action data recovery system

...but really, just a breakout with visions of grandeur.

NOTE: This is an unfinished, but playable game submitted as a part of FragmentJam. It is currently ON HOLD because of feature creep and me being distracted with other things in life. I might finish it one day, but even now I think there is still some fun to be had. 
CONTROLS: Arrows, Z, X for action buttons and Enter for pause menu.


  • Jack-in to the infected system with your BIT.bash action data recovery system.
  • Choose which infected sectors to access | confirm with both action buttons.
  • Use action button to launch the spherical probe.
  • Break up corrupted data blocks using the VAUS style interface.
  • Avoid missing the spherical probe for optimal data recovery.


It's 2016. I  just discovered PICO-8 and decided to use it to learn how to program. I found a copy of PICO-zine #1 and decided to tackle the beginner tutorial for making a single player pong. It was pretty tricky in the beginning, but I was having fun, so I carried on. Then things got out of hand... 

I started expanding on the stuff from the tutorial. I always was interested in procedural generation, so one of the first things I added was randomly spawning bricks and turn the game from a pong-like to more of a breakout. It was still not really that fun to play, so I spent a bunch of time researching and tweaking the paddle physics. In the end, I think have two of them - one based on where the ball hits the paddle, and one based on the velocity of the paddle.

Even that the better mechanics made it OK to play, I thought I needed some "unique selling point." After all, no one really wants to play a breakout nowadays and I wanted  at least some people to play my game. This is where I came up with the the narrative. You are not playing a breakout. No! You are an IT professional in 198X using this action data recovery system (which I imagined like some kind of cyber-deck) to fix an infected computer.  The points you collect are the amount of bits of data you recover.

This is where the art style came from. The fact that you can access the raw data in PICO-8 to glitch the display was a great added bonus! I have spent much more time on getting the visuals just right. This was a lot of checking other people's code (a great feature of PICO-8 is that you can see the source code of games you download, and many of them are under CC license) and trying to decipher #tweetjam carts. As I was working on implementing more visuals, more narrative ideas showed up. Maybe I can represent the "viruses" you "fight"? (I did, each virus modifies the gameplay when the timer runs out or a V power-down is picked up. BRE3D-V8 is my favorite).Maybe I can even add boss battles? Suddenly I had ideas for more games in the same universe, but you play as a virus this time and it is a platformer? Or, maybe you are a computer program and it is a puzzle game?

This is where I got distracted. I started implementing bosses, but wanted to work on other stuff (including non-programming stuff) and never got to finishing this first game of mine. Now it seems like a mess of code that would be difficult to decipher, but maybe one day I will find will and time to do it. Nevertheless, I am still proud of my first programming achievement. I hope you'll enjoy it too...

If you want to see my programming journey on this project in more detail, I kept a dev-log on a blog

StatusOn hold
Rated 5.0 out of 5 stars
(3 total ratings)
AuthorFred Bednarski
Made withPICO-8, Pyxel Edit
Tags8-Bit, Breakout, fragmentjam, glitch, PICO-8
Average sessionAbout a half-hour

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