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.

Klaus

A game by La Cosa Entertainment for PC, Mac, and PS4, originally released in 2016.
Klaus, a.k.a. -KLAUS-, is a platformer starring a man named Klaus… or at least that’s what he assumes his name to be. The guy wakes up in a basement with no memory of whom or where he is, and his only clue is the word “Klaus” written on his arm. Klaus makes it his first priority to find a way out of the basement, completing a variety of platforming challenges and some light puzzle elements. Along the way, he talks out loud, with his words appearing as text appearing in the environment, and the text is scrolled around the screen like any other environmental object. This, along with the stark visuals, set the game’s unique tone, but things get stranger from here…


As the player, you control Klaus directly, but you can also manipulate objects in the environment by placing a cursor over them, allowing you to open doors and slide moving platforms back and forth. Klaus is aware of your presence as the player and is able to determine that there is some unseen entity controlling objects in the environment to assist him. Upon making this discovery, he begins addressing the player directly, although the player has no way to respond, and this character-player relationship changes over the course of the game.


Double Cross

A game by 13AM Games for PC and Switch, originally released in 2019.
Double Cross is an action-adventure starring Zahra Sinclair, an agent of RIFT (Regulators of Interdimensional Frontiers and Technology), which is tasked with policing a multiverse of infinite earths containing variations of the planet’s history, some of which have led to drastically different outcomes. Using interdimensional travel, criminals are able make trouble for their neighboring realities, and recently a criminal wearing a mask – and believed to be a former RIFT agent – infiltrated RIFT Headquarters, stealing a dangerous energy source known as the “metacatalyst”, which could potentially be weaponized.


The narrative is quite detailed and takes into account various possible consequences of interdimensional travel, such as a creature entering another world where the dominant species makes an excellent food source, smuggling resources out of one dimension and into another, meeting an alternate version of yourself in another reality, or smaller issues like the much-discussed Mandela Effect, which led to supposed alternate spellings of The Berenstain Bears.


Sun Wukong vs Robot

A game by Bitca Games for PC, Mac, and Android, originally released in 2019.
Sun Wukong vs Robot (a.k.a. 孙悟空大战机器金刚) is an open world action-platformer starring Sun Wukong and set in a sci-fi world of robots. Sun Wukong is the Monkey King of Chinese legend and is known from the classic novel Journey to the West, and he has featured in numerous tales since that time, as well as adaptations into modern media. The legendary Monkey King is known to carry a heavy rod that he uses to fight his enemies, along with an incredible cloud jump that allows him to reach great heights, and the ability to pluck his hairs to turn them into weapons or copies of himself.


The game begins with a smooth and stylish scanline-laden cinematic introducing Wukong as he does battle with four robots, which acts as a preview for the action ahead. Here, Wukong smashes robots with his staff, blasts them with lasers from his eyes, makes copies of himself that somersault into the air, and spews green smoke from a magic gourd. Ultimately, he is defeated by the robots and imprisoned in a glass capsule where he remains for 500 years… referring to the 500 years that the legendary hero spent imprisoned under a mountain in Journey to the West.


Ravva and the Cyclops Curse

A game by Galope for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2019.
Ravva and the Cyclops Curse is a sidescrolling platformer starring a young owl named Ravva. Ravva’s mother was a powerful summoner who could call forth creatures to do her bidding, but she found herself facing off against the Cyclops Lord who demanded that she give over her powers to him. She refused and the two did battle… but she lost. The cyclops stole her powers and turned her to stone.


When Ravva finds her immobile mother, she vows to save her. Ravva studies up on magic and learns that her mother’s essence can be restored by defeating the cyclops and breaking her curse. She sets forth with summoned creatures of her own – which are cute and diminutive versions of those controlled by her mother – and travels toward the cyclops’ castle.


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 works to rescue 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.


The Messenger

A game by Sabotage Studio for PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One, originally released in 2018.
The Messenger stars a ninja in the titular role who must travel through a dangerous monster-ridden landscape in order to deliver a scroll that may help to save the last remnants of humanity. In a remote village, members of a ninja clan have trained continuously for centuries so that they may hold back the demon army that threatens to wipe out the last of humankind. But legend tells of a hero who may yet save them all.


You take on the role of a slacker ninja who is none too pleased with his lot in life… training every day and waiting for the arrival of the legendary Western Hero. But things quickly go to hell and the demons invade, wiping out most of the ninja clan. Arriving barely in time, the Western Hero gives the ninja a scroll with instructions to deliver it to the sages on Glacial Peak.


Desert Child

A game by Oscar Brittain for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, originally released in 2018.
Desert Child is a hoverbike racer with light RPG elements set in a visually stunning world. You take on the role of a poor hoverbike racer who is living on Earth and just barely scraping by. He spends his days racing and his evenings eating ramen, taking on odd jobs, and keeping his bike in working order while he tries to save up enough money for a ticket to Mars so he can enter the Grand Prix. Outside, the moon is crumbling, bits of space debris are constantly falling into the atmosphere, and every ship in sight is headed offworld. Earth is slowly becoming the craphole of the solar system… not unlike the worlds of Cowboy Bebop, Akira, and Redline that inspired the game’s style.


When the game begins, you are able to choose from one of four weapons for your hoverbike, including a magnum, a shotgun, and a machine gun, each of which is displayed with varying difficulty ratings. However, their usefulness isn’t apparent when the game begins, as you have no idea how you’ll be putting these weapons to use, and there’s no way to change your weapon once the game begins… so if you’re not happy with your selection, you’ll need to start over. While the machine gun seems like a pretty good choice, it uses up ammo quickly and its narrow projectiles require that you be very accurate with your shots, whereas the shotgun offers a wide spray, it can hit multiple targets at once, and its ammo is depleted slowly.


Battle Princess Madelyn

A game by Causal Bit Games for PC, Xbox One, PS4, Vita, Switch, and Wii U, originally released in 2018.
Battle Princess Madelyn is an open world action-adventure that takes its inspirations from Capcom’s Ghosts ‘n Goblins / Ghouls ‘n Ghosts series, placing the player in the role of an armored knight – with an exaggerated running animation – who has access to a variety of infinite-ammo projectiles, faces off against undead creatures and other such monstrosities in dark and spooky locales, and gets stripped of armor after taking damage and is reduced to fighting in just underwear. However, unlike the famous GnG series, this game stars a female protagonist, and instead of chasing after a damsel in distress, the brave knight is on a mission to avenge the death of her pet dog, Fritzy, who accompanies her in ghost form, while also saving the world from mortal peril.


Development of the game arose out of a conversation between the game’s creative director and his daughter, Madelyn. Christopher Obritsch was playing Ghouls ‘n Ghosts when his daughter asked if he could put her in the game so she could fight the famous “Green Head” boss at the end of the first level. Chris and his daughter are apparently big fans of the series, as Chris previously developed the GnG-inspired Insanity’s Blade and lists Ghouls ‘n Ghosts as his daughter’s favorite game to watch him play. Since Chris couldn’t insert her into that game, he offered to make her a game of her own where she could be a knight, to which she responded that only boys could be knights. In response, he asked what color the knight’s armor should be. His daughter requested pink armor… and so Battle Princess Madelyn was born.


Squirm

A game by Alex Carpenter for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2018.
Squirm is a lo-fi platformer with light metroidvania elements. You take on the role of a fellow with a rat for a friend. One day, after awakening from a nap, you notice that your rat friend has disappeared, and an odd-looking Samaritan informs you that he has gone to see the “big dude”, and asks why you haven’t done the same. And so you set off on your adventure into the dangerous world of Squimlia, which is filled with unusual enemies and lots of spikes, along with a number of oddball – and occasionally foul-mouthed – NPC’s who add a bit of flavor to the experience.


The game consists mostly of interconnected single-screen environments, and the player is killed instantly when touching any dangerous obstacle or enemy. However, upon death, he is respawned to the room’s entrance, and all of his progress remains intact… killed enemies remain killed, and destructible objects are still destroyed (although a quick reset option lets the player restore the room to its original state if needed). This makes death frequent, but the penalty for dying is quite low.


Speed Brawl

A game by Double Stallion Games for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, originally released in 2018.
Speed Brawl is set in London in an alternate 1888 where the British Empire emerged victorious in a war against insect invaders from the moon, and Queen Victoria led efforts to rebuild the city. With the help of Hugo Wells, the Selenites were defeated and their queen killed, and so Wells himself assumed control over the army of insects. Under his command, the drone-like creatures were enslaved and ordered into labor, which ushered in an great industrial revolution, allowing the middle class more time to pursue activities of leisure. To meet this need and placate the masses, a gladiatorial sport was introduced where the strongest warriors would fight against insect enemies in arenas, with victory allowing them to move up the ranks into more difficult tournaments. This sport came to be known as Speed Brawl.


As you may have guessed, Speed Brawl is a brawler with a heavy focus on speed. Players enter a sidescrolling arena with a pair of fighters and must bash insectoid enemies into oblivion as quickly as possible, with par times for each course. Simply surviving from one end of the level to the other isn’t enough; players need to move efficiently and make strategic use of their more powerful abilities. Each event awards gold, silver, or bronze medals based solely on speed, and getting higher medals unlocks better gear to enhance the player’s strength, defense, special attacks, and secondary abilities.


Gunmetal Arcadia

A game by Minor Key Games for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2017.
Gunmetal Arcadia is the follow-up to Gunmetal Arcadia Zero. The original game was a straightforward action-platformer with gameplay reminiscent of the sidescrolling action sequences found in Zelda II. Gunmetal Arcadia, on the other hand, has a roguelike structure that sees players sent back to the start of the game upon death, with procedurally arranged environments and random loot drops altering the course of each run. Both games share the same aesthetics, with four tilesets representing each of the four geographical areas, chunky 8-bit low-color visuals, and an authentic-sounding chiptune soundtrack. The game also has an optional CRT-style display mode.


Gunmetal Arcadia once again stars Vireo, a member of a race called Tech Elves. There are two factions of Tech Elves at odds with one another, with the Gunmetal Vanguard focusing on brute strength and the Seekers of Arcadia focusing on agility. Players may choose to align themselves with either faction, which allows them to receive discounts at the affiliated shops (with the trade-off being higher prices at opposing shops), or they may choose to remain independent, which grants players with a currency bonus at the start of the next run.


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.