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Pixel art: the text "PICO-8" in white on black, followed by a diamond shape with a rainbow outline.
Developer(s)Lexaloffle Games
Initial releaseApril 2015; 6 years ago (2015-04)
Operating systemWindows, Mac OS, Linux
PlatformPC, Raspberry Pi, HTML5 (player only)
Included withPocketCHIP[1]
Available inEnglish
TypeVirtual machine, Game engine
Websitelexaloffle.com/pico-8.php Edit this on Wikidata

PICO-8 (or ピコ-8 in Japanese) is a virtual machine and game engine created by Lexaloffle Games. It is a "fantasy video game console"[2] that mimics the limited graphical and sound capabilities of 8-bit systems of 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.[3]

Notable games released for the system include the original version of Celeste, which was created in four days as part of a game jam.


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.[4]

PICO-8 games, as well as the program's interface itself, are limited to a 128x128 pixel, 16-color display, and a 4-channel audio output.[5]

The PICO-8 palette contains the following colors:

PICO-8 color palette
Number Hexadecimal RGB value Name
0 #000000 Black
1 #1d2b53 Dark blue
2 #7e2553 Dark magenta
3 #008751 Dark green
4 #ab5236 Brown
5 #5f574f Dark gray
6 #c2c3c7 Light gray
7 #fff1e8 White
8 #ff004d Red
9 #ffa300 Yellow-orange
10 #ffec27 Yellow
11 #00e436 Green
12 #29adff Cyan
13 #83769c Indigo
14 #ff77a8 Pink
15 #ffccaa Peach

The following colors can be accessed by entering specific instructions:[citation needed]

Number Hexadecimal RGB value Name
128 #291814 Ultra dark brown
129 #111d35 Midnight dark blue
130 #422136 Dark maroon
131 #125359 Ultra dark green
132 #742f29 Dark brown
133 #49333b Dark purple
134 #a28879 Dark saturated tan
135 #f3ef7d Bright yellow
136 #be1250 Dark red
137 #ff6c24 Orange
138 #a8e72e Green-yellow
139 #00b543 Dark green
140 #065ab5 Blue
141 #754665 Purple
142 #ff6e59 Red-pink
143 #ff9d81 Red-peach


Coding on the PICO-8 is accomplished through a Lua-based environment,[6] in which users can create music, sound effects, sprites, maps, and games.

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.[7] Pico-8 games can also be exported to "binaries", which will run on Windows, macOS, or Linux.[8]


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 has also seen interest among the demoscene, due to its harsh restrictions attracting programmers and musicians who wish to make retro-style demos for the console.[9][10][11]

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.


  1. ^ "Next Thing Co. PocketC.H.I.P. Documentation". Archived from the original on 2018-04-20.
  2. ^ Debock, Arnaud (August 2015). PICO-8 Zine #1. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  3. ^ "PICO-8 website". PICO-8 Fantasy Console. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  4. ^ "PocketCHIP online documentation". Next Thing Co. Archived from the original on 8 April 2018. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  5. ^ Hossam, Mostafa (August 16, 2016). "Alone in the Dark is still creepy in its brightly-colored remake". Kill Screen. Archived from the original on November 17, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  6. ^ Wawro, Alex (May 3, 2016). "PICO-8 'fantasy console' to become an actual handheld console -- sort of". Gamasutra. UBM TechWeb. Archived from the original on November 17, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  7. ^ "PICO-8 BBS". Lexaloffle. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  8. ^ "PICO-8 Fantasy Console". www.lexaloffle.com. Retrieved 2020-05-15.
  9. ^ "Puroresu No Seishin, a demo made with Pico-8". Lexaloffle. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  10. ^ "Ad Astra". Lexaloffle. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  11. ^ "PICOCHAK". Lexaloffle.

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