprites to make full objects had benefits, like the ability to change small parts of characters like a head or the back of a jacket just by having a few extra squares with alternate parts.

In some games, sprites are layered over each other for various reasons. In games like Cadash or Magic Sword, where equipped items are seen on the sprites, these items have their own sprites that are layered over the main character. This is much more practical than redrawing the sprites for every possible weapon and armor combination. For most console systems, sprites are limited to a limited number of colors called a palette that can be manipulated.
Related Terms: tile Palette head swap palette swap sprite edit

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