Demakes of games seem to be all the rage right now, with Xbox One hit Titanfall successfully ported back to Xbox 360 - and upcoming indie hit Hyper Light Drifter even heading back to the SNES - so we take it a step further and imagine today's biggest franchises as ancient handheld video games.
Imagine an alternate universe. Like our own in so many ways but with a few telling differences. Relax, consoles still exist and President Oprah never got to invade Belgium. What did change was the history of video games. In Earth Two, the ideas that in our world are just bubbling up into life, and the next-gen era games are considered gaming classics...
Titanfall - The Electronic Tiger handheld version
In retrospect, focusing the Titanfall handheld purely on piloting one of the massive robo-warriors was probably the smartest move that low-rent games manufacturer Tiger could have made. Not to mention the only possible move, given the static nature of Tiger handheld graphics.
That said, the Tiger boys did a great job. Using the D-Pad will move the 'viewport' of the Titan around - in effect, moving the sprite of enemy grunts and Titans in front of your crosshairs or dodging to one side to avoid incoming fire. Twin fire buttons let you choose between blasting targets with your Chaingun or triggering the smartbomb-like Arc Cannon to get you out of a tight spot - shame you can’t move much.
Dark Souls 2 on Game Boy
The original Game Boy version of Dark Souls 2 was a direct sequel to the classic NES game Dark Souls in this universe. A deeply unforgiving side-scrolling beat 'em up, Dark Souls II pitted your cursed hero against wave after wave of undead rats, axe-wielding Hollows and gibbering Bloatheads.
Only by collecting weapon powerups and dropped souls do you stand any chance of fighting your way across to the end of each stage to fight an enormous end-of-level boss and reach the bonfire. The game quickly picked up a reputation as one of the hardest on the Game Boy with many players reporting their B button developing a crack during the Shrine of Amana stage, then the rest of the chassis inexplicably shattering when hurled against a wall.
Watch Dogs on SNES
One of the first 'sandbox' open world games, Watch Dogs puts you in the role of a young hacker who inherits his grandfather's farm and must build it up from the run-down patch of dirt bequeathed to you, all into a thriving agricultural zaibatsu corporation. Well, until you gain enough status to woo a local girl and make her your wife. Of course, this means lots and lots and lots of grindingly hard work - both planting seeds and tending to livestock and using your particular set of skills to engage in corporate espionage against rival farms using your hacking skills - smartphones and farms can happen.
Widely praised at the time for being a technically accurate depiction of both hacking and ploughing, while also criticised for being an indescribably creepy simulation of cyber-stalking. The game requires you to gather intel on locals in the nearby town, use your smartphone to disable their computer-controlled farm equipment and scour the population database in the town hall until you find a suitable candidate to be your wife - who needs Tinder, right?
Mario Kart Game & Watch
Nintendo's Donkey Kong Game and Watch proved so popular that gamers were desperate to see more of the little plumber hero, Mario. Never ones to disappoint fans, Nintendo hit upon the idea of a racing game featuring both Mario and Kong, and the rest, as they say, is history.
With its limited palette of pre-drawn sprites (two, in fact), Mario Kart proved quite the challenge for the Game & Watch programmers but, somehow, being able to move your Kart across the bottom of the screen to dodge obstacles and collect oncoming powerup boxes proved a hit. All that AND you could use it as an alarm clock. Genius.
Need For Speed Tomytronic 3D
If Mario Kart Game & Watch whet gamers' appetite for racing, Tomy's 'Tomytronic' binoculars took it to the next level. For the first time, gamers could experience true 3D graphics with up to one type of car. Unlike the more primitive Game & Watch racer, Need For Speed had an accelerator button that would cause its array of LEDs to fire more quickly into both eyes to create the illusion of hurtling down its endlessly curved tracks - as you might have guessed, Oculus Rift’s VR tech hadn’t hit this reality just yet.
The game left such an indelible imprint both on popular culture and the eyeballs of those who played it for long periods that, decades later, TV's Aaron Paul went on to star in a big budget movie adaptation in which he drove down a road lined with several different colour billboards, while squinting intensely. For 90 minutes.