I achieved my childhood dream of making NES games!

My journey of scouring the internet to find any way I could to game dev for the NES.
On
January 18, 2024

As most kids growing up in the 80s/90s, I was obsessed with the NES. It was such a pivotal part of my childhood. I have vivid memories of playing games with my friends and delving into adventures on my own.


-Me as a kid on the right playing 'WWF Wrestlemania Challenge' with my buddy.

I grew up having a computer in the house and feverishly looked up ways to create games. Many times, I'd mess up the family computer learning its ins and outs. Sorry, mom. I learned how to make text adventures through Qbasic, ASCII-looking character games using ZZT, and had the most success with a program in the late 90s called Klik N' Play. It allowed me to create games without programming. I couldn't believe it! I started making all kinds of games, including a boxing game with members of my family and a ninja guy falling from the sky attacking other ninjas, along with many other half-baked mini-games that my teenage mind could come up with. Unfortunately, all of those have been lost with time and most likely on virus-ridden hard drives.

But there were a couple of games that I uploaded to the internet that gained a little bit of a cult following:
Friday the 13th: Return to Camp Blood (1998)
Halloween: October 31st (1999)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1999)
Candyman Demo (2006)

These were among the first horror fan games, if not the first, where you could play as the slashers. Crappy graphics I made in MS Paint and ripped WAV sounds. I had a ton of fun making them. Just the idea of making my own video game was amazing to me. These were simple flash games you could beat in 5 minutes if you knew what you were doing. F13 was my most popular, as it's remembered the most, and it received 81k+ downloads according to download.com.

Years passed by, and I disappeared from game development for a while. I got married, had kids, and work life took over, as it does for everybody.

In 2020, the pandemic arrived, and I found myself stuck at home with the family. I needed a hobby again. I started playing video games while the kiddos slept, thinking about my old games that I made. I went back to play them and thought about how I'd like to upgrade them a bit. However, with programs like Klik & Play, computers had advanced since Windows 98. My old games didn't work on all PCs, and I needed something that could play the same on a certain platform. I started thinking about my other first love, the NES! What if I could demake my old games for the system that took up a huge chunk of my childhood? I feverishly looked up ways I could create NES games, reading every article on the programming language 6502 Assembly and watching how-to videos on YouTube.

Two years later, in 2022, I finally demade my horror fan games. A dream come true! I even added bonus levels and little secrets. Instead of taking 5 minutes to beat, they take maybe 6 minutes each 😃 Now, they're nowhere near the level of Mario or Zelda or anything. More of a novelty thing. But teenage me would be so impressed that 20-some years later, I did this. Maybe 20 years from now, I can port my games to the SNES or N64? Haha. Wishful thinking. Is there anything you dreamt of doing from your childhood that you finally achieved? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.


-The demakes of the games included giving 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' a full title—now called 'A Nightmare on Elm Street: Son of a Hundred Maniacs.' I also completed the Candyman demo, turning it into a full NES game titled 'Candyman: Be My Victim.'

Trailer/commercial for the Windows 98 & NES demakes:

A fun Halloween commercial I made last year for the NES versions only:


-During my exploration into the realm of NES game development, I not only demade existing games but also ventured into creating original ones. 'Carpet Shark,' inspired by a quirky horror short film my friends and I made in 2013, centers around a shark residing in an 8x10 carpet. 'Plummet Challenge Game' immerses you as the Plummeteer, collecting gems until a dramatic crash to the ground or collision with an obstacle. And 'The Arm Wrestling Classic,' assume the role of Barry Biceps, mastering button-mashing techniques to overcome a roster of eccentric characters, leveling up between matches... Picture a fusion of Sylvester Stallone's film 'Over The Top' blended with the NES classic 'Mike Tyson's Punch Out.' What's even more sweet is that I ported these games onto actual cartridges, allowing you to experience them on an actual NES!

Quick commercial for a PC program where you can play all 3 original games without emulators:

All games are free to download. If you'd like to check them out for yourself. Here are the links:
5kids2feed.itch.io (For my original NES games and Windows 98 versions of my horror games)
8bitslasher.itch.io (Dedicated solely to the NES demakes of my horror games)

Morale of the story: Life is too short not to try something you love. Give it a shot; you might surprise yourself.

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