Programmer Pekka Väänänen recently published a blog post detailing how he rendered a playable version of the classic 3D shooter Quake on an oscilloscope (via The Verge). It's hard to imagine anyone recreating this not-so-ancient game on anything more graphically outmoded.
Video game demakes, an adaption of modern software for an outdated piece of hardware, have become trendy in the recent years, and Väänänen's demo definitely sets a new bar as he ported the 1996 vintage Quake onto an Hitachi V-422 oscilloscope. Oscilloscopes were the basis for some of the first PC monitors, and traditionally were used to indicate alterations in signal voltages shown simply by single colour points/lines on a small screen.
Some of the earliest video games used oscilloscopes as their graphical displays. For example, physicist William Higinbotham created one of the first video games, a tennis simulation, which ran on a Donner Model 30 analogue computer and an oscilloscope display back in 1958. Väänänen's demo strips the graphic details of Quake to basic monochrome, oscillating lines, transforming the 3D graphics of the game into a signal the oscilloscope could read and display, where monsters, weapons and armour are all rendered in the new environment.
The blog post explains the complicated process of how Väänänen outputted the game through an audio card in order to change the game's engine to be read as a series of changing voltages that could be drawn by the oscilloscope. The video below shows the result of his efforts, which was described by Väänänen as a "low-poly, realtime rendered, open source" version of the game.
The demake still includes some problems, and the result is not quite playable in the conventional sense. However the project is ongoing and we should expect to hear more from Väänänen in the future.