A dream can be a source of great frustration and inspiration.
Once you wake up, it’s often difficult to remember a dream, or to put it into words.
So in 2003, after a night spent dreaming of classic video games, artist Mike Richards woke up and typed up every last dreamy detail he could remember.
Those notes were used to create “I dream in retro,” a five minute long animation that took Richards six months to create.
The animation features an 8-bit version of Richards who runs and jumps his way through colorful, video game inspired, levels.
The piece was a huge hit on Reddit and DeviantArt, where Richards has been a member for seven years. On Reddit jsully took time to identify where each weapon, stage, enemy, and piece of music came from while others just praised the animation for its creativity.
“This is probably the best crossover vid I’ve ever seen,” wrote silentcrs.
“It’s....beautiful,” wrote reshin.
“Nerdgasm,” wrote aknuBBe. “The only thing he missed was being in cool mid-air pose when crossing the Megaman boss doors.”
Megaman is a video game character Richards is very familiar with considering he grew up playing Atari 2600, the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis, Richards said in an email interview with the Daily Dot.
“Back in high school I used to play Secret of Mana constantly with my buddy Ken during the summer. We'd fire up some french bread pizza, pop in the game and play for hours,” Richards said. “It kind of became a ritual for us and a warm summer breeze can still bring memories of those times to the surface.”
When he wasn’t button smashing, Richards was drawing his favorite characters on the computer. He attended the Art Institute of Philadelphia where he sharpened his design and programming skills. These came particularly in handy when it came to animating his dream, Richards said.
“A majority of the time was actually spent gathering game sprites, making sprite edits, creating new sprites, and playing the games for research into how each one played and felt,” Richards said. “The other big time consumer was perfecting the look of the animation and making sure it looked as close to the real game play as I could manage.”
Richards is working on a sequel to “I dream in retro,” drawing inspiration from other video game dreams he’s had.
In the meanwhile, Richards is content in spending time in New Jersey with his wife Sandra and playing some classic games.
“Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a lot of today’s games but sometimes I just want to hit start and not worry about load times, cut scenes, forced tutorials, and game patches,” Richards said. “The ability to hit power and then start is very appealing. I also enjoy the charm and artistry of pixel art and chiptune music. It's still impressive to me how much game designers were able to do back then with so many limitations.”