The Great Gatsby for NES
... well, okay, probably not really really, but The Great Gatsby (for NES) is still pretty glorious. In this retro platformer homage to F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel, you play Nick Carraway, who is looking for Jay Gatsby. Who is Gatsby, exactly? You'll have to play to find out!... or, um, maybe you won't really, since this is hardly an accurate retelling of the classic story (for that you might consider the hidden-object game) but it's still fun, silly, bouncy, and a remarkably well designed little homage by Charlie Hoey, Dylan Valentine, Michael DiMotta, and Pete Smith. Move with the [arrow] keys, hit [spacebar] to jump, and throw your trusty hat like a boomerang at enemies with [Z].
Admittedly, there isn't a lot to the game, and players that go in expecting anything more than a very simple platform game are going to be disappointed. Avoid enemies, try not to get hit, and collect coins, martinis, and strike down multiple enemies with a single blow to get a score bonus. This isn't a difficult game; there aren't any tricky jumping sequences, the timer will never be an issue, enemies are all predictable, and the two bosses are almost painfully easy. In fact, the last level is a bit of a let down since it's so short and simple compared to the others.
There are a lot of games out there you could call "retro", mostly because of their choice of aesthetic, but The Great Gatsby is one of the only ones I've ever played that I might honestly believe it belonged on the Nintendo Entertainment System console. It isn't just the visuals, although those are near-pixel perfect examples of old platformers, but rather the whole package. (Check out the stupendous manual art by Michael DiMotta!) Everything from the level design to sound effects to the simple gameplay is reminiscent of a commercially released NES title. At only four levels, The Great Gatsby isn't going to keep you busy for very long, but fans of retro platformers definitely need to check this one out, and the creative team deserves a pat on the back. After it was over, I sort of sat for a few minutes, staring at the monitor and wondering what in the world I'd just played. Then I played it again. Something about this game just makes me happy; it may be weird and it may be short, but it's definitely worth checking out, and I hope we see more from the creative talent behind it in the future.