The Raspberry Pi Pico is proving to be a powerhouse of creativity which far exceeds its $4 price tag. Twitter user boochowp has written a series of blog posts and guides using the Raspberry Pi Pico and Pimoroni's Pico Display to create games and animations. Their latest project has recreated one of the Super Nintendo's (SNES) most famous video modes.
I made @Raspberry_Pi Pico interpolator SNES mode7 style demo using @pimoroni Display pack. Yay! pic.twitter.com/0DBXAKcruLFebruary 23, 2021
For those too young to remember, the SNES was released on August 23, 1991, in North America as Nintendo's entry in the 16-bit console wars of the 1990s. Some of the stand-out games for this machine used Mode 7, which used clever programming techniques to move layers of tiled graphics to achieve 3D/perspective effects. Pilotwings, F-Zero and Super Mario Kart were notable games that used Mode 7.
What boochowp has achieved is quite remarkable; their interpolator demo is similar to Mode 7 on the SNES. Using this code, they have recreated a game world based upon the Raspberry Pi Pico board layout and use the Pico Display as both the controller and screen for the demo. They can freely move around the world, which rotates and scales as they move. Flying into the sky shows more of the Raspberry Pi Pico "world" with greater clarity. Written in C/C++, this may not be a full-blown game, but it is the ideal proof of concept for those looking to build games using the Raspberry Pi Pico.
The demo code is available via boochowp's GitHub page, and you will need to follow the guidance on the Raspberry Pi Pico getting started page to build the code into an installable UF2 file. This may not be the first game to appear on the Pico; there has already been a solid port of Tetris. This leaves us thinking that it can't be too long until someone ports Doom to the Pico!
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Les Pounder is an associate editor at Tom's Hardware. He is a creative technologist and for seven years has created projects to educate and inspire minds both young and old. He has worked with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to write and deliver their teacher training program "Picademy".
Mode 7 isn't that difficult to produce by itself. The Atari 800 had a game from Synapse Software called Dimension X. It was essentially Star Raiders with a whizzy visual effect added. The Atari didn't have enough color range and throughput to do anything really interesting, as we became accustomed to on the SNES. For a person who remembers that era first hand, what can be done with a mere few dollars of hardware today is amazing.Reply