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The Legend

There was a time when game cartridges were forged in the fire of mount doom itself. That great power was then trapped into a regular plastic shelf. Most of the secrets were sealed by fellowship of hardcore game programmers. Their names were concealed in end-game credits from games that were never supposed to be finished. Countless game lives were wasted in the first level, in fruitless attempts of unveiling their evil[1] spell.

That was what my curious and inventive mind believed for years, and still do so. As a kid, I used to play those games and always asked myself how they were done. I really wanted to experience some of the game design problems the pioneers once faced. Back then, they had to wage their own tools, hack the specs for game effects and layout the memory mapper circuits. I figured out, to reach mount doom as equal, first, I had to forge my own hammer. I've decided trail their footmarks therefore I built PyNES: A Python ASM compiler for Nintendo 8 bits.

However as I strum steps progresses, the anvil didn't sound the same. Knowledge weight has changed. Internet made it all available and communities are helpful. Also, computer power had grown and programming languages evolved. I must go a further in each step of their challenges. PyNES is turning into a high-level compiler which will allow Nintendo games to be written mostly in Python. This lecture will explain the several hacks and drawbacks of such approach. And I must say, trying to compile a such evolved language to a such limited processor as the c6502 it's MADNESS. It's pyNES!

The Untold Story

pyNES <> started as a regular 6502 assembler. However, writing games in ASM wasn't fun enough. Thus, using some AST hacks I tried to figure out a way of translating Python code into ASM.

Release notes

  • pyNES versions 0.1.x is released as a Proof of concept.


Clone this repo into your computer, then:

cd pyNES
sudo python install


Inside pynes/examples you'll find a set of examples. Compile them with:

pynes py pynes/examples/ -o helloworld.nes

Now you can open helloworld.nes

[1] Read "That's not all" at the end

That's not all folks

** pyNES 0.1.x **

Despite all my efforts, the pyNES version 0.1.x had several limitations as it should as a proof of concept.

Tricky limitations:
  • Sprite collision
  • Scrolling Screen
  • Sprite animation
  • Better joystick support
  • Hard to extend

Being Hard to extend

** pyNES 0.2.x **

Therefore, pyNES version 0.2.x must overcome those limitations. And so far it is going great.

Project has been split into 4 projects:
  • lexical - just the lexical analyzer
  • nesasm_py - a 6502 ASM compiler based on NESASM
  • pyNES - This project, wich must restrict it's responsibility just to
  • pyNES_StdLib - Standard Library.
  • No more templating.
  • Less gaps between what you are writing and what the compiler is doing.
  • Easier to extend

Hi Level Functions are not templated anymore. However, th

Example of waitvblank function:

def waitvblank():

That must be translated to:

BIT $2002
BPL waitvblank


Python programming for Nintendo 8 bits







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