|Initial release||April 2015|
|Operating system||Windows, Mac OS, Linux|
|Platform||PC, Raspberry Pi, HTML5 (player only)|
|Type||Virtual machine, Game engine|
The Pico-8 (stylized as PICO-8 and in Japanese as ピコ-8) is a virtual machine and game engine created by Lexaloffle Games. It is designed to mimic a "fantasy video game console," by emulating the harsh hardware limitations of the video game consoles around the 1980s. The goal of this is to spur one's creativity and ingenuity in producing games, and avoid being overwhelmed with the many possibilities of modern tools and machines. Such a design also allows Pico-8 games to have a familiar look and feel.
The Pico-8 program integrates a Lua code editor, sprite and map creation tools, and an audio sound effect and music editor. The program can load games saved locally on a computer, in the form of text or as specially encoded .png images. The interface also supports a splore mode, where games uploaded to the BBS can be previewed and then played in the Pico-8 program. The PocketCHIP miniature computer shipped preloaded with Pico-8.
The Pico-8 palette contains the following colours:
|Number||Hexadecimal RGB value||Name|
The following colors can be accessed by entering specific instructions:
|Number||Hexadecimal RGB value||Name|
|128||#291814||Ultra dark brown|
|129||#111d35||Midnight dark blue|
Users are able to export their games as an HTML5 web game or to upload creations to Lexaloffle's official BBS where other users are able to play the games in a web browser, and view the source code. Pico-8 games can also be exported to "binaries", which will run on Windows, macOS, or Linux.
The release of Pico-8 attracted the attention of programmers and video game developers who enjoyed the challenge of developing under these limitations, and spurred the development of similar game engines with intentional retro-style limitations. These engines are now commonly dubbed "fantasy consoles," based on a definition of the term on Pico-8's website, and roughly simulate the strict limitations of old game consoles and computers. Among these are TIC-80, which styles itself as a "fantasy computer," and Pixel Vision 8, which allows the user to specify the simulated hardware limitations they wish to develop under. The development of fantasy consoles, as well as development of games for them, has evolved into its own, almost exclusively hobbyist, sub-community of game development and programming.
Pico-8 gained additional attention in 2018 with the release of Celeste. Originally created as a Pico-8 game for a game jam, Celeste Classic became one of the most popular games on the Pico-8 BBS, prompting the developers to expand the concept into a more expansive, fully realized game. The original Pico-8 version of Celeste is fully playable as an easter egg in the full version of the game.
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