News: N3S Brings Classic NES Games to Life on the HoloLens

N3S Brings Classic NES Games to Life on the HoloLens

Video game emulation has saved arcade and console classics from obsolescence, and that wonderful hobby has found its way onto the Microsoft HoloLens—with some three dimensional upgrades, of course.

If you own a Windows PC, you may have heard about 3DNes, a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) emulator that lets you play your favorite classics in 3D. There's only so much you can do with a flat screen, though, which is where N3S comes in. Developed by Andrew Peterson, N3S not only brings these flat games into the third dimension, it adds a whole new layer of depth in mixed reality.

As you can see in the below video, the games are gigantic. You can not only play them, but walk around them as well.

Peterson used an NES emulator made famous by Libretro, creator of the highly popular RetroArch, as the core for N3S. A more technical explanation of how N3S works can be found on his website.

It wraps the Nestopia UE libretro core and re-emulates the PPU [the NES' picture processing unit] to draw predefined 3D voxel meshes in place of 2D sprites.

Though it's not released officially just yet, you can compile the N3S source code to try it out on your HoleLens right now. It works better on games like Super Mario Bros., where the background is a flat color, but will eventually be able to play more visually complicated games. However, the developer notes a few caveats:

The HoloLens won't run most games full speed, especially when the editor is built-in and people make more complicated 3D meshes for the sprites. I've also had to hand-tune and optimize the app for HoloLens in a way that won't work with many games to get a consistent enough FPS.

Clearly, there's still work to be done, but it's an impressive start nevertheless. It'll be a long while before we tire of our favorite, original console and arcade games. The more people reinvent them with new technologies, the longer that nostalgia will likely last.

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Cover image by N3S

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