Few things invoke as much nostalgia as blowing the dust out of an NES cartridge and jamming it into the system to enjoy games like Super Mario 3, Contra, and The Legend of Zelda with all their familiar 8-bit-tunes and 2-dimensional gameplay. Well, Charlie Hoey, a man from San Francisco, decided to combine everyone’s two favorite things: classic gaming and Junior year English class. The result: The Great Gatsby: for NES is one of the funniest homework distractions of the year. Warning: It does not substitute reading the book.
Starting with a simple re-creation of the cover of the novel as a start menu screen, the developers created four Gatsby themed levels complete with corny 8-bit music and poor hit detection. Did I mention, one of the bosses is giant flying TJ Eckleburg glasses that shoot laser beams? Needless to say, the game loosely follows the plot of book, taking you from Gatsby’s party to the green light on Daisy’s beach. I guess the writer (who is credited before F. Scott Fitzgerald), found that having you fight off a baseball team when fighting World Series fixer Wolfshiem was sufficient character development. There are no complaints to be found here; he explodes after you defeat his team like a true Nintendo boss should.
The game plays similar to Super Mario or Megaman. You have a button to jump and a button to shoot, which is actually just Nick Carraway throwing his hat. You fight off butlers, drunken dancers, gangsters, and sewer crocodiles, all the while collecting coins and power ups in the form of the golden hat (think the star from Mario) and martinis, which restore your health. The game is relatively short, taking 10-15 minutes to complete, and is comparatively easier than other games from the genre. However, it is also free and found on the internet.
The game is a hilariously worthwhile supplement to anyone fond of 80’s era gaming, American literature, or the phrase “old sport”. Be borne back ceaselessly into the gaming past here.