Hacker Crams Super Mario Bros. Into 64 Pixels

Hacker Crams Super Mario Bros. Into 64 Pixels

Shigeru Miyamoto needed 61,440 pixels to create the original Super Mario Bros. Retrobrad did it with a mere 64.

While "Retrobrad" is presumably not our protagonist's Christian name, it's the moniker he goes by in the sort of online circles where people earn notoriety by soldering together amazing utilitarian works of art from electronic scrap, PCB and a handful of colorful buttons.

As such, Retrobrad's latest project is a reimagining of classic NES platformer Super Mario Bros. in the form of a handheld, hyper-pixelated gaming console. It's honestly hard to explain in the limited realm of text, so maybe you should click "play" on that video at right and see exactly what I mean.

I'd be lying if I said I had any idea how this kind of gadget is put together, so I'll let the techie geeks at Hack A Day cover that bit:

Retrobrad has come a long way with his 8×8 gaming device which he calls Super Pixel Bros. The newest rendition has a fab house PCB and freshly rewritten code. The game is still played on an 8×8 LED matrix, but it looks like he's sourced a version with square pixels, which is a nice touch since he was inspired by the block-based Super Mario games. Also new in this version is the character LCD screen which displays score, level, and life information. But it's not just the shiny new hardware that's different, he's rewritten the software in Swordfish Basic to run on the PIC 18F4550. The new code allowed him to tweak how levels are loaded and stored. He's even written a level editor and has finished 20 levels thus far.

The best bit however, is that Retrobrad is working toward selling these things in kit form in the near future. It would still require you to do a bit of soldering, but there is nothing more satisfying than cobbling together your own Goomba genocide simulator.

That said, I'm kinda bewildered as to Retrobrad's motivation here. In the clip he says that Super Mario Bros. is one of his favorite games, which is perfectly understandable and more than enough reason to build this device, but given its resolution limitations wouldn't it have made more sense to program a game less reliant on pixelated details?

Tetris is pretty block-centric, and the grid-style level layouts of Bomberman would have worked nicely as well. I'm not asking for a full-featured port of DOOM, but ... actually, scratch that. I would like to see the plans for this thing released to the 'net, so we can see just how long it takes for some clever geek to drop id's classic shooter onto yet another device.

I'll get a stopwatch.

Source: Hack A Day

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That's genious.

I would ask some improvements like the enemies should walk too instead of only jump and that you chould get the flower in order to shoot fireballs but that's a lot of better work that i could do.

This is so incredibly pointless if i'm quite honest, what exactly is the point of technological regression? It's almost like playing Pong with shadows puppets

I like these reductionist experiments. We can get really close to the essence of games when experimenting like this.

I wouldn't call it revolutionary or anything like that, but it's certainly clever and amusing. I wish I had the skills to do something like this from scratch.

I'll admit I don't understand the appeal of downgrading the tech on games, particularly old games. I do understand the general appeal of "retro" and what not, but transforming current properties like this just bewilders me.

This isn't to say I feel his hobby is a waste of time, if he enjoyed making that thing more power to him. It is a humorous achievement.

Bonelord:
This is so incredibly pointless if i'm quite honest, what exactly is the point of technological regression? It's almost like playing Pong with shadows puppets

The point of hacking usually is to learn something while doing it, so I could imagine the guy wanted to give himself a challenge, see if he manages to create a playable version of super mario on an 8x8 led grid, which he apperently did, and I envy him.

That's pretty awesome. I wish I had the chops to make something like that. I'd definitely make one if I could. Dude has talent.

Also, COMIC SAAAAAAAAAAAANS! ::shakes fist angrily::

Bonelord:
This is so incredibly pointless if i'm quite honest, what exactly is the point of technological regression? It's almost like playing Pong with shadows puppets

Nowadays when people make games with gamemakers and whatnot, this is oldschool hardcore. just think about it from that angle.

Ok, now make it in minecraft.

That's... cool? I guess?

Bonelord:
This is so incredibly pointless if i'm quite honest, what exactly is the point of technological regression? It's almost like playing Pong with shadows puppets

Dude, seriously.

Gtfo...

Project_Omega:

Bonelord:
This is so incredibly pointless if i'm quite honest, what exactly is the point of technological regression? It's almost like playing Pong with shadows puppets

Dude, seriously.

Gtfo...

Very sorry if my opinion offended you, next time i'll just smile and clap like everybody else. Will that make you happy?

Bonelord:

Project_Omega:

Bonelord:
This is so incredibly pointless if i'm quite honest, what exactly is the point of technological regression? It's almost like playing Pong with shadows puppets

Dude, seriously.

Gtfo...

Very sorry if my opinion offended you, next time i'll just smile and clap like everybody else. Will that make you happy?

I just lol'd. XD

Got to say I completely agree with Bonelord. Some "demakes" can be legitimately entertaining, but retrograding back to a 8x8 LED screen when the original game is already technologically ancient is just retarded.

That's cute and all, but I'll stick with the NES version.

That's... nice? I don't see the point in it myself, but I'm sure he did. Why would anybody want to buy this though? A worse version of a game you can already emulate for free?

It's not about buying it or really playing it. It's about the challenge of making it and perfecting your knowledge and skills in electronics by doing so.

"It looks kind of...not good."
-Invader Zim

I was really expecting more when I clicked on the video but I guess he's proud of it so whatever.

Femaref:

Bonelord:
This is so incredibly pointless if i'm quite honest, what exactly is the point of technological regression? It's almost like playing Pong with shadows puppets

The point of hacking usually is to learn something while doing it, so I could imagine the guy wanted to give himself a challenge, see if he manages to create a playable version of super mario on an 8x8 led grid, which he apperently did, and I envy him.

No, sir, this man did not recreate Super Mario Bros. This game only has one type of enemy which doesn't walk around. It has no power-ups, seemingly no warp zones, and Bowser has been replaced with a small challenge mode where you have to jump on the jumping pixels so many times without hitting the ground. He made his own game with level architecture that's sorta similar to Super Mario Bros.. It's not like you couldn't recreate Super Mario Bros. on an 8x8 grid with a bit better electrical engineering. Also, I fail to see how making custom silicon chips is in any way hacking. Color me unimpressed.

I wouldn't call this Super Mario Bros.

Enemies are only jumping, I don't remember any jumping enemies in Mario Bros. Blocks don't have power-ups, he had a constant power-up. I didn't see coins, or collectibles. This. Isn't. Mario. Bros. Even if it's dumbed down, those things made Mario Bros, what he made was a cliche' platformer.

It's impressive that he made it, but still. Kind of wrong to call it what he did.

Talk about pixel-perfect jumps.

TwitchyGamer101:
I wouldn't call this Super Mario Bros.

Enemies are only jumping, I don't remember any jumping enemies in Mario Bros. Blocks don't have power-ups, he had a constant power-up. I didn't see coins, or collectibles. This. Isn't. Mario. Bros. Even if it's dumbed down, those things made Mario Bros, what he made was a cliche' platformer.

It's impressive that he made it, but still. Kind of wrong to call it what he did.

I was thinking the same thing. Without variety in enemy AI, kickable shells, bullet bills, Bowsers that shoot fire, different movement speeds, running jumps, warp zones, etc.

This is damn impressive, and I hope the creator keeps at it. But it is most certainly NOT Super Mario Bros.

P.S. Thanks

To quote Yahtzee in in his Fable 2 review, "You can, but why would you want to?" Yes, one can see if they can recreate SMB in 64 pixels, but why would someone want to other because they can? I don't know, maybe its just because I'm not a big fan of SMB (or any Mario game for that matter), but this just seems rather unimpressive in the grand scheme of things, since the downgrading of tech here doesn't really add much to the advancement of tech.

You should call it.....Super Mario 64

So if I made a banana play Ghostbusters from Atari, none of you would be impressed?

While I do agree with those who have pointed out that he is neither a hacker nor is that Super Mario Bros. he does no claim either of those things. As for why one would downgrade a game as opposed to advancing game tech, advancement isn't everything. One needs to know what to do with games before running to make something in 1080p with the newest release of the Unreal engine. This is similar to experimental film, things like film made entirely by painting or scratching the film reel. Everyone is concerned with the newest movie effects, but the theory behind film making as a whole (the kind of things that any film maker worth their salt knows) has been greatly influenced by these experimental directors. Videogames should be no exception. Experimental gaming such as this can help shape future theories of videogames (or ludology if you prefer the technical term) so yes, there is a point to what he did.

It's like the worst Ashens video ever

 

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