Portable Video Games

No, I’m not talking about handheld games. I’m talking about games that get ported to a variety of hardware platforms.

Code portability is a topic of interest to me, and some video games allow an opportunity to study code that is ported across multiple hardware platforms and multiple operating systems. And sometimes, it is just a pleasure to see a good game move to another platform.

There are actually several categories here, so I’ll take a quick moment to sketch out how I divide them.


The case of Tetris is simply that of a good game (perhaps the greatest), that has been re-implemented on many platforms. It is a simple game to implement, and there isn’t much point in porting the code or art assets. We’ll return to the topic of Tetris in another post.

For other games, the best way to maintain identical behavior is to simply run in an emulator of the original hardware. You sometimes see this with home versions of arcade games (less often), and versions of old console games – the Atari 2600 Action Packs being an example of the latter.

Some games, such as Ms. Pac-Man get both emulated and re-implemented depending on the target platform. With those games, there is more focus on maintaining the identical look, feel and art assets.

Today, I’m looking to spend a moment on games where the code has been ported. With companies such as id Software, the releasing of the source code has become more common and has opened up the possibility of easily moving to multiple platforms. I recently posted about the porting of Wolfenstein 3D to the iPhone, and wanted to point out two other ports of id games that I have encountered recently:

Here’s a photo of Doom on the in-flight system, which demonstrates that I no longer remember the locations for all the secrets on the first level:

Doom on a plane

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