PICO-8 the retro fantasy console

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” 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.

Notable games released for the system include the original version of Celeste

  • Paid: to create or play games in pico-8 app
  • Free: to play games in browser


Display 128x128 16 colours
Cartridge Size 32k
Sound 4 channel chip blerps
Code Lua
Sprites 256 8x8 sprites
Map 128x32 cels

The harsh limitations of PICO-8 are carefully chosen to be fun to work with, to encourage small but expressive designs, and to give cartridges made with PICO-8 their own particular look and feel.

Creative Tools

PICO-8 has tools for editing code , music , sound , sprites , maps built right into the console. Create a whole game or program in one sitting without needing to leave the cosy development environment!

Shareable Cartridges

PICO-8 cartridges can be saved in a special .png format and sent directly to other users, shared with anyone via a web cart player, or exported to stand-alone HTML5, Windows, Mac and Linux apps.

Any cartridge can be opened again in PICO-8, letting you peek inside to modify or study the code, graphics and sound.

Explore the Cartverse

PICO-8 comes with a built-in cartridge browser called SPLORE, for searching and favouriting carts from the online collection.

Community Resources

PICO-8 has a friendly community of users collaborating, sharing knowledge and creating tools, snippets and tutorials. Check out what people are up to on the forums, twitter, and other places.

Just Add Hardware

PICO-8 is tiny to download, easy to install, and will run on almost anything! To use PICO-8, you’ll need either Windows, a Mac, Linux (i386 / amd64), or a Raspbery Pi (pictured) with ~700MHz CPU. Turn your old unused netbooks or microcomputers into PICO-8s!


I just got a GAMEFORCE CHI - one of the cheap Chinese handhelds powered by the Rockchip RK3326. It can run RetroArch well for everything up to PS1, but the main reason for me buying it is to play PICO-8 games.

They can also be played in your browser, or the pico-8 apps, but it’s much nicer to have a physical handheld device to play them. Feels like a lost GBA era console.

Here are some favourites:

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I used to create games in Game Maker, but I haven’t done that in ages. Lately I’m getting the urge to make games again, though, and PICO-8 might just be the tool that could reinvigorate my creativity. It’s such a charming concept.


Jump in!


Another great one



Oh my, this game is brilliant!

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Celeste got me interested in it, was hoping someone would make the actual console at some point. Like, standalone and branded.

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I made a few games for this in the past year or so. I love the limitations and the ease of publishing games.

My most fully featured game is a port of an old 68k Mac shareware game called “Siege of Darkwood”: Siege of Darkwood

My most recent project was a meat boy style platformer (just to see if I could) called “Rab Bab”: Rab Bab

And early on I did a game jam where you make something based off a random game name generator (hosted by Tom Hall from id fame): striking_thunder

Currently I’m designing (on paper) how a game based on Fantasy Hockey might work. At this stage it’s probably going to have too much scope to fit in a pico8 game but I’ll still probably give it a crack.


The discord is very active and helpful too: PICO-8

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Oh, so this is Pico 8. The RG-351MP I recently reviewed had a Pico 8 section. I wondered what that was about. Looks like something I’d enjoy messing about with.

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Tons of great games.


Yeah the pico8 is awesome. Can you post pics of your device @matt I am curious what hardware offers the best handheld pico8 experience per dollar?

I bought this one for:

  • built in wifi (for pico8 SPLORE downloader)
  • 640x480 screen (good for most retro platforms)
  • twin analog sticks (for PlayStation emulation)

Pico8 doesn’t fit exactly vertically at 480p, but it’s scaled using supersampling (up to way bigger and down to 480p) so looks very good.

I’ve also been playing PS1 and DOS games on it. No problems.

Hardware is decent but obviously not Nintendo levels of quality control or ergonomics.

There’s a spreadsheet of all these Chinese handhelds with all their specs that should help you pick your poison.


GameForce Chi running Poom (pico8 doom equivalent)