Forget modern remakes and remasters: you can experience classic Nintendo Entertainment System games in 3D thanks to a stunning new emulator that converts the familiar pixels on the fly using an algorithm.
It’s called 3DNes, and it apparently hails from Vietnamese developer Trần Vũ Trúc. Right now, the emulator is in a beta mode and only available to play via the web on your computer – and curiously, only via Firefox, although perhaps additional browsers will be added over time.
You’ll need a ROM file of a classic or homebrew NES game to get started, whether hosted on the web or a cloud storage service. Simply pop in the URL and let it load (it’s a bit buggy for now, so you might run into hitches), and then you’ll have a classic 8-bit game running in 3D. You can even change the graphics quality based on the performance you’re seeing.
Click and drag and you’ll see the extent of the digital witchcraft at play here: the algorithm converts flat pixels into full 3D objects, and does a pretty remarkable job at times. Tile textures for the ground or boxes translate rather well into 3D, although characters are more hit or miss. Given that it’s an algorithm, there’s a lot of variance in quality based on game, but that’s to be expected.
Still, when it works well, 3DNes is an amazing feat: it’s like finding a buried secret in your favorite old-school games. And with some camera fiddling, you can even experience something like Super Mario Bros. in first-person. Any fan of retro games will need to see this to believe it, even if that means installing Firefox for this sole purpose.