New 8-bit Game for the NES Being Developed, Complete With Documentary About Its Creation

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A team of developers plans a brand new adventure game for the Nintendo Entertainment System to celebrate the console's 30 anniversary of release.

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There is still a love for the NES. The 8-bit aesthetic is alive and well, and it’s about more than just nostalgia

Aligning with the 30th anniversary of the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System, a brand new ‘gray cartridge’ game, playable on actual NES hardware, is in development. A documentary called “The New 8-bit Heroes” will showcase how a team of creatives from various disciplines brings the game to life and creates a compelling game experience despite the limiting constraints of the 30 year old hardware.

A published fantasy novelist, an accomplished illustrator and cartoonist, a graphic designer at IGN, and a film score composer are among those that will be challenged to retrofit their talent and collaborate to make something that will fit in an 8-bit world.

“There is still a love for the NES. The 8-bit aesthetic is alive and well, and it’s about more than just nostalgia,” Joe Granato, the documentarian and lead programmer for the project explains. “Not only is there an active home-brew community for the NES, but many games for new platforms make use of the retro feel, both as an art style and for the benefits of the intuitive mechanics.”

He cites how the recent release Shovel Knight, a game that uses specifically a NES style, sold over 75,000 copies the first week of release.

In their quest to build this game, the artists featured in The New 8-bit Heroes will interact with Yacht Club Games, producers of Shovel Knight, as well as several others including Sivak, creator of BattleKid, Brian Provinciano, creator of Retro City Rampage, and even people involved in development of actual NES games from the 1980s such as Marc Ericksen who created box art for popular titles such as Megaman2, Strider, and Tetris.

The game itself is called Mystic Searches. It will draw inspiration from classic games such as Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy as well as newer games such as Journey. The game won’t be limited to play on NES hardware, either. The gray cartridge will serve as an external hard drive connectable to a computer via a USB cable. That drive will house a version of the game that is able to communicate with the NES version stored on that cartridge. Players will be able to unlock certain items and power-ups while playing on the hardware NES that they can then access in the PC/Mac version and vice versa, making for a truly unique gaming experience. The team also intends to make a version of the game playable through Steam.

The New 8-bit Heroes is live on Kickstarter with backer rewards that range from physical copies of the documentary and the game to signed, hand drawn concept art to beta testing opportunities to production credits in the film and game to instruction manuals on how backers can create their own hardware-playable game for the Nintendo Entertainment System using modern tools. The goal is to release the project publicly on October 18th, 2015, which marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the NES in the US.

To support the project or to find out more information, go to

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Joe Granato
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