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Sega, Pizza, And Turning Fort Wayne Into a Video Game

September 10, 2019

Some of John Springer’s favorite memories are of him and some friends grabbing some pizzas, heading home and staying up an unhealthy amount playing Sega. That’s the feeling he wants to emulate with his business, appropriately called i heart pizza.

But like toppings on any good pie, it’s never just one thing. The pizzeria John and his wife, Alia, plan to open late next year is just the box for what John and his team have spent over a decade crafting: roughly two-dozen new and remastered games for the Sega Genesis.

About half the games are remasters of old, forgotten games from countries like Taiwan and Brazil. The other half are entirely new homebrew games, made specifically for the Genesis. And developing for a console that just celebrated its 30th birthday has its challenges.

But if all that isn’t enough, the IHP team went for one more big challenge. Turning John’s hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, into its own trilogy of video games. Appropriately called “Summit City Showdown,” “Summit City Beat” and “I ♥ Summit City,” each game has distinct Fort Wayne landmarks lovingly recreated in 16-bit pixel art.

But what got John started on this 11-year venture was one of the lowest periods of John’s life: when he was diagnosed with stage 4-B cancer.

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Unsure of how much time he would have left, he dove headfirst into his work with IHP, collaborating with about 70 different developers, artists and composers to make his dream a reality.

Several years removed, John is completely cancer-free, and he and Alia plan to open their pizzeria, with all of their Genesis games in tow, late next year.

On this new [Indi]android, we get to know John, his team and his story.

For more info on i heart pizza and when their games will be available to play, you can check them out on Facebook and Instagram.