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Video Game Demake

The polar opposite of a Video Game Remake. While a remake strives to offer an updated version of the game, both from a technical and a gameplay standpoint, a demake is purposedly built as an interpretation of how the game may have been, if it was conceived and produced during a previous hardware or software generation. This means simpler graphics and sound, and simplified gameplay although the basics are mostly kept, often translated from 3D to 2D. It is often a Self-Imposed Challenge for the creators, who try to work with as few resources as programmers had back in the old days. Some even program the demakes on the old hardware, to produce newer games with a Nostalgia Filter. It's also interesting to try seeing if newer mechanics can work in less technically advanced games.

Due to their nature of being based on copyrighted material, demakes are usually fan-made and freeware. This hasn’t saved a few from getting Cease & Desist letters. There are also the Chinese bootleg NES ports, often very bad. The rise of Retro Gaming, however, has made some official productions appear. Beside real and playable games, there are artists who have fun creating mock-up pictures of demade games, often taking the original resolution and palette limitations of old gaming machines into account.

A subtrope of Retraux.


Examples

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  • In 2008 TIGSource held the Bootleg Demakes Competition. Beside taking both major and indie games into consideration, many of the resulting games' titles are very hilarious. Due to a recent site restructuring, the index page of the compo is unfortunately no more, but the dedicated forum is still up and, beside torrents of the complete archive, it’s worth tracking some games that were eventually updated. There's also a list of the games and their inspirators.
  • Game Jolt's 2010 demake competition was interesting since it was focused solely on indie games – which are often retro-styled already.
    • The winner, Warning Foregone, is a simplified Warning Forever that's still quite fun. The competition version was later updated with more features and can be played on Newgrounds.
    • The runner-up, Sulkeis, deserved its place because it's not just a lower-tech Seiklus: while shorter and less varied, it's got completely new levels and situations that weren't present in the original (like the water streams erupting after one of the treasures is found).
    • Among the other games an honorable mention goes to Plants vs. Zombies Retro, a nice rendition of how the game could have been if it was published in 1986, even if it's a limited Endless Game.
  • Eric Ruth's Pixel Force series, famous game franchises as if they were released on the NES in The Eighties. Unfortunately they also share an annoying keyboard control scheme (and it can't be changed, but do a Google search for joy-to-key if you have a joypad). So far he has produced three: Left 4 Dead as an overhead shooter for one or two players, and with the locales of the first game reproduced quite faithfully; the first Halo as a Contra-esque platform/shooter, with a few overhead sections on vehicles and appropriately chip-tuned musical themes; and DJ Hero, complete with hit songs from the era. The latter got pulled because of Universal Music complaining about the chiptune rendition of the Ghostbusters theme.
  • Ruth has produced further demakes, although they are not part of the Pixel Force series. One is Team Fortress Arcade: Team Fortress 2 as a side-scrolling, arcade-style Beat 'em Up.
  • Ruth's most recent game is Serious Sam: The Greek Encounter, an overhead shooter in the signature 8-bit style. It's part of Croteam and Devolver Digital's initative that has produced several indie games based on the franchise.
  • Rockman 7FC and Rockman 8FC, which de-make the only two non-8Bit entries of the classic Mega Man series. Interestingly, 7FC predates Capcom's own Mega Man 9, while 8FC was released between 9 and 10.
  • Capcom also produced Dark Void Zero. While not technically the same game but a prequel, it brings the action and flight mechanics in pixelated 2D. Many people found it more interesting than the main game.
  • The infamous Final Fantasy VII for the NES. Visually, it doesn't even resemble an 8-bit rendition of the original, but at least it manages to convey the story of the original.
    • A patch has been made to make the game more accurate and faithful to the original.
  • The Chinese Chrono Trigger NES bootleg, even more infamous because it's an incomplete game (it ends after the fight with Magus).
  • ASCIIpOrtal.
  • Halo has had a demake as early as 2004: Halo Zero.
  • Halo 2600, available both as a rom and in Flash. A few cartridges have also been produced. Ironically, it's made by Ed Fries, a former Microsoft employee who was instrumental in bringing Bungie to Microsoft in the early 2000s.
  • Not a full product but a Game Mod: BioShock's Arcadia map ported to Doom II: Hell on Earth.
  • Bringing Tomb Raider to Atari2600 or so specifics (it's a bit above that, however) resulted in Retro Raider, basically Pitfall with guns.
  • D-Pad Hero, two demakes of the Guitar Hero franchise to play with a NES emulator.
  • Another Guitar Hero demake: Shredz64. It needs some specific hardware though, to plug a guitar controller to the Commodore64!
  • VVVVVV has a list of demakes in its own forum; given its already got simple graphics, two of them had to resort to ASCII graphics. The other, VVVV, is a 4-kilobyte Java rendition by Notch.
  • Fallout 3 as a JRPG. Made by Bethsoft themselves to introduce the Japanese public to the game.
  • Minecraft users couldn't resist the temptation to remake maps from other games in cubed glory. Here's an example with a multiplayer map of the first Halo.
  • Modern Warfare 2D.
  • Portal in 2D and Flash, a bit more technically advanced than the previously listed two.
  • Final Fantasy X, the NES bootleg.
  • Resident Evil, the NES bootleg with a combat system based on Resident Evil Gaiden.
    • Another one as a 8 bit RPG (made with RPG Maker), seemingly taking the graphics from the NES bootleg demake.
      • Originally, Resident Evil for Game Boy Color was going to be a demake of the PS One version. They scrapped the idea when they thought they could use GameCube for the remake and then made Resident Evil Gaiden for Game Boy Color. Only the Prototype 1 and 2 are left now.
  • My-N-Craft, a Minecraft demake made with... Microsoft Powerpoint?!
  • Among the countless hacks of the original Super Mario Bros., Minimal Mario makes the graphics as really minimalistic.
  • MooD, an arena shooter. The game it refers to is quite obvious.
  • Left 4K Dead, another mini-demake by Notch.
  • Thieving Raccoon: Sly Cooper as a Game & Watch.
  • Another Game & Watch demake: God of War becomes Greek and Wicked.
  • Donkey Kong Country, the NES bootleg. The graphics are actually ported well.
  • Counter-Strike 2D.
  • Mega Man 2600, made in 2007 to run on an authentic machine, although it's only a short demo.
  • Wolfenstein 1-D. Wait, what?
  • Codename Gordon, a Flash platformer made to resemble the first phases of Half-Life 2, back when the latter was still in production — in fact, some of those sections were removed in the final product. It's also a humorous take on the game — faithful to his Silent Protagonist role, Gordon Freeman has only emoticons to use in dialogues, and characters tell him the world has lost a dimension. Originally a fangame, it impressed Valve so much they used it as an official promotional product. The official site is defunct but the game is still among Steam's free games.
  • ZPortal, the gameplay of Portal brought in the Doom engine through the GZDoom source port. See a trailer. Interestingly, the project started before the actual release of the original Portal and was based on how the game appeared in the first videos released by Valve. The authors are the same as Mega Man 8-bit Deathmatch.
  • Pebble of Time, a demake of Rock of Ages made by Zeno Clash developers Ace Team as an April Fools' Day joke. It was released with a fake press release from an angry indie developer claiming Ace Team stole their idea.
  • Doom Parody, a Flash Choose Your Own Adventure-esque take on Doom with static images and limited animation.
  • King's Quest V - The Text Adventure. Which is... well... a Text Adventure version of King's Quest V.
  • There are at least a couple of Doom reinterpretations as a 2D platformer: the Russian-made Doom 2D (now remade) and Doom 2D - Knee deep in the dead.
  • Wolfendoom. Instead of being just Doom backported into its predecessor for better or worse, it has an original and long storyline narrated in the internal "Read This!", putting B.J. Blazkowicz's Identical Grandson as a military consultant for UAC.
  • Pac-Txt, in the style of a text-based adventure game.
  • An official 8-bit game for Tom Clancy's HAWX 2. It even allows you to unlock some exclusive content in the main game.
  • Champion of Guitars, an hilarious Text Adventure take on Guitar Hero.
  • G-Force is an overhead 2D rendition of Tempest, the most recent versions exactly, given the Amazing Technicolor Battlefield. Interestingly, it is also based on a little-known home computer game with the same name, dating back to circa 1983, which already tried to translate the gameplay with one less dimension. No more official page but can be found here.
  • Edmund McMillen, creator of Super Meat Boy, asked some fellow indie developers to draw title screens for warp zones, with the basic idea "if Super Meat Boy was your game". Among them Terry Cavanagh, who had so much fun he decided to throw in a little game out of it, looking a lot like his own VVVVVV. You can try it here.
  • Sewer Shark is an infamous FMV game. The demake by Park Productions turns it into a vertical scrolling shooter, nothing exceptional but certainly more playable than the original. In a nice touch, you can choose to have it look like it's a Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, or Amstrad CPC game.
  • Classic shooter Centipede was turned into a text adventure that vividly dramatizes a hellish Bug War. (Contrary to popular belief, this game is winnable.)
  • Super Smash Land, Super Smash Bros. as it would've been on the Game Boy.
  • Luminesweeper, a GBA demake of Lumines made as a protest against the high price of the PlayStation Portable at launch.
  • C64nabalt is an unofficial port of Canabalt on the Commodore 64. It lacks sound effects, as well as some fine graphical details (but that would have been asking too much), but the rest is intact from the scrolling speed to the music, excellently ported to the SID chip.
  • Even if not a straight demake but a spin-off of the main game, Steins;Gate: Henikuukan no Octet aka Steins;Gate 8 Bit is more than worth a mention. An extension of the True End of Steins;Gate, it is made to emulate the style of the Japanese adventure games of the 1980s on PC-88 computers. So, commands entered with a text parser (and like in the old games, they have to be written in English while the rest of the text is in Japanese), FM synth music, simple line art, few and somewhat gaudy colors, even scanlines. Look at a clip to get a better idea.
  • Runman GB is a simplistic one-button game based on Runman Race Around The World. However, beside the lack of color the graphics are oddly better than the original in some ways.
  • Microsomnium is Psychosomnium, a small game by Cactus (of Mondo Games, Clean Asia and Hotline Miami fame), as a Game & Watch handheld.
  • Super Mario World may be the most well-known among Chinese NES bootlegs, due to its replicating many elements of the original. Interestingly, the bootleg has a prototype which saw mass release and a finished version only found on one cart.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2D, a 2D version of Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). Currently, only Sonic's story is playable.
  • Bit of War. Originally this God of War demake was an ugly Flash game but it has been since redone completely, going for a Super-Deformed style, graphics close to NES specs, and a wacky story with Kratos clashing with gos of other civilizations. It is both playable online and downloadable.
  • Glest, a freeware game engine for Real-Time Strategy games, remade in 2D.
  • Virtua Fighter 2 Genesis, an official port of the classic beat-'em-up, minus the polygonal graphics.
    • Similarly Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary is the fourth installment in the series with the graphics and mechanics of the original.
  • In anticipation of the release of Borderlands 2, Gearbox released The Border Lands, even presenting it as "the 1989 16-bit original".
  • Johann Sebastian Joust is a physical party game for motion controllers in development. Ludwing Von Beatdown is a flash game that manages to reproduce its rules closely while using very simple aesthetics and sound.
  • Princess Rescue, Super Mario Bros. on the Atari 2600. The author managed to put growing, Koopas to stomp and push, and even satisfying renditions of the iconic music themes. Video here.
  • Tyrian 2000 was going to have a Game Boy port, fully compatible with Game Boy Color and Super Game Boy (as in: able to give distinct colors to everything), but got cancelled near completion as the developers got interested in the Game Boy Advance and started porting Tyrian to it, only to hit a dead end and give up. Years later, a developer of Tyrian published the ROM for download on his very site, along with the last release of the actual game. The GBA port is not even 20% complete, thus being very glitchy and having bad graphics, but the Game Boy Color/Classic one is pretty much complete, including randomly unlocking encyclopedia entries! Both ports and the original PC game can be found here.
  • Many J2ME mobile games, Especially Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow and Aria of Sorrow, Mega Man and various games developed by Gameloft. But, if one were to list all mobile games that qualify for this trope, it would be too long to not have its own subtrope.
  • Micro Hexagon, a Commodore Sixty Four version of Super Hexagon.
  • Super Bread Box is Commodore Sixty Four rendition of Super Crate Box. Originally created for a competition, it has been expanded for a commercial release and is available as a digital download or a physical cartridge.
  • The Molten Core was an April's Fool joke by Blizzard: a World of Warcraft game made like it ran on an Atari 2600. A few months later, however, someone made it real.
  • The Mini Ludum Dare 50 in March 2014 was themed on demakes, and resulted in 85 entries (some underwent further updates after the cempo).
  • Sega's Hang-On Jr is an interesting early case of an official demake. Released six months after the original Hang-On, it has the same gameplay but different courses and severely cut-down graphics and sound, due to it running on a much inferior hardware similar to the Sega Master System - in fact, this version is more or less an upgrade of the Master System one, which was released by Sega shortly after the arcade one.

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