Palette Swap - Graphic objects that use the exact same graphics as another object, but are colored differently through the use of an alternate palette. This allowed programmers to add more characters, items and stages without using precious memory space to add more sprites and tiles or more development time. Famous examples of this are Billy and Jimmy Lee from Double Dragon, Mario and Luigi (the pre-SMB2 appearances), the male ninja characters from digitized Mortal Kombat games and even the Ghost Monsters from Pac-Man. Palette Swapping is also used to show a character's status change, such as being turned to stone, poisoned, becoming invincible or being an Italian plumber who can now throw fire.

Some palette swaps also change other parts of the graphics (the head, parts of the outfit, etc.), though I've never seen a specific name for those. Tile swaps, maybe? Anyway, characters like that include Ryu, Ken, Gouki/Akuma & Dan in the Street Fighter games and Two.P & J from Final Fight


Billy and Jimmy Lee paletteswap

Related terms:
Palette, Head Swap

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