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Different viewing media affect how colors look on them, but also are even further affected by how the medium is lit.

There are three main types of lighting that apply here:

  • Ambient, light is just filling up the area.
  • Front lit, the light source is directly between you and the medium.
  • Back lit, the medium is between you and the light source (medium can't be opaque, of course).

There are different ways to make the light, but those just change the exact look of the colors. Those three types change the contrast. Different colors wash other colors out depending on the setup.

One effect of this is that in a presentation, you would likely use different colors for the same graphs, depending on whether a graph is on printed paper, or on a PowerPoint slide.

Where this is particularly prevalent is in gaming, especially if you are playing on a handheld. Take the Game Boy line.

  • The original Game Boy had no light and a monochrome color setup. Thus almost all games were dark colors on a light background. This was also true with the Neo Geo Pocket. There was, however, a short-lived Game Boy Light which came with an electro-luminicent screen; however, it was a power guzzler, and it never left Japan.
  • The Game Boy Color didn't have a light, but a full color scheme. Some games were also dark on light, such as Pokémon Gold and Silver/Crystal and the ports of Dragon Quest I, II, and III. Other games were light on dark, particularly NES ports. Same with the Neo Geo Pocket Color. There were, however, a lot of unofficial lights that could plug in the Link Cable port.
  • The Game Boy Advance has either no light (original model), a frontlight (first SP line AGS-001), or a backlight (second SP line AGS-101 and Micro). This can actually affect the contrast of the colors. No light is actually harder to see than the other systems. Front light is easy to see, but washes out all the colors a bit. Back light is most like a regular TV. Games made specifically for the GBA also had different color setups than ports from the SNES and other home systems.
  • Handhelds that always had backlights, such as the Atari Lynx, Game Gear, DS, PSP, have generally the same color setups as home console games. Unfortunately, backlit displays wash out completely in bright sunlight. At least you can see okay indoors, eh?

See also Who Forgot the Lights?.

Examples of Back That Light Up include:

Action Adventure

  • For 200% map completion in Castlevania Harmony of Dissonance, you may have to switch to Game Boy Player just to see the castle map better, since it is hard to tell which rooms you've missed on the original GBA.
  • Castlevania: Circle of the Moon is difficult to play on the original GBA because the colors were too dark in the beginning, and using a light accessory doesn't help.
    • Circle of the Moon and its color issues are often wrongly attributed to Konami. The early development kits for the GBA did not display colors the way the GBA itself would display colors, resulting in the earlier games appearing too dark. Nintendo quickly learned of the problems and sent updated devkits to all developers to mitigate the problem until they could develop a backlit version of the handheld.
    • Harmony of Dissonance attempted to correct this by having much more color saturation and giving Juste Belmont a blue glow that had no plot justification whatsoever is hand-waved by stating in the supplementary guides that the Belmont and Belnades bloodlines mixed sometime shortly after Castlevania I, giving Juste magical powers including the glow.
      • As an aside, this plus a nonsensical room decoration subquest has resulted in Juste Belmont having a reputation as far and away the most Fabulous member of the Belmont clan.
  • Some complained that the GBA port of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past made the cracks in the wall you had to break through occasionally too hard to see.
    • At least they let you play with the SNES palette.
  • Inverted with the Boktai series. All of the GBA games require sunlight and the DS game can use sunlight. (There was an actual UV sensor in the cart that affected gameplay. Afterall you are killing vampires in this game.) Anyone who has used a TV knows that sunlight + screen = glare. However if you play it on the original GBA (or SP 1 with the backlight turned off) the screen and colors are best in direct sunlight.

Driving Game

  • F-Zero: Maximum Velocity, one of the earliest GBA games, used an extremely high contrast between the road and the scenery. No matter how badly you were lighted, you could always see the road.

Platform Game

Role Playing Game

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