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

The 2D RADAR Watchlist 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.

The Knight Witch

A game by Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team for PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox X/S, originally released in 2022.
The Knight Witch is a metroidvania with shmup-style combat, twin stick controls, and card-based spellcasting. You take on the role of a woman named Rayne, but she’s not actually the star of the story… at least not at first. The game centers around a quartet of heroes known as the Knight Witches, who gain their power and magical abilities through the faith that people have in them. The Knight Witches lead a rebellion against Emperor Erebus, who has led the empire to ruin by exploiting the land, leaving a broken and polluted world in his wake.
In a playable flashback, you control the most powerful Knight Witch, Robyn, who bears the nickname of The Angel of Destruction. Supported by her sistren, she makes her way to the emperor, and the battle ends in a tremendous explosion, creating a giant crater that reveals a series of ancient tunnels. With the war at an end, survivors from both sides of the conflict relocate to a long-forgotten underground city known as Dungeonidas. The city runs on technology that the people don’t understand, but it provides them a safe haven, with breathable air, electricity, and enough food to feed those who remain.


Dungeon in a Bottle

A game by Strange Spaces for PC and Mac, originally released in 2022.
Dungeon in a Bottle is a precision platformer starring a thief named Reya. While attempting to steal a magical bottle from its resting place, Reya finds himself sucked inside, only to discover a trap-filled dungeon within. He must use every trick at his disposal – along with some new skills he gains along the way – to escape the dungeon with his life, as he platforms his way across more than 100 levels of steadily increasing difficulty.
Dungeons within the magical bottle tend to be narrow vertically-oriented single-screen environments, although there are a few scrolling levels later in the game, along with some levels that are arranged horizontally. Most levels can be completed in under 10 seconds, with lengthier challenges perhaps taking as long as 30 seconds, although actual completion times are bound to be much longer considering how easy it is for the player to be killed… a fact that the player is reminded of by way of a death counter in the HUD. Additionally, players who have mastered the mechanics may elect to enable a speedrun timer.


Unichrome: A 1-Bit Unicorn Adventure

A game by Super8bitRafa for PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox X/S, originally released in 2022.
Unichrome: A 1-Bit Unicorn Adventure is a lo-fi shooter-platformer starring a plucky little rainbow unicorn with a bunch of big guns. You take on the role of this unicorn, named Itchi, as she awakens within some kind of specimen tank after having been in stasis for a thousand years. She soon discovers that six other animals have also awakened from stasis, led by a unicorn named Century. Century enters the Color Core and steals several color-coded gems, which she hands out to her similarly-hued minions.
With each of these gems stolen, the world is drained of color, but as Itchi visits each area, she sees that there is one extra color mixed into the world around her, as represented by the animals and their gems. She must face off against each animal to retrieve these gems – which act as the game’s boss encounters – and then take the fight to the power-mad Century to restore color to the world.


Chenso Club

A game by Pixadome for PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Xbox X/S, originally released in 2022.
Chenso Club is a roguelike actioner featuring arena-based melee combat. The game stars five super-powered heroines as they work together (sometimes reluctantly) to thwart an alien invasion, with each heroine bearing different movement and combat abilities. The game is extremely colorful and offers over-the-top enthusiastic violence with cutesy characters and enemies, as inspired by 90’s animated series like The Powerpuff Girls. While the premise and presentation are couched in silliness, there are occasionally some serious themes at play, and the Chenso Club won’t let anything stand in their way.
When the game begins, a girl named Blue is seen floating in a cylindrical tank as government agents – complete with MIB-style suits and sunglasses – attempt to activate her to defend against the sudden invasion of UFO’s. They aren’t successful at first, but then one of the aliens is accidentally teleported into the tank of liquid and drowns. When it dies, its life force passes into Blue and awakens her, imbuing her with some kind of power.


[EMPTY ROOMS]

I’ve been doing some thinking about liminal spaces for a while – which hey, if you’re looking for a nice rabbit hole to go down, there’s one for you – but I’ll give you the quick version… There have been a lot of spaces described being liminal (and varying definitions of that term), with evidence presented in still images of a real place, or sometimes video. These tend to be spaces that seem unsettling for some reason, sometimes only in retrospect. And there are a number of creators who have explored liminality through works of fiction – usually in short films or video games – where the audience or player is given a window into one of these disquieting places.
There are many factors that can make a place feel unsettling: sparse or dated lighting, the geometry of the space, or dim corners where something unknown might lurk. But as strange as these spaces appear, there is a common factor that ties them together… Namely, these are spaces that were clearly created for people but where no people can be seen using them, and this can make otherwise familiar spaces seem uncanny. This could be something like a school after hours, an abandoned apartment building, or an empty parking garage with architecture that seems to be infinitely repeated in every direction.


Burning Ravager

A game by Sinclair Strange for PC, originally released in 2021.
Burning Ravager is an action platformer with metroidvania elements. You take on the role of a cute bipedal mech that is dropped onto the surface of a planet to locate six gems. The mech has a wide array of weapons and upgrades at its disposal, but each upgrade increases the amount of heat it generates, potentially causing it to become unstable and explode.
At the start of the game, you have 500 credits to spend, which is enough money to buy one or two upgrades. For a first outing, the cooling unit is a good buy, as it automatically cools the mech when it takes damage. This offsets future upgrades and provides regenerative healing since the mech’s heat meter doubles as its health bar. More aggressive players may want to purchase a projectile weapon instead, since the mech’s default weapon is a weak energy sword. Projectile weapons include a spread shot, laser, rocket, bouncing projectiles, and a rapid fire napalm weapon. Each weapon generates a different amount of heat.


Tailspin

A game by Team Bugulon for PC, originally released in 2021.
Tailspin is a drill-based platformer with environmental puzzle elements. You take on the role of a canary wearing a backpack and wielding a large handheld drill, which it uses to plumb the depths in search of treasure. The subterranean world is filled with valuable gems, and even more rare golden scarabs, but also many lurking creatures, traps, and other dangerous obstacles.
While the canary is incapable of flight, it does have quite a few skills at its disposal. It has a very high jump, a drill-based air dash, and the ability to drill quickly through the dirt. Drilling is only possible to the left, right, or down, so the players must pay attention to the environment to ensure that they don’t miss an opportunity to grab collectibles.


ScourgeBringer

A game by Flying Oak Games and E-Studio for PC, Mac, Linux, Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Xbox X/S, originally released in 2020.
ScourgeBringer is a hardcore roguelike actioner set in a dark an unforgiving world. Long ago, a gigantic object appeared in the skies, laying waste to cities and civilizations as it travelled across the planet. The people came to call this object the ScourgeBringer. The few remaining survivors have become nomads to stay out of the path of destruction, while other brave souls have ventured inside… never to return. You take on the role of Khyra, a powerful warrior with flaming white hair. She enters the ScourgeBringer to fight her way through, and learn what the people did to deserve this endless reign of destruction.
On a first attempt, players enter a tutorial that explains the basic controls, and then they are dropped into the fray… room after room filled with deadly enemies and traps. Per genre conventions, level layouts are randomized, so every run is somewhat different. However, each themed area contains a specific set of enemies and hazards, so players will know what to expect in any given room. And of course, death returns the player to the start of the game to try again, but there are several persistent upgrades to be unlocked along the way (more on those in a bit).


Turrican Anthology Vol. I & II

A game compilation by Factor 5 for Switch, PS4, and PS5, originally released in 2022.
The original Turrican was created primarily by German developer Manfred Trenz and released by Rainbow Arts on the Commodore 64 in 1990, and then ported to numerous other systems. Notably, some ports of the game were handled by The Code Monkeys and others were handled by Factor 5, the studio that would go on to develop future entries in the franchise.
A graphically-enhanced Amiga port from Factor 5 arrived in 1991 with the addition of a soundtrack by Chris Huelsbeck (the original C64 release had sound effects but no music). The game was a great technology showcase for the 8-bit Commodore 64 and the 16-bit Amiga, providing visuals, animations, music, and fast-paced combat beyond what most action-platforming titles were delivering on those systems at the time.


Pocky & Rocky Reshrined

A game by NatsumeAtari for Switch and PS4, originally released in 2022.
The Pocky & Rocky series got its start in Japanese arcades in 1986 with Kiki Kaikai (奇々怪界), a top-down fantasy-themed shooter starring a priestess named Sayo on a mission to rescue seven gods from the demons who kidnapped them. The priestess swings her wand, tosses projectiles in the form of paper ofuda talismans, and uses powerups to defeat enemies as she travels across multiple colorful environments, with each level ending in a boss fight against one of the demons. Players control the scrolling as they advance through the environment, and they are able to aim in eight directions, but they can only attack in the direction they're facing, operating similarly to Taito’s own Front Line (1982). A variation of this game was released on Famicom as Kiki Kaikai: Dotō Hen (奇々怪界 怒濤編) in 1987.
With development changing hands to Natsume, the series made its way to the Super Famicom in 1992 with Kiki Kaikai: Nazo no Kuro Manto (奇々怪界 謎の黒マント), which was released as Pocky & Rocky on SNES in 1993. The game once again stars Sayo, now joined by a tanuki companion named Manuke, who was actually the final boss in the original game. Sayo and Manuke the tanuki are named Pocky and Rocky the Raccoon in the western release. An introductory cutscene explains that Rocky has been attacked by his former companions, and he enlists Pocky’s assistance.


Remote Life

A game by Next Game Level for PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox X/S, originally released in 2019.
Remote Life is a horizontal shmup with independent movement and aiming, blending auto-scrolling shooter action with twin-stick combat. The game takes place in the year 2324, and Earth is under threat from a gigantic alien hive that is slowly approaching the planet. A distant space station has already been consumed by the alien menace, and in two months’ time, the hive will be on Earth’s doorstep. After a failed attempt to teleport into the hive itself, another ship is teleported just outside it. You take on the role of pilot John Leone as he fights his way through dark densely-packed corridors full of moving machinery, alien pests, and grotesque boss creatures.
The game is presented using 3D pre-rendered sprites, giving it a unique visual style… it’s like Donkey Kong Country, except instead of exploring a bright and colorful jungle full of playful enemies, you’re enduring the ongoing punishment of H.R. Giger’s wet dream while surrounded by creatures that look like they could devour your soul, while an intense soundtrack pushes you ever forward. Unfortunately, all of the dialogue is spewed out by a text-to-speech reader, so the narrative experience is wholly devoid of weight or emotion.


B.I.O.T.A.

A game by Small Bros for PC, originally released in 2022.
B.I.O.T.A. is an open world action-platformer set on an outbreak-infested asteroid known as Frontier Horizon. The outbreak appears to be alien in origin – possibly a virus or a fungus – but one thing’s for certain… it’s extremely dangerous. To combat this threat and rescue a top scientist trapped somewhere on the asteroid, the Gemini II unit is sent in, setting down outside the entrance to a mining complex with a 4-person squad, each of whom has a different specialty... but all of them specialize in aiming their hot bullet nozzles at anything ugly, which is good, because that’s exactly what the situation demands.
The game starts off with a short escape sequence, giving the player a chance to try out the controls, and this also acts as a preview of the game’s finale. Following this introductory stage, the player is free to wander around the asteroid’s surface, speaking with the people stationed there and learning more about the dangers ahead. For one thing, the nuclear reactor that powers the facility has been inaccessible since the start of the infestation, and it’s at risk of going critical. There are also multiple areas that have been sealed off, making them inaccessible until the player acquires the necessary items to reach them.