What’s that? You want to play an 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System version of F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s immortal classic, The Great Gatsby? No problem, I can make that happen!
If you simply can’t wait for Baz Luhrmann‘s upcoming film adaptation (which opens May 10th), you can whet your whistle for Roaring Twenties mischef with this bad-ass retro game adaptation.
Play as Gatsby’s neighbor Nick Carraway and battle your way past butlers, flappers, and gangsters at one of Gatsby’s bacchanalian parties. In classic NES platformer fashion, collect coins and throw your hat (which acts as a boomerang) to clear a path through Gatsby’s grounds. But beware, if you die, you’re told, “Game Over, Old Sport!”
This free game, which you can play at greatgatsbygame.com/, comes from Charles Hoey, a developer at the San Francisco-based Barabarian Group who partnered with Pete Smith, an editor at Nerve.com, and created this 8-bit NES version of Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel. Previously, the game was rumored to be a real cartridge. On the official website, you’ll see a bizarre block of text:
“If anybody has more info about this please let me know ! As it is, I really don’t know much about this game. I found it at a yard sale. I bought it for 50 cents and went home to try it out. After dusting off my NES for like, 20 minutes I got it working, and jesus. So weird. Apparently it’s an unreleased localization of a Japanese cart called Doki Doki Toshokan: Gatsby no Monogatari, but I haven’t found anything about that either.”
Hoey and Smith even went so far as to recruit Michael DiMotta to illustrate a classic ’90s magazine advertisement for the game that looks straight out of Nintendo Power. After the hoax was debunked, the developers made the source code available online for others to make their own classic 8-bit send-ups.
The game also features a fantastic soundtrack influenced by Billie Holiday‘s “It’s Like Reaching for the Moon,” Chopin‘s Nocturnes, and of course, the classic soundtracks of video games like Mega Man, Ninja Gaiden, and Castlevania. Click here to listen to the soundtrack at Last.fm!
Within the first 30 seconds of playing Hoey and Smith’s game, I bonked a Flapper Girl in the head with my hat, drank a martini power-up, and squashed a Waiter before hat-smacking a Baker juggling baguettes – so yeah, it’s pretty realistic and faithful to the novel.
The Great Gatsby follows the life and times of millionaire Jay Gatsby and his neighbor Nick Carraway, who recounts his encounter with Gatsby at the height of the Roaring Twenties. Luhrmann’s upcoming film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher and Jason Clarke. You can watch the latest trailer here.