Welcome to 8 Bit Horse

8 Bit Horse is a website dedicated exclusively to 2D video games for all systems, old and new.

2D RADAR

2D RADAR is our list of promising 2D games currently under development.

Lessons in 2D Game Design

We delve into the design lessons learned from classic 2D video games.

Game of the Year Showcase

A collection of our favorite games from past years.

A Celebration of 2D

Our list of notable 2D video games.

Akane

A game by Ludic Studios for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2018.
Akane takes place in the year 2121 in the city of Mega Tokyo, and stars the eponymous Akane as she slices through yakuza thugs in the evening rain. The game opens with a black screen and the sound of a motorcycle crashing. Then we see Akane standing next to a motorcycle in flames while four katana-wielding baddies surround her, and she says, “Tonight I’ll die here, and I’ll take all you son of bitches (sic) with me.”


The game’s primary goal is to kill as many enemies as possible, which will see the player into increasingly difficult challenges, including a number of boss encounters. However, simply killing bad guys isn’t all there is to the game, as the game features a combo system, a stamina meter, a kill-driven special attack meter, and numerous secondary objectives that allow the player to unlock new items and equipment. Despite the fast-paced score-driven gameplay, the game's initial release has no controller support, but the developer plans to add this in an early update.


Mini Ghost

A game by unepic_fran for PC, originally released in 2017.
Mini Ghost is a retro-style metroidvania that acts as a prequel to the Ghost 1.0, which was released in the year prior. The game removes the body-swapping mechanic and strips out most of the weapons, equipment, and upgrades in favor of a focused bite-sized adventure that can be completed in a couple of hours. In a comic book-style introduction involving a couple of the characters from the original game, a space station is hacked and Ghost is called in to take down the station’s central computer.


The game is made up of a series of interconnected single screen environments that the player is free to explore, although upgrades are required in order to properly navigate certain areas. For instance, one powerup allows you to see in the dark, which allows you to get through otherwise pitch black rooms, and another upgrade allows you to spot hidden landmines that would otherwise destroy you. Access to each section of the space station is gated by one of four keycards, most of which are acquired by defeating bosses.


Ghost 1.0

A game by unepic_fran for PC, Switch, and Xbox One, originally released in 2016.
Ghost 1.0 is a cyberpunk metroidvania starring an unnamed operative – the eponymous Ghost – who is able to enter the bodies of robots and control them. This operative is hired by a pair of hackers to infiltrate Nakamura Space Station to steal valuable artificial intelligence algorithms. The space station is heavily guarded by robots, automated turrets, floating mines, and other defenses, and it is up to the operative to find new weapons and equipment to face these hostiles… or exit her robotic shell to take over a robot and turn it against her enemies. The game may be played as a roguelike or as a more traditional metroidvania experience.


The world of Ghost 1.0 has recently entered a new era, with advanced AI robots called “Naka” that are able to perform household tasks. Nakas are able to mimic human behavior and learn to perform nearly any task, which begs the question of what the Nakas might come to desire, how they might feel, and in what ways they might act on these urges.


KonoSuba God's Blessing on this Wonderful World! Revival of Beldia

A game by Ladybug for PC, originally released in 2017.
KonoSuba God's Blessing on this Wonderful World! Revival of Beldia, a.k.a. Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o! Fukatsu no Verdier (この素晴らしい世界に祝福を!復活のベルディア), is based on a light novel series entitled KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! Hepburn: Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o! written by Natsume Akatsuki, with characters originally illustrated by Kurone Mishima. The story centers around a boy named Kazuma Satō who dies and enters another reality based on role-playing games where he teams up with a party of three strange girls to fight monsters. The series has seen multiple iterations in the form of manga, a radio drama, an anime series, and pair of video games which were released as bonuses alongside volumes of the physical video releases of the anime series.


KonoSuba God's Blessing on this Wonderful World! Revival of Beldia is a sidescrolling actioner heavily inspired by the Mega Man series. The game includes Mega Man’s iconic bent-leg jump, pause-scrolling screen transitions, and learning of new abilities by defeating boss characters. The game follows the story of Kazuma Satō, who has become an RPG adventurer in this new world. He has decent skills in combat and magic, although his greatest stat is apparently luck. His female companions are Aqua, a goddess who possesses power over water; Megumin, who uses explosion magic (which weakens her whenever she uses it and causes her to pass out); and Darkness, a young woman with powerful physical attacks.


Dead Cells

A game by Motion Twin for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, originally released in 2018.
Dead Cells is a roguelike actioner with metroidvania elements which stars a glob of sludge that is excreted into a room that contains a headless body. The nameless bit of muck rolls over to the body and transforms to become its head, imbuing it with life. Each death destroys the player’s current body, resulting in the vomitus mass respawning and reanimating another headless corpse, as the surrounding dungeon layouts are rearranged, per roguelike conventions.


The player is given little context for his actions. On rare occasions, the player finds a room that allows him to investigate and learn a few small details about what happened there (with an occasional reward for doing so), but this does not form into a larger narrative. Beyond these special rooms, the player encounters a few NPC’s that offer quips but are otherwise in place to serve specific gameplay functions. The protagonist expresses himself solely with exaggerated gestures.


Defenders of Ekron / Defenders of Ekron: Definitive Edition

A game by In Vitro Games for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, originally released in 2017, with the Definitive Edition released in 2018.
Defenders of Ekron mixes the shmup and action-adventure genres in a game that shifts between shooting, exploration within confined facilities, light puzzle solving, and high speed pursuit. You pilot a flying mech called an Anakim, which is part of a fleet of mechs that defend the Technocratic Republic of Ekron. While most Anakim possess Isvará, the ability to absorb energy and convert it into overpowered attacks, your mech does not seem to have this ability. This puts you at a disadvantage when facing off against other Anakim pilots until you can hone your other skills.


The game was originally released as Defenders of Ekron, and was followed a year later by Defenders of Ekron: Definitive Edition. The Definitive Edition adds new difficulty levels, a boss rush mode against the game’s 13 bosses, and some tweaks to the gameplay and balance. In addition, this edition of the game includes Invaders of Ekron, a standalone vertical shmup done up in an 8-bit style, offering a more straightforward vertical shooting experience without the action-adventure elements or advanced techniques of the main game.


La-Mulana 2

A game by Nigoro for PC, Mac, Xbox One, PS4, and Switch, originally released in 2018.
La-Mulana 2 is the follow-up to the original La-Mulana, a tough action-adventure inspired by classic MSX games. The original game got its start in 2005 as a freeware release and was later ported over to modern systems with a major graphical overhaul, rebalanced difficulty, and the addition of new hints to push the player in the right direction. The original game was extremely difficult, and its modern re-release reduced the difficulty somewhat but still required the player to pay close attention to the environment and the available hints in order to make progress.


La-Mulana 2 follows suit with its difficulty level. Players with reasonable platforming and combat experience can manage their way through most areas, but there are still some traps to trip them up when they least expect it, and boss encounters can be quite difficult. Players’ progress is most likely to be impeded by the riddles and puzzle solving required to move forward, and players will find themselves stuck if they aren’t mindful of their surroundings.


Flat Heroes

A game by Parallel Circles for PC, Mac, Linux, and Switch, originally released in 2018.
Flat Heroes is a single-screen platformer that pits the player against ever-changing obstacles of increasing difficulty. The game focuses solely on gameplay and offeres only geometric shapes set in abstract environments. While there are countless games that offer visually simple presentations such as this, most such games are shallow and play poorly. Flat Heroes, on the other hand, is a highly technical experience that introduces simple concepts that are expanded upon and combined in clever ways to offer an escalating challenge, not unlike Jeppe Carlsen’s similarly abstract 140 and THOTH.


The game offers an incredibly simple control scheme that allows movement to the left or right, a high variable jump, the ability to jump up walls or stick to them, a multi-directional air dash, and a short-range melee attack. This limited skillset is tested to its limits across seven worlds and more than 100 levels in the main campaign, which may be played alone or with friends in up to 4P drop-in drop-out local co-op. The game also features several survival modes, most of which can also be played alone or with up to four players, as well as a few versus modes.


The Vagrant

A game by O.T.K Games for PC, originally released in 2018.
The Vagrant is a sidescrolling hack-and-slash action-RPG set in a large and detailed fantasy world known as Mythrilia. The game stars a sellsword named Vivian in the role of the eponymous vagrant. This mercenary is in search of her missing father and sister, but she soon gets embroiled in larger conflicts that see her bound to a witch named Holborn. Accompanied by the witch’s apprentice, Vivian sets out across the land to bring an end to the dark forces that have infested it.


The game’s vivid visuals are heavily influenced by the works of Vanillaware (Oboro Muramasa, Dragon’s Crown, offering beautiful backdrops, lovely character designs with unrealistically-endowed female characters, and smooth animations; and the level of detail is all the more surprising given that the game was created by a 3-person studio. Furthermore, the game offers a deep combat system, upgradeable weapons and equipment, a cooking system, healing and buff items, a deep narrative, a substantial character upgrade tree, and other niceties usually reserved for larger studio productions, such as a journal and bestiary.


Rifter

A game by IMakeGames for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2018.
Rifter is a fast-paced aerobatic grappler set in a neon-lit world. Players race through dozens of stages, grappling and swinging into the air, dashing around obstacles, slashing through enemies, and toppling giant obelisks while a synthwave soundtrack pulses in the background. The game centers around a Rifter, who is accompanied by a hovering triangular entity called Tiny who explains the Rifter’s abilities, comments on various goings-on as the plot unfolds, and speaks on his behalf of the silent protagonist.


Rifters are tasked with dashing through environments and finding cracks – or rifts – in giant stone monoliths. Rifts appear at the end of each level, with the player repeatedly bashing into them until the cracks expand. Each area consists of a set of levels and a stone tower, and once enough rifts have been opened, the player visits the tower to destroy it. Along the way, the player learns more about the world around him, which actively calls into question his mission of destruction, as well as the missions of the Rifters who came before him.


Sundered

A game by Thunder Lotus Games for PC, Mac, Linux, and PS4, originally released in 2017.
Thunder Lotus Games made its mark with Jotun, a game based on Norse mythology featuring a powerful female warrior facing off against giant elemental beasts called jotun. The game set itself apart with its gorgeous hand-drawn environmental and creature artwork, giving the game the appearance of an interactive cartoon. Sundered offers similarly detailed hand-drawn artwork and animations, with vivid environmental art, fluid creature animations, and gigantic bosses. The game offers a somewhat darker tone than that of Jotun, with the player often facing off against tentacled monstrosities and disturbing boss creatures.


The game is an action-adventure starring Eshe who encounters a strange structure in the desert and finds herself pulled into another world where she is greeted by an entity known as the Shining Trapezohedron. Clearly not one to be trusted, the Shining Trapezohedron offers to lend Eshe its powers to enable her to fight enemies and defeat bosses… risking corruption in the bargain.


Remnants of Naezith

A game by Tolga Ay for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2018.
Remnants of Naezith is a high-speed precision grappler starring an adventurer named Kayra. Thousands of years ago, a powerful thunder dragon named Naezith ruled the skies, and after his death, the dragon’s body parts – his remnants – continued to hold his power. However, Naezith’s soul also remained behind and he has no intention of letting his power fall into other hands, and so he devises a plan to purge the land of these remnants.


While Kayra is exploring an ancient cave with his trusty rope and grappling hook, his equipment gives out and he falls into the darkness below, only to awaken with newfound powers. Gone are his rope and grapping hook, replaced by glowing claws magically bound to his hands (we hate it when that happens). With these hooks, Karya can now shoot magical beams from his hands, which serendipitously work in the same way as his old equipment.