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

The 2D RADAR Watchlist 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.

Picks of the Decade

Our picks of the most memorable games from the previous decade.

A Celebration of 2D

Our list of notable 2D video games.

Pocky & Rocky Reshrined

A game by NatsumeAtari for Switch and PS4, originally released in 2022.
The Pocky & Rocky series got its start in Japanese arcades in 1986 with Kiki Kaikai (奇々怪界), a top-down fantasy-themed shooter starring a priestess named Sayo on a mission to rescue seven gods from the demons who kidnapped them. The priestess swings her wand, tosses projectiles in the form of paper ofuda talismans, and uses powerups to defeat enemies as she travels across multiple colorful environments, with each level ending in a boss fight against one of the demons. Players control the scrolling as they advance through the environment, and they are able to aim in eight directions, but they can only attack in the direction they're facing, operating similarly to Taito’s own Front Line (1982). A variation of this game was released on Famicom as Kiki Kaikai: Dotō Hen (奇々怪界 怒濤編) in 1987.
With development changing hands to Natsume, the series made its way to the Super Famicom in 1992 with Kiki Kaikai: Nazo no Kuro Manto (奇々怪界 謎の黒マント), which was released as Pocky & Rocky on SNES in 1993. The game once again stars Sayo, now joined by a tanuki companion named Manuke, who was actually the final boss in the original game. Sayo and Manuke the tanuki are named Pocky and Rocky the Raccoon in the western release. An introductory cutscene explains that Rocky has been attacked by his former companions, and he enlists Pocky’s assistance.


Remote Life

A game by Next Game Level for PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox X/S, originally released in 2019.
Remote Life is a horizontal shmup with independent movement and aiming, blending auto-scrolling shooter action with twin-stick combat. The game takes place in the year 2324, and Earth is under threat from a gigantic alien hive that is slowly approaching the planet. A distant space station has already been consumed by the alien menace, and in two months’ time, the hive will be on Earth’s doorstep. After a failed attempt to teleport into the hive itself, another ship is teleported just outside it. You take on the role of pilot John Leone as he fights his way through dark densely-packed corridors full of moving machinery, alien pests, and grotesque boss creatures.
The game is presented using 3D pre-rendered sprites, giving it a unique visual style… it’s like Donkey Kong Country, except instead of exploring a bright and colorful jungle full of playful enemies, you’re enduring the ongoing punishment of H.R. Giger’s wet dream while surrounded by creatures that look like they could devour your soul, while an intense soundtrack pushes you ever forward. Unfortunately, all of the dialogue is spewed out by a text-to-speech reader, so the narrative experience is wholly devoid of weight or emotion.


B.I.O.T.A.

A game by Small Bros for PC, originally released in 2022.
B.I.O.T.A. is an open world action-platformer set on an outbreak-infested asteroid known as Frontier Horizon. The outbreak appears to be alien in origin – possibly a virus or a fungus – but one thing’s for certain… it’s extremely dangerous. To combat this threat and rescue a top scientist trapped somewhere on the asteroid, the Gemini II unit is sent in, setting down outside the entrance to a mining complex with a 4-person squad, each of whom has a different specialty... but all of them specialize in aiming their hot bullet nozzles at anything ugly, which is good, because that’s exactly what the situation demands.
The game starts off with a short escape sequence, giving the player a chance to try out the controls, and this also acts as a preview of the game’s finale. Following this introductory stage, the player is free to wander around the asteroid’s surface, speaking with the people stationed there and learning more about the dangers ahead. For one thing, the nuclear reactor that powers the facility has been inaccessible since the start of the infestation, and it’s at risk of going critical. There are also multiple areas that have been sealed off, making them inaccessible until the player acquires the necessary items to reach them.


Roar of Revenge

A game by Seep for PC, originally released in 2021.
Roar of Revenge is a retro-style actioner set in a mythical world with a focus on sword-based combat, as inspired by games like Rastan and Faxanadu. You take on the role of Keel the Barbarian (no relation to Conan or Richard), the last survivor of his destroyed city. He sets out on a quest to stop Leomhann, the tyrannical man-lion who rules over the Kingdom of Arxaz, aided by three powerful titans that he summoned from ancient times.
While Keel is a powerful warrior, his only hope of defeating these enemies lies in finding a series of powerful relics, each of which grants him new abilities. His journey takes him to every corner of the land as he explores caverns and forests, catacombs and temples, and even cloudy skies and the depths of the sea. On his journey, he encounters a few allies who aid him in his quest, but the landscape is populated with dark creatures who attempt to thwart him at every turn.


Below the Ocean

A game by Ismael Rodriguez for PC, originally released in 2021.
Below the Ocean is a subaquatic puzzle-platformer centered around discovering four ancient treasures deep beneath the ocean’s depths. You take on the role of an explorer who drops to the ocean floor using a diving bell, and then dons a pressure suit to explore his surroundings… all the while tied to a tether that feeds oxygen to his suit. Many dangers await, in the form of hostile sea creatures, genre staple spikes, mysterious technology, and a nasty death by suffocation should he take too many risks.
The game is divided into four areas, all of which are accessible from the start, and each area begins with a diving bell sequence, during which time the diver ruminates over the stories he has heard throughout his life of great treasures, strange secrets, and places that exist below the water itself. And each time, he repeats the phrase, “This abyss is my destiny.” Each area represents a single descent to find one of four treasures: The Queen's Pearl, The Cardinal's Grail, The Nobleman's Crest, and The Soldier's Spade.


Mission in Snowdriftland

A game by Extra Toxic for browser, originally released in 2006, and remastered by Tons of Bits for PC in 2021.
The mid-2000’s were something of a transformative period for Nintendo, with the launch of the Nintendo DS in 2004 and the Wii in 2006. The Nintendo DS represented yet another handheld console success for the company, while the Wii reignited the fires of Nintendo’s home console popularity after being overshadowed (yet still profitable) for the previous two generations. This part of Nintendo’s history is much discussed and very well documented, but less well known are the adventures of a certain snowman named Chubby.
In 2006, to celebrate their new systems and upcoming games, Nintendo offered a playable advent calendar entitled UPIXO in Action: Mission in Snowdriftland, with one level available for play each day from December 1-24, counting down the days to Christmas. The Flash-based game was a platformer starring a snowman named Chubby Snow who wore red shoes and a bellboy cap. Chubby traveled through four (mostly snowy) themed areas bopping enemies on the head, collecting snowflakes, and searching for hidden hearts that permanently extended his life meter.


GB Rober

A game by Mokkograd for PC, originally released in 2021.
GB Rober is an action platformer based around the gameplay and archetypes of the Mega Man series, and it features many similarities to the developer’s previous work, Splinter Zone. You take on the role of a cute little anti-capitalist robot who gets fed up with a life of constant toil spent in the benefit of the upper class. And so he decides to rise up to fight against the evil landlords and end the suffering of the people.
Despite an excruciatingly slow opening story setup, things escalate quickly. One day, while working away in your boring job, you decide that you’re just not going to do it any more. Someone runs into the room – apparently a cop – and aims a gun at you, and you blast him to smithereens and run out of the room.


Moo Lander

A game by The Sixth Hammer for PC, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One, originally released in 2022.
Moo Lander is an action-adventure centered around the trope of flying saucers abducting cows. You play as a guy named Lander (apparently) who has crash landed on planet rich in bovine resources, which is great because your entire civilization – and your spacecraft – all run on this delicious creamy substance (white gold, if you will). Unfortunately, you lost most of your important ship components in the crash, so part of your mission centers around finding them while battling your way through hostile environments and occasionally using non-lethal weapons to defeat cow bosses and beam them back home. The game also offers local 4P with survival and deathmatch modes.
Your ship can fly freely in any direction, and you can aim in any direction as well, although you start the game with no weapons or defenses. Early on, you lure exploding plants to blast stones and cause them to roll and break through objects and level hazards. Soon, you acquire a milk shield that you can aim to defend yourself from projectiles... and deflect them into enemies and hazards. Later you acquire a projectile weapon and a sword, as well as some non-lethal bombs for taking out cows.


Source of Madness

A game by Carry Castle for PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox X/S, originally released in 2022.
Source of Madness is a roguelike actioner set in a dark Lovecraftian world overrun with unfathomable creatures. You take on the role of an Acolyte – one of many – who must leave the Tower of Knowledge and set out across the hellish landscape, venturing across the Loam Lands, climbing the Tower of Madness, and entering the citadel of the moon… among other similarly foreboding locales. Each time an Acolyte falls, a new recruit is called forth to make another attempt. Each new Acolyte has slightly varying stats, and as the player makes progress, new Acolyte classes become available, each with different specialties and upgrade trees.
The world is procedurally generated and consists of some handcrafted elements that appear in different configurations, with each area introducing new themes and level elements. Even the game’s textures are AI-generated, giving the game a rough-hewn appearance that fits with the theme of humanity hanging on the brink of destruction. Villages are filled with broken ruins and partially-toppled buildings, caves are dark places where it’s sometimes difficult to discern between jutting stones and lurking monsters, and the outside world is a mixture of overgrown forests, rocky outcroppings, and the carcasses of long dead creatures of seemingly impossible scale.


Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX

A game by Jankenteam for PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox X/S, originally released in 2021.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is a remake of the original Alex Kidd in Miracle World, which was first released on the Sega Master System in 1986. The game is a platformer starring the eponymous Alex Kidd, a boy with monkey-like features, as he explores Miracle World and battles enemies. The popularity of the original game led to numerous sequels, with Alex Kidd taking his adventures into new worlds, across different genres, and even into crossover territory with Alex Kidd in Shinobi World. Until the release of Sonic the Hedgehog, Alex Kidd was Sega’s most recognizable and popular character, acting as something of a mascot for the company.
Even though he is just a boy, Alex is an expert in the martial art known as shellcore, which has made him powerful enough to smash rocks with his fists. One day, Alex learns that the city of Radaxian is in danger, and so he descends from his home and training grounds on Mount Eternal to rescue the son of the Radaxian ruler, as well as the son’s fiancée. To do this, Alex must face off against the minions of Janken the Great, each of whom has a hand for a head that is holding the gesture of a fist (rock), open hand (paper), or two fingers extended (scissors). And yes, boss battles are won by playing games of rock-paper-scissors, which is known in Japan as Janken.


Fallingstar

A game by Harley Wilson for PC, originally released in 2021.
Fallingstar is a Breakout-style game where you take on the role of an angel who has been cast out of heaven. An introductory sequence sees you standing at the gates of heaven as the hand of god opens and removes your grace, causing you to plummet downward towards the world of man… but there’s still a chance at redemption. As the angel falls, he summons a moving platform – in the form of a Breakout-style paddle – which is able to bounce him upward, allowing him to fight back against the angels.
If he is able to kill enough angels and steal their grace, he can ascend to heaven and fight god for his throne. If not, he will continue to fall until he reaches hell. By facing off against the multi-eyed ruler of hell, the angel has one last chance to save himself by winning the battle and being crowned the new king of hell himself. But if he fails, he will be damned for all eternity.


Mighty Goose

A game by Blastmode for PC, Mac, Linux, Switch, PS5, PS4, and Xbox One, originally released in 2021.
Mighty Goose is a run-and-gun shooter that takes its inspirations from classic arcade games, especially the Metal Slug series, and it's playable via 1P or 2P co-op. You take on the role of the eponymous Mighty Goose, one of the galaxy’s greatest bounty hunters, as he embarks on a mission to defeat the maniacal conqueror known as the Void King. Mighty Goose pilots a giant goose-shaped ship as he travels between planets and installations, all the while accompanied by his radio operator, Chonk, who fills him in on mission intel.
But Chonk isn’t your only support… throughout the game, you encounter various anthropomorphized animals in need of rescue – some of whom are hidden – but once you get them back to your ship, you can call on any one of them to accompany you on your next mission. Each animal companion has different capabilities and will attack enemies with melee weapons or projectiles, and some have secondary support skills, such as a pig named Weaponmaster Vark who occasionally drops machine gun ammo so you can rain hell on your enemies.