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Stranger Things on a NES cartridge

Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236356)
Hey all! Rich here...

This had been a topic in a few corners of the net the past couple of years...the licensed game to the TV show Stranger Things was made in an 8-bit format specifically very NESesq, it was released as a mobile download and the game is absolutly amazing! So I’ve signed up on here to find out if its possible to get this licensed game dropped on a NES cartridge as its the perfect game and the perfect platform!

The furthest I’ve seen on this is a concept that someone did on Reddit just pics, not much info, I really want this to happen! Any help appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

https://www.reddit.com/r/retrogaming/co ... _nintendo/
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236357)
Welcome to the forums!

The short answer is you can't.

The long answer is you can't just 'drop' modern device software on a MES cartridge. It is written for a platform that is a planet apart from the NES in its specifications. Programming for them are two wildly different things. Then i looked at a playthrough and stopped at 0:14 because i lost count of all the things the PPU of the NES can't do graphically. Remember that on the NES you have just one background layer, only 3 colours per 16x16 pixels (beside the shared splash colour), and a very restricted sprite layer. You can have no more than 8 sprites per scanline, and each sprite can have no content wider than 8 pixels. The master palette is much richer than the NES palette. The free-positioned use of those colours indicate bitmapped graphics, whereas NES graphics are in so-called text mode only.

You can attempt to write a new demake of the game from scratch. But it's a lot of work. Assuming you're new to assembly language, it'd probably take anyone in that position a couple of years to get to the point where they'd have the experience to make a satisfactory demake, even they put a decent amount of focus on it. It'd proably be best to start with a small, personal project first. Also note that while much of the design can be copied and some of the graphics covered, it means 1 person would be doing the job of a team - and for system where you need to deal with the intricacies of the hardware directly, as opposed to mobile device software where your high level language and the OS is doing all that lifting for you.

SNES might be a better target for a port if you wish to keep it fairly as-is graphically but it's about just as much work.
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236359)
Everything FrankenGraphics said.

It's like they didn't care to research at all. The only thing it has in common with 8-bit era games is that it's pixel art.
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236362)
nesrocks wrote:
The only thing it has in common with 8-bit era games is that it's pixel art.

For me it's closer to 16-bits ... the game has nothing of 8-bits
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236366)
NES-Rich wrote:
show Stranger Things was made in an 8-bit format specifically very NESesq

Are you talking about this game?
www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXn3mxYdj3Y

If yes: This doesn't even look like the NES. If at all, it's more like a Super Nintendo game.

If they consciously went with a retro aesthetic that fits the time of the show (instead of doing a 2D game just because they like it better than 3D), they completely screwed it up. The show plays in the 80s and the game looks like early to mid 90s.

But yeah, either way, what the others already said: You cannot just put a game onto a cartridge just like that. Just because a game's pixel artworks look like a certain console doesn't mean that the inner workings are anything alike.

After all, you wouldn't assume that a Matchbox car can actually drive just because it happens to look like a real car from the outside.
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236370)
I haven't seen Stranger Things. Does it take place in the early, mid, or late 1980s? The PC Engine came out in Japan in October 1987, and except for the zooming, all of what I saw on a brief skim through the video looks doable on a PC Engine.

PC Engine was released internationally as TurboGrafx-16. Don't let the number fool you; it has an 8-bit CPU. But its VDC does have 16-pixel-wide sprites, 16 of them on a scanline, and its VCE has 16 background palettes each of 16 colors (one transparent) and 16 sprite palettes each of 16 colors (one transparent). And the high instructions per clock of its 65C02-derived CPU lets it go toe to toe with a Genesis for many workloads.
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236372)
The second season takes place when Ghost Busters premiered - 1984. The 1st season exactly a year before that, ie -83. So atari 2600, vic-20, c64 and arcade cabinets common those years are good styles if a game actually tried to connect to the aesthetics the series is a destillate of, and the electronic entertainment that would be commonly available to the characters. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw an NES be somewhere among the props in the 3rd season, given that it has taken some time to produce it and i get a feeling from the trailer that it might be more than a year in the universe of the series.

It's not necessarily to say anything about the quality of the stranger things game, but if they aimed to be accurately retro, they missed the mark by a decade from a technical standpoint. The japanese release date of PC engine doesn't mean anything the popular culture in USA at that time, and once it got exported, it was still an obscure system. The pixel art aesthetics themselves are very current/last decade, i'd say.

Thing is i don't think they did. 80s graphics can be hard to digest, so i think they played it safe and just went with the standard 80s = big pixels association, focusing on presenting a game that meets modern expectations. Quite the opposite to nohzdyve , made for the zx spectrum for the black mirror special bandersnatch.
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236381)
I've played the mobile game (and finished it -- including getting all the achievements. In short: I spent quite a bit of time in it).

My sentiments mirror that of others: it is substantially more like a SNES-era game than a NES game, both graphics and sound-wise. Porting it to the NES would be painful and with little to no value.

It is not "in an 8-bit format" (in aethetic or any other way); the only folks who think such things are in their early 30s or younger, i.e. too young to accurately remember what the 80s was**, or really what the true difference was between, say, Pong, Atari 2600, NES, and Genesis. It doesn't mean there isn't entertainment value in such things -- there is, lots -- but the whole 8-bit vs. 16-bit concept is lost on folks that young. Folks my age and older (40s+) I think understand it better because we were old enough to experience (and maybe appreciate?) the transition and evolution. For those young gens, the Sony PlayStation was their retro console, and anything older was "stuff their parents had, and it was neat, those 2D pixely graphics".

"Pixel graphics" does not mean "8-bit". We've discussed it at length before, though that thread turns into a technical train-wreck within a couple pages.

FWIW, I'd say the same thing of Undertale -- much more a SNES-esque game than NES. Wonderful, beautiful, but definitely not NES.

** -- This includes the Duffer Brothers, who were born in 1984, so they were at best 6 year old at the end of the era. Stranger Things is an entertaining sci-fi-ish homage to the 80s, in a beautiful and well-done way, but it is very selective in how it chooses to remember the time period, and it's because the two brothers are simply too young to think otherwise. Last year I read a very well-done article and interview with them where the article author outlined this exact fact. It doesn't mean their stuff isn't entertaining or bad, it just means they've got a very "dreamy" view of what the 80s encompassed.
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236382)
Wow! Thanks for all the input guys! much appreciated! You are right about the game being more suited to 16 bit hardware than 8, I can see that it is much too sharp and fluid to be 8 bit (despit looking fairly similar to my copy of Mission Impossible on the NES)...cool none the less and if this was possible to replicate onto the NES platform it would be foolish to not expect a few technical cutbacks here and there.

I know precious little about game development but know of a couple of indie devs that i’m sure would be interested, I’ll contact them and post any progress.

Cheers guys!
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236384)
I don't think the compromises would be just a few, it'd look very different.
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236385)
No doubt...the gameplay is what really stood out so would be fine I’m sure and to have it on NES factor would be worth it.
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236386)
So why the NES and not the SMS, SNES, Genesis, PC Engine, PC, etc...? "Gameplay" is your reasoning. What makes the "gameplay" of this title NES-specific? Please explain, because I'm really not seeing it.
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236388)
I suppose it doesn’t have to be nailed down to the NES platform, just reminded me of playing my NES and thought it would be cool to have it on there.
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236390)
koitsu wrote:
but the whole 8-bit vs. 16-bit concept is lost on folks that young.

I wouldn't say that - i'm an '86:er and when our family got a console (i think i was 6 to 8, i really don't remember when all that well), NES and SNES sets were sitting alongside each other in the toy store. My parents chose a NES because of the why pay more for the 'super' suffix? The distinction was definitely lost on them. :wink: The same sentiment is mirrored in this 1991 time capsule: youtube clip.

Meanwhile, most neighbors got or rented a SNES, although there was that one neighbor with a c64. So anyway.. i think me and other kids in my age and at that time were acutely aware of the differences.
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236392)
I too am an ‘86 model and anyone in our age group with at least a casual affiliation with video games of the late 80’s into the 90’s will know exactly what the differences were in the different console generations and the “bit wars”
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236394)
FrankenGraphics wrote:
i'm an '86:er

You probably kept in touch with 8 and 16-bit stuff though, or got reacquainted with it sometime ago, while most people your age quickly moved on to newer things or simply abandoned gaming altogether. I wouldn't be surprised if these people had a pretty distorted perception of what retro gaming actually looked/felt like.

Here's something that happened to me recently: the other day I played Fatal Frame 2 on the Wii for the first time, and while watching the FMV sequences I thought to myself: "These look slightly improved over the original PlayStation 2 version". Then, out of curiosity, I looked for a direct comparison on YouTube and... man, did the PS2 version look bad! Everything was completely redesigned for the Wii, and looked nothing like in the original game! If I can be so wrong about more recent generations of consoles, I'm pretty sure that people who haven't touched 8 and 16-bit games since back in the day can have badly distorted memories of those systems influenced by what passes for "retro pixel graphics" these days.

As for the Stranger Thins game in particular, sharpness and fluidity aren't the deal-breakers that make this impossible on the NES (the resolution isn't that different, and the NES can handle fluid animations just fine as long as the screen isn't packed with enemies), it's mostly the color count and the sprite coverage, although the zooming and transparency effects, which are a far cry from what most 16-bit machines could do, certainly aren't helping.

This is obviously one of those titles that are very loosely based on 80's and 90's games, but with no regard at all for the actual technical limitations that justified that aesthetic. The result is often very inconsistent, because of the arbitrarily chosen limitations, which don't always play along with each other.
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236396)
You’re right bud, childhood memories of 8 bit games from back in the day are rarely carried over 30 years down the line...time will certainly weed out titles that dont hold up but in stark contrast there are some that do hold up...Last year I played Mario 1,2&3, Legend of Zelda and Mcdonaldland...they’ve held up so well I dare say they’d still be fun in another 30 years...it all boils down to gripping gameplay and pace...graphics count for nothing without them which brings me onto the idea of Stranger Things...if the visuals were cut right back to run on an old 8 bit platform I honestly dont think it would matter as the gameplay is outstanding...I remember when I first downloaded it, I was convinced it would just be a cheap cash grab but was totally bowled over with how deep and immersive the gameplay was.
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236397)
Quote:
You probably kept in touch with 8 and 16-bit stuff though

True, i didn't think of that. I lost interest in new stationary consoles up until wii starting with playstation.. the NES always stayed with me.
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236398)
Perhaps you'd enjoy playing What Remains, a free NES game that was released recently that seems to have taken some inspiration from Stranger Things:

https://iodinedynamics.itch.io/whatremains
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236401)
Wow! Only 80 cartridges are being produced!? Just messaged them, hope I’m not too late!
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236482)
The font in menus looks 8-bit (complete with white on black background) but otherwise I'd say it looks a bit high res even for 16-bit. Gameplay reminds a bit of Mission Impossible for NES, but I wouldn't say it's 8-bit specific because of that.

tepples wrote:
The PC Engine came out in Japan in October 1987, and except for the zooming, all of what I saw on a brief skim through the video looks doable on a PC Engine.

PC Engine was released internationally as TurboGrafx-16. Don't let the number fool you; it has an 8-bit CPU. But its VDC does have 16-pixel-wide sprites, 16 of them on a scanline, and its VCE has 16 background palettes each of 16 colors (one transparent) and 16 sprite palettes each of 16 colors (one transparent).
FrankenGraphics wrote:
The japanese release date of PC engine doesn't mean anything the popular culture in USA at that time
Never mind the PC Engine, the arcades were always ahead of home console gaming and the 16-bit era started in the late '80s in arcade halls I believe. If the show is about the early '80s, it doesn't really matter though.

According to interviews the 16 in TurboGrafx-16 stands for 16-bit as the VDC and VCE are both 16-bit. Though I still regard it as a powerful 8-bit console, even though it survived long into the 16-bit era. As an aside Turbo stands for the fast speed that beat both the SNES and Mega Drive and Grafx refers to its collorful graphics of the time. PC Engine means the "heart (Engine) of the computer (PC)" as the console main unit is the heart of the family of hardware and software. Also the PC Engine was released in Europe (UK I think) as only the TurboGrafx (without "16") and also unofficially as PAL-modified PC Engines (there were no PAL-optimized games though).

tokumaru wrote:
FrankenGraphics wrote:
i'm an '86:er

You probably kept in touch with 8 and 16-bit stuff
People from that age is too young to remember the adult world of the '80s, as they wouldn't have opened their eyes for the adult world yet, but they are definitely not too young to remember the 8-bit gaming era (and probably some earlier games like Space Invaders, Pac-man and Donkey Kong as they where still widely played), nor would they have a hard time being able to tell the difference between games from before the 8-bit era, the 8-bit era and the 16-bit era (unless you lost touch with those games like Tokumaru said). Also the NES survived a long time into the 16-bit era in Sweden I think (and even longer in Japan). I know people that are born in the '90s and still started with NES despite that the 16-bit era started before they where born.
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236681)
FrankenGraphics wrote:
koitsu wrote:
but the whole 8-bit vs. 16-bit concept is lost on folks that young.

I wouldn't say that - i'm an '86:er and when our family got a console (i think i was 6 to 8, i really don't remember when all that well), NES and SNES sets were sitting alongside each other in the toy store. My parents chose a NES because of the why pay more for the 'super' suffix? The distinction was definitely lost on them. :wink: The same sentiment is mirrored in this 1991 time capsule: youtube clip.

Meanwhile, most neighbors got or rented a SNES, although there was that one neighbor with a c64. So anyway.. i think me and other kids in my age and at that time were acutely aware of the differences.


I think we've discussed this before, but my recollections of the NES and SNES "generations" were the same. Eventually it would become all about the SNES of course (even if it was honestly just a few years before the PlayStation came out), but for the first few years, no one saw the SNES as a "replacement" for the NES. Sure, it was the new cool thing, and it was clearly superior to the NES. But the idea of console "generations" being a thing wasn't really discussed. They were just all different products available on the market. Similar to you, I also didn't get my own NES until after the release of the SNES.

This might be a European thing moreso than the Americas, though? After all, a lot of games took literally several years to come out here, meaning we got to play Castlevania 4 before Castlevania 3. It was just all a bit weird.
Still. The last Famicom game came out in 1994. :)
Re: Stranger Things on a NES cartridge
by on (#236687)
Yeah the SNES was the new cool thing all kids wanted but I remember most parents were too cheap to buy it when it came out. I was lucky that my dad likes new things and bought it as soon as it came out. I had a friend whose parents bought him a used NES with lots of games although the SNES had been out several years already. He had more games than I had thanks to that but he was not very proud to have such an aged system. I became kind of nostalgic to NES at that time so I borrowed all his games against him borrowing my SNES and games. He was very excited to have a SNES and I was excited to play a bunch of games I hadn't played for years and also many games that was new to me. He thought I was crazy to be excited about the old dusty NES (this was still before the PlayStation came out I think).

The last New Famicom was produced around 2000 I think, so in Japan it was very long living.