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The BEST games from Random Jam (8 Bits to Infinity)

8 Bits to Infinity logo

I host a new game jam every two months for the 8 Bits to Infinity community. We’re a collective of developers intent on improving through rapid iteration and prototyping, which is why we encourage game jams.

Every jam has two core elements: Focus and Theme. Entries must implement the Focus, usually limiting mechanics, graphics, or other aspect of a game.

The Theme is meant to be an inspiration and launching a point, a way to narrow down “make a game prototype.” It’s optional but counts for a big chunk of the community choice scoring, so most games implement it.

Random Jam logo
Thanks to Raindrinker for the logo!

For Random Jam, the focus was randomness, meaning a clear implementation of random number generation. This could include random level generation, randomized items, or the use of randomness in rolling dice or drawing cards.

The theme was “Just Two” and, as always, was left open to interpretation. This resulted in a nice variety of implementations and some cool out-of-the-box thinking when it came to using the theme.

Here we'll look at the best games from random jam. First, I’ll share my thoughts on the top five winners voted by developers involved in the jam. Then we'll look at a handful of honorable mentions I think deserve some attention.

#1 Overall: Subpar Golfing by lemon juice

Screenshot of Sub-par Golfing
Good thing I get *two* shots

The winner of the jam is Sub-par Golfing, a top-down golfing game with randomly generated levels. You get extra points for ricocheting the ball off walls, but only two shots to get it in the hole. It’s a very clear and direct implementation of the “just two” theme.

What I especially like about this game is the randomly generated courses that offer a great deal of variety. Sometimes the courses become impossible, but you can hit a key to regenerate the level at any time. And most of the time, the levels are playable as-is.

When you do manage to advance, the game provides three different environments to shake things up, with a few variations in mechanics with how the walls behave. Overall a fun, simple experience, very intuitive and easy to get into.

#2 Overall: Astral Beats by NotEuclid

Screenshot of Astral Beats
Sometimes I did it right

Coming in second place, Astral Beats is a cool mix of a Simon memory game plus a traditional rhythm game. You listen to a pattern and then match its keys and rhythm using the C and G keys on the keyboard, which match to the pitches of C and G. And look at that—“just two” pitches!

This game can be brutal if you don’t have a great ear. However, that makes it stand out as a potentially useful tool for ear training. Plus, it doubles as a memory trainer, as remembering the rhythm of a pattern after hearing it a single time is a serious challenge.

The overall presentation is solid, with flashy graphics and in-your-face menu music. Plus, the storyline—though a touch text-heavy—is quite humorous and detailed, especially for a rhythm game.

#3 Overall: Tyranny of Two by Festus, arbiter202, NcsAsp

Screenshot of Tyranny of Two
Bullets, bullets, everywhere

This was my personal favorite game of the jam, a top-down shooter where you get to pick between “just two” power-ups at the end of each area, and can have “just two” effects on your gun. These randomized effects are more than boring stat boosts—they really change up the gameplay.

The action feels great despite rough edges, and the music and sounds fit well. The randomized room effects add another layer of interest in an otherwise simply experience, and there are even a couple boss battles to really test your skill.

I would love to see this game extended and polished. Could be a real interesting rogue-lite shooter.

#4 Overall: Rising Circuits by Travesty

Screenshot of Rising Circuits
Double spread rockets, anyone?

Another top-down shooter. Spoilers: the #5 slot is, as well. But I think this is great, because the games showcase how similar concepts can result in radically different results.

This one adds a left and right hand into the mix, allowing you to create different combinations of weapons depending on when you pick them up.

I love the variety of weapon combinations and enemies in this game, and that it has a clear end goal with the elevator position marked on the right side of the screen. The action is always intense, with enemies constantly spawning in, and you need to think on your feet to get the best weapons.

#5 Overall: Move-Shot by Micrikacik

Screenshot of Move-Shot
Just shapes and guns

The third top-down shooter in the top five is yet another major variation in the concept. Much more abstract than the other two, this game features art constructed from basic shapes and colors. Despite the simple graphics, it’s easy to read everything on screen—and that’s more important than flashy visuals.

You get two shots for whatever weapon you currently have, then you transform into a new shape with a random choice between the other two weapons. That’s a double heaping of “just two.” And it’s always clear which weapon you have, both in the character design and shot mechanics.

The entire UI, including your health, is implemented into your character, meaning you can focus on the action. And best of all, it keeps track of your high score so you can keep challenging yourself to improve.

Honorable Mentions: Best Games from Random Jam Under the Top Five

Screenshot of Random Splat Game
Randomly generated splat art?

Random Splat Game by Daun Games felt too simple at first: after a random splat that appears on the screen, click the matching color on the right. But as it progressed, introducing more colors and shortening the available time, it became an enjoyably frantic mental exercise of finding the right match.

Screenshot of Radical Nuisance Gateway
Gotta watch out for that "wait" attack

Radical Nuisance Gateway by TheMutantSpaceDancer was built on RPG Maker MV, allowing the team to focus on content. And focus they did. The game has an impressive amount of art, sound, music, and story for the jam’s ten-day period, loaded with humor and interesting RPG mechanics.

Screenshot of Binary & Bogus Bills
Shift, flip, and swap your way to cash money

Binary & Bogus Bills by Xascoria has potential as an educational game to teach about binary and binary operations. There’s a lot of humor in the presentation and premise, plus the head-scratching puzzle of working out complex combinations of binary operations.

Congratulations to everyone who submitted a game! I was of course unable to cover every game in this article and the accompanying video, but if you submitted a game, you are a definite winner. Creating a working prototype in ten days is no easy feat.

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