Matthew Underwood

The NES’s Hidden Power is Being Unlocked

A new tech demo was just released by Something Nerdy Studios for the NES Everdrive line of flashcarts. This demo, titled House Of Truth, showcases some amazing features the NES hasn’t been capable of up to this point. The release marks a first step for what Something Nerdy hopes may someday be a development ecosystem centered around the N8 Pro specifically. With its relatively powerful onboard FPGA, and Something Nerdy’s new memory mapper they call MXM-0, the humble 8 bit console is now showcasing capabilities previously only seen on 16 and even 32 bit consoles. The studio is also developing an Action RPG that utilizes this new tech called Former Dawn.

Download House of Truth Demo here:
Follow Something Nerdy Studios on twitter here:
Read the technical details on Something Nerdy’s Blog:

Some of the new features utilized for this demo include:

  • 8×1 attributes
  • Per-frame palette swapping
  • Per-frame attribute swapping
  • Auto-bankswitching for CHR

Those more familiar with the limitations of development for the NES may have already picked up on the fact that the displayed image has broken away from the rigid grid of tiles look that largely characterized its background graphics. In addition to these innovations, Something Nerdy is working on tech that allows for features like 8 direction screen scrolling without the glitching that normally happens on the edges of the screen:

One of the developments that I’m most excited about is that the system will have the ability to access far more data than was previously possible. They’ve chosen to limit themselves to 2.8GiB for Former Dawn, but theoretically there is no upper limit for other developers. With that much available, Something Nerdy has brought full motion video to the NES:

This clip runs smoothly on a stock NES with an N8 Pro. Other features (that are simple enough for me to understand) include multiple tilesets being used on screen simultaneously and being animated at different framerates, 960 unique tiles on screen compared the the NES’s usual 256, 32 times the color density of stock cartridges, and the elimination of many common NES rendering glitches.

The team plans to complete work on their memory mapper, then their game Former Dawn. They even want to create cartridges for the game that would include an SD card that’s necessary to hold all the game data, and an FPGA much like the N8 Pro. Afterward they intend to release MXM-0 for other developers in the hopes that more people will create their own technical marvels for the N8 Pro, and hopefully create a series of tutorial videos for its use.