Back in my day, every action movie worth its salt spawned a licensed 8-bit platformer. Granted, most were rubbish, but it’s a bit of a lost art. What would John Wick’s look like? A lot like the picture above. You might have seen pixel Keanu doing the rounds back in May thanks to a mockup video by the developers of Blazing Chrome, but now you can play it for real, free, here on Itch. This version uses the freely-released sprites and music from the earlier mockup, which have been assembled by “Murilo”, who is currently working on their own platform brawler, Overplasma.
Unlike the original concept video, this game bends the NES rules a bit, using sprite rotation and scaling in a few places. Beyond that? Surprisingly authentic, mostly because the Blazing Chrome developer is a great sprite artist and perfectly captured the NES aesthetic. It’s obviously not a complete or comprehensively tuned game, but it’s impressive what a third party can do with a good sprite sheet and a few 8-bit tracks. There’s not much subtlety to it, with simple two-button NES style controls, but there’s a nice rhythm to dodging sniper fire and crouching behind parked cars.
For reference’s sake, here’s the original mockup video by Blazing Chrome developer Danilo Dias with soundtrack by Dominic Ninmark.
While a cute piece of work, it could still do with a little more tuning. On Normal difficulty, enemies do brutal amounts of damage. While generously checkpointed, it does feel like jumping straight into the deep end of the NES-era pool. The gamepad controls are also a bit weird, seemingly not rebinding properly and mapping movement to the left analogue stick. I’d suggest unplugging any controller first and using the more configurable keyboard controls. Not ideal, but still better.
Of course, this isn’t John Wick’s first appearance in games. While not much resembling Keanu Reeves there, he’s been a playable character in Payday 2, and later got his own VR shooting gallery spinoff. He’s even been in Fortnite. Twice (thanks, Polygon). Still, the one to watch out for is the upcoming John Wick Hex, a daring semi-turn-based tactical take on the unstoppable assassin’s adventures, courtesy of Thomas Was Alone and Volume dev Mike Bithell.