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.

Lonk’s Adventure

A game by Pixelatto for PC, not yet released.
Lonk’s Adventure is a humorous open-world platformer that plays on a number of video gaming tropes and borrows a number of design elements from The Legend of Zelda, as evidenced by the game’s title. The entire experience is based around the fact that the game offers 100 individual endings and encourages players to experiment extensively to find them all. On its surface, this sounds like one big gimmick (which, to be fair, it is), but there's actually quite a lot of strategy involved in reaching many of these endings.


Things start out in a straightforward manner reminiscent of many classic video games: Evil forces have abducted the fair princess, and you – a lone adventurer – have been chosen by the king to rescue her and bring peace back to the land… except this is no ordinary adventure. In fact, you might walk out your front door, trip over a rock, and faceplant before you ever set foot in the castle, thus ending your adventure and achieving one of the 100 endings.


Dex / Dex: Enhanced Version

A game by Dreadlocks for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Vita, and OUYA, originally released in 2015.
Dex is a cyberpunk action-adventure that takes place in the near future of 2037 where corporations are the ultimate power in the world. The gap between rich and poor has grown even further, with a handful of people living in luxury while everyone else is relegated to the slums. In most of the city, crime is rampant, and it’s easy to get your hands on drugs, prostitutes, and guns, as long as you have the cash… or the willingness to kill and take what you want.


You take on the role of the titular Dex, a young woman who finds herself thrust into a dangerous world. She awakens in her cramped apartment with a mysterious figure named Raycast broadcasting his image on her video screens. He tells her that she is in danger and she needs to get out before armed agents break in her door. She escapes out the window and makes her way to Fixers Hope where she meets up with a man named Decker and his hacker friend Tony.


The King’s Bird

A game by Serenity Forge for PC, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One, originally released in 2018.
In The King’s Bird, you take on the role of a girl (possibly a boy) who explores a beautiful world that is under the thumb of a tyrannical ruler. This ruler is able to come and go into the girl’s village as he pleases, but the villagers are unable to escape the bounds of a magical barrier placed around them. The story plays out in pantomime, supplemented with the occasional mural in the background, leaving some of the proceedings up to the interpretation of the player. Early on, the girl gains a new ability that lets her pass through the outer barrier surrounding the village and discover the world beyond.


The girl is incredibly acrobatic, she can wall jump and wall slide, grab onto ledges to mount platforms, and she is able to build up speed in order to make huge leaps. In addition, she has a speed boost ability that allows her to run even faster, and maintaining momentum is needed to dash up slopes, make large leaps, and even run across ceilings. Boosting can also be done to dash upward along vertical surfaces – even immediately upon contact – or used to travel quickly up or down slopes, allowing skilled players to preserve momentum and move incredibly quickly through the environment.


Metaloid: Origin

A game by RetroRevolution for PC, Mac, and Switch, originally released in 2019.
In 2016, RetroRevolution released an actioner entitled Metagal featuring a gal named Meta who must face off against her three recently-turned-evil sisters. The game was heavily inspired by the Mega Man series with the protagonist gaining the powers of her defeated enemies, along with numerous other gameplay and visual similarities. The game showed a lot of promise, but in the end, there were a number of issues that held it back from becoming a modern classic, with several design shortcomings, a number of bugs, and a short length compared to the series that inspired it.


Metaloid: Origin, on the other hand, more than makes up for any shortfalls in the developer’s previous effort. The game is a full-fledged actioner with three playable characters, nine themed areas with unique enemies and level hazards, hidden items and upgrades, unlockable weapons and movement abilities, a handful of cool vehicle sequences, and tons of bosses, minibosses, and mechanized contraptions of destruction to keep you on your toes. There are still hints of Mega Man in the design, but this game definitely stands on its own.


Crossing Souls

A game by Fourattic for PC, Mac, Linux, Switch, PS4, and Vita, originally released in 2018.
Crossing Souls is an action-adventure set in the Los Angeles suburbs of Tujunga, California in 1986, where something supernatural is taking place. You take on the role of five kids who discover a dead body in the woods, and the dead man is clutching a mysterious pink stone shaped like a pyramid. The kids take the stone and soon find that it allows them to travel between the realms of life and death. Unbeknownst to them, there are larger forces at play, and they’re not the only ones interested in the stone… and they soon find themselves on a mission to save their families and the world.


The opening cutscene shows a pink glow appearing just beyond the mountains on the outskirts of town, followed by a lightning strike that wipes out the town’s power grid. The presentation is one of watching an 80’s cartoon on a VHS tape, complete with fuzzy tracking lines and occasionally warbling audio, and there are cartoon cutscenes throughout the game. The game is heavy on narrative, alternating between action sequences, puzzle solving, dialogue with NPC’s, and run-ins with members of the local gang, the Purple Skulls.


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 rescues 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.


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.