Veteran Pico-8 developer, BGelais, has released another game for the fantasy platform. This time it’s Bandits, a game he has derived the idea of from an old, Canadian TV-game from a few decades back.
Bandits is extremely simple in design: A group of bandits are littered around each single-screen dungeons, also hidden in the room are nine landmines. Your goal is to travel from the bottom of the screen to the top of the screen without being touched by any of the bandits.
Each of the bandits can move in the same eight-directions as you. This is a problem because they also move at exactly the same rate as you and start out closer to the exit point of the level as you. Handily, then, if you can’t solve all of your problems with landmines, you also have a gun — albeit one with limited ammunition.
And that’s that. All of the elements of the game can be discussed in a single paragraph, a little bit longer than the traditional arcade pitch of a sentence. Bandits is a game which is it almost impossible to not be succinct about when you’re discussing. It generates levels in a way which never feel unfair, the exit is always in sight, and the temptation to horde bullets for a higher score adds a real risk element to the game.
One of the best things about the PICO-8 platform — and a lot of the earlier hardware which its coding language allows it to emulate — its games are restricted to a choice between style and substance, and even in the case of the second option they’ve got to be small and deliberate. That’s what Bandits is, small and deliberate. It’s a very enjoyable, balanced, bitesize experience.
You can play BANDITS in your browser, for free, over on its Pico-8 page.