‘Gatsby,’ Rendered In 8-Bit and Interactive
Baz Luhrmann’s long-awaited adaptation of The Great Gatsby opens this weekend, but perhaps you’d like a more interactive and less overwhelming-to-the-senses experience with the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Of course, you could get that by actually reading the book and pondering Jay Gatsby’s obsession with the green light and so forth, but that would be boring. Why read the book when you can play not one, but two 8-bit video games based on the book?
The first, The Great Gatsby for the Nintendo Entertainment System, has inexplicably been around for decades. It came back into the spotlight back in 2011, after a San Francisco developer found an ancient copy of the original game at a garage sale. Charlie Hoey and Pete Smith recreated the game, where in, a Super Mario Bros.-style of gameplay, you, as Nick Carraway, collect martinis and hats as power-ups and defend yourself against flappers, tuxedoed butlers and others. You can play the whole thing at the site they’ve set up here. Like most classic NES games, you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly, and depending on your attention span, you could try to go through the whole plot of the thing.
The more recent and tongue-in-cheek Gatsby interpretation comes from the team at Slate, who created a much simpler game where you, as Gatsby, in a rowboat, must fight for the American dream. You row, in your rowboat, toward the green light and all it stands for, but prepare to be borne ceaselessly back into the past. The gameplay is decidedly frustrating, but it makes for a good setup for the joke.