The 8 bit graphics style has really wormed its way into modern gaming, hasn’t it?
You would think that the more sophisticated technology gets, the prettier our games will be. And we do have games like Battlefield 3 and The Witcher 2 to prove that, visually, video games are becoming amazing to look at.
But there’s always that niche group of people who go the other way, who take things from the past and mix it up with the new. Recent games like Hotline Miami, Legend of Dungeon, Starbound, Terraria, Hammerwatch, Minecraft (of course), Fez and Super Meat Boy, the list goes on. Retro graphics are really getting popular.
It’s a process I think actually makes a lot of sense. All artists steal from each other to re-invent their own version of a song, a story, a picture. Why not a game?
So why not go one step more? Even farther into the past, delve beyond the 8 bit era and into the grandfathers of gaming, use graphics that classics like Rogue have used. Why not ACSII games?
Fear not, gamers of old. Take a gander at ASCII Portal.
We all know Portal, yes? The underdog game included in Steam’s The Orange Box by almighty developer Valve? Critically lauded for its humor and voice acting, loved for its simple and yet clever gameplay inclusion of thinking with portals?
If you haven’t, then, well, now you do.
Portal (above) vs. ASCII Portal.
The idea is pretty simple. The premise of ASCII Portal is the same, being able to create portals on specific walls that allow you to traverse areas instantaneously, and utilizing physics to propel yourself into the air to reach previously unreachable spots. Indie Game Magazine has named it a de-make (a pun on remake), and de-make it is. This is what Portal would have been like if it had been made in the 80’s.
What I find so admirable is that ASCII Portal plays so well on its own. Puzzles are well thought out and build up to tougher levels, gameplay mechanics are introduced one at a time so you don`t get too confused trying to figure out what to do, and although it is quite short, it is also free.
One of the most mind-bending scenes in the original Portal was being able to see yourself flying through the air through the portals you create. Despite the devolution to a 2D plane, ASCII Portal recreates this accurately, in a very clever way. The picture above does the game no favors.
Try it out for yourself here.