When Brian Provinciano released Retro City Rampage last year, he managed to beautifully capture the retro look and feel of '80s-era NES games while adding a decidedly modern twist. But a lot of players no doubt wonder how much of the game would actually have been possible on real NES hardware and how much was only achievable by using modern computing technology to emulate that feeling. Well wonder no longer, because Provinciano is releasing ROM City Rampage, a prototype version of the game actually built to be "100% hardware-accurate" to the specifications of Nintendo's first home console.
ROM City Rampage actually takes Retro City Rampage back to its development roots in 2004, when Provinciano set out to create "a real 8-bit game that ran on the real thing." He eventually moved on to development on modern platforms in order to make a better game without so many hardware limitations, but he decided to dive back in and finish his old prototype once Retro City Rampage was finished. Provinciano discusses the intricate process of squeezing a modern (if retro-inspired) game into NES hardware in an entertaining video that manages to provide a lot of good technical detail without being completely baffling to non-programmers.
The biggest challenge in porting the game backward a few decades, it seems, was simply getting everything to fit inside the NES' 10KB of RAM, 32KB of program ROM, 256KB of background graphics ROM, and 4KB of sprite graphics ROM for each sprite that was available back in 1989. Provinciano had to scale down the world map a bit, get rid of some of the one-off joke signs seen on background buildings, and remove most of the cars and characters littering the streets just to pack everything in there.