Exapunks' hacking minigame is now playable on a NES

 HACK*MATCH, the hacking minigame from Zachtronics' 2018 hack 'em up Exapunks, is now playable on any dusty old NES you have kicking around—though an emulator will work just as nicely.

A traditional Zach-like programmer-puzzle game, Exapunks is a grimy '90s-style hack 'em up about building viruses and setting them loose against the man. To really sell the period, Zachtronics thought it'd be cool to create a cartridge-based port of one of Exapunks's minigames—though it turns out building a NES game from scratch takes time.

"Not long after the release of Exapunks in 2018 we started working on an NES port of HACK*MATCH, the game's hacking-themed action puzzle minigame," Zachtronics writes on Itch. "Little did we realize it would take us two years to complete and involve writing our own C compiler for the 6502. But now we're done and we want to share it with you!"

This isn't the first time Zachtronics has released its games on outdated hardware, either. Shenzhen I/O's solitaire minigame previously came to MS-DOS, and even came on floppy disk if you so desired. The studio's pop-up store likewise still has a few NES cartridges of HACK*MATCH, too, and the download comes with instructions for creating your own box and labels.

Of course, if you were a Sega kid, lost your NES, or have been a PC gaming purist all your life, you should also be able to load up the HACK*MATCH ROMs in any NES emulator of your choice. You can download the retro port for free over on Itch.io.

Natalie Clayton
Features Producer

20 years ago, Nat played Jet Set Radio Future for the first time, and she's not stopped thinking about games since. Joining PC Gamer in 2020, she comes from three years of freelance reporting at Rock Paper Shotgun, Waypoint, VG247 and more. Embedded in the European indie scene and a part-time game developer herself, Nat is always looking for a new curiosity to scream about—whether it's the next best indie darling, or simply someone modding a Scotmid into Black Mesa. She also unofficially appears in Apex Legends under the pseudonym Horizon.