What Is PICO-8 Everything You Need to Know 2022

What Is PICO-8? Everything You Need to Know 2023

What Is PICO-8? Everything You Need to Know 2023

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PICO-8, the little virtual game console in the manner of 8-bit games, is here to assist you in getting started on your path in game development. In addition to that, it has some fantastic games.

The PICO-8 is a virtual machine that can play games with a classic look and feel. It has intentionally limited hardware specifications, such as a resolution of 128 by 128, and programme size of 32 kilobytes.

You can design your own games from scratch, or you can download and play “cartridges” that were already made for the PICO-8. Game designers who are just starting out in the programming world will find it to be an invaluable tool.


The PICO-8 “dream console” is a straightforward yet feature-rich platform for the development of video games. It’s not one of the actual vintage consoles that you can buy; rather, it’s a virtual console that emulates those older systems. The PICO-8 programming language has a complete software implementation that is available for installation on computers running Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux.

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Downloading the PICO-8 console is necessary if you want to create your own games using the PICO-8 platform, although you can play numerous PICO-8 games for free. You may purchase it on the itch.io home page for the price of fifteen dollars.

What Does PICO-8 Look Like?

This simulates the boot screen that was displayed on 8-bit home computers such as the Commodore 64 when the computer was first turned on. It’s basically a Read-Eval-Print loop, which stands for Read-Eval-Print loop, and it’s a command line that you can use to communicate with the PICO-8 interpreter itself. You can use it to type code snippets and play with the language all inside the same environment.

Additionally, a number of commands to communicate with PICO-8 programmes are supported through this command line. You can open a new game with the LOAD command, and then use the RUN command to begin playing that game.

To get a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes, hit the ESC key to switch between the command line and the integrated development environment. The integrated development environment (IDE) provides you with a variety of tools that you may use to help you design games.


When it comes to writing and editing your programmes, a code editor is likely the most critical tool you may use. Take note of the low-resolution screen, pixel typeface, and restricted colour palette that are common to all PICO-8 games. These features can be found in the code editor as well. It’s a good tool for getting started, but if you go on to more complicated projects, you should probably switch to a more advanced text editor.


A sprite designer can be accessed by clicking the second icon in the toolbar on the upper right. The creation of in-game graphics for your player and other characters is now possible thanks to this feature. You may polish your talents in pixel art and make images that are 8×8 in size and use 16 colours. Because PICO-8 makes use of a sprite map, it is possible to make sprites that are either smaller or larger depending on how you manipulate the map.

You can also manage the graphics for your game by using the map editor in PICO-8, which is located in the third toolbar button. It can assist you in the process of designing the general environment of your game or assisting you in working with more complex sprite patterns.


PICO-8 also has a sound editor that is incorporated right into the programme. You have complete control over the volume, pitch, and speed of the effect, allowing you to build your own sounds. In addition, you have access to eight basic instruments that can be used to modify the tone of the sound that you generate. The sound editor in PICO-8, like many of the other tools in the programme, has a steep learning curve but reveals a surprising level of power once you have mastered it.

The music editor is the fifth and final icon in the PICO-8 integrated development environment (IDE). You can use it to combine sound effects and loop them, gradually developing the whole music for your game.

What Games Does PICO-8 Play?

You can play the vast majority of the PICO-8 games that are hosted on itch.io directly in your web browser for no charge. There are a lot of them. PICO-8 is a particularly popular choice for use in game jams, which are competitions in which game developers are given a condensed amount of time to produce a game. Twitter is a common place to find advertisements for game jams.

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To test how well a game concept would perform in practice, prototyping it with PICO-8 can be a very useful alternative. The most notable example of this strategy’s fruitful application is Celeste. On the developer’s itch.io page, you may download the prototype of this critically acclaimed independent hit in the form of a PICO-8 cartridge.

Grab PICO-8 Then Go Create

In the realm of independent video game development, the PICO-8 virtual console has become quite the runaway hit. You are not only able to use it to learn how to make your own game, but you are also able to play a large number of high-quality free games that have been developed by other people.

Lua, a programming language that is frequently employed for the creation of video games and other endeavours that are conceptually similar, serves as the basis for PICO-8. Therefore, the abilities you acquire while using PICO-8 can be used to other contexts as well.

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