8bit killer

By: Derek Yu

On: July 8th, 2008

8bit killer

Low-poly lovers rejoice! 8bit killer is a NES-style FPS made in Game Maker that features a 64-color palette, 32×32 pixel textures, and an energetic chiptune soundtrack. The game pays wonderful homage to the platform shooters that inspired it, employing linear levels along with the Wolfenstein-esque maze levels. It works pretty well.

There are, I believe, 4 areas in total, with 3 stages in each area, with every 3rd stage being a boss battle. Six weapons. The variety of enemies and textures in the areas I’ve played so far is surprising.

8bit killer is a very fun and polished game. I also love the look of Locomalito’s current projects, a platform game named Grialia and a Gradius-inspired shoot ‘em up named Hydorah. They’re definitely a developer to watch out for!

(Note: the game uses standard WASD + mouse FPS controls. Press “Enter” at any time to toggle between 1x and 2x resolution.)

TIGdb: Entry for 8bit killer

  • dinopoke

    Wow looks nice! Downloading now. :p

  • HandCraftedRadio

    Awesome Game! This really rocks! The only problem I had with the game is that it doesn’t fully support keyboard controls which I like using in these types of games.

    Also, the game glitched for me when fighting the second boss. It froze after I died.

  • Julius

    Way better than Crysis

  • http://www.puppybuckets.blogspot.com/ Alehkhs

    Great find Derek!

  • devin

    I really like this game, but I really don’t like that the music is a bunch of uncompressed wav files totaling about 20MB while the game itself is only about 3MB. Chiptunes are great because you can fit a great deal of music in a very small file. Even if some sort of tracker format was not feasible the music should have at least been compressed in some way.

  • Skofo

    Boo, Game Maker has an -actual- chiptune extension.

  • FishyBoy

    I was thinking about making this kind of thing, but never did. :(

  • xerus

    Nooo theres a bug =( I killed the sewer boss as one of its tentacles was on me, so after I killed it I was frozen in place, destined to look at that key for all eternity.

  • tenth

    Frickin’ sweet!

    The game play/balance is actually a lot better than Wolfenstein, IMHO… All the enemy attacks are visible and avoidable, but the limited range on your basic guns forces you to get in close, rather than just sniping them from range like Doom imps. And the timing is old school and tricky as well, since your bullets don’t travel instantly, but most enemies are briefly stunned when you shoot them.

    The difficulty level is satisfying; Having three continues helps, though I am not crazy about monsters that suddenly spawn behind you. And that some secrets aren’t accessible unless you open doors in a certain order… But the game is hard enough that you’ll probably get a chance to open them during your second or third attempt. ;-)

  • tenth

    Ugh. Yeah, it seems that enemy hand-to-hand attacks can push you into walls, which is a “quit and lose all progress” effect in a game with no Save function or Suicide button. :-(

    Which is a shame, because otherwise it’s awesome.

  • MindSnap

    I really like the pixel art, and the gameplay, timing and movement are spot-on.

  • crackers

    Too easy but it’s a darling to look at.

  • alspal

    Definitely one of the best game I’ve played in ages.

  • Person

    How do you get out of the beginning room?

  • Person

    Never mind I figured out

  • Flamebait

    Hasn’t the low-resolution, low-color depth bitmap graphics BS gotten old yet? There are other antiquated visual styles that haven’t seen any resurgence at all. For instance, flat-shaded polygons, which brings to mind the irrelevance of Yu’s opening words. Low-poly lovers like myself won’t find anything here.

    Anyway, evaluated solely on the merits of its mechanics, the game’s alright. Certainly it at least tries to set itself apart.

  • Derek

    I see what you mean about the “low-poly” thing… but I feel like the graphic style this game employs is more of a new thing rather than a resurgence. Even the old 3d games used higher-res textures than this.

    Also, other than flat-shaded polys, what other antiquated visual styles are you thinking of? The only ones that come to mind for me are FMV and digitized graphics…

  • Harmen

    Ooooh, I love flat shaded polygons. Time for Virus!

  • Jeff Lindsay

    I can’t wait to play this… music by RushJet1!

  • crackers

    Derek you’re a know it all ,when is rotoscoping going to make a comeback?

  • Flamebait

    Derek: fair enough, this is all subjective. But the way I see it the difference between 8 Bit Killer’s style and, say, Catacombs 3-D is minor and quantitative (i.e. higher res and lower color depth in the latter).

    Other visual styles? There’s vectors, or as applied in 3D, wireframe graphics. And pre-rendered 3D (not that that calls for resurgence IMO). crackers’ pisstake fails on account of The Last Express. Good point, when IS rotoscoping gonna make a comeback? There are voxels, although they’ve been getting more popular lately. Those are the ones I can think of, and I’m hardly an expert on game visuals…

  • crackers

    The Last Express came out just over ten years ago, that’s pretty old so it is about time it started to resurface again. It was a valid comment but expressed in an unserious way because being serious all the time is boring.

  • http://doomlaser.com Golds

    One of the reasons the lowpoly/ low-res aesthetic is so popular is because of the speed at which you can create content and the low barrier of entry. The higher the resolution of your assets, the more reasources it takes to produce them.

    That aside, I think that lowpoly/8-bit is a really great look.

  • Flamebait

    ^ True, but the same could be said of low-poly flat-shaded stuff. And of vector graphics (format issues and engine support notwithstanding).

  • Biggerfish

    VERY nice looking.

    Was easy until I used all 3 continues in the same spot in the third world :< Really enjoyed it.

  • http://toadsanime.deviantart.com Toadsanime

    Well, well, well. This look excellent! I love the old-school feel of these types of games. I’d best try this out now.

  • GreatFox

    Completed it without dying a single game, and I love it! I want more!

  • contra

    Awesome game. It really feels like the fps capcom or konami would have made back in the days.

  • Potsticker

    I can’t figure out how to switch weapons or how to not skip the dialogue.

    Space – Skips dialogue
    Ctrl – Fires weapon
    Alt – Opens Doors
    Z & X – Strafe
    Arrow Keys – move
    Enter – Switch between screen sizes

    Also, moving with z & x is significantly faster than moving forward or backward, or even turning. This seems unbalanced. Either Z & X need to be nerfed to be slower or the rest of the movement keys need to be buffed to bring themselves more in line with Z & X

  • alspal

    I just use WASD to move, Mouse to look/shoot/open doors. And space to open the gun menu.

  • Potsticker

    I couldn’t change guns, though, at least, not until I plugged in my mouse, then I got a cursor.

    And then I beat the game. Overall it’s easy, but forward/backward could be as fast as going to the side. It feels so sluggish when not strafing.

    As for the game itself, it’s extremely well done. The only complaint I have is the lack of minimap or perhaps a save between levels/chapters.

    I suppose I could’ve gotten out paper and mapped, but I think we’re past the point of needing that in games these days. Even the Etrian Odyssey games, while they require you to make your own map, give you the tools right there.

    As it was, I ended up not searching everywhere in the last two stages, so I’m sure I missed a health or ammo upgrade and I definitely missed the last gun.

    A++ would play again.

  • Neddo

    Potsticker – click the mouse during the cutscenes to advance dialogue without skipping it.

  • Potsticker

    Yeah, I found that out too, once I plugged my mouse in.

    I guess arrow key support on the gun select screen and alt or ctrl support for the dialog screens would be another improvement that would be nice.

  • Bas

    Thanks for mentioning this game!
    I think it’s extremely well made. The pacing is good, the rewards are well spread. Even though it’s low-poly, there are still some nifty animations, like the exploding rockets. I personally find the color palette real interesting. Dark backgrounds with orange/red and some vibrant green. The chiptune music is excellent too. Just like Derek said, it’s really polished and it manages to combine the old feel with a smooth modern feel.
    No complaints at all!

    ps. about the low-poly discussion: maybe this has been done over and over again, but it just looks plain awesome. IMHO especially compared with previous posted Iffermoon, which I find damn ugly.

  • Lim-Dul

    This game is friggin’ epic! Basically like Wolfenstein 3D stylized not to look crappy by today’s standards. :-D

    Great, great find – I’m adding this to my permanent indie collection on my HDD. ^^

  • Snow

    Ahh, it’s about time that the old style FPS’s start showing up again. Downloading now.

    It kind of reminds me what Mare (from Metanet) told me. It’s like going back to a clean slate. Here the graphics aren’t ultra realistic. The designer also has more time to devote to play quality and fun factor. Judging from the comments so far, those who’ve played it had a blast. To me, despite that the 8bit thing is part of the design, it is still like taking a step backand really focusing on gameplay. I hope this style and simplicity comes back to the point where people are making mods for retro looking FPS’s.

  • bv728

    I’d say that the biggest reason we don’t see wireframe more is that Wireframe didn’t reign supreme over an era of gaming, and it’s got a number of issues which can lead to playability problems. Flat Shading solves those, but also lacks the rule that sprites had for so long over gaming; we pretty much went from Sprites->Lowpoly with Textures, without a long, transitional flatpoly peroid.

    We do see Wireframe/Vector used a lot in arcade style games, because that’s where it had it’s heyday.

  • Al3xand3r

    am I the only one who thought “I’d love a castlevania with this engine” when going through those windows-with-curtains decorated corridors with the pink ninja enemies? Probably…

  • Al3xand3r

    Also, the game got pretty slow at some parts of the sewers levels. Other than tha it was a blast.

  • Jean-Sebastien

    Why do I keep seeing “Low poly” to describe this game? This game is as low poly as Super Mario Brother is “Low 3D”

    This is a raycaster, there isn’t a single polygon in the whole game.

    That said, I like that game, but on the NES there was a concept telling developers not to screw with B to run and A to jump, and they should have done the same for this game. Space should be “open/use”, not pause…

    Other than this though, this game capture pretty well the spirit of the NES, applies it to something that the NES could never do, and it makes it fun in the process. Kudos!

  • Ryan


    From playing the game a bit and seeing it in motion, I don’t think this is a raycaster. Seems to me it’s just low-poly + low-res textures, with all enemies just being a single texture always facing the player.

  • Paolo Victor

    As Jean said, the controls are a bit messed… I mean, space opens a menu, ESC quits without confirmation? And no save?

    The menu itself is pretty useless, as its only functionality is weapon changing, something that since Wolf3d can be done with the numkeys.

    Also, it’s funny how the lack of vertical aiming and a crosshair completely threw me off =p

    Besides that, it’s pretty fun and it certainly has the “8-bit” feel, with all those travelling pellets =)

  • Flamebait

    “Here the graphics aren’t ultra realistic.”
    Is that anything special? Attempted realistic graphics went out years ago. Doom 3 was probably the most graphically advanced game in its time by any objective measure, and it’s clearly not intended to look realistic. It’s also ugly as sin. Most games these days are pretty much blurry (bloom + DOF + motion blur etc. all cranked up) and highly specular. Hell, even the diffuse maps of the textures aren’t realistic.

    Much of Shenmue was realistic with subtle stylization, and it succeeded (visually, not commercially). Same for Half-Life 2. But we don’t see that much anymore. My point is that realistic visuals can work, and that they are now the underdog, and that there’s nothing strictly superior about unrealistic ones.

    Jean-Sebastien: I’m pretty sure in terms of implementation it’s actually low-poly intended to look like a raycaster; though at first I thought it was the latter, I noticed mip-mapping while I was playing. Checked the Game Maker tutorials and found stuff like this:
    Still don’t think the “low-poly” label really applies.

    Now that I’ve completed it this is definitely the best planar cartasian grid “3D” shooter I’ve played. Could use a save function. I never died, but I didn’t really want to finsih it it one sitting. And keyboard mapping with sensitivity and acceleration settings for those so-inclined.

    I like how the boss battles are traditional FPS-style. No ridiculous trickery or precise sequence of actions to figure out, just straight maneuvering and shooting.

  • Potsticker

    Yeah, it’s actually a bunch of cubes. Tricks that Wolfenstein used like all four sides being the same texture isn’t necessary in Gamemaker, so the author intentionally reproduced these things. I’m a little sad there’s no z-movement in 8bit Killer because I’d have really loved to see what other 8bit graphic things the author would come up with.

    For instance, as soon as I saw the trucks (And later, the trains) I absolutely fell in love. They are _perfect_.

  • splotki

    Really digging this game.

    Found a bug, though: It’s possible to get stuck on a door in level 1-2 in the first room with 4 doors. You just have to wait for a door to close right in your face and blammo, you’re stuck and have to reset.

    Aside from that, 5 thumbs up!

  • ultim8p00

    ultim8 likes very much!

    This game was pretty awesome. I like the fact that you can see bullets coming and dodge them. Pretty cool

  • Jean-Sebastien

    It looks like you guys are right, that might not be raycasting, but even then, if a platformer is made using D3Dsurfaces for the sprites, we don’t call that platformer a low-poly game

    Anyway. Semantics I guess for an arbirtrary genre. The game is fun :)

  • v-rus

    I absolutely love the pixel art. Pixel art for a 3d game? Freakin’ sweet. It just goes to show that 3d games don’t have to be all photorealistic to look good.

  • v-rus

    Correction. This game is awesome.
    It’s like the doom guy came back to earth, handed Megaman a gun, and told him to save the world.

  • xerus

    phew, beat it all the way through… what a RUSH.