A Challenge to the Great Gatsby 8-Bit People
by Salvatore Pane
A group of talented, young geniuses have turned The Great Gatsby into an 8-bit NES game, and I couldn’t be happier. Ever want to kill a flapper using an expertly thrown bowler hat? Now’s your chance. Ever want to fight the entire roster of the 1919 Chicago Whitesox? Now’s your chance. And there’s even an obviously false backstory to the game that claims its owner found the prototype cartridge in a yard sale, and that it’s a localization of the Japanese game Doki Doki Toshokan: Gatsby no Monogatari (any Nintendo fan will tell you this is a play off of Doki Doki Panic, the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2).
There’s so much I love about this. The fabricated backstory. The idea that somebody cared enough about NES games and The Great Gatsby to combine the two. How level two is a total homage to the second level in Ninja Gaiden II, annoying birds and all. This is a project done with love, and all who’ve read this blog for any amount of time or spoken to me in person can attest to the fact that I am completely obsessed with all things Nintendo Entertainment System. There’s just something uniquely charming about the graphics and music, how they hint at what they’re supposed to represent, how you still have to use your imagination. It requires an active participation that you don’t see much in other media. If there’s a spectrum of how much active participation something requires, television and film are at one end (very little) while prose books exist on the other extreme. Comics and old Nintendo games definitely fit snugly in the middle.
What really stunned me about this game is that is was actually fun to play. It’s not just a one-note joke, and it’s pretty comparable to games like Yo! Noid or maybe something like Adventures in the Magic Kingdom. It takes the joke started with the recent There Will Be Blood SNES video to a whole other level. And this all got me thinking about what other literary works are particularly deserving of the 8-bit conversion treatment. So, without further adieu, here’s my personal challenge to the Great Gatsby team. Here are the books I think they should tackle next. I don’t know who the programmers are, but I sincerely hope this isn’t a one game project. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.
1. Super Sad True Love Story
2. The Old Man and the Sea
3. London Fields
4. Yiddish Policemen’s Union
5. God Jr. (my head is exploding just trying to picture this one)
7. The Magus
8. Light Boxes
9. The Road
10. The Things They Carried