Posted by (twitter: @rnlf_13)
January 13th, 2017 12:57 pm


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Update: Hey, 18 games so far! Good job everybody. I am happy to see that there are more retro lovers out there! I’ll leave the submissions open for a couple more days, so that everybody who hasn’t finished yet can still submit!

Update 2: Okay, 19 games in total, more than I had feared! As promised I started recording all the games that I could get running on ony of my retro machines. Here is the first video, containing all the games that I got working without much work on my 486 in DOS:

It’s been two and a half years since the last one of these happened, so here we go!

This MiniLD’s theme is THE RETRO CHALLENGE and that means something very specific: The game must run on old (“retro”) hardware and/or operating systems. To get this a bit more unambiguous, here’s what I think is a good definition of “old”:

Hardware/Software Limitations

  • The game must run on hardware and software that was available in the year 2000.
  • That (deliberately) includes Windows 95 and Windows 2000, so it should be easier to participate even if you never programmed for any retro machine.
  • That also includes CPUs as new as early Pentium 3s and GPUs in the range of GeForce 2 or the Voodoo 3 (I would LOVE to see a Glide game or two!)
  • You are not limited to “modern” PCs thought, in fact, every hardware platform from that time or earlier is encouraged (especially DOS games!)
  • That includes (but is not limited to): Commodore 64 (and siblings), Amiga,  NES, SNES, N64, Gameboy (including “Color”, but not “Advance”) , Master System, Mega Drive (that’s “Genesis” to many of you),  Game Gear, Dreamcast, every Atari console or home computer ever made, Neo Geo, MSX computers, Playstation (PS2 is kind of borderline), 3DO, Vectrex, Coleco Vision, every Sinclair Computer, every Apple Computer up and including the G3 Macs, old mobile phones and calculators and so on.
  • It doesn’t have to work on real hardware, as long as there is an emulator available in which it runs (at reasonable speeds without cheating by increasing emulation speed!)
  • You can use whatever (modern) programming language, tools or libraries  are available for your target platform.

Secondary Theme

This time there is a secondary theme, just so you get some extra inspiration: MODERN TECHNOLOGY. So make a game on that theme that works on one of the old hardware platforms mentioned above!


The MiniLD starts effectively NOW, and runs until February 5th. That gives you some extra time to learn how to program for your new target platform. In fact, it would be great if this MiniLD inspired you to learn how to program for a new platform you have never programed for.


None, as usual. I promise to play and record every game that runs on a C64, 486 or Pentium 2 on actual hardware though.

Getting Started

Here are a few links that should get you started if you have no idea how to program for any old system.

31 Responses to “MiniLD #71: THE RETRO CHALLENGE”

  1. Yngvarr says:

    Aww, yeah! I was just thinking about creating a retro game for the next LD and here you are! =) I love this theme!

  2. Avant-Marde says:

    Are there any restrictions on tools or libraries?

    I found this:

    And it would be nice to use some more recently developed helpers to work with an old system if that can make it more realistic to finish something in less than a month while also working a full time job. I’ve never touched the N64 before, but this challenge made me feel inspired enough to at least look into it!

  3. TerraCottaFrog says:

    Time to finally take out my Model 100 😀

  4. TehVulpez says:

    WOOOOOOO!!!! I was SO hoping for something like this, as I’ve been playing around with retro development and looking into the homebrew community lately. Such perfect timing!

    • TehVulpez says:

      I can’t decide what to develop for. I already know Atari VCS stuff quite well, though it’s very limited, and might not make for very interesting games. Thus, I already know 6502 assembly. I could go into the NES, which I looked into a little bit, but never really programmed for yet. The SNES also uses the 6502 instruction set, as far as I know, but it’s 16-bit, of course. The Dreamcast looks promising, as I was looking into that as well, but never really got the development environment or emulators running quite yet. It has a promising homebrew community built around it already, and the promise of being able to code in something other than assembly is tempting, as well as having more modern APIs built around it, such as SDL, OpenGL, and Allegro, that I know of. So… any suggestions? What do you all think I should make a game for?

      Anyway, I’m so happy that this jam popped up. I was about to call off the quest into retro dev, and start learning modern tools again, but this calls me back to it, with new motivation. The game is on!

  5. Tijn says:

    I discovered SCI Companion today:

    It’s really quite awesome. Highly recommended if you want to make a Sierra-style adventure game.

  6. Alex says:

    Oh man this came out of nowhere! My semester just started so entering this is going to be really difficult, but I’m so pumped about getting into SNES development that I just might do it anyways!

  7. Persimmon Pomelo says:

    I’m in. I decided to adapt a short piece of interactive fiction my son wrote (text based). I just finished making it (before I got around to writing this ‘I’m in’ post). So here it is: URBAN SURVIVAL

    DOS Only. Made in QBASIC 4.5. Started and finished today. Good luck everyone with your entries!

  8. goerp says:

    Some resources if you want to do a Commodore 64 game:

    A Commodore64 emulator (most platforms): version 2.4 is stable, not sure about 3.0
    If you want to do Commodore 64 (C64) Assembly, this is a good resource for specific solutions.
    CBM Prg Studio, a nice IDE for C64 development that’s easy to start with: It has sprite, char set and screen editors build in and you can develop in basic and assembly (in the gallery is a link to the game I made in 2013 for a mini Ludum Dare for the C64: it is doable!)
    For embedding a Commodore 64 emulator in htm.
    Has some nice tutorials

    I particpated in the miniLD 45, “low level” and made a game for the C64. It was one of the most satisfying projects I did (not sure if I will participate now). At this page you can find the game with source, maybe you find it useful. It was made with a predecessor of CBM Prg studio, I think you can just paste the source and run it.

  9. Arowx says:

    What about emulation, e.g I wrote a CHIP-8 emulator (that almost works) in Unity ->

  10. TajamSoft says:

    Yay! A retrocomputing challenge!

    What machine to write for, that’s the biggest question 😉

  11. Softwave says:

    This is EXTREMELY my thing.

  12. SmokedFeesh says:

    Hey, I’m new to LD. Is the secondary theme optional or is it also part of the challenge?

    • rnlf says:

      Well, in the end it’s about making a game and there are no ratings in MiniLDs, so do whatever you want. But extra points for incorporating the secondary theme!

  13. Optimus6128 says:

    Damn, I wish I had seen that before. But I still have one week, although I am working on something else outside LD and I am not sure I will be motivated or find inbetween time to do anything, unless I think of something very simple to do rapidly. But usually I go overboard with more technical things, for example, one platform I think is the 3DO, I coded something before in the past and want to go back to it. Alternatively I could do just another DOS thing but maybe something 2D and easy? Or even fire up Quickbasic, I used to love it, and do something simple.

  14. gordebak says:

    I’d love to do this, but I’m too late to learn anything useful. I’m pretty experienced with LÖVE and I might write a prototype in a matter of hours, but my dosbox crashes when I run lovedos. :(

  15. Somnium says:

    I made a text adventure game for Commodore 64 BASIC:

    …and now I think, that I’ve had my fill of GOTO and GOSUB statements for a while… :)

  16. Persimmon Pomelo says:

    Thanks for doing the video rnlf and for running everything, great fun! A Persimmon is a type of fruit as is a Pomelo.

    Anyone know if there will be a MiniLD this month or moving forward? The spread sheet is looking a little bare:

  17. gordebak says:

    Nice video! I didn’t realize my game was that hard. But I’m glad you enjoyed it. Thanks!

  18. cloud9 says:

    I submitted mine at the eleventh hour. Sorry I didn’t hear about this sooner! Will it make the cut?

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