When Portal came out in 2007, developers Valve chose not to release the groundbreaking title on an obsolete Nintendo console long out of production. Nobody cared at the time, of course, but [James Lambert] is here to right that wrong. Yes, he’s porting Portal to the N64.
The port, or “demake,” as [James] calls it, has been under construction for some time. The project has posed some challenges: Portal was developed for PCs that were vastly more powerful than the Nintendo 64 of 1996. Thus, initial concerns were that the console wouldn’t be able to handle the physics of the game or render the recursive portal graphics.
However, hard work has paid off. [James] has chipped away, bit by bit, making improvements to his engine all the while. The latest work has the portals rendering nicely, and the companion cube works just the way you’d expect. There’s also a visible portal gun, and the engine can even render 15 recursive layers when looking through mirrored portals. Sixteen was too much.
Of course, there’s still lots to do. There’s no player model yet, and basic animations and sound are lacking. However, the core concept is there, and watching [James] flit through the not-quite-round portals is an absolute delight. Even better, it runs smoothly even on original Nintendo hardware. It’s a feat worthy of commendation.
Thanks to its innovative gameplay and quirky humor, Portal became an instant hit when it was released in 2007. Characters became cultural icons, quotes became memes and the game became a classic along with its 2011 sequel. Even today, more than a decade later, we regularly see hackers applying their skills in recreating some of the game’s elements. One beautiful example is [Joran de Raaff]’s physical rendition of a Portal Turret.
[Joran] decided to use his 3D printer to create a Turret that can move and speak exactly as it does in the game. The result, as you can see in the video embedded below, was a triumph. We’re making a note here, “huge success”. The outer shell is a beautiful shiny white, an effect achieved through patient sanding, priming, and spraying with high-gloss paint. The internals are even more impressive with servos, microswitches, and a whole array of 3D-printed gears, cams, and levers.
A motion sensor activates the Turret whenever a human moves nearby. It will then open its wings and fire its guns while playing the corresponding sounds from the game. Its brains are formed by a Wemos D1 which drives the various LEDs and servos, while an MP3 player board holds a library of sound bites and plays them through a speaker hidden inside the Turret’s shell.
After posting his creation on YouTube [Joran] got many requests for the 3D files, so he made them available and wrote a comprehensive build guide. This should enable anyone with a 3D printer to build this neat gun, without getting too much science done. If this model is too small for you, then perhaps this life-sized model is more to your liking. If you prefer your Turret small and cute, check out this plushie version.
With modern voice assistants we can tell a computer to play our favorite music, check the weather, or turn on a light. Like many of us, [nerdaxic] gave in to the convenience and perceived simplicity of various home automation products made by Google and Amazon. Also like many of us, he found it a bit difficult to accept the privacy implications that surround such cloud connected devices. But after selling his Home and Echo, [nerdaxic] missed the ability to control his smart home by voice command. Instead of giving in and buying back into the closed ecosystems he’d left behind, [nerdaxic] decided to open his home to a murderous, passive aggressive, sarcastic, slightly insane AI: GLaDOS, which you can see in action after the break.
Using open source designs from fellow YouTube creator [Mr. Volt], [nerdaxic] 3d printed as much of the GLaDOS animatronic model as he was able to, and implemented much of the same hardware to make it work. [nerdaxic] put more Open Source Software to use and has created a functional but somewhat limited home AI that can manage his home automation, give the weather, and tell jokes among other things. GLaDOS doesn’t fail to deliver some great one liners inspired by the original Portal games while heeding [nerdaxic]’s commands, either.
A ReSpeaker from Seeed Studio cleans up the audio sent to a Raspberry Pi 4, and allows for future expansion that will allow GLaDOS to look in the direction of the person speaking to it. With its IR capable camera, another enhancement will allow GlaDOS to stare at people as they walk around. That’s not creepy at all, right? [nerdaxic] also plans to bring speech-to-text processing in-house instead of the Google Cloud Speech-To-Text API used in its current iteration, and he’s made everything available on GitHub so that you too can have a villainous AI hanging on your every word.
One of the major challenges of animatronics is creating natural looking motion. You can build something with an actuator for every possible degree of freedom, but it will still be disappointing if you are unable to control it to smoothly play the part. [Mr. Volt] has developed a passion for animatronic projects, but found programming them tedious, and manual control with keyboard or controller difficult to do right. As an alternative, he is building Waldo, an electronic puppetry controller.
The Waldo rig is being developed in conjunction with [Mr. Volt]’s build of Wheatley, the talkative ball-shaped robot from the Portal 2 game. The puppetry rig consists of a series of rings for [Mr Volt]’s hand, with the position of each being read by angle sensors. This allows him to control Wheatley’s orientation of the body and eyeball, eyelids, and handles. Wheatley and Waldo both still need a few refinements, but we look forward to seeing the finished project in action.
If you still have a Commodore 64 and it’s gathering dust, don’t sell it to a collector on eBay just yet. There’s still some homebrew game development happening from a small group of programmers dedicated to this classic system. The latest is a Portal-like game from [Jamie Fuller] which looks like a blast.
The Commodore doesn’t have quite the same specs of a Playstation, but that’s no reason to skip playing this version. It has the same style of puzzles where the player will need to shoot portals and manipulate objects in order to get to the goals. GLaDOS even makes appearances. The graphics by [Del Seymour] and music by [Roy Widding] push the hardware to its limits as well.
If you don’t have a C64 laying around, there are some emulators available such as VICE that can let you play this game without having to find a working computer from the 80s. You can also build your own emulator if you’re really dedicated, or restore one that had been gathering dust. And finally, we know it’s not, strictly speaking, a port of Portal, but some artistic license in headlines can be taken on occasion.
If you’ve played Valve’s masterpiece Portal, there’s probably plenty of details that stick in your mind even a decade after its release. The song at the end, GLaDOS, “The cake is a lie”, and so on. Part of the reason people are still talking about Portal after all these years is because of the imaginative world building that went into it. One of these little nuggets of creativity has stuck with [Alexander Isakov] long enough that it became his personal mission to bring it into the real world. No, it wasn’t the iconic “portal gun” or even one of the oft-quoted robotic turrets. It’s that little clock that plays a jingle when you first start the game.
Alright, so perhaps it isn’t the part of the game that we would be obsessed with turning into a real-life object. But for whatever reason, [Alexander] simply had to have that radio. Of course, being the 21st century and all his version isn’t actually a radio, it’s a Bluetooth speaker. Though he did go through the trouble of adding a fake display showing the same frequency as the one in-game was tuned to.
The model he created of the Portal radio in Fusion 360 is very well done, and available on MyMiniFactory for anyone who might wish to create their own Aperture Science-themed home decor. Though fair warning, due to its size it does consume around 1 kg of plastic for all of the printed parts.
For the internal Bluetooth speaker, [Alexander] used a model which he got for free after eating three packages of potato chips. That sounds about the best possible way to source your components, and if anyone knows other ways we can eat snack food and have electronics sent to our door, please let us know. Even if you don’t have the same eat-for-gear promotion running in your neck of the woods, it looks like adapting the model to a different speaker shouldn’t be too difficult. There’s certainly enough space inside, at least.
[deater] readily admits they’re a little behind on what’s new in gaming – only having just gotten around to Valve’s 2007 release of Portal. It’s a popular game, but [deater] didn’t want anyone to miss out on the fun – so set about porting Portal to the Apple II.
The port uses the “hires” mode of the Apple II for the flashy graphics that were state of the art around 1980 or so. It’s not a copy of the full game – only the first and last levels, combined with Jonathan Coulton’s now-classic ending theme, Still Alive. As is to be expected, it’s not a wild, fast paced gaming experience, but a cool use of BASIC to put together a fun tribute to a popular franchise.
It’s a little different to the original – portals can be placed anywhere, for example – but it rings true to the original. Source code and a disk image is provided, so you can try it for yourself – even in this online emulator.