Twitter Feed Running On NES

Credit: @RobertDaleSmith

If you’ve ever wanted to view a live Twitter feed through an original NES console, you may be a bit weird but you’re in luck. That’s exactly what enthusiast Rachel Weil has done.

She actually released the ConnectedNES open-source project back in 2016, but it’s just had a fresh burst of attention after, ironically enough, a Twitter post from somebody who’d used it.

Weil approached the project with the simple enough concept that the NES controller inputs bits to the console and that rather than representing “button pressed” and “button not pressed” that data could represent tweets.

She explains the process in full in her post, but the key is using a Particle Photon, a wi-fi connected Internet of Things device. That’s hooked up to a server that retrieves tweets with particular keywords (“OSCON” and “ConnectedNES”) and converts them to six lines of up to 24 characters.

The Photon is hooked up to a NES controller cable and sends the tweet data as if it were a series of button presses. That’s then displayed via a custom game cartridge that converts ASCII characters into graphical tiles on the TV screen.

While the current version uses a custom program on the cartridge, an early version involved modifying Super Mario Bros. To make enough room to add the extra code, Luigi had to be removed from the game, making him the earliest example of a Twitter cancellation.

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