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.

Armortale

A game by RPG2 Heaven for PC, originally released in 2019.
Armortale is a platformer set in a colorful fantasy world that has recently become overrun with monsters. One night, many decades ago, a dark tower appeared in the distance, from which monsters spilled forth, the worst of which were pair of shadowy baby foxes that took great pleasure in causing mischief and wreaking torment across the land. Fortunately, a brave hero rose up to banish these foxes and save the land from evil.


But now this evil has returned, this time around, the foxes have kidnapped the princess. A wise witch informs the king that there is another warrior who can save the day. A young man possesses the power to equip the four sets of armor that were passed down from this legendary hero, who was his great great great great great great grandfather. You take on the role of this young man who begins the game wandering around his village in only his underwear, until he receives a message from the witch to come and meet her.


Sparklite

A game by Red Blue Games for PC, Mac, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One, originally released in 2019.
Sparklite is a top-down roguelike action-adventure set in the colorful fantasy world of Geodia. The game stars Ada – and her trusty robot companion – as she ventures through the land, fighting monsters, hunting treasures, and interacting with friendly NPC’s. The world is divided into five procedurally-arranged areas, each of which may be accessed from the grasslands in the center of the map. Exploring the five themed lands allows Ada to defeat the world’s five bosses, and break five seals in order to confront the evil Baron who is stripping the world of its precious sparklite in order to power his mechanized titans, leaving behind pollution in his wake.


When the game begins, Ada is piloting an airship through a storm, which comes under attack by enemies. She uses her wrench and hammer to attempt repairs on the ship as panels fall away, but it’s not enough… As the ship begins to fall, her robot companion stays behind, giving Ada time to reach an escape pod, which crashes into the grasslands below. When she emerges, she recovers her family’s keepsake necklace, which allows her to enter a strange-looking structure.


Xeno Crisis

A game by Bitmap Bureau for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Sega Genesis, Dreamcast, and Neo Geo, originally released in 2019.
Xeno Crisis is a top-down arena shooter starring a male or female marine – or both in 2P co-op – who are ordered to infiltrate Outpost 88. The research station is orbiting Jupiter’s moon of Io, and the scientists on board have issued a distress call, apparently due to some kind of alien presence. Upon arriving at the space station, the marines encounter hordes of alien creatures coming from every corner, and so they do what they do best, and unleash copious sprays of machine gun fire into their ugly faces.


Gameplay takes place across seven themed areas, ranging from metallic space station corridors, to alien-infested biomechanical areas, and even forest and desert biomes. The layouts of these areas are procedurally arranged, but that doesn’t factor into gameplay overmuch, given that players generally move from one room to the next, occasionally collecting keycards and backtracking a couple of rooms in order to push forward. There is no map, but the simple level layouts make such a feature unnecessary.


Noita

A game by Nolla Games for PC, not yet released.
Noita is a roguelike actioner starring a wand-wielding wizard (“Noita” is a Finnish word meaning “witch”) who dives into a series of procedurally generated environments in what is essentially a raw gameplay experience without a narrative or any kind of permanent progression system. The thing that separates Noita from other genre entries is the fact that every pixel in the environment is simulated and behaves according to its assigned properties.


This results in a chaotic experience within a physics/chemistry sandbox where the player’s abilities are constantly changing, which impacts how he can affect the environment… occasionally spiraling into madness as the player inadvertently sets off chain reactions that destroy the world around him in spectacular fashion.


The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors

A game by NatsumeAtari for Switch and PS4, originally released in 2019.
The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors (known as The Ninja Warriors Once Again in Japan) is a high definition remaster of Natsume’s 1994 SNES beat ‘em up entitled The Ninja Warriors (The Ninja Warriors Again in Japan and Ninja Warriors: The New Generation in Europe), which itself was a follow-up to Taito’s 1987 arcade game, The Ninja Warriors. The SNES game acted as both a sequel and remake of the arcade original, fine tuning many aspects of gameplay to expand player capabilities and provide a more technical experience.


The arcade game set itself apart by offering a wide view across three monitors, similar to that of Darius, which Taito released the year before. The game stars a kunoichi dressed in red, with the second player taking on the role of a male ninja dressed in blue and possessing identical capabilities. Despite the spectacle of the super widescreen display, the game moves at a slow pace, with the ninjas casually strolling through a single-plane environment and taking on a continuous stream of bad guys.


Outbuddies

A game by Julian Laufer for PC, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One, originally released in 2019.
Outbuddies is a metroidvania starring an adventurer/archaeologist named Nikolay Bernstein who pilots his airship out to the southern Atlantic Ocean in search of an alien civilization that he believes to be the origin of mankind, despite his colleagues questioning his sanity. Diving beneath the surface, he is somehow wounded and loses consciousness, only to be awakened by an unknown intelligent mechanism, which becomes his companion – or buddy – for duration of his adventure. The player can alternate control between Bernstein and his buddy, or turn control of the buddy over to another player in 2P co-op.


Bernstein finds himself in Bahlam, a sunken city that was once home to the Old Gods, and is currently inhabited by wandering beasts and a race of friendly creatures known as the Wozan. The Wozan are allied against the Old Gods who enslaved their ancestors thousands of years ago before suddenly disappearing. Some Wozan managed to escape and carry on with their lives within the sunken ruins, while others remain captors of monstrous creatures and pain-inflicting machinations.


Celeste

A game by Matt Makes Games for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, originally released in 2018.
Celeste is a precision platformer starring Madeline, a young woman who has decided to climb Celeste Mountain, which also represents her journey to face her growing depression and anxiety. Her story slowly unfolds as she makes her way up the perilous mountain and has some strange encounters, meets up with NPC’s, and confronts the darker side of her psyche. An old woman at the base of the mountain warns Madeline that she might see things that she’s not ready to see… but she presses forward, determined to make it to the top.


Much of Madeline’s story is completely optional, and the game can be played as a pure precision platformer for those players who don’t wish to dive into the narrative. Even when the player experiences strange occurrences, the game plays them off as potentially being something from a dream. Conversely, for players who wish to experience the story without overcoming the platforming challenges, an assist mode is available, which makes the game considerably easier by providing multiple midair dashes and infinite stamina.


Aggelos

A game by Storybird Games for PC, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One, originally released in 2018.
Aggelos is a metroidvania inspired by classic 16-bit action-adventures like Wonder Boy in Monster World. While the visuals and initial gameplay are certainly in line with the colorful classics, the game is more of a technical experience, with element-based attacks that double as a means of environmental traversal and puzzle solving. As new abilities and sword techniques are learned, they must be combined to overcome tough dungeons and boss encounters, and they may also be employed to reach optional side paths and dedicated challenge areas.


You take on the role of a warrior who feels himself drawn toward the woods near his home. When he arrives, he finds a girl on the run from a rampaging monster. The warrior defeats the monster and discovers that the girl is none other than the princess of the kingdom, who has just escaped the clutches of her kidnapper, Valion. Valion is attempting to unite he four elements, which will allow him to open portals between the worlds of light and darkness, and wreak havoc upon the otherwise peaceful kingdom.


8 Bit Horse Celebrates 10 Years!

8 Bit Horse has officially been around for a full decade!

It’s hard to believe it’s been that long, and it’s even harder to believe how much the landscape has changed for indie game development during that time.

To celebrate the occasion, I’m going to take a look back and tell you a bunch of never-before-shared details about the origin and history of 8 Bit Horse. Hold onto your pantalones!






198X

A game by Hi-Bit Studios for PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One, originally released in 2019.
198X is a casual narrative-focused adventure told through the lens of late 80’s arcade games. The game’s protagonist – known simply as “Kid” – is slowly coming to terms with his changing life, from the changes in his family dynamic, to the changing social norms of becoming a teenager, so his journey of self-discovery. Kid lives in the suburbs and discovers a seedy arcade in a bad part of town, which offers him an escape into new worlds. The game shifts between introspective cutscenes and video game action across five different games, with the narrative eventually merging into the on-screen action.


The games themselves are actually less important than the story being told, and each of them consists of only a sampling of what a full game would offer. That said, for all its focus on narrative, the games that Kid plays don’t have much of a direct impact on the overarching story. He describes the games as an escape, rather than drawing any specific life lessons from the challenges he overcomes… and most of the games are fairly simple and consequence-free by design.


Arcade Moonlander / Arcade Moonlander Plus

A game by Daniel Griffin for PC, originally released in 2017, with the Plus version released in 2019.
Arcade Moonlander takes its inspirations from Atari’s classic Lunar Lander, which inspired an entire genre – albeit a sparsely populated one – of gravity-based spaceship games that require players to maneuver through the environment and avoid obstacles on their way to a landing pad. Per genre conventions, touching any surface besides the landing pad results in instant death, as does coming down too hard on the pad itself.


At the start of the game, only the Arcade mode is unlocked, but an Adventure mode unlocks once this has been completed. The Arcade mode consists of 20 individual levels (10 in the original release), which are each designed to be completed quickly, with the player’s fastest overall time recorded and shared via online leaderboards. Early levels are straightforward, with short distances between the player’s starting position and the landing pad, but later levels offer more complex environments and tighter spaces to navigate.


Yoku's Island Express

A game by Villa Gorilla for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, originally released in 2018.
Pinball has a long and storied history, going from barely-interactive distractions to electrified coin-operated equipment with flippers, gameplay objectives, and scorekeeping systems that allowed players to employ strategy. In many ways, pinball machines stand as early precursors to arcade machines, and at the very least, the two forms of entertainment were cozy neighbors during the arcade heyday. Pinball machines continue to be developed to this day, as do video games that attempt to emulate classic tables, or create impossible constructions limited only by the imagination.


But somewhere in the middle of all this are genre crossover video games that use pinball mechanics as a basis for their core gameplay. There have only been a handful of such games over the years, but they are always notable, if for no other reason than their sheer oddity. One early example is Pinball Quest, a role-playing game where the player uses flippers to knock a spheroid character across the environment and into enemies. Another such game is Odama, which sees the player operating flippers and using a microphone to issue commands to an army as they lay siege across battlefields across feudal Japan.