Welcome to 8 Bit Horse

8 Bit Horse is a website dedicated exclusively to 2D video games for all systems, old and new.


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.


A game by Studio MDHR for PC, Mac, Switch, PS4, and Xbox One, originally released in 2017.
Cuphead is a run and gun actioner with a focus on boss battles, which takes place on the mysterious Inkwell islands. The game features 1P or 2P cooperative play and stars brothers Cuphead and Mugman. While on a hot streak in the Devil’s casino, Cuphead agrees to bet their souls against all the money in the casino… and they lose. To save their own souls, the pair agree to collect the Devil’s debts by defeating each of his debtors in combat. These multi-phase arena battles make up the bulk of the game as the brothers fight their way through a series of dastardly ne'er-do-wells before facing the Devil himself.
The game's visuals are inspired by the golden age of animated film, with hand drawn animations, striking character designs, and surprising enemy transformations, all set against watercolor backgrounds and a jazzy soundtrack. There are some direct nods to the early works of several major animation studios, and the game captures the overall feel of 1930’s animated shorts with traditional “rubber hose” animations for the characters, and a darker style of humor than later kid-friendly cartoons. The lead characters are inspired by a 1936 Japanese propaganda film where a knockoff Mickey Mouse attacks Japan, but his attack is thwarted by a number of characters, including one who has a teacup for a head.


A game by PolarityFlow for PC, Linux, and Switch, originally released in 2023.
Ginsha is an open world action-adventure starring an alien symbiote named Gin who has crash-landed on Earth, along with her companion Gon. Many such symbiotes – from a race of beings known as Ginsha – were drawn to Earth for unknown reasons. Gin and Gon fall into a cloning facility, with Gon landing near some sort of hovering drone, which it takes over. Gin manages to make her way over to the body of a clone and grabs onto it, essentially becoming a head of wild orange hair. Together, Gin and Gon explore multiple planets on a mission to find out what has drawn them here, and what has happened to the Ginsha who came before them.
While Gon is limited to hovering around, Gin has control of an advanced clone that allows her to run, jump, dash, use psionics, and make use of a variety of items and equipment. At the outset, Gin is limited to a 1x nonvariable jump, but she gains a double jump very early into her adventure. She can also perform a dash on the ground or in the air, and generate a psionic shield that protects her from most damage. Both of these skills draw from an energy meter that refills slowly over time.


A game by Sylph for PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, and Xbox X/S, originally released in 2021.
Garlic is a precision platformer where you play as the eponymous Garlic, a boy with an onion (!?) for a head, as he climbs the Sacred Tower in hopes of having his wish granted by someone known as the Cyber Goddess. The silly premise is indicative of the game’s overall sense of humor, which is emphasized further by way of goofy animations, and a few exchanges during cutscenes and minigames. But the gameplay itself is no laughing matter, as you dive into loads of tough-but-short levels, aided by frequent checkpoints to keep things from becoming too overwhelming.
Garlic has a small but versatile moveset that allows him to perform a 2.5x variable jump, as well as a wall jump, wall slide, and the ability to jump up walls. More importantly, he has the ability to dash in multiple directions, and the dash distance is also variable, giving him a great deal of maneuverability. A dash may be performed in any of the four cardinal directions, and at slight angles away from these directions, and each dash drains from a POW meter.

Hazard Saviour

A game by Sinclair Strange for PC, originally released in 2023.
Hazard Saviour is an open world action-platformer that takes its inspirations from Crazy Taxi. You take on the role of a plucky little fellow who must pick up people – and the occasional dog – and deliver them to their destinations, but instead of driving them around, you carry your passengers on your back. The world is filled with dangerous obstacles and enemies, so you’ll need to avoid traps, blast enemies, and find your way to the drop-off point before time runs out.
You begin each run near the top-left corner of the map in a forested area, and there are five biomes in all, including an underwater area, caverns, a factory, and an area near the top of the map filled with pillars and clouds. In the caverns, you’ll need to contend with moving and crumbling platforms over pools of lava, while the sky area features spikes and blowing wind, and the factory has lots of electrical hazards. The forest and underwater areas are a little less treacherous, since you’re mainly just dealing with enemies.


A game by Nomada Studio for PC, Mac, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox X/S, iOS, and Android, originally released in 2018.
GRIS is an adventure game featuring light platforming and puzzle elements. The game stars the eponymous Gris, a young woman who must overcome pain and grief as her peaceful world suddenly crumbles around her. The game’s wordless story is told mostly through symbolism and begins with Gris waking up in the cracked palm of a giant statue of a woman… one of many such damaged statues she encounters on her journey, many appearing in poses of lament. She begins to sing but quickly becomes unable to find her voice. She slumps to the ground and the statue cracks into pieces, sending her tumbling into the world below.
Once on solid ground, Gris can only move slowly to the left or right, and performing any action causes her to drop to her knees, after which she pulls herself slowly to her feet. The ground beneath her is represented by a thin pencil line, and everything has been drained of color. Gris wears a long grey dress that flows around her as she moves (and makes her visible even when the camera pulls back), and her blue hair stands out as the only bit of color in the world around her.

Cannon Dancer - Osman

A game by Mitchell Corporation and ININ Games for Arcade, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox X/S, originally released in the arcade in 1996, with the enhanced version released in 2023.
Cannon Dancer - Osman is an enhanced version of the 1996 arcade game Osman, which was known in Japan as Cannon-Dancer (キャノンダンサー). While the original arcade game was fairly obscure, it was mostly known for its similarities to Strider, which released in arcades several years before. Both games feature melee combat, lots of angled platforms, and an agile hero who can climb walls and walk hand-over-hand across ceilings. These similarities can be traced to Kouichi Yotsui, who worked on Strider and was the designer on Osman.
The game takes place in a futuristic Middle Eastern setting filled with neon lights, expansive cityscapes, and gigantic mechanized constructions. You take on the role of a Cannon Dancer known as Kirin (he was named Osman in the game of that name), a martial arts master and member of a mercenary group called Teki. He is summoned by the director of the world government to battle the forces of Abdullah the Slaver, an evil sorceress bent on world domination… or so it seems.

Tanuki Justice

A game by Wonderboy Bobi for PC, Switch, and PS4, originally released in 2020.
Tanuki Justice is an arcade-style actioner starring tanuki siblings out for justice, just like it says on the tin. The opening cinematic presents a shadowy figure that laughs maniacally and exclaims “I’m gonna dominate the world!”, followed by a pair of tanuki who respond with “In your dreams!” while standing in aggressive poses. And that’s all you need to know… The bad guys are bad. The good guys are good. And the justice is tanuki.
You take on the role of the tanuki brother in 1P, with a second player joining as the sister in local 2P co-op. You are able to select between normal, hard, or insane difficulties at the start of the game, with the harder modes offering higher enemy counts, more tough enemies mixed into the regular ones, and multi-hit enemies taking more damage to kill… but you’ll definitely want to start out on the normal difficulty setting until you get the hang of things. For most players, this setting still presents a substantial challenge, although expert retro gamers are likely to reach the end in under an hour.

Curse of the Sea Rats

A game by Petoons Studio for PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox X/S, originally released in 2023.
Curse of the Sea Rats is an open world action-adventure that takes place in the year 1777. A British navy vessel is returning home from the Caribbean with a brig full of pirates who have been charged with treason. But along the way, the ship runs into some unusual trouble… One of the captured pirates is a witch named Flora Burn, and she uses a magical amulet to transform everyone on the ship into rats (including herself). The ship runs aground along the coast of Ireland, and most of the pirates escape with the witch, kidnapping the admiral’s son in the process.
Four prisoners are left behind, and they strike a deal with the admiral (who is confusingly named Blacksmith) to rescue his son and bring the witch back – dead or alive – in exchange for their freedom. They also hope to find a means of breaking the witch’s curse… although the ship's transmogrified crew generally seem to be taking their transformations in stride. The player may select one of these four playable characters, or select multiple characters for 1P-4P local co-op.

Haunted Lands: Burial Grounds

A game by Alexey Goryachev for PC, originally released in 2023.
Haunted Lands: Burial Grounds, a follow up to Haunted Lands, is a sidescrolling shooter reminiscent of Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion, a 1991 DOS game from id Software that was developed by John Carmack, John Romero, Tom Hall, and Adrian Carmack (yeah, the DOOM guys). The game features a similar tone, style, and color scheme, and even offers some of the same basic movement abilities. You take on the role of a quartet of hunters on a mission to destroy an evil cult and the terrifying creatures they have unleashed upon the world.
When you begin the game, you are able to select between one of four playable characters who share a home in a walled-off protected area. You are free to roam around this space and visit the tutorial, vault, and trading post, or take on the next mission. This also gives you a glimpse into the personality of each character, as the Veteran reads a book next to a fireplace, the Ranger is brushing a horse in a nearby stable, the Salamander is doing pullups in the weight room downstairs, and the Sorceress is playing a run and gun shooter in the game room, with posters on the wall representing DOOM, Left 4 Dead 2, and Contra, and there’s a Hollow Knight figure on the shelf.


A game by Colorgrave for PC, originally released in 2020.
Prodigal is a top-down action adventure starring a young man named Oran. In his younger days, Oran was a feckless ne’er-do-well who stole money from his parents and eventually left his childhood home, a frontier town in the north known as Vann’s Point. Ten years later, he receives a note from his grandfather telling him that his parents have passed away, and so he returns home.
Oran isn’t exactly welcomed back by the townsfolk, who recall his misspent youth and think of him as a southerner and a thief… but a few people remember him fondly and missed him while he was away. As for the others, he’ll need to earn their trust. This is done by helping people with their troubles, overcoming challenging dungeons, and even offering gifts as he potentially courts one of the women from his old hometown.


A game by Mantra and Sinergia Games for PC and Switch, originally released in 2023.
Elderand is a metroidvania starring a nameless hunter on a quest to stop a zealous cult and its power-mad ruler. Soon after you embark on your journey, you find yourself shipwrecked on a strange shore with nothing but your hunter’s garb. Nearby, you find a sword that gives you a way of dealing with the creatures that lurk all around you… but you’ll need to grow your strength and find more powerful weapons and equipment if you hope to overcome the darkness that has infested every corner of this terrible land.
Your sword grants you a 3-hit combo, but you must stand still to swing it. You can perform a single strike while ducking or jumping, and you have a 2x jump with only slightly variable height. You also have a forward dash and a backstep for quickly closing ground or dodging enemy attacks. As you explore, you discover subweapons in the form of daggers and axes, which work similarly to those in the Castlevania series. By pressing UP+ATTACK, you can toss knives in a straight line or lob axes in an arc, and later you find throwable bombs as well. You also gain access to a bow and arrows, allowing you to strike enemies at a distance, although arrows and subweapons are in limited supply and only appear as random drops from broken objects.

To a Starling

A game by Peteksi for PC, Mac, and Linux, originally released in 2022.
To a Starling is a puzzle platformer featuring a starling on a quest to collect blueberries. Unfortunately, these berries are located in some pretty hazardous locales that are packed with dangers like spikes, water, and… even more spikes. Snagging berries isn’t easy, but our avian hero has one trick up its feathered sleeve that most birds (presumably) do not: the ability to teleport.
You have only a couple of tools at your disposal: the ability to walk to the left or right, the ability to teleport to certain orbs, and a highly variable jump with lots of midair direction control… which you’ll need to navigate some extremely tight spaces with mere pixels standing between success and bird-kabob. Getting killed or leaving the room resets the current puzzle, and you’ll sometimes need to purposely kill yourself if you put yourself in an unwinnable situation, but puzzle rooms are small so this is a minor inconvenience.