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Games were different on the Nintendo Entertainment System. They were often difficult and obtuse. Either developers had a higher opinion of gamers, or we were just better at games.
Today, studios look for every chance to make their products appeal to a mass market. They also try to nickel and dime users at every opportunity. That got artist Hugues Johnson thinking: What if today’s developers made yesterday’s NES games?
That led him to create a gallery of images of NES games that he slightly tweaked to show how weird many of today’s tropes would look in classic titles like The Legend of Zelda.
Take a look at the gallery, and then stick around for a quick interview with Johnson:
“I first got the idea for the gallery after finishing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword,” Johnson told GamesBeat. “Don’t get me wrong — I enjoyed the game but was also disappointed by the lack of exploration and excessive hand-holding. It got me thinking about how much the series has changed over the years.”
Johnson said that the first Zelda simply dropped players into an environment and let them figure out what was going on.
“Players could explore every inch of the map before entering the first dungeon,” said Johnson. “As the series evolved, it became more restrictive to the point where players can only visit areas at specific times.”
Johnson recognizes that by making games easier, they can reach a wider audience.
“I don’t completely blame the game industry for these new trends because they’re responding to the market,” he said. “If easier games sell then that’s what they’ll make.”
Johnson lives in Chicago where he works as a software developer. In his spare time, he host The Retro League podcast, which is a weekly show about classic games.