July Pico-8 Picks, monsters abound

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Trolls, ninjas, killer bees and a Pokemon shmup…what’s not to love?

Pico-8 is a “fantasy” console and programming language that lets anyone create fun, retro-inspired video games. People from around the world are creating new Pico-8 games and projects daily. Every month I’ll review some of my favorite games. You can play Pico-8 games online in your browser, or on any device that supports the Pico-8 client.

Monster Hull

Monster Hull

Monster Hull

What do you get when you cross Pokemon and a classic shmup shooter? You’d get something like Monster Hull. You start off with a single ship but as you go you’ll “collect” other ships. Each ship has a different ability that you’ll need to survive…but the more you use a single ship, the more it evolves. So which one do you choose to evolve? That’s the fun.

I’d been watching Monster Hull develop on Twitter by following its creator, William Anderson. The early screen shots alone had me sold on the gave before I even played it. The game just looked wonderful and sounds great, taking advantage of everything Pico-8 has to offer, including its constraints. But Anderson went beyond the game and created supplemental art that gives his tiny Pico-8 game a big arcade game feeling. Monster Hull is a showpiece of what can be created with Pico-8.

Play Monster Hull

Train Ninja

Where Monster Hull shows off the kind of high gloss you can achieve with Pico-8, Train Ninja shows the opposite…but that doesn’t make it any less fun or challenging.

Train Ninja is much more difficult than Monster Hull, for sure. Train Ninja is an endless runner that is something I could see myself playing on my phone. You’re a ninja running across a telephone line but you’re running out of power, and of course ninjas get their power from ancient scrolls, right? So you have to run along collecting scrolls to keep you going but you can just jump to get them. You need to use your super ninja speed to run towards the incline and perform a super jump. Once in the air you gracefully fall trying to collect the scrolls.

It’s tough and takes a while to get the hang of but once it clicks you’ll be trying again and again. Train Ninja won’t last long and it’s not supposed to. It’s a casual game that will fill the void for a few minutes during those long, boring meetings at work.

Play Train Ninja

Troll Attack

Troll Attack is a survival game where you have to defend your castle from waves of trolls. You play the part of a bad ass king who has taken matters into his own hands and grabbed his trusty sword to fight. Trolls bounce in and you need to take them out one-by-one without getting stabbed.

The premise is simple but Troll Attack is a turn-based game, so every time you move they move. As trolls get in range, you get to choose which troll you’ll attack but you must remain mindful of the other trolls around so you don’t get stabbed on your next move. Beginning waves are pretty easy to manage but it’s easy to lose track once their numbers grow.

Play Troll Attack

BuzzKill

BuzzKill

BuzzKill

Okay, so this is really just a shameless plug for a game I released. BuzzKill follows the time-tested Space Invaders formula but changes things up a bit with some killer bees.

You have two weapons at your disposal: fireballs and smoke

Blowing smoke will act as a shield as well as slow down bees. Plus, you’ll need to smoke ever-expanding honeycombs so they can be destroyed…all while you’re getting shot at. There are a few power-ups to help you along the way but BuzzKill is a game of endurance and bullet dodging.

I guess I’m biased when I say it’s a good game but it has received a good response and I’m very happy with the final result. It looks good, plays good and provides a great challenge in a familiar package.

Play BuzzKill

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About Author

Brian is a staff writer at TMA. He races Hot Wheels at RedlineDerby.com while watching cartoons with his kid. You can follow @morningtoast on Twitter.

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