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.

Shakedown Hawaii

A game by VBlank Entertainment for PC, PS4, Vita, Switch, and 3DS, originally released in 2019.
Shakedown Hawaii is the follow-up to Retro City Rampage, which was an open world actioner with NES-era visuals that was heavily influenced by the top-down entries in the Grand Theft Auto series, with loads of references to the 1980’s. Shakedown Hawaii ups the visual fidelity to the SNES era while offering a larger open world experience set in modern day, but without the extensive pop culture references… but plenty of references to outdated 80’s technology used by the primary protagonist who claims every new technology to be a fad. The game also features a heavy focus on economics to help the player rise from the ranks of washed-up businessman to Hawaii's top mogul.


You take on the role of three individuals who embark on a coordinated crime spree across Hawaii, roughing up business owners, stealing cars, profiteering, manipulating real estate prices, and pretty much any crime they can think of to scrape their way to the top. The game offers more than 100 missions, hundreds of properties and businesses to purchase, and a number of score-based challenges (in GTA terms, think rampages) where you rack up kills and deliver destruction to earn medals.


Boxboy + Boxgirl

A game by HAL Laboratory for Switch, originally released in 2019.
Boxboy + Boxgirl is part of a long running series of puzzle-platformers starring the box-shaped Quby and several of his similarly box-shaped companions. The prior series consists of Boxboy, Boxboxboy, and Bye-Bye Boxboy, all of which originated on the 3DS handheld, which was well-suited for the bite-sized challenges the game had to offer, as well as the simple visuals. The visuals here are faithful to the original series, so the upgrade to a higher resolution simply allows for somewhat smoother lines in an otherwise black- and white-dominated orthogonal world.


But the world was not always so dark… One day, a big inky blob came down from the skies and covered the colorful box world with goo, rendering it black and immobilizing many of Quby’s friends. As such, he sets out to rescue them, along with Qucy. In 1P, the player is free to swap between the characters at will – though they are functionally identical – but players can also team up for 2P cooperative play in a dedicated mode, or fully solo players can also play this alone by swapping control between the two characters.


Dark Void Zero

A game by Other Ocean Interactive for PC, DS, and iOS, originally released in 2010.
Dark Void Zero is level-based open world actioner starring Rusty, a test pilot, fighter, and close friend of Nikola Tesla. Using advanced weaponry, a jetpack, and the insights of Tesla, Rusty explores the Valley of Doom, a science lab, and the so-called Inner Sanctum, wiping out aliens – and collecting gobs of keycards – on a mission to save humanity. The game is done up in a chunky 8-bit style with a reduced color palette and chiptune soundtrack.


Dark Void Zero was initially pitched by Capcom as a lost project, originating from 1987 when the NES was king, and Capcom had seen success on the platform with Commando and Ghosts ‘N Goblins, and was just about to release the first entry in the Mega Man series. The game was said to incorporate the multidirectional shooting of Section Z with a new piece of hardware that would allow for increased numbers of sprites on the screen without flicker or slowdown (hey, they could have used that in the Mega Man series!), along with a special dual-screen version to be released on the PlayChoice-10.

Of course, this was all poppycock.


Reventure

A game by Pixelatto for PC, not yet released.
Reventure - originally titled 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 original 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).