Pico-8 is a self-titled "fantasy console"—that is, it's a virtual browser-based console where people can make and then play games. It's simple, with a 16-colour 128x128 display, it's easy(ish) to learn, and people have created some incredible, creative things with it, from art, to music, to full games.
Here are some of our favourites from Twitter, where people share their creations, which can be found under the hashtag #pico8:
— ∴julia∴ (@julialynntufts) November 26, 2016
— Matt Hughson (@matthughson) March 26, 2017
— Makiki (@topkeki69) March 25, 2017
— Michael Baumert (@nothingreal) March 16, 2017
— Ben Jones (@Powersaurus) March 25, 2017
— zep @ lexaloffle (@lexaloffle) March 23, 2017
— Trasevol Dog (@TRASEVOL_DOG) October 28, 2016
— Johan Vinet (@johanvinet) September 20, 2015
— Trasevol Dog (@TRASEVOL_DOG) February 25, 2017
There are also plenty of games, or "carts", to play—though some of them are just pretty things to look at. Dusk Child by Sophie Houlden is a particular highlight, and a fantastic advertisement for what Pico-8 is capable of, and Benjamin Soulé's Across the River is a gorgeously-coloured recreation of that old logic puzzle about getting a predator and prey across a river using just one boat.
"Pico-8 is actually a lovely game engine that gives you a lot of freedom," says Rémy Devaux, AKA Trasevol_Dog on Twitter. He makes Pico-8 games and graphics experiments, some of which you can see above. "Having all the editors in just one little software is really cool too," he adds, referencing the fact that you can make everything—art, music, code—all in the Pico-8 editor.
— Trasevol Dog (@TRASEVOL_DOG) June 9, 2016
"I make animations frame by frame, and display them with some code I have to write too. Sometimes I do animations with only code, using shapes and/or pixel manipulation, which is very easy to do in Pico-8!"
If you're looking for a way to spend a couple of hours, there are few things more hypnotising than watching some incredible, detailed and occasionally trippy Pico-8 animations.