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.

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.

Akumanor Escape DX

A game by Michirin for PC and browser, originally released in 2019.
Akumanor Escape DX is a follow-up to Akumanor Escape, a black and white Game Boy-style title created as part of GBJAM 7, which required games to be limited to four colors and a resolution of 160x144 pixels, per the limitations of the Game Boy. The original game only includes two stages (the second is about half the length of the first) and no boss encounters, but it introduces the core mechanics, enemies, and level design concepts used in the DX version.


Akumanor Escape DX is a more fleshed-out experience, consisting of three lengthy stages with several levels in each, and a boss encounter at the end of each area, although it’s still intended to be completed in a single sitting. This version of the game is presented with Game Boy Color specifications, adding a limited color palette, reducing the number of onscreen sprites, and doing a bit of programmatic trickery to render parallax scrolling. It also introduces new enemy types, themed areas, obstacles, sound effects, and new authentic chiptune music tracks.


8 Bit Horse Picks of the Decade (2010’s)

8 Bit Horse just celebrated its 10 Year Anniversary, and as it turns out, those 10 years almost perfectly coincided with the decade known as the 2010’s… so it only seemed fair that we do what all of the other gaming sites are doing, which is to name our Picks of the Decade! (echo… echo…)
OK, so there have been hundreds of great games released over the last decade – honestly, it’s an embarrassment of riches – so this is not a Top 10 Best Games list. Instead, this is a list of the 10 games that made the biggest impression on me personally (in this case, me = AJ Johnson, Managing Editor, 8 Bit Horse) and that I felt delivered the most lasting and memorable gameplay experiences. These are games that I enjoyed at the time I played them, and that I have regularly thought back on in the years since.


Backspace Bouken

A game by RNG Party Games for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2019.
Aside from actual typing tutors, there aren’t very many games that focus on typing as a core mechanic, with The Typing of the Dead series standing out as the most famous example. Where The Typing of the Dead and its ilk were revamped lightgun shooters, Backspace Bouken is a first person dungeon crawler done up in a DOS-era aesthetic and accompanied by a melodic electronic soundtrack.


The game is aware of its own absurdity as it focuses on a girl named Kana (“kana” being the Japanese word for the symbols that make up written words) who must ascend the legendary Tower of F8 to save her sisters. Armed with only a keyboard, she embarks on an incredible adventure (“bouken” is the Japanese word for adventure), encountering silly enemies who can only be defeated through speedy and accurate typing.


Death’s Gambit

A game by White Rabbit for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, originally released in 2018.
Death’s Gambit is a hardcore action-RPG set in a dark world, taking its inspirations from the Dark Souls series with its limited safe areas, tough enemies that respawn when you save, and overwhelmingly difficult bosses that can only be overcome by paying attention to their movements and dodging or blocking with the appropriate timing. Slashing away mindlessly only kills you faster… but death is only temporary.


When the game begins, a dragonlike humanoid is dragging a body toward a huge pyre that is already stacked with dead soldiers. But it turns out that this soldier, named Sorun, is still alive. Sorun makes a deal with Death, who has decided to take a chance on him (a gambit, if you will) to help rid the world of its defiant immortals. With this contract signed, Sorun will be resurrected when killed, sending him back to the most recent save point to continue his journey.


Armortale

A game by RPG2 Heaven for PC, originally released in 2019.
Armortale is a platformer set in a colorful fantasy world that has recently become overrun with monsters. One night, many decades ago, a dark tower appeared in the distance, from which monsters spilled forth, the worst of which were pair of shadowy baby foxes that took great pleasure in causing mischief and wreaking torment across the land. Fortunately, a brave hero rose up to banish these foxes and save the land from evil.


But now this evil has returned, this time around, the foxes have kidnapped the princess. A wise witch informs the king that there is another warrior who can save the day. A young man possesses the power to equip the four sets of armor that were passed down from this legendary hero, who was his great great great great great great grandfather. You take on the role of this young man who begins the game wandering around his village in only his underwear, until he receives a message from the witch to come and meet her.


Sparklite

A game by Red Blue Games for PC, Mac, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One, originally released in 2019.
Sparklite is a top-down roguelike action-adventure set in the colorful fantasy world of Geodia. The game stars Ada – and her trusty robot companion – as she ventures through the land, fighting monsters, hunting treasures, and interacting with friendly NPC’s. The world is divided into five procedurally-arranged areas, each of which may be accessed from the grasslands in the center of the map. Exploring the five themed lands allows Ada to defeat the world’s five bosses, and break five seals in order to confront the evil Baron who is stripping the world of its precious sparklite in order to power his mechanized titans, leaving behind pollution in his wake.


When the game begins, Ada is piloting an airship through a storm, which comes under attack by enemies. She uses her wrench and hammer to attempt repairs on the ship as panels fall away, but it’s not enough… As the ship begins to fall, her robot companion stays behind, giving Ada time to reach an escape pod, which crashes into the grasslands below. When she emerges, she recovers her family’s keepsake necklace, which allows her to enter a strange-looking structure.


Xeno Crisis

A game by Bitmap Bureau for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Sega Genesis, Dreamcast, and Neo Geo, originally released in 2019.
Xeno Crisis is a top-down arena shooter starring a male or female marine – or both in 2P co-op – who are ordered to infiltrate Outpost 88. The research station is orbiting Jupiter’s moon of Io, and the scientists on board have issued a distress call, apparently due to some kind of alien presence. Upon arriving at the space station, the marines encounter hordes of alien creatures coming from every corner, and so they do what they do best, and unleash copious sprays of machine gun fire into their ugly faces.


Gameplay takes place across seven themed areas, ranging from metallic space station corridors, to alien-infested biomechanical areas, and even forest and desert biomes. The layouts of these areas are procedurally arranged, but that doesn’t factor into gameplay overmuch, given that players generally move from one room to the next, occasionally collecting keycards and backtracking a couple of rooms in order to push forward. There is no map, but the simple level layouts make such a feature unnecessary.


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.