I recently came across PICO-8 while I was researching an article for Hackster.io. The concept of a “fantasy console” seemed really intriguing to me. Retro gaming is obviously really fun, but trying to program for an old console isn’t (and I don’t have one right now anyway). Many modern games attempt to achieve a “retro” look, but it’s largely superficial. They graphics may look NES, but in reality the game developer could have used beautiful high-res graphics if they wanted to.
PICO-8 forces you to adhere to the console’s limitations, even if that “console” exists completely in software. Those limitations seem to sort of mix the capabilities of the Atari 2600 and NES (2nd or 3rd generation, ish). So, I wanted to give it a try, and this is what I came up with.
I needed something simple for a first game, of course. And, the idea of coding and playing on the same “system” reminded of my early forays into programming: BASIC on a TI-83. I’d spend hours sitting in class programming on the TI-83, and one of the first games I ever wrote was a simple brickfall style game. The first was an unfinished Zork ripoff that didn’t go far.
Given the parallels and what not, I decided to make my first PICO-8 game a brickfall game, but with a TI-83 as the player avatar. As you can see (and hear), my two biggest difficulties were the artwork and music. Neither has ever been my specialty.
If you’d like, you can play TI-83 Fall on the PICO-8 website.