8-Bit Adventures Gets a Remastered Edition

[Update 5/19/2015: 8-Bit Adventures will launch via Steam on May 22.]

Back in January of 2013, indie game developer Joshua Hallaran released his retro JRPG inspired title called 8-Bit Adventures: The Forgotten Journey. Recently, Hallaran announced that he made significant changes and updates to the game, which prompted him to release a re-mastered edition.

In 8-Bit Adventures, players embark on a classic JRPG quest inspired by the 8-bit graphics of the NES era. With the promise of unique story twists, engaging characters, and plenty of monsters, gamers explore a vast world by land, airship, snow-craft, and even whirlwind. Players utilize the abilities of the Warrior, Thief, and Mage as they engage in turn-based combat that also includes a color-based element system to determine strengths and weaknesses.

Screenshot 3

8-Bit Adventures: The Forgotten Journey Remastered Edition features several updates, including gameplay re-balancing, completely re-written dialogue, re-designed environments, additional music, and several hours worth of new scenes and game content.

Hallaran’s small indie studio Critical Games has released several other projects, with a majority of them built for mobile markets. Some of their previous projects include Giusto Intonation Training, Martian Mix-Up, and Path of Thanatos. Currently, 8-Bit Adventures can be purchased through the Greenman Gaming client for PC at a price of $9.99 USD, or otherwise directly through the official website. For those who may wish to sample the game before buying, Critical Games has made a demo version available for download on their website.

Actively pursuing my goals of utilizing written and verbal communication skills in a field that involves my interests of video and tabletop games has pretty much been my mission since high school.

  • Kevin Fishburne

    Cool-looking game (Love the early FF inspiration and music), but I think I’m going to start calling out “8-bit” “pixel-art” games that use non-uniform pixel sizes or “between pixels”, sorta like Bryan Henderson obsessing over the use of “comprised of” in Wikipedia articles (and thus possibly forever brand myself an asshole). There’s a famous quote I’ll paraphrase, “Pixel art. 8-bit. You keep using those words. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.” I don’t know if the devs weren’t alive during the 8-bit era, don’t have the skill emulate 8-bit graphics, or just don’t care, but it vexes me to see games billed with an inaccurate description. Maybe we need a new term, like “8.5-bit” to describe games that essentially map pixel-art to OpenGL quads and set GL_TEXTURE_MIN_FILTER and GL_TEXTURE_MAG_FILTER to GL_NEAREST but otherwise have their way with the quads and use light sources, non-orthogonal projection, ignore the simulated native screen resolution, don’t use indexed palettes or use alpha.

    Games emulating 16-bit systems can get away with these inaccuracies a little easier, as the SNES had capabilities more closely resembling modern graphics hardware (visually at least), and allowed sprite scaling, rotation and alpha. Even so, I see the same mistakes being made in games emulating those systems.

    Is anyone else bothered by this, or is it just me? I suppose the way I look at it is, if you’re going to use aspects of modern graphics hardware (other than raw speed and portability), why try to make the game look 8-bit at all? The result is an awkward imitation of classic systems that’s neither classic nor modern and the purpose eludes me. I’m not advocating for true emulation, just that the game should at least look like what it purports to be. There are relatively simple methods to do this, though it requires more work than ignoring the issue. OpenGL doesn’t “want” to be 8- or 16-bit; it takes some coaxing.

  • Joshua Hallaran

    Hi Kevin,

    It’s the developer here. Thanks for the kind words! And I completely understand where you’re coming from, as it’s something that’s annoyed me in the past when I’ve seen 16 or 32-bit games market themselves as 8-Bit or NES-like.

    In the game’s promotional description, and even in the above article, I call the visual style ‘8-Bit Inspired’ and that’s really how I approached the aesthetic and level design. The title 8-Bit Adventures (which I believe is what you’re commenting on) wasn’t really in reference to the visual style, but rather the NES-era of gaming. It’s supposed to convey the idea of an adventure in the style of old 8-Bit titles, rather than an adventure using 8-Bit visuals. I can certainly see why that’s confusing, though.

    In fairness, there are some elements that are faithful (which I was very happy to see you picked up on!). The music was composed using Famitracker, which provides tools that are almost 1:1 with the original NES’ sound capabilities. It doesn’t cut off when sound effects play, but the music sounds authentic. Additionally, with only a handful of
    exceptions for aesthetic or gameplay reasons (e.g. making sure something stands out to the player), the colour palette is also NES and Game Boy faithful (note that colours look different to the actual game in both screenshots and video due to varying types of compression). Finally, the character sprites were drawn at the same size and style as those of NES RPGs like Final Fantasy I, so they’re very authentic (drawn by an excellent sprite artist named Jerram Fahey).

    So ‘inspired’ definitely describes it best, but I did definitely consider all these different
    elements and how close/far I wanted to get from that 8-Bit aesthetic. Thanks for a thought-provoking comment!

  • Joshua Hallaran

    Hi Jesse,

    Thank you very much for writing the article! I sincerely appreciate the coverage.

    I’d just like to (shamelessly) add that if anyone’s interested, 8-Bit Adventures is on Steam Greenlight and can be found here:

    Over the next week, I’m going to start posting a series of short articles about why 8-Bit Adventures is worth your vote, focusing on some my favourite things about the game – both as a developer and a player. It should be an interesting experiment, so if you’re curious, please give them a look.

    Thanks for your time!

  • Michael Davis

    I don’t think that makes you an asshole at all, Kevin, and you didn’t even mention the absolute worst case: when they say they’re 8-bit yet rotate sprites, so they end up with diamonds on screen! That’s not 8-bit! Not even kind of!

    As a pixel artist, I prefer the term “mosaic art”. :)

    Err, I replied to the wrong person, but since it’s still in the proper flow I’ll just leave it :P

  • Hey Joshua. Awesome to see some activity here, as normally the comment sections on IGM are a little graveyard-like (they seriously need to do something about that).

    I agree with you and think you may have escaped my peeve by describing it as “inspired” (which I missed until re-reading it). At this point I guess I’ve become hypersensitive after seeing so many games abusing the term “8-bit” by horrendously-implementing its aesthetic and this article just happened to be the one I dropped the bomb on. Ironically I think it was the correct game to criticize, as you seem to be very well-aware of the issues I’m talking about and had a good response.

    I’ve actually been thinking about making a post on my site about how to properly do pixel art with an 8- or 16-bit style in OpenGL. I chose to make a short, animated section of the introduction sequence to the game I’m working on emulate a 320×200 16-color EGA palette and had to figure it out myself. It had to work with arbitrary screen resolutions and aspect ratios, all of which could be changed on the fly by the user while the program was running by resizing the window. It was initially difficult (being completely ignorant of how to do it), but once done the principles are pretty simple. Perhaps I’ll start it off with a “NO” meme with screenshots of how not to do it.

    Anyway, I dig your stuff so keep up the good work. I was 13+ during the 8-bit era, so it’s burned into my soul and it’s great to see people keeping it alive.

  • Hey Michael. Heh, cool, sometimes I’m a bit paranoid about how I come across online. I used to go all “Angry Video Game Nerd” on developers and games several years ago until I learned that flaming the shit out of fellow devs was no way to make friends or build communities. I try to keep it positive/constructive these days lest the flames come back to burn me.

    That being said, you did mention the mother of all 8-bit fuckups when you said “diamonds”. Sprites not snapping to the native screen resolution (‘tween pixels), diamond pixels and non-uniform pixel sizes are daggers in my eyes and make the beloved 6502 roll in its grave.

  • Joshua Hallaran

    I always try and respond to comments related to my work, so I’m glad I could keep the discussion going =)

    No worries at all – as I said before, I know exactly where you’re coming from and tend to have the same reaction myself. Haha, you might be right about that. Although I’m sure that every developer working on a retro-style game must consider this to some degree.

    That sounds like a fantastic idea! I don’t use OpenGL myself, but I’m sure it would help out plenty of people. And I must admit, I haven’t seen much written about creating genuine 8- or 16-Bit content. Haha, well comedy is usually the best way to start off a complicated tutorial. I’ll look forward to reading it!

    Thank you very much! The 8-Bit era was a bit before my time (I’m 21), but thanks to my cousin I grew up playing all of the NES classics (and, of course, still do), so they’re very important to me as well. Whether I attempt something like this again will depend on the reception, but hopefully I’ve made a worthwhile contribution to the retro revival =)