TIC-80 Retro Fantasy Computer

The (open source) fantasy computer/console that’s good for small 8-bit style retro programs & games…

As awesome as PICO-8 is, it’s always awesome to have alternatives, and one of the alternatives to PICO-8 is TIC-80. While PICO-8 is described as a “fantasy console” TIC-80 is a free and open-source fantasy video game console for making, playing, and sharing games on a limited platform that mimics the 8-bit systems of the 1980s.

I somehow stumbled upon TIC-80 after I got GarlicOS installed on the Anbernic RG35XX, since it can run TIC-80 programs/games. I downloaded a bunch, and some of them were not good, and some just ran really, really slow, so unplayable, basically. But the ones that do work, work well! And some of them are a lot of fun. (Note: the not running well or fast is due to the RG35XX specifically. Things work fine on a desktop computer.)

TIC-80 being an open source project run by a guy in Poland in his spare time isn’t quite the powerhouse that PICO-8 is, but there’s still a lot of goodness there.

Since I messed around with writing code for the PICO-8 I figured I should do the same for TIC-80. And yes, it’s a sweet sweet retro feel to coding things. It’s like using an Apple ][ (or maybe a TRS-80?) circa the early 1980s. (That’s probably what the 80 in TIC-80 is for.)

Just like PICO-8 you can play games in the browser, you can write your own games (or demos, programs, whatever) and if you’re of a certain age and messed around with computers 30 to 40 years ago, this stuff is heavy on nostalgia and just plain fun.

(The image above shows Continuous Factory and below shows Sonic Mini. You can play them both in your browser!)

PICO-8 definitely has some advantages over TIC-80, but if you prefer open source, are bothered by some of the limitations of PICO-8, want to use something besides Lua (TIC-80 supports Lua, JavaScript, MoonScript, Ruby, Wren, Fennel, Squirrel and D!) TIC-80 might be worth checking out.

And of course if you just want to play games, then just do that as well. Grab a handheld console that can run them, or use the browser or desktop software. Hey, it’s free/open source so all you really have to lose is your time. (Open source joke some people might actually get.)

While PICO-8 has splore to explore games TIC-80 has surf. Just launch TIC-80 and type surf and you can browse all sorts of games and programs. Are there as many as PICO-8? Nope. Not even close. But hey, that’s okay… Like I said, it’s always good to have alternatives.

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