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.

Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San

A game by Christophe Galati for PC and Switch, originally released in 2018.
Long ago, wise and peaceful octopuses were Earth’s dominant species, but that ended with the rise of humanity, who hunted the cephalopods for food. Eventually one octopus rose up and formed an army to rid the world of humankind. In Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San you take on the role of a plucky octopus named Tako-san (Mr. Tako). Tako-san’s brother (Bako) is a hero of the octopus army, and Tako-san is pulled into the war against the humans, but during his first battle, the army overtakes a human vessel and casts their princess into the water… and Tako-san casts off his armor and dives in to save her, putting him at odds with his own kind.


The game is designed to look like a Game Boy title, with several classic references – including a few nods to the Kirby series in particular – with the game’s cutesy animations, a star that pops out when you land from a high jump, and a character who dons a sleeping cap and dozes off during his idle animation. Players can also stop and press DOWN to scroll the screen downward and get a better view of their surroundings, as was done in a number of classic Game Boy titles due to the limited screen resolution.


Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon

A game by Inti Creates and ArtPlay for PC, PS4, Vita, Switch, 3DS, and Xbox One, originally released in 2018.
There’s no arguing that Castlevania has left a lasting mark on the gaming landscape. The series introduced players to a gothic landscape filled with classic monsters, the regularly-resurrected Dracula as its main villain, and a lineage of whip-wielding heroes with stiff jumps to push back evil for another 100 years (assuming Drac could ever stay down for that long). The series continued to break its own rules by introducing light RPG elements in its second outing, followed by a prequel that offered multiple playable characters, and then a revisitation of the original story of Simon Belmont that introduced new gameplay mechanics… and that’s all before the series went on to establish the basics of the now-well-trodden metroidvania subgenre.


While there are innumerable games that have pulled their influences from the metroidvania era of Castlevania, far fewer have drawn inspirations from the early games in the series. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is one such game, delivering an experience that is so close to the early Castlevania games – Castlevania III in particular – that a few sprite swaps would make it impossible to separate it from the real thing; it looks and plays like a modern update to the classic series.


Furwind

A game by Boomfire Games for PC, originally released in 2018.
Furwind is a colorful platformer starring a fox, who carries the unlikely name of Furwind, as he embarks on a journey to save the people of Moontail village from a villain known as Darhûn. Moontail was once under the protection of four ancient beings, but one day Darhûn, the strongest of the ancients, decided to rise up and overthrow the others… but in the end, he was defeated and locked away. A thousand years have passed since that time, and a Darhûn-worshipping cult has decided to free him from his imprisonment and loose him on the world.


Furwind, serving as the chosen hero of the land, rises up to put a stop to all of this, venturing out into the surrounding forest, defeating monsters, rescuing imprisoned villagers, and reawakening the spirits of the other three ancients to gain new abilities. Along the way, he earns money to purchase upgrades and slowly opens up new sections of the forest to explore.


Strange Flesh (NSFW)

A game by Greatest Bear Studios for PC and Mac, originally released in 2017.
Sex in video games has been around almost as long as the medium itself, with the first examples appearing in the early 1980’s. There have been more than a few sex-focused titles released in the ensuing decades, although they have generally been of lower quality than their mainstream counterparts. Perhaps the best known games oriented around sex are those from the Leisure Suit Larry series, which has seen numerous iterations on home computers, and even some on consoles, but none of these games are terribly explicit.


In general, mainstream publishers have shied away from games with mature sexual content as the core gameplay focus, but recently distribution services like Steam have begun to allow more explicit content, despite years of prohibiting such games on the platform in an uncensored format. Still, the most explicit games tend to appear outside of primary distribution channels, often being offered directly from developers’ websites or via adult websites, and often available for free. Many of these are browser-based games that don’t require players to download and run programs on their machines.


Jolt: Fully Charged

A game by Darkera Studios for PC, originally released in 2018.
Jolt: Fully Charged is a colorful platformer created in the style of 16-bit classics, with nods to Sonic the Hedgehog in particular. Players take on the role of Jolt, a robot created by the Mega Drive Core as a protective measure against the game’s villain, Professor Ohm. Jolt runs and jumps through several themed areas, using his unique Bolt Dash and advanced shield system to navigate the environment and defeat enemy robots. In the game’s story mode, Jolt teams up with a robot named Cycle, who speaks on behalf of her silent companion and has unique abilities of her own.


Professor Tantalus Ohm is an expert in robotics and cybernetics, and inventor of the Mega Drive Core, which he eventually uses – along with an army of robots – to seize power and rule over humanity. Since rising to power, the professor has been working on a new device called the Calamity Contraption, which is a threat to all organic life. A resistance movement has formed, led by young woman named Joule, but her goals sometimes put her at odds with Jolt and Cycle, and she occasionally finds herself facing off against the robotic duo on her path to destroy all automatons.


To Leave

A game by Freaky Creations for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, and Vita, originally released in 2018.
To Leave is something of a free-flying obstacle-dodging actioner in which the lead character rides a flying door through a psychedelic fantasy world in a drug-induced dream that contains metaphorical elements from his real life. Now, that might sound like some kind of whimsical and carefree adventure, but nothing could be further from the truth. You see, the protagonist is a guy named Harm, a manic-depressive fellow who has experienced more than his share of tragedy of late, which has spurred him toward injurious action.


Harm steps through a magical doorway each day and passes into another world so that he may complete The Plan. He has detailed The Plan in scrawled journal entries between bouts of nausea within the confines of his dank and decrepit room, in hopes that someone will read and understand his thoughts after he has passed on. Harm is not well… he is not well at all.


Log Jammers

A game by Mega Cat Studios for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, and Xbox One, not yet released.
Log Jammers is a modern take on the alternative sports game Windjammers (known in Japan as Flying Power Disc), which appeared in the arcades and Neo Geo in the mid 90’s. The somewhat suggestive title references the fact that opponents face each other on a body of water while logrolling. That is, they run on top of a spinning log. Fortunately, players are not required to employ any tactics to keep from falling off of the log, as the game focuses strictly on the flying disc action… er, flying hatchet action.


For the sake of comparison, let’s start with a look at Windjammers. Windjammers features six playable characters with varying stats to indicate their speed and strength, and there are six unique arenas. Games play out in an enclosed arena with a center divider and goals along the left and right sides of the screen. Players can toss their flying disc in a straight line, ricochet it off the walls, or add a bit of English to curve its path. Hitting the goal in the center (yellow section) awards three points, while hitting it on the outside edges (red sections) awards five points, and if the player fails to reach the flying disc before it touches the ground, their opponent is awarded two points.


Steel Strider

A game by Astro Port for PC and Linux, originally released in Japan in 2013, and released in the US in 2015.
Steel Strider is a sidescrolling mech combat game that serves as a follow-up to the developer’s prior mech actioner, Gigantic Army, once again focusing on the conflict between Terrans and Ramulons. As in the previous game, the player controls a lumbering mech through a number of industrialized environments – with a somewhat muddy color palette – blasting robotic foes with a wide array of weaponry. New to this game is independent aim control, allowing players to use a mouse or dual analogue controller to aim in any direction while moving, which gives the game a faster pace than its predecessor.


The game’s description places the action in “the second half of the twentieth century” – which would be between the 1950’s and the 1990’s – so this is likely meant be in the 21st century, given all the spaceships and mechs and whatnot. At any rate, a war has been waging across the entire galaxy, but it is nearly over. However, organized crime continues to flourish, and small skirmishes occasionally break out, but the local peacekeepers are ill-equipped to deal with these issues. Instead, a secret organization responds to distress signals, travelling undercover as a delivery service called Argo Express. In actuality, they transport a Gemini-class MCR, which stands for Manned Combat Robot (not My Chemical Romance), piloted by an operative who neutralizes galactic threats with extreme prejudice.


Mighty Gunvolt Burst / Gal*Gunvolt Burst

A game by Inti Creates for Switch, 3DS, and PS4, originally released in 2017, with the Gal*Gunvolt Burst version released in 2018.
Inti Creates followed up their retro-style Mighty Gunvolt with Mighty Gunvolt Burst / Gal*Gunvolt Burst, which once again features Gunvolt from Azure Striker Gunvolt and Beck from Mighty No. 9. There are several additional downloadable characters as well, including Ekoro and Kurona from Gal*Gun (Ekoro also appears in the original Mighty Gunvolt as a standard character, and is a standard character in the Gal*Gunvolt Burst version), Call and RAY from Mighty No. 9, and Joule and Copen from the Azure Striker Gunvolt series. Each character has his or her own playstyle, movement abilities, and weapons, although the levels themselves remain unchanged aside from a few story elements.


The game is not a canonical part of any of the aforementioned series, but rather takes place in a VR setting and acts as a retro throwback actioner heavily inspired by the Mega Man series. It’s a somewhat more substantial outing than its bite-sized predecessor, weighing in around two or three hours on a first attempt. Beck, Gunvolt, or whichever character you’ve downloaded, have been sucked into a VR world and must defeat the eight robot masters… er, rather the eight robotic Mighty Numbers, in order to escape the simulation.


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.