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.

Guacamelee 2

A game by DrinkBox Studios for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch originally released in 2018.
Guacamelee 2 is the follow-up to the original Guacamelee, and once again stars Juan Aguacate in a colorful Mexican-themed beat ‘em up metroidvania filled with zany characters. The large interconnected world slowly opens as Juan uncovers new wrestling moves, which double as combat techniques and environmental navigation tools. As before, Juan has the power to transform into a chicken to enter small passageways morph ball-style, and he learns a number of chicken-specific techniques that allow him to take on enemies and reach new areas.


The game begins by revisiting the finale of the first game, although the dialogue is somewhat different. Here, Juan faces off against the evil Calaca to rescue Lupita. You fight Calaca in his skeleton form and again in his demonic form, but the battle is quite easy, since this is now the introduction to the game rather than its final boss encounter. The original game had two endings, one where Juan is too late and Lupita is dead, and another where Juan’s mask cracks to pieces and he looks down to find her alive. The latter ending is the canonical beginning to Guacamelee 2.


Steel Sword Story

A game by 8bits Fanatics for PC, originally released in 2019.
Steel Sword Story is a sidescrolling actioner featuring sword-based combat and set in a medieval fantasy world. You take on the role of a former knight named Azul Palan Baru who has been banished from the kingdom after being falsely accused by the traitorous Prime Minister, Rufus. With nothing left to lose, Azul returns to defeat Rufus and restore the kingdom, using his old steel sword to serve up a nice cold plate of revenge.


The developer, 8bits Fanatics, is known for its chunky sidescrolling actioners, although they tend toward zanier premises, such as the spike-heavy worlds of 1001 Spikes, or the zombie head-juggling of The Tempura of the Dead. By comparison, Steel Sword Story is considerably more straightforward, with battles against creatures and bosses across four themed areas. The game is somewhat less colorful than the developer's previous efforts, and the game is not terribly well optimized, which may be due to the Pixel Game Maker MV tool on which it was built... and someone went a little overboard on the light bloom effect.


Killer Chambers

A game by Village Bench for PC and Linux, originally released in 2019.
We don’t talk about it much these days, but memorization was once a key aspect to completing many of the most renowned action games. It wasn’t enough to just master the mechanics and react quickly; a significant factor for success was foreknowledge of enemy placement and boss attack patterns. With few checkpoints – or none at all – and limited continues, failure meant repeating large chunks of the game, and this repetition aided in memorization.


Killer Chambers revives this mentality, requiring near-perfect execution in each level, with failure sending the player back to try it again. The game takes place in a series of tiny rooms where arrows and other projectiles shoot out from the walls, requiring the player dodge them. The limited confines leave little room to maneuver and even less room for error, with a single misstep resulting in the player character exploding in a spray of blood that coats the surrounding area.


Gato Roboto

A game by Doinksoft for PC and Switch, originally released in 2018.
Gato Roboto stars a cat who is making her way through an open world subterranean action-adventure… or “meowtroidvania”, if you will. A lieutenant named Gary is hurtling through space with his feline companion - named Kiki - when he receives a signal from a research facility on a nearby planet at coordinates 42069 (nooch). Soon after, Kiki steps on one of the buttons on the control panel, sending the ship hurtling toward the planet.


Following the crash, Kiki is ejected from the ship, but Gary is trapped inside, so it’s up to her to mount a rescue, despite the fact that her vocabulary consists entirely of the word “meow” and its variations. Gary communicates with her via a convenient collar radio, occasionally making comments on her surrounding environment or offering direction. Kiki's initial objective is to reach a save room, which spawns a pilotable security mech.


Heroine Anthem Zero

A game by WindThunder Studio for PC, Mac, PS4, Switch, and iOS, originally released in 2016.
Heroine Anthem Zero is an action-adventure broken into multiple episodes, with the first being released under several names on different platforms, appearing as Heroine Anthem Zero, Heroine Anthem Zero: Episode 1, and Heroine Anthem Zero -Sacrifice-, with the second episode being called Heroine Anthem Zero: Episode 2 and Heroine Anthem Zero 2 -Scars of Memories-. The game is part of the Heroine Anthem franchise which got its start in with Heroine Anthem: The Elect of Wassernixe and Heroine Anthem II The Angel of Sarem, which only saw release in Asian regions. There are references to the original games, but the new game is meant to stand on its own.


The story begins after the world’s most recent cataclysm, as the world rises and falls in inverse proportion to the greed of mankind. This time around, the world is built around the World Tree Terasyr, which gives rise to Fae folk, who live together in harmony with humans and anthropomorphic animals. But years of prosperity have caused mankind’s greed to rise once again, and a pestilence is spreading through the land. You play the role of Wanin, a Forest Keeper, and his faerie companion Mormolia, as they press into the dark reaches of Longhorn Woods to turn the tide of evil away from the civilization they are sworn to protect.


Courier of the Crypts

A game by Emberheart Games for PC, originally released in 2019.
Courier of the Crypts is a puzzle-based adventure starring a young courier on a mission to deliver a letter to the guardian of the crypts in a nearby town. The crypts were once a religious place, but now dark forces are at work within their walls, and something evil lurks in the depths of the ancient temple. After a 3-day walk, the courier arrives at the temple and encounters a lazy curator inside the entrance who claims to be too busy to deliver the letter to the guardian himself (too busy sleeping, as it turns out). The courier picks up a torch to light his way into the lower levels of the crypts… but soon after he enters, the floor crumbles beneath his feet and he finds himself trapped below.


Fortunately, the courier has kept hold of the torch and lights it to see his surroundings. The torch becomes the courier’s most valuable tool as he makes his way through the crypts, as many areas are shrouded in darkness. The light from the torch only illuminates the immediate area, leaving the courier to explore dark corners to find switches and doorways that slowly open the path forward. But the torch flame is not an infinite resource, and its magical light must be replenished… or the courier can choose to extinguish the flame to conserve its magical energy.


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 these two 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 mode 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, along 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, originally released in 2019.
Reventure - originally titled Lonk’s Adventure - is a humorous open-world platformer that plays on a number of video gaming tropes and borrows 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.