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.

To Leave

A game by Freaky Creations for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, and Vita, originally released in 2018.
To Leave is something of a free-flying obstacle-dodging actioner in which the lead character rides a flying door through a psychedelic fantasy world in a drug-induced dream that contains metaphorical elements from his real life. Now, that might sound like some kind of whimsical and carefree adventure, but nothing could be further from the truth. You see, the protagonist is a guy named Harm, a manic-depressive fellow who has experienced more than his share of tragedy of late, which has spurred him toward injurious action.


Harm steps through a magical doorway each day and passes into another world so that he may complete The Plan. He has detailed The Plan in scrawled journal entries between bouts of nausea within the confines of his dank and decrepit room, in hopes that someone will read and understand his thoughts after he has passed on. Harm is not well… he is not well at all.


Log Jammers

A game by Mega Cat Studios for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, and Xbox One, not yet released.
Log Jammers is a modern take on the alternative sports game Windjammers (known in Japan as Flying Power Disc), which appeared in the arcades and Neo Geo in the mid 90’s. The somewhat suggestive title references the fact that opponents face each other on a body of water while logrolling. That is, they run on top of a spinning log. Fortunately, players are not required to employ any tactics to keep from falling off of the log, as the game focuses strictly on the flying disc action… er, flying hatchet action.


For the sake of comparison, let’s start with a look at Windjammers. Windjammers features six playable characters with varying stats to indicate their speed and strength, and there are six unique arenas. Games play out in an enclosed arena with a center divider and goals along the left and right sides of the screen. Players can toss their flying disc in a straight line, ricochet it off the walls, or add a bit of English to curve its path. Hitting the goal in the center (yellow section) awards three points, while hitting it on the outside edges (red sections) awards five points, and if the player fails to reach the flying disc before it touches the ground, their opponent is awarded two points.


Steel Strider

A game by Astro Port for PC and Linux, originally released in Japan in 2013, and released in the US in 2015.
Steel Strider is a sidescrolling mech combat game that serves as a follow-up to the developer’s prior mech actioner, Gigantic Army, once again focusing on the conflict between Terrans and Ramulons. As in the previous game, the player controls a lumbering mech through a number of industrialized environments – with a somewhat muddy color palette – blasting robotic foes with a wide array of weaponry. New to this game is independent aim control, allowing players to use a mouse or dual analogue controller to aim in any direction while moving, which gives the game a faster pace than its predecessor.


The game’s description places the action in “the second half of the twentieth century” – which would be between the 1950’s and the 1990’s – so this is likely meant be in the 21st century, given all the spaceships and mechs and whatnot. At any rate, a war has been waging across the entire galaxy, but it is nearly over. However, organized crime continues to flourish, and small skirmishes occasionally break out, but the local peacekeepers are ill-equipped to deal with these issues. Instead, a secret organization responds to distress signals, travelling undercover as a delivery service called Argo Express. In actuality, they transport a Gemini-class MCR, which stands for Manned Combat Robot (not My Chemical Romance), piloted by an operative who neutralizes galactic threats with extreme prejudice.


Mighty Gunvolt Burst / Gal*Gunvolt Burst

A game by Inti Creates for Switch, 3DS, and PS4, originally released in 2017, with the Gal*Gunvolt Burst version released in 2018.
Inti Creates followed up their retro-style Mighty Gunvolt with Mighty Gunvolt Burst / Gal*Gunvolt Burst, which once again features Gunvolt from Azure Striker Gunvolt and Beck from Mighty No. 9. There are several additional downloadable characters as well, including Ekoro and Kurona from Gal*Gun (Ekoro also appears in the original Mighty Gunvolt as a standard character, and is a standard character in the Gal*Gunvolt Burst version), Call and RAY from Mighty No. 9, and Joule and Copen from the Azure Striker Gunvolt series. Each character has his or her own playstyle, movement abilities, and weapons, although the levels themselves remain unchanged aside from a few story elements.


The game is not a canonical part of any of the aforementioned series, but rather takes place in a VR setting and acts as a retro throwback actioner heavily inspired by the Mega Man series. It’s a somewhat more substantial outing than its bite-sized predecessor, weighing in around two or three hours on a first attempt. Beck, Gunvolt, or whichever character you’ve downloaded, have been sucked into a VR world and must defeat the eight robot masters… er, rather the eight robotic Mighty Numbers, in order to escape the simulation.


Akane

A game by Ludic Studios for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2018.
Akane takes place in the year 2121 in the city of Mega Tokyo, and stars the eponymous Akane as she slices through yakuza thugs in the evening rain. The game opens with a black screen and the sound of a motorcycle crashing. Then we see Akane standing next to a motorcycle in flames while four katana-wielding baddies surround her, and she says, “Tonight I’ll die here, and I’ll take all you son of bitches (sic) with me.”


The game’s primary goal is to kill as many enemies as possible, which will see the player into increasingly difficult challenges, including a number of boss encounters. However, simply killing bad guys isn’t all there is to the game, as the game features a combo system, a stamina meter, a kill-driven special attack meter, and numerous secondary objectives that allow the player to unlock new items and equipment. Despite the fast-paced score-driven gameplay, the game's initial release has no controller support, but the developer plans to add this in an early update.


Mini Ghost

A game by unepic_fran for PC, originally released in 2017.
Mini Ghost is a retro-style metroidvania that acts as a prequel to the Ghost 1.0, which was released in the year prior. The game removes the body-swapping mechanic and strips out most of the weapons, equipment, and upgrades in favor of a focused bite-sized adventure that can be completed in a couple of hours. In a comic book-style introduction involving a couple of the characters from the original game, a space station is hacked and Ghost is called in to take down the station’s central computer.


The game is made up of a series of interconnected single screen environments that the player is free to explore, although upgrades are required in order to properly navigate certain areas. For instance, one powerup allows you to see in the dark, which allows you to get through otherwise pitch black rooms, and another upgrade allows you to spot hidden landmines that would otherwise destroy you. Access to each section of the space station is gated by one of four keycards, most of which are acquired by defeating bosses.


Ghost 1.0

A game by unepic_fran for PC, Switch, and Xbox One, originally released in 2016.
Ghost 1.0 is a cyberpunk metroidvania starring an unnamed operative – the eponymous Ghost – who is able to enter the bodies of robots and control them. This operative is hired by a pair of hackers to infiltrate Nakamura Space Station to steal valuable artificial intelligence algorithms. The space station is heavily guarded by robots, automated turrets, floating mines, and other defenses, and it is up to the operative to find new weapons and equipment to face these hostiles… or exit her robotic shell to take over a robot and turn it against her enemies. The game may be played as a roguelike or as a more traditional metroidvania experience.


The world of Ghost 1.0 has recently entered a new era, with advanced AI robots called “Naka” that are able to perform household tasks. Nakas are able to mimic human behavior and learn to perform nearly any task, which begs the question of what the Nakas might come to desire, how they might feel, and in what ways they might act on these urges.


KonoSuba God's Blessing on this Wonderful World! Revival of Beldia

A game by Ladybug for PC, originally released in 2017.
KonoSuba God's Blessing on this Wonderful World! Revival of Beldia, a.k.a. Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o! Fukatsu no Verdier (この素晴らしい世界に祝福を!復活のベルディア), is based on a light novel series entitled KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World! Hepburn: Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o! written by Natsume Akatsuki, with characters originally illustrated by Kurone Mishima. The story centers around a boy named Kazuma Satō who dies and enters another reality based on role-playing games where he teams up with a party of three strange girls to fight monsters. The series has seen multiple iterations in the form of manga, a radio drama, an anime series, and pair of video games which were released as bonuses alongside volumes of the physical video releases of the anime series.


KonoSuba God's Blessing on this Wonderful World! Revival of Beldia is a sidescrolling actioner heavily inspired by the Mega Man series. The game includes Mega Man’s iconic bent-leg jump, pause-scrolling screen transitions, and learning of new abilities by defeating boss characters. The game follows the story of Kazuma Satō, who has become an RPG adventurer in this new world. He has decent skills in combat and magic, although his greatest stat is apparently luck. His female companions are Aqua, a goddess who possesses power over water; Megumin, who uses explosion magic (which weakens her whenever she uses it and causes her to pass out); and Darkness, a young woman with powerful physical attacks.


Dead Cells

A game by Motion Twin for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, originally released in 2018.
Dead Cells is a roguelike actioner with metroidvania elements which stars a glob of sludge that is excreted into a room that contains a headless body. The nameless bit of muck rolls over to the body and transforms to become its head, imbuing it with life. Each death destroys the player’s current body, resulting in the vomitus mass respawning and reanimating another headless corpse, as the surrounding dungeon layouts are rearranged, per roguelike conventions.


The player is given little context for his actions. On rare occasions, the player finds a room that allows him to investigate and learn a few small details about what happened there (with an occasional reward for doing so), but this does not form into a larger narrative. Beyond these special rooms, the player encounters a few NPC’s that offer quips but are otherwise in place to serve specific gameplay functions. The protagonist expresses himself solely with exaggerated gestures.


Defenders of Ekron / Defenders of Ekron: Definitive Edition

A game by In Vitro Games for PC, PS4, and Xbox One, originally released in 2017, with the Definitive Edition released in 2018.
Defenders of Ekron mixes the shmup and action-adventure genres in a game that shifts between shooting, exploration within confined facilities, light puzzle solving, and high speed pursuit. You pilot a flying mech called an Anakim, which is part of a fleet of mechs that defend the Technocratic Republic of Ekron. While most Anakim possess Isvará, the ability to absorb energy and convert it into overpowered attacks, your mech does not seem to have this ability. This puts you at a disadvantage when facing off against other Anakim pilots until you can hone your other skills.


The game was originally released as Defenders of Ekron, and was followed a year later by Defenders of Ekron: Definitive Edition. The Definitive Edition adds new difficulty levels, a boss rush mode against the game’s 13 bosses, and some tweaks to the gameplay and balance. In addition, this edition of the game includes Invaders of Ekron, a standalone vertical shmup done up in an 8-bit style, offering a more straightforward vertical shooting experience without the action-adventure elements or advanced techniques of the main game.


La-Mulana 2

A game by Nigoro for PC, Mac, Xbox One, PS4, and Switch, originally released in 2018.
La-Mulana 2 is the follow-up to the original La-Mulana, a tough action-adventure inspired by classic MSX games. The original game got its start in 2005 as a freeware release and was later ported over to modern systems with a major graphical overhaul, rebalanced difficulty, and the addition of new hints to push the player in the right direction. The original game was extremely difficult, and its modern re-release reduced the difficulty somewhat but still required the player to pay close attention to the environment and the available hints in order to make progress.


La-Mulana 2 follows suit with its difficulty level. Players with reasonable platforming and combat experience can manage their way through most areas, but there are still some traps to trip them up when they least expect it, and boss encounters can be quite difficult. Players’ progress is most likely to be impeded by the riddles and puzzle solving required to move forward, and players will find themselves stuck if they aren’t mindful of their surroundings.


Flat Heroes

A game by Parallel Circles for PC, Mac, Linux, and Switch, originally released in 2018.
Flat Heroes is a single-screen platformer that pits the player against ever-changing obstacles of increasing difficulty. The game focuses solely on gameplay and offeres only geometric shapes set in abstract environments. While there are countless games that offer visually simple presentations such as this, most such games are shallow and play poorly. Flat Heroes, on the other hand, is a highly technical experience that introduces simple concepts that are expanded upon and combined in clever ways to offer an escalating challenge, not unlike Jeppe Carlsen’s similarly abstract 140 and THOTH.


The game offers an incredibly simple control scheme that allows movement to the left or right, a high variable jump, the ability to jump up walls or stick to them, a multi-directional air dash, and a short-range melee attack. This limited skillset is tested to its limits across seven worlds and more than 100 levels in the main campaign, which may be played alone or with friends in up to 4P drop-in drop-out local co-op. The game also features several survival modes, most of which can also be played alone or with up to four players, as well as a few versus modes.