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.

1 Screen Platformer

A game by Return to Adventure Mountain for PC and Mac, originally released in 2019.
1 Screen Platformer is – as it says on the tin – a single screen platformer. The entire game takes place within a single persistent environment, allowing the player to zoom out to see all of the action at once, or zoom in for a more practical scrolling platformer experience. You take control of one of four interstellar bounty hunters as they seek out the golden skull of an elder god buried deep within the temple of Guthra-dun. As with all ancient temples, the place is filled with spikes, booby traps, pools of lava, and other dangers to thwart the efforts of tomb raiding space cowboys.


The single screen system is very similar to that employed by the Platformance series, namely Platformance: Castle Pain and Platformance: Temple Death. In this series, the player is able to zoom out to see the entire game world, zoom in for up-close action, or make use of a medium-level zoom to see more of his surroundings. In these games, playing fully zoomed out is next to impossible, so doing so is more about seeing the entirety of the game world and the presence of the untiring ghost that continuously chases you. That said, the Platformance games made more use of the medium zoom function to help the player avoid dangers, and the games favored designs that had the player tracing over his own path multiple times to deal with dangers in different ways.


Touhou Luna Nights

A game by Team Ladybug and Vaka Game Magazine for PC, originally released in 2019.
The Touhou Project (東方) is an expansive series of Japanese bullet hell shooters developed by Team Shanghai Alice over the span of more than 20 years, which has also been spun off into several other forms of media. Touhou Luna Nights is an officially-licensed spinoff that takes the form of a metroidvania and includes a number of characters and elements from the main series. The game stars Sakuya Izayoi, the head maid of Scarlet Devil Mansion, who has the power to manipulate time and works for the vampire Remilia Scarlet.


Somehow, Sakuya’s mistress has sent her into some kind of virtual/parallel version of Gensokyo (the fantasy world of The Touhou Project that is adjacent to but inaccessible from our world) that she created using magic… apparently for her personal entertainment as she challenges Sakuya to complete her “game”. Sakuya must explore the world, recover her time manipulation powers, and face off against virtual creatures and non-virtual bosses in this strange fabricated space.


Tiny Dangerous Dungeons

A game by Adventure Islands for PC, Mac, iOS, and Android, originally released on browsers in 2013, on mobile in 2015, and computers in 2019.
Tiny Dangerous Dungeons is a bite-sized metroidvania with visuals inspired by the greenscale classics of the Game Boy era. The game marks the return of Timmy, a treasure hunter who originally appeared in the developer’s first game, Dangerous Dungeons, and also Super Dangerous Dungeons and Dangerous Christmas. The game is somewhat expanded over its original browser-based release, offering a time trial mode, a new area, and hidden health upgrades.


Timmy begins the game with a very high variable jump and no other abilities. He has no weapons and cannot stomp enemies to defeat them, so he must avoid all enemy contact in the early going. The entire game takes place within a set of ruins, with enemies taking the form of bats, spiders, hopping (and non-hopping) frogs, and the occasional arrow-firing face-in-the-wall (because video games).


Gunpowder on the Teeth: Arcade

A game by Gunpowder Team for PC, originally released in 2019.
Gunpowder on the Teeth: Arcade is a run-and-gun action platformer that takes its inspirations from the Metal Slug series, Broforce, and super-tough precision platformers like Super Meat Boy. You take on the role of a group of soldiers who must fight against enemy forces, blasting baddies with machine gun fire, using explosives to deal with large targets, and performing feats of platforming derring-do until you reach the landing zone for a safe extraction… or an unceremonious death if you accidentally jump into the spinning helicopter blades.


The game is presented entirely in greyscale with chunky sprites but a high overall resolution. Artwork is presented in a chibi style with minuscule soldiers – and appropriately high-pitched voices for the chibi bad guys – facing off against military machinery that looks like it rolled straight out of Metal Slug or Dominion Tank Police. In contrast, cutscenes are presented in a more realistic style, featuring fully voiced characters (but no subtitles).


Unruly Heroes

A game by Magic Design Studios for PC, Switch, Xbox One, and PS4, originally released in 2019.
Unruly Heroes is an action-platformer starring four playable characters, each based on one of the primary characters of the ancient Chinese novel Journey to the West. The classic tale is one ripe for use in modern retellings and adaptations, with numerous films, television shows, and even video games based on this story (often only loosely). In fact, the tale has already been woven into such video games as SonSon, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and Sun Wukong vs Robot, the last of which was released mere days before Unruly Heroes.


In this game, a sacred scroll has been torn and scattered by dark forces, undoing the world’s harmonious nature and allowing creatures to spill forth to terrorize the land. You take on the role of an oddball quartet of warriors who must travel west to defeat these creatures and restore order. The heroes are named Sanzang, Wukong, Kihong, and Sandmonk, representing the monk Tang Sanzang and his three disciples: the monkey king Sun Wukong, the man-pig Zhu Bajie, and the monstrous-looking friar Sha Wujing.


Klaus

A game by La Cosa Entertainment for PC, Mac, and PS4, originally released in 2016.
Klaus, a.k.a. -KLAUS-, is a platformer starring a man named Klaus… or at least that’s what he assumes his name to be. The guy wakes up in a basement with no memory of whom or where he is, and his only clue is the word “Klaus” written on his arm. Klaus makes it his first priority to find a way out of the basement, completing a variety of platforming challenges and some light puzzle elements. Along the way, he talks out loud, with his words appearing as text appearing in the environment, and the text is scrolled around the screen like any other environmental object. This, along with the stark visuals, set the game’s unique tone, but things get stranger from here…


As the player, you control Klaus directly, but you can also manipulate objects in the environment by placing a cursor over them, allowing you to open doors and slide moving platforms back and forth. Klaus is aware of your presence as the player and is able to determine that there is some unseen entity controlling objects in the environment to assist him. Upon making this discovery, he begins addressing the player directly, although the player has no way to respond, and this character-player relationship changes over the course of the game.


Double Cross

A game by 13AM Games for PC and Switch, originally released in 2019.
Double Cross is an action-adventure starring Zahra Sinclair, an agent of RIFT (Regulators of Interdimensional Frontiers and Technology), which is tasked with policing a multiverse of infinite earths containing variations of the planet’s history, some of which have led to drastically different outcomes. Using interdimensional travel, criminals are able make trouble for their neighboring realities, and recently a criminal wearing a mask – and believed to be a former RIFT agent – infiltrated RIFT Headquarters, stealing a dangerous energy source known as the “metacatalyst”, which could potentially be weaponized.


The narrative is quite detailed and takes into account various possible consequences of interdimensional travel, such as a creature entering another world where the dominant species makes an excellent food source, smuggling resources out of one dimension and into another, meeting an alternate version of yourself in another reality, or smaller issues like the much-discussed Mandela Effect, which led to supposed alternate spellings of The Berenstain Bears.


Sun Wukong vs Robot

A game by Bitca Games for PC, Mac, and Android, originally released in 2019.
Sun Wukong vs Robot (a.k.a. 孙悟空大战机器金刚) is an open world action-platformer starring Sun Wukong and set in a sci-fi world of robots. Sun Wukong is the Monkey King of Chinese legend and is known from the classic novel Journey to the West, and he has featured in numerous tales since that time, as well as adaptations into modern media. The legendary Monkey King is known to carry a heavy rod that he uses to fight his enemies, along with an incredible cloud jump that allows him to reach great heights, and the ability to pluck his hairs to turn them into weapons or copies of himself.


The game begins with a smooth and stylish scanline-laden cinematic introducing Wukong as he does battle with four robots, which acts as a preview for the action ahead. Here, Wukong smashes robots with his staff, blasts them with lasers from his eyes, makes copies of himself that somersault into the air, and spews green smoke from a magic gourd. Ultimately, he is defeated by the robots and imprisoned in a glass capsule where he remains for 500 years… referring to the 500 years that the legendary hero spent imprisoned under a mountain in Journey to the West.


Ravva and the Cyclops Curse

A game by Galope for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2019.
Ravva and the Cyclops Curse is a sidescrolling platformer starring a young owl named Ravva. Ravva’s mother was a powerful summoner who could call forth creatures to do her bidding, but she found herself facing off against the Cyclops Lord who demanded that she give over her powers to him. She refused and the two did battle… but she lost. The cyclops stole her powers and turned her to stone.


When Ravva finds her immobile mother, she vows to save her. Ravva studies up on magic and learns that her mother’s essence can be restored by defeating the cyclops and breaking her curse. She sets forth with summoned creatures of her own – which are cute and diminutive versions of those controlled by her mother – and travels toward the cyclops’ castle.


Splasher

A game by Splashteam for PC, Mac, Linux, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One, originally released in 2017.
Splasher is a fast-paced platformer starring a purple-haired fellow who works to rescue the employees of Inkorp from their evil leader, Docteur. Inkorp is a paint factory, and paint is not only used for color, but certain paints have spectacular properties. As a factory worker, the lead character is one of many who must mop up the excess paint spilled around the factory floor (and walls, and ceilings)… but one day, our hero stumbles across a door and peers inside, and there he sees terrible experiments being performed on his fellow factory workers.


The protagonist is armed with a splatter cannon that allows him to spray water, washing away the paint on different surfaces and rescuing other factory workers, but eventually he gains the ability to spray sticky pink paint and bouncy yellow paint, allowing for some high-flying shenanigans as he dodges obstacles, splats enemies, runs up walls and across ceilings, and creates trampolines to send himself soaring through the air.


The Messenger

A game by Sabotage Studio for PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One, originally released in 2018.
The Messenger stars a ninja in the titular role who must travel through a dangerous monster-ridden landscape in order to deliver a scroll that may help to save the last remnants of humanity. In a remote village, members of a ninja clan have trained continuously for centuries so that they may hold back the demon army that threatens to wipe out the last of humankind. But legend tells of a hero who may yet save them all.


You take on the role of a slacker ninja who is none too pleased with his lot in life… training every day and waiting for the arrival of the legendary Western Hero. But things quickly go to hell and the demons invade, wiping out most of the ninja clan. Arriving barely in time, the Western Hero gives the ninja a scroll with instructions to deliver it to the sages on Glacial Peak.


Desert Child

A game by Oscar Brittain for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, originally released in 2018.
Desert Child is a hoverbike racer with light RPG elements set in a visually stunning world. You take on the role of a poor hoverbike racer who is living on Earth and just barely scraping by. He spends his days racing and his evenings eating ramen, taking on odd jobs, and keeping his bike in working order while he tries to save up enough money for a ticket to Mars so he can enter the Grand Prix. Outside, the moon is crumbling, bits of space debris are constantly falling into the atmosphere, and every ship in sight is headed offworld. Earth is slowly becoming the craphole of the solar system… not unlike the worlds of Cowboy Bebop, Akira, and Redline that inspired the game’s style.


When the game begins, you are able to choose from one of four weapons for your hoverbike, including a magnum, a shotgun, and a machine gun, each of which is displayed with varying difficulty ratings. However, their usefulness isn’t apparent when the game begins, as you have no idea how you’ll be putting these weapons to use, and there’s no way to change your weapon once the game begins… so if you’re not happy with your selection, you’ll need to start over. While the machine gun seems like a pretty good choice, it uses up ammo quickly and its narrow projectiles require that you be very accurate with your shots, whereas the shotgun offers a wide spray, it can hit multiple targets at once, and its ammo is depleted slowly.