There's no shortage of impressive homebrew games in development for the NES, but Something Nerdy Studios' Former Dawn looks set to be truly something special.
The developer has been updating people on Twitter about the action-RPGs progress over the last year and with every new clip it posts, it demonstrates a level of graphics and detail we previously thought impossible on the 8-bit platform. The environments are huge, colourful, and lived-in. The animations are smooth and complex. And the character sprites are wonderfully detailed. It all runs on real NES hardware, and as such, has us wondering how the studio was able to pull off such wizardry.
According to one of the developer's replies on Twitter, it is using the 6502 macro assembler ca65 for the game's code, while the graphics are created in traditional editors and then converted to their build system & tools written in Crystal and Java. For testing, they use an EverDrive N8 Pro flashcart as well as a custom memory mapper called MXM-1. The team size (as of October) is roughly 4 people full-time with a further 12-15 people helping part-time.
If you visit its website, there is a ton of artwork from the game online, including concept work, character portraits, and pixel backgrounds. The website also gives a sneak peek at the game's plot:
"Former Dawn is an upcoming Action RPG for the NES! Set in the future on an exoplanet called Astraea, you take on the role of Jekuthiel, a hunter toiling away at the lower ranks of The Organization. Inspired primarily by 1990s JRPGs, this is a full-length, story-driven, action-packed epic adventure. It is unlike anything ever released on the NES. Help Jeku uncover the truths of Astraea and the origins of his people."
We've reached out to Something Nerdy to find out more about this exciting project. We'll update you if we are able to find out any more info about a potential release date or what has gone into making this promising title. A demo of the game will apparently release before the finished version, but again there's no clear indication of when this will happen as of yet, unfortunately.