It used to be that once a video game system was dead, it was dead forever, but not anymore! Thanks to indie retro revivals in the gaming community, as well as platforms like Kickstarter, we’re still seeing new games pop up for older systems. One of the big ones right now is Nintendo’s original Game Boy, with games still being produced on physical carts by a handful of devoted devs.

Four of those Game Boy developers spoke with Nintendo Life about the process and experience of creating games for such a classic handheld device. The devs in question are Ollie Coe (Life’s Too Short), Cesar Aminio (Glory Hunters), Matt Hughson (From Below), and 7FH (Gunship DX).

A few of the interviewees detail the difficulties of creating games for an outdated device, including making everything fit into a very small file size. Some also mention GB Studio, a platform designed to make developing for the Game Boy easier and more accessible. Here’s a snippet from the interview, in which Matt Hughson explains why he decided to port his game From Below to the Game Boy:

I guess the root motivation was that I love the Game Boy. And I think maybe a technical reason I was interested in doing a port was because I write most of my games in C instead of Assembly – which most old games were written in. Now to rewrite them in C you pay the cost of performance. I wrote From Below for the NES 99% in C with some bits from some Assembly libraries and then there are also libraries for the Game Boy which allow you to compile C, so I could take the core engine and just compile the game on the Game Boy with little to no work for the core gameplay. So that interested me, the thought that I could take the exact same game and run it on Game Boy – though there’s obviously a lot more work to it than that.

The two biggest challenges were the resolution change and the multiplayer. It’s lower resolution than the NES, the Game Boy’s about 144 [pixels] high and 160 wide whereas the NES is 256 by 240 – so basically cut in half. In addition to that, for the Tetris-style gameplay the traditional board is 10 blocks wide and 20 blocks high; on the Game Boy render is 8x8 sprites, so if you do the math you can’t actually fit that in on the Game Boy screen.

[Matt Hughson, Nintendo Life]

Click here to read the full interview, with more insights from all four developers.

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