Super Tilt Bro, the NES homebrew

Play Super Tilt Bro

Facts

Description

Every modern game system from Nintendo has an iteration of the Super Smash Bros series, but old systems seem forgotten. Super Tilt Bro is a homebrew for the NES porting the versus platformer style to our beloved system from the 1980's.

With version 2, we'll go further and bring the new millennium to the NES. We'll put a Wi-Fi chip in the cartridge, allowing for online play.

Features

Version 1

Version 2

History

Super Tilt Bro.'s history begins in 2016, with Sylvain Gadrat finding its old NES gathering dust in a storeroom. Initially, the plan is just to play good old games, but Sylvain is also intrigued by the 8bits CPU powering the beast. Learning how to program with this CPU is surprisingly easy, 8bits processors are incredibly simple as they come from a time when everybody hacked them directly with assembly. Sylvain literally falls in love with the 6502 processor. The only missing thing is a project, a project to commit to as long as there is something to learn, a project too big to be realizable ... Porting Super Smash Bros!

Every time Sylvain works on the project, he learns something. Finding more than three ways to implement state machines using strange behaviors of a specific CPU is an incredible feeling for a geek. It is like dissecting a generation's childhood. It is archaeology, in the computing sense of the term. Implementing state machines, game agents, physics, and all mechanics composing a game is, each time, a new adventure. From feature to feature, from game component to game component, the "too big to be realizable project" becomes credible. What would it take to get an actual good game from it?

November 2016, Super Tilt Bro. is presented in some inner-circles. Most notably in homebrew and smash bros communities. This leap to the public allows the project to gather feedback, eventually leading to the definition of a list of necessary features for a release ... A list of features the project's one-man-team can pull out.

After two and a half years of development, it is already 2018 and time to officially release the game. The scope is fixed, the game is perfected on details and the software version 1.0 is announced. Alongside the release of the software version 1.0, a first physical edition of nine cartridges is produced. In the pure homebrew tradition, the cartridges are crafted at home, with an emphasis on learning how to produce quality products. The physical edition is meant to be sold only at local events in France, so it comes entirely translated in French.

Reception exceeds all hopes. It is overwhelming, the game is sold out before the first event. Asking online shows that 50 more cartridges are needed. They are produced and shipped all around the world. Time to think about the version 2.

Most of 2019 is dedicated to improving the game engine. At the end of the year, Super Tilt Bro. version 2 is announced. It is planned to include multiples characters, new stages, moddable contents and an online mode.

The online mode becomes a reality in June 2020. The Wi-Fi cartridge's prototype is now stable enough, and the game's netcode relatively stable. The game is made available for free, distributed with an emulator patched to be capable of running it. This is still an alpha. Time to gather feedbacks.

To be continued ... Seriously. Super Tilt Bro is an open source project and there is no plan to stop developing it any time soon.

Technology

Super Tilt Bro is a homebrew for the NES. As such, it is developed entirely in assembly language. Programming the NES in assembly is the most straightforward way to do it, a big part of the job is to speak directly with the hardware, there is no operating system to help and when it comes to performances assembly lets us use tricks not even documented by Nintendo.

As a project initially though to learn, the game engine was implemented from the ground up. Not relying on existing projects means that all the code is new and allows it to be more than free with the WTFPL license. Literally, the "do What The Fuck you want, Public License" allows everybody to use Super Tilt Bro as they wish and is equivalent to releasing it in the public domain. Note that releasing in the public domain is not possible in France, so we need this kind of licenses.

For the online part. The PCB in the cartridge integrates an ESP8266, and an FPGA to orchestrate communications between the NES and the Wi-Fi chipset. This is made by Broke Studio, and more details can be found on geeky forums.

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Download all images in a .zip (contains more pictures than shown on this page)

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