The Roaring 80s: The Great Gatsby NES

By Alec Meer on February 15th, 2011 at 12:10 pm.

I wish my address had the word 'egg' in it

If the hat Fitz, wear it. What if… thirsts for platform games on the NES had reached such heights that, in desperate attempts to slake them, publishers turned to adapting classics work of fiction into jumping’n’thumping?

Here’s a little slice of that alternate reality: The Great Gatsby NES, which you can play in your browser right here. Battle butlers, boxcar hobos and Charleston dancers in West Egg, as you hunt down the mysterious Jay Gatsby.

Given it clearly sprung from a giggling fit between friends, it’s surprisingly well fleshed-out. It looks and sounds great, and it’s a perfectly charming platformer in its own right. Affectionate satire in the vein of the Simpsons’ Streetcar: The Musical, plus the devs have gone to the trouble of creating vintage box art and manual excerpts. Me, I look forward to the 3D remake/sequel, The Great Gatsby Galaxy.

Only for Nintendo, old sport! And PC. Mostly PC, to be honest.

Of course, there is that other Great Gatsby game…

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31 Comments »

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  1. Bhazor says:

    FUCK THE JAZZ AGE

  2. JackShandy says:

    Oh my god this is FUCKING AMAZING

  3. mod the world says:

    Wooaa, people made a Jump’n Run game out of The Great Gatsby? Those 80s must have been crazy times. Unfortunately it doesn’t stay true to the book. Gatsby never had that many butlers.

  4. Antsy says:

    Still waiting for a Waldo Pepper flight sim.

  5. sbs says:

    It’s not very fun.

  6. JackShandy says:

    Hold on- how on earth did this avoid a “Staring eyes” tag?

  7. Brumisator says:

    Hmmm… I’m sure it would be more fun if I had a clue about what Gatsby is.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      It’s one of those books they make you read in high school English class. It’s all right. I personally think the book itself and it’s author are a bit overhyped, but it’s full of interesting iconic scenes which translate well into the also-good movie version(s).

      Not my favorite, but a decent, if short, read. You can get it for cheap, or if you can’t be bothered to read it, check out one of the movie versions. They’re all pretty good.

      (P.S. For a little perspective, my favorite way to read a new book is to read the whole thing from cover to cover in a single go. When HP Book 7 came out, I bought it in the morning and had read the whole thing less than 21 hours later, and it only took me that long because I had to work for 11 hours that day. So to those literature nerds who may be offended at declaring The Great Gatsby to be merely “decent”, bear in mind that I’m pretty hardcore and simply would have preferred a longer read.)

    • brulleks says:

      Very poor. I could get through all the Harry Potter books in less than five minutes.

      With a chainsaw.

  8. Quintin Smith says:

    Hey, when sprites walk off the screen you can go running across and catch up with them. Nes authenticity fail! Although I guess a bigger authenticity fail is that the game is not as hard and unforgiving as catching an iron pipe with your teeth.

    • Gnoupi says:

      The difficulty of these videogames we played as children could be a much better explanation to all the violence gamers inherently have.

      Kids nowadays have arrows indicating the objective, cover systems, health restoration, save points, and else. they are clearly not prepared for life with such education.

    • Chris Remo says:

      I think they pretty much fell at the roughly correct point in terms of difficulty and length, to make it fairly likely that most players will see the cutscene and the ending. The final text scroll was pretty great, quoting the novel eloquently summing up a story that was in no way told over the course of the game itself.

  9. Sunjammer says:

    I was actually really excited about this. I love the book and I was wondering how seriously they’d take it. I really, really wish this game made even a half-assed attempt at retelling the story, which it doesn’t. I guess that’s ironic, and i’m supposed to laugh at it?

    Meh i dunno. The game was alright. But it didn’t go all the way. For that, it will burn forever in the purgatory of games that are not up to their own pretensions. FOREVER.

    • Chris Remo says:

      I think you only had yourself to blame if you actually expected a nuanced retelling of The Great Gatsby in a video game. As much as I love games, I don’t think we’ve yet figured out how to mechanically tell that kind of story in a game yet.

      As far as I can tell, this game is simply a lighthearted poke at all of those ridiculous movie, book, comic, and TV adaptations that came out in the 80s and 90s and invariably just became sidescrolling platformers with disjointed cutscenes in them. We have those now too, but they tend to be 3D platformers or action games.

    • arccos says:

      @Chris
      But Total Recall for NES is a classic! Its like I’m really there on Mars!

      And playing Jurassic Park for NES makes you feel like you really are Jeff Goldgame.

    • Thants says:

      Yeah, the idea is more a joke about those NES games based on something that have almost nothing to do with it. I remember a Tom Sawyer NES game that was a lot like this.

  10. Berzee says:

    Desperately needs a Pause button (or did I miss it?).

    How am I supposed to waste time covertly without a pause button? Well, I suppose that adds the NES-style difficulty. :P

  11. The Innocent says:

    Dread… the eyes of T.J. Eckleberg!

  12. passingstranger says:

    Are there any vehicle sections at all?

    Because the opportunity to drop a “bad driver” reference is all too rare.

  13. ophite says:

    This is way better than the Sega version of Remembrance of Things Past. You kept thinking you’d collected enough madeleines for an extra life, but somehow each subsequent one was nothing but a pale echo of the first.

  14. ophite says:

    “Going away?” I inquired.
    “No, old sport.”
    “I hear you fired all your servants.”
    “I wanted somebody who wouldn’t relentlessly pelt my guests with vermouth bottles while they were trying to collect enough coins for an extra life.”

  15. Berzee says:

    That was fun! I beat it TO THA MAX.

    I also got to annoy some friends who hate the book, so — hooray :D

  16. infovore says:

    Perhaps my favourite thing in it – in its attention to detail, in fact – is the reason for the gold hat, and why it does what it does.

  17. Sivart13 says:

    I liked that it was easy enough to beat without getting frustrated at a crazy joke game.

    Also: pretty funny crazy joke game.

  18. EiZei says:

    Me, I look forward to the 3D remake/sequel, The Great Gatsby Galaxy.

    Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First we are going to need a 16-bit Super Gatsby World.

  19. adonf says:

    I’m disappointed that this doesn’t come as a NES ROM running in a Flash based emulator.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Because making a Flash game from scratch based on a classic (but relatively obscure for a video game since video games wouldn’t exist for another 40ish years when the book was written) book, and making it really good and chock full of amusing in-jokes and references isn’t enough: the author should have read up on an obsolete gaming console and suffered through said console’s memory and processing limitations when he certainly doesn’t even have a development system for it.

      Unless you were joking, in which case, bravo: you got me.