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Son of a Submariner

This was originally posted on my old blog, around February 23rd 2009.

Looking at the old Squaresoft RPGs on the Super NES, anybody who even came close to a classic Mac might’ve noticed that the font used in most (if not all) these RPGs is remarkably but not quite similar to the Mac’s system font, Chicago.

The top half is taken straight from a screenshot of Final Fantasy 3 (US) and the bottom is a quick imitation in Chicago.

One of the first things you may notice is that the Square font is a little shorter and has wider spacing. Here are the metrics for both:

Square Chicago
X-height 6 7 The height of a lowercase X, green block in the image.
Ascent 8 9 The distance between the baseline and the top of the glyph that reaches farthest from the baseline, blue block in the image.
Descent 3 3 The distance between the baseline and the bottom of the glyph that reaches farthest down, magenta block in the image.
Body size 11 12 Total size of x-height, ascent and descent.
Line spacing 4 4 Distance between lines, purple block in the image.
Kerning 2 1 Distance between characters. Square’s font does not do ligatures.
Space width 7 6 Width of the space character.

These metrics do not include the drop shadow. Some shapes are different, but if you take Chicago and make it one pixel shorter, you could really fool the SNES fans.

Note that the GBA remakes have their own font(s) with a much lower weight than Chicago, allowing more text on fewer lines and a smaller screen.

With all this, can you really blame me for using Chicago whenever I feel like making jokes about Squaresoft SNES RPGs?

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