8-Bit Classics

Thursday May 19, 2011 12:00AM
I was rummaging through my attic last weekend for my copy of the collected works of Cicero, when I stumbled across my old Nintendo. I put down the ancient Roman philosophy, picked up the ancient early 90s technology, and thought, “Man, I loved those 8-bit classics!”

Duck Hunt, Zelda, Punch Out—each is a symphony of 0s and 1s racing through a little gray box to produce images as evocative as Botticelli’s Venus. Well, kind of. I remember spending hours racing my ExciteBike past blurred shrubbery, hunting computerized ducks, and running from crazy-eyed ghosts.

For me, it's less about each specific game than the fact that game design as a whole was much simpler back then. Without the 3D graphics and orchestral music production of today's multi-million dollar video games, these 8-bit ancestors created simple, engaging worlds with clear binary distinctions between up and down, on and off, here and there, good and evil. Gamers like me appreciated the beauty of these simple worlds in which every little bush, platform, and coin had a purpose.

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