Classic Console Development back to main

This page contains links to all of my classic console development projects. These homebrew games - though small - are good starting points for your own projects, and I have done my best to ensure that all dev kits I provide for download are extremely easy to use out of the box and come with the ready to compile source code for my games. Compiled roms are also available for download.

What I did
After discovering the amount of effort needed to put together a decent toolkit to even start development, I decided to make all my downloads as easy to use as possible. Almost all projects have the source code for the games packaged with the devkit and other tools. What this means is that the make scripts (usually friendly .bat files) should compile and run (I often include emulators too) out of the box. Also, they are all based on languages higher level than assembly. Since most of them are written in C, working knowledge of this language is required. Furthermore, these dev kits are to be used under Windows.

How hard is it really to get a dev kit to work?
Well, you start out looking for development web pages for that system. Then you find a dev kit, which most likely is incomplete. You dig around for samples, but they require a different version of the dev kit, or a different dev kit altogether. So now you must evaluate which dev kit will work best. Since these are all independent, open source, and poorly centralized code bases, it can take a while until you ensure compatibility. Now, while your code may compile, it may not link, because the libraries are too old or too new for the sample code you're analyzing, so you'll have to find proper libraries. Then you notice that whoever made the sample code used some wacky graphics editor which is not mentioned anywhere. This is when you start learning about the hardware and how things are stored, etc. Then you discover that the makefiles produce a rom which does not work in emulators, or on the real hardware. Or the compiler just crashes. And since these are all old pages, you are encountering a lot of dead links.

The good news? I've already done all this for you!
Download the dev kits from the project pages below and use them to develop your own games. Then send me your creations, questions, or feedback at !

SNK

Neo Geo The Neo Geo platform was used in both the AES home console, as well as the MVS arcade system. Its hardware was powerful, and brought arcade-perfect gaming into homes, at premium prices of over $200 per game. The hardware was so advanced for its time that it survived through 3 generations of competitors' consoles.
Neo Thunder project page
Neo Geo CD The Neo Geo CD was created in order to address the exorbitant cost of Neo Geo AES cartridges. While the cost of games was decreased substantially, the console's slow loading speeds stood between it and success.
Neo Thunder project page
Neo Geo Pocket Color The Neo Geo Pocket Color was created to take on the Gameboy. Despite its advanced technological capabilities, the NGPC had neither the established user base of the Gameboy, nor well-known franchises such as Pokemon. The market did not take kindly to the newcomer, and the NGPC was quickly discontinued.
NGCollector project page

Nintendo

Nintendo DS The DS portable introduced a second touch screen and a slew of novel game types.
Geoincursion project page
Gameboy The Gameboy portable is one of the top selling consoles, and the most sold handheld. It capitalized on its low battery consumption, and great software library.
Burly Bear vs. the Mean Foxes project page
Gameboy Color The successor to Gameboy had very similar hardware capabilities, but the addition of a colour display allowed for significantly more richness in games. Also, it could play the entire Gameboy library.
Burly Bear vs. the Mean Foxes (GBC) project page
Gameboy Advance The Gameboy Advance was a great leap in Nintendo's portable technology. It featured significantly improved colour support, sound, and larger screen. It maintained backwards compatibility with both Gameboy and Gameboy Color games.
Balanced Diet project page
smgbalib project page
NES / Famicom Possibly the most influential classic home system. It contributed to the comeback of videogames after the crash in the 1980s through quality titles such as Super Mario Brothers. Many of today's triple-A franchises began on the NES.
Invaders must die! project page
SNES / Super Famicom Super Nintendo is the 16-bit successor to the NES. It featured improved graphics and music capabilities, and was home to well-established RPGs. It has an impressive variety of games.
Bucket project page
Virtual Boy Nintendo's attempt at virtual reality. It performed very poorly because it caused eye, back, and neck strain due to its shape and display, which could only show shades of red.
Real Danger project page

Sega

Master System Sega's first system on the North American market. It was home to many memorable platformers and arcade conversions. Brazilian corporation TecToy has sold it (under licence by Sega) for many years after it was discontinued in North America.
Burgers of Hanoi project page
Genesis / Mega Drive This 16-bit console was released a few years before Nintendo's 16-bit SNES, and was very popular in North America. Its commercials were very aggressive towards competitor Nintendo's products.
Gen Poker project page

Atari

Atari 2600 / VCS This iconic system defined video games, and has had the longest run in history (years during which games were produced for it). However, the lack of good quality assurance processes reduced the overall quality of games, and contributed to the crash of the 1980s.
Snappy project page
Atari 5200 This console was rushed to market as a successor to the 2600, and was only released on North America. It was not backwards-compatible with the 2600 and had very few games made for it.
Shooting Gallery project page
Lynx Atari's only portable system. It received many high-quality arcade coversions. Its original designs were attempted to be sold to Nintendo. Its engineers were shocked when Nintendo showed them Gameboy prototypes, and decided to turn to Atari instead.
Catkanoid project page

Coleco

ColecoVision ColecoVision is an interesting console because it was created by a company called Coleco, standing for Connecticut Leather Company, which started out by manufacturing shoe leather. Games on this platform were considered advanced for its time.
Mowleco project page

NEC

TurboGrafx 16 / PC Express The TurboGrafx 16 had the misfortune of going against Nintendo and Sega consoles, but - while not very popular in North America - fared very well in Japan. It is characterized by vividly coloured games.
Alddee project page

GCE

Vectrex General Consumer Electric's Vectrex was the only home system to use a vector display, and not a raster one. It used coloured plastic overlays to add colour to its games. It is also noteworthy that it contained its display.
Scalar Ownage project page

Sony

PSP The Playstation Portable (PSP) featured very advanced hardware and a high quality large wide screen.
Newton Voyage project page

Sinclair Research

ZX Spectrum The ZX Spectrum enjoyed great popularity in Europe. Many clones were produced and they penetrated weaker economies because of the architecture's legendary low production costs.
ZX Spectrum demo project page


Send me your dev kits and creations!
If you have a C-based (or other language of higher level than assembly) based dev kit, send it to me, preferrably with sample source code. I'm always looking to add more stuff to this page!
Also, I'd be delighted to see what you've created using the stuff you've downloaded from this website. Send me your roms, screenshots, etc. If you have any comments or suggestions, they are welcome as well.
My email address is

Why not a modern platform?
I don't know. There's just something about these retro consoles. Perhaps it has to do with my perception of them as a kid. I had a computer, and I understood how it could be programmed (I was using BASIC at the time), but the video game consoles were mystical. They had no keyboards, and games existed inside of chips. Because of this, I always wondered about how they would be programmed, and how they really worked.

Modern platforms (including DirectX and OpenGL) often deprecate features, causing your past creations to all of a sudden stop working. Classic consoles do not have this problem; they are already obsolete! This means that the games you develop for them will always work.

Also, you will notice that all of my projects are written for cartridge-based consoles (although I did port Neo Thunder to the Neo Geo CD). This is because - and this is the collector in me speaking - CD-based games seem a lot more immaterial, lacking substance. Similarly, newer generations of console seem more and more like computers, lacking the character of the classic systems. Newer systems are all 3D, and it just feels that you always know what to expect with what they can be programmed to do.

Given my passion for classic video games, this just came naturally. I remember reading about the Atari Jaguar, and how complex its architecture was, making development for it a nightmare. I started wondering if I could do something like this, and after a bit of research, settled on the Gameboy, and made Burly Bear vs. the Mean Foxes.

Then I considered the Neo Geo, and I was able to write a game for that one too! And as they say, the rest is history :)



Sebastian