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Cart #downstreamdream-2 | 2023-01-14 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | No License

UPDATE 1/14/2023, v1.1:
This update couldn’t have happened without @thisismypassword’s contributions to the community. I recently began overhauling my build pipeline for future projects, and one of the first features I added was Shrinko8. Since Downstream Dream is my only project to use the full build pipeline, I used it for testing output from the new minifier, which led to some token golfing. Thanks to this tip, also by @thisismypassword, I was able to free up about 100 tokens! Changes include:

  • Midboss section contains more action and a couple new sprites/sfx
  • Rocks spawn gradually at the start of each lap (so you don’t crash into them immediately after winning the midboss section)
  • Turtle hit/hurtbox size reduced
  • Speed gauge colors changed to represent the danger level of being ejected
  • Slight gfx adjustments
  • Faster boot time

While I have your attention, I’d like to thank everyone who supported this game and said nice things about it, it means so much to me and it made my whole year! Special thanks to @extar, who recently featured it on his Pico Playtime: Best of 2022 video, and extra special thanks to @zep for featuring it on the front page on day one. It’s a huge honor to be listed among so many incredible projects from the community and I’m grateful beyond words to everyone here!

Anyway, if you liked the original release, I hope you enjoy the update!

UPDATE 06/11/2022, OST
I've added a special OST cart for the itch.io download, where you can select music from the soundtrack and watch the game play itself while you listen. I hope you enjoy it!)

Hi everyone,

Here's my new game. It's called Downstream Dream, it's a side-scroller that I guess is somewhere between kart racers and shoot-em-ups. I hope you like it!

It's also published on itch.io if you'd like to support it. Most of the content from that page is duplicated below, but first, a few thanks to BBS members:

  • To @zep, @Makke, @Felice, @Nodepond, and @pahammond for their code contributions to the community, some of which I wouldn't have been able to release this cart anytime soon without! (listed below)

  • To @freds72 and @johanp for their advice. This game would have been a lot worse if not for their kindness and willingness to help a stranger.

  • To @Liquidream for playtesting, and for lots of encouragement when I felt like giving up.

  • To everyone in the Pico-8 community. I'm very grateful that so many are willing to share your creativity and kindness with others. Trading knowledge and games with you all has brought me a lot of joy.

Thank you all!

Game Controls


⬅️➡️⬆️⬇️ = D-Pad or Keyboard Arrow Keys

🅾️ = Button 1 or Keyboard Z

❎ = Button 2 or Keyboard X


⬅️ + 🅾️ - Paddle counter-clockwise

➡️ + 🅾️ - Paddle clockwise

⬆️ + 🅾️ - Steady ahead

⬇️ - Move backwards (with motor)


❎ - Throw

How to Play

From the Developer

My mom loved both adventure and the American southwest; she traveled there many times over her life, and her home was filled with art and souvenirs she'd collected from her visits to the region.

When I was about seven years old, my parents rented a minivan and took me on a long roadtrip across the United States. I don’t remember a lot from that trip other than staring out the window while the landscape slowly changed from cities and farmland, to mountains, to desert, but one memory stands out from the endless monotony of the road; a stop at the Grand Canyon where my mom went white water rafting.

My dad never learned how to swim, and someone needed to watch me anyway, so the two of us waited downstream in the hot afternoon sun, looking for mom's boat to come in. I don’t think the water was particularly rough at that time of year; but like my dad, I’ve never been good at swimming either, and I spent most of the time thinking about how scary the water looked to me. I imagined how if I was on the boat with mom, I would probably fall out and be carried away by the river. She seemed very bold and brave that day!

A couple years before she left this world, mom offered to take me on a trip out west; possibly to Las Vegas, or maybe the Grand Canyon. I politely turned her down for some made-up reason, while the real one probably had something to do with still being in my 20s and wrongly believing that I was too cool to go on vacation with my mother. As a young adult, I assumed that there would always be more time with the people in my life. Now that I'm a little older, I'm learning that there is rarely ever enough. I don’t know where we might have gone or what we might have done on that trip, if I hadn't foolishly said no; but sometimes, it’s nice to dream about it.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the game. It contains a lot of love, a little regret, and the best game I could make with Pico-8.


Credits and Thanks

External Libraries:


Special Thanks To:

P#112916 2022-06-09 01:13 ( Edited 2023-03-19 06:09)


Congrats on releasing this ambitious PICO-8 game - you did it! 🥳
Not only that ...it's awesome! 🤩
Everything looks and sounds great - I'm particularly fond of the gr8 music u produced for it 🔊😆🤘
I felt privileged to get a sneak peak at such a well-made (+personal) game.
Well done!

P#112927 2022-06-09 06:17

Thank u @Liquidream!!! :D

P#112930 2022-06-09 08:24

Bravo on a great looking and sounding game. And thanks for sharing your story...it's easy to see you put a lot of effort and heart into this game. You've certainly shown what PICO8 is capable of if you keep pressing.

I first played outside the BBS here so the mechanics weren't very obvious right away, which is fine, but now that I see the helpers it might make it better. One thing I was trying to figure out was where the end is...?


I got through the first rapids and got passed the bear but then it seemed like the race was on again? I thought maybe the bear was a boss and then I'd win but didn't seem like it. I died during the second race so don't know what's after yet. The bear was a great bonus after getting through the first race but was caught off guard to race again.

And I think my thumb got a cramp from all the button mashing but hey, that's paddling down a river, right? ;P

Again, great job on a very polished game. Be proud.

P#112933 2022-06-09 12:55

@morningtoast Thank you so much for your kind words! I think maybe the two things I'm most unsatisfied with are how anticlimactic the transition out of the bear fight is (whether u win or lose), and that the paddling mechanics don't feel as connected to the action button as I'd like. I squeezed every token I could and even implemented dumb wrappers like return ceil(rnd()), lol, but just couldn't manage to tie up those loose ends. You actually don't need to smash the paddle button that much, about once every half second or to the beat of the music will do, but I imagine everyone instinctively hits it as fast as they can, including myself!

P#112959 2022-06-09 20:15

I had a thought to maybe take the cart and see if turning the button pressing off would make it feel better.

Just hold down the button but you don't just want to have it down all the time or else...something...you get tired or lose control...dunno, the trick to keep the meter in the middle or something. I know you're at token limit so not suggesting changes, just thinking out loud.

But dude, the bear was awesome. It was such a delight to see after finishing the race. I was like "oh now what" and then it was like, "oh shit, a bear!" He killed me with his salmon.

P#112961 2022-06-09 20:57

@morningtoast Ah, so the cheat code is u only have to change the btnp() call to btn(), lol. The feel of the boats was kind of informed by all the hours I spent playing Rock n' Roll Racing as a kid. I always intended for the player to have to smash the btn repeatedly, but being able to hold it saved me a repetitive stress injury during development, lol. I debated a lot over whether or not u should just be able to hold it, but the game felt less lively like that imo!

P#112965 2022-06-09 21:29

Wow! Just... wow! This is incredible. Such polish, fluidity and professionalism in this game.

Utterly amazing.

P#112982 2022-06-10 11:24

@phil Thank you so much!

P#112998 2022-06-10 19:56

We spoke on Reddit and I supported you on itch.io. Glad to see this on the BBS too! Just wanted to reiterate how much I love this game. And the music is so, so good. Thanks for the OST cart!

P#113013 2022-06-11 13:38

@biovoid Hi again! Thanks so much for your support!!!

P#113030 2022-06-11 20:56

Heartbreaking story behind the game's origin, I am genuinely sorry for your loss.

The Music, some of the best I've heard in Pico8. Super catchy and complex!

The Gameplay, challenging and unique. Albeit very hard to get the hang of on keyboard alone. I'll add this to my faves so I can get the hang of this!

P#113423 2022-06-21 00:24

@ChronoChill Thanks for your kind words! I put everything I had into it and I'm glad to know it shows through!

P#113455 2022-06-21 22:50

Ahh bro I'm crying over here! The love you put into this game really comes through. Thanks for sharing it with us! I had a great time playing. Update: I bought the soundtrack, and I'm listening while I work this evening. Thanks for making it available!

P#113543 2022-06-23 18:15 ( Edited 2022-06-25 02:08)

A fantastic and really enjoyable game with stunning presentation. For those interested in such tings, I reviewed this on my channel below:


P#113546 2022-06-23 20:10

@mac Wow! I think you’re the first person to get the Itch release just for the soundtrack. That really means a lot to me, thank you so much!

@inphanta Thanks again for the video! It’s a really cool feeling to watch someone else play through a game I made, I’m grateful to you for that experience, and for you sharing the game with your audience!

P#113614 2022-06-25 12:04

I'm blown away.

As far as I can see everything is top notch. The music the sprite work. The transition from title to game. The use of zooming everything.

Thank you for sharing.

P#114994 2022-07-30 08:47

@SquidLight Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

P#115192 2022-08-03 12:46

The presentation on this game is insane. I had no idea pico8 could make something like this. Remarkable.

P#115473 2022-08-08 18:18

@ohhcurtains Thanks so much!

P#115675 2022-08-12 23:56 ( Edited 2022-08-13 00:37)

2023 update I guess?

P#124283 2023-01-14 10:15

@freds72 lol, oops! thx, it always takes me a few weeks to get used to writing down the correct year! 😂😅😭

P#124284 2023-01-14 10:19

very funny game, i love it

P#126356 2023-02-27 08:50

@pevenip Thank you!!

P#126373 2023-02-27 17:44

Hi ridgek! Are you able to share an unminified copy of the game so that I may see how some of it's parts are made? I'd love to learn from this if possible. Thanks!

P#134408 2023-09-15 20:20

@Bee_Randon Hello, thanks for your interest! The itch.io download comes with an unminified cart, it's too large to open in Pico-8 but you can view it with any text editor. I'd be happy to try to answer any questions as best as I can. Have a great weekend!

P#134415 2023-09-15 23:36

Damn, the story about your mother and regretting saying no to her brought me to tears. Fortunately, my mother is still around, for now. I'm going to call her.

PS I love the music track. I can (and will) jam to this on repeat.

P#137187 2023-11-09 20:24 ( Edited 2023-11-09 20:28)

@sindulfo Thanks so much, please do call your mom as much as you can. Wishing you both good health and lots of time together!

P#137292 2023-11-11 21:56

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