Who would think that one of the best fonts of our time would come from an 8 by 8 grid? It can be hard to imagine, but life back then didn’t consist of apps, smartphones, or LED TVs. Instead, they were dominated by nickels, Space Invaders, and these 8-bit fonts.
Deconstructing 8-Bit Arcade Fonts
In this Vox video, Estelle talks with type designer Toshi Omagari about the history and popularity of pixel arcade fonts.
Before Photoshop or Illustrator, designers had to work within the constraints of cathode ray screens. These consisted of a 32 x 28 grid, and each box would contain a smaller 8 x 8 grid. In essence, the more grids that needed to be powered up, the more taxing it is for the computer. Thus, they had to create something that was efficient but at the same time, legible.
What probably began on grid paper became one of the most nostalgic elements in pop culture. As simple as they look, 8-bit arcade fonts are in fact, complex. They still follow the rules of calligraphic tradition of typography, which means they had to look somewhat similar if drawn with pen on paper. Lowercase characters also presented a challenge.
Somehow though, designers were able to make it work. From the earliest arcade fonts like Sprint_2 to more intricate variants such as the Sky_Fox, arcade fonts are a testament that limitations only fuel the imagination.
Got bitten by the nostalgia bug? Satisfy the itch with these 8-bit arcade fonts from Dafont. If you don’t want to download anything and are simply looking for a quick fix, try this cool Arcade Font Writer. Featuring 5 styles to choose from, you can write short headlines or brand names, which you can then save in a PNG format. Have fun!