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.

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.


Children of Morta

A game by Dead Mage for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, originally released in 2019.
Children of Morta is a roguelike dungeon crawler set in a world where a great corruption has begun to spread. At the base of Mount Morta lives the Bergson family, and they may be the only ones who can prevent this darkness from taking hold. The family lives together in a large house, and each member of the family possesses a unique skill that can be used to fight back the encroaching hordes of undead, hulking ogres, and corrupted beasts.


In the opening cutscene, a colorful landscape is suddenly shaken by a powerful explosion from Mount Morta. The mountain peak shatters and emits some kind of purple fog that spreads across the surrounding area, blackening the nearby foothills and forest… but it turns out that this was just a dream, envisioned by an old seer. The Bergson patriarch, John, takes a sword and shield and departs the safety of his home to investigate the possible return of darkness to the land.


Biolab Wars

A game by Kolibri Game Studio for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2019.
Biolab Wars is a run-and-gun shooter set in 1985 and inspired by similar actioners from the NES era. The game stars a team of mercenaries who have been hired to stop an alien invasion. The team includes the musclebound Finn, a former bodybuilder and television repair man who enjoys cooking outdoors; the tough and deadly Becca; and Teddy, a purple dog in a mech suit who was experimented upon by the very aliens that he has been tasked to destroy.


The game offers bright colors, nonsensical shenanigans, and a beep-boop soundtrack that games of the mid-80’s were known for, but with a higher graphical fidelity. Still, the gameplay keeps true to the basics, with the ability to run, jump, shoot to the left or right, go prone Contra-style, climb hand-over-hand across narrow beams, and toss grenades. Gameplay takes place across seven themed areas, each of which is divided into three sections and a boss fight.


Space Cortex

A game by BRAINOS for PC, originally released in 2019.
Space Cortex is an open world actioner set on a deep space research station. An artificial superintelligence has gone awry and threatens the station, and possibly all of humanity… not to mention those juicy R&D profits. You take on the role of a jetpack-wearing operative – or a pair of them in 2P co-op – as you infiltrate the station, clear out the hostiles, and make your way to the AI core and destroy it, thereby opening the station up for destruction by an antimatter beam, ideally after you have safely departed.


The only way on or off the station is by way of a docking bay, so you park your ship in the bay and make your way through the five major regions of the space station. At the center of the station is a security area that requires five keycards to unlock, which are acquired by defeating bosses in each of the five regions, after which the player enters the central core for the final showdown.