Angry Birds, Final Fantasy VII and Tecmo Bowl with up-to-date NFL rosters – all on the Nintendo Entertainment System. These aren’t 8-bit parodies: these games were all actually created to run on the 1980’s console.
From unofficial Asian knockoffs to homebrew titles, it’s surprising how many NES games are still being made. Here are a few of the strangest.
Angry Birds For NES
Probably the most famous game of the mobile era, Angry Birds was first released in 2009 – more than 25 years after the first Nintendo Entertainment System was on the market. And yet, someone somewhere in Asia (it’s not totally clear who) put together an unlicensed version of Angry Birds for Nintendo’s ancient system, and started selling it.
The tactile touch-screen controls obviously aren’t there, but there’s an 8bit version of the theme song. The same cart apparently also includes a stripped-down Plants Versus Zombies clone as well.
Final Fantasy VII For NES
Fans creating their their own HD remake of Final Fantasy VII tells us that, even after 18 years, there’s a lot of pent-up demand for a high-res Midgar adventure. It seems like Square-Enix will never bother to make one, though, so Chinese developers ShenZhen Nanjing Technology decided to go the other way: porting the classic RPG to the NES.
The result is what 1997’s Final Fantasy VII would have been like if it was released ten years earlier. It goes without saying that this is completely unauthorized, but that didn’t stop ShenZhen Nanjing from distributing the game – on actual cartridges – throughout China and Taiwan. It is a surprisingly complete recreation of the original, though some characters and minigames are missing.
It’s possible to find an English version on ROM sites, but so far as I can tell no English version was ever sold on an actual cartridge.
Tecmo Super Bowl 2015: Retro Gaming With Modern Rosters
Tecmo Bowl is a great example of a retro sports game that’s still fun today, but it’s almost 30 years old now – meaning the the rosters are hopelessly out-of-date. If you want to experience the finest 80’s sports simulators with rosters from 2015, you’re in luck: TecmoBowl.org puts together a hacked version of the game every year with up-to-date rosters, and you can get the game on an actual cartridge from a number of different vendors.
RBI Baseball 2014
Prefer classic baseball to classic football? No problem: you can find an up-to-date version of RBI as well.
Somari: Mario in a Sonic Game
In the 90’s you were a Nintendo or Sega kid, and nothing summed up this difference better than the Mario/Sonic divide. These days Mario can beat up Sonic in Smash Brothers or take him on in Olympic sports, but back in the day these characters never crossed worlds.
Which brings us to Somari, a weird little mashup that puts a spin-jumping Mario into a Sonic game.
Even weirder: this game runs on the NES, not a 16-bit console.
D-Pad Hero: Retro Rhythm Gaming
If you love rhythm games and 8bit music, this is the title for you. Clearly inspired by Guitar Hero and Rock Band, D-Pad Hero and its sequel let you tap your NES controller to the beat.
There are some pretty great chiptune music, and the gameplay is apparently soul-crushingly difficult (if reviews are to be trusted).
Sudoku For NES Exists, Apparently
You don’t need a game console to play Sodoku: pencil and paper will suffice. Yet for some reason, this exists: using yesterday’s technology to create a digital version of a paper game.
I’ve no further comment.
Retrovision: Play GameBoy Games On Your NES
Remember Super Game Boy? It was a cartridge for the SNES with a slot for your Game Boy cartridges. The idea: you could play your Game Boy games on your TV. This is cool, but no version of this for the original NES was ever made. This was apparently unacceptable to the people at RetroUSB.com – behold the Retro Vision!
This NES cartridge makes it possible to play original Game Boy titles on the big screen. This was accomplished by taking apart and re-wiring an actual Game Boy, then putting it intro the cartridge. It’s not available at the moment, but the fact that it exists at all shows just how dedicated people are to bringing new functionality to Nintendo’s ancient console.
ROM City Rampage: How Such Games Are Made
People create things like this for love of the NES, a classic console that defined gaming for an entire generation. Anyone who played Retro City Rampage will recognize this affection immediately: the entire game is a homage to the 8-bit era. What you might not know, however, is that creator Brian Provinciano actually took the time to make a working NES version of his title. Here he is explaining how he managed this, with a lot of detail:
I believe the love for an aged console motivated most of the above titles, and for this reason I think people will keep making new software for the NES for a long time.
Speaking of: what amazingly weird homebrew carts did I neglect to mention? Point out some of the best examples in the comments below, complete with gameplay videos if you can find them.