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Cart #bunbunsamurai-12 | 2023-11-17 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA



The Hero, weary of fighting in the endless wars fueled by squabbling nobility, wanders across a countryside overridden by bandits and wild ronin. He hopes only to return to the peaceful village he once called home. Wherever he goes, he protects the weak and helpless, leaving no evil unbloodied.


  • Movement - Directional buttons.
  • Attack - Press direction and [O] button.

Attacking and Combos

  • Killing an enemy grants the Hero Prestige.
  • Enemies are not killed by direct attacks - only by knocking them into other enemies or objects. Knocking an enemy into more enemies or objects causes a combo chain worth more Prestige for each impact.
  • After an attack, the Hero must recover for a moment before another attack can be performed. He will raise his sword when he is ready to attack again.
  • If only one enemy remains, the Hero can kill them with a direct attack (Final Strike).


  • The Hero can take two hits before dying.
  • If the Hero finishes a season undamaged, bonus Prestige is granted.


Enemies seek to kill the Hero.

  • As years pass, new enemy types appear and more enemies roam the countryside at once.
  • Enemies that are impacted but not killed grow angrier, increasing their movement and attack speed until they settle down.

Enemy Types

  • Orange Bandit - (Year 1) - Wanders randomly. Will strike if the Hero is nearby.
  • Yellow Ronin - (Year 1) - Seeks the Hero, striking if he is nearby.
  • Pink Ronin - (Year 2) - Throws daggers at the Hero.
  • Red Bandit - (Year 3) - Wanders until the Hero is near, then lights his bomb and chases the Hero. Explodes if hit, so indirect attacks are best.
  • Grey Boss - (Year 7) - Seeks the Hero speedily. Can only be killed with a Final Strike at the end of a level.


Villagers wear green clothing, and run in panic through the countryside.

  • If touched, the villager will be saved, granting Prestige.
  • Villagers that have been bumped into grow more upset, and are worth less points until they settle down.
  • If a villager is killed by an enemy, the Hero loses Prestige.


A variety of objects can be found across the countryside.

  • White Hazard Spikes - Damage the Hero.
  • Chests, rocks, and vases - Can be kicked into enemies, or used to damage enemies that are kicked into them. Some objects break when impacted.
  • Melons - Regenerate the Hero's lost health, as well as giving Prestige.

Difficulty Levels

Difficulty Level can be adjusted on the title menu.

  • Easy - Enemies only damage Hero during their attack animation.
  • Normal - Enemy touches now also deal damage to Hero.
  • Hard - Hero can only take one hit before being defeated.
  • Insane - If a villager is killed, the Hero is defeated.

Rush Mode

Each Difficulty Level can be played in Standard Mode, or Rush Mode. In Rush Mode, the Hero only has a set amount of time to defeat the enemies in each season. Separate High Scores are saved for Rush Mode.

Version History

1.3a [Save Games Reset]

  • Changed score internally to use smaller numbers, to make sure very high scores don't overrun pico-8 integer limit.
  • Added bonus prestige for reaching Home, to ensure returns Home have higher prestige score than base runs.
  • Changed dagger graphics back to arrows
  • Added more sounds and polished others.


  • Removed penalty to movement speed and recovery when injured, as it was subtle and just felt like lag or delay to the normal pacing feel.
  • Removed short ramp up time on movement, for more reactive controls
  • Slightly increased invulnerability time after taking damage.
  • Adjusted colors for indoor daytime maps.
  • Added some more sound effects (in progress)


  • Added Rush Mode for each Difficulty Level. In Rush Mode, the Hero only has a set amount of time to defeat the enemies in each season.
  • Invalidated save data, due to restructuring saves to accommodate Rush Mode saves for each Difficulty Level.


  • Changed Hero's movement so that he immediately stops after directional input is released, making for more precise controls.
  • Added a new Enemy Type - Grey Boss (Chance to spawn starting in year 7, can only be killed by a final strike at the end of a level).
  • Reduced the amount of enemies and villagers that are added per year, to make it easier to reach later years and make progression feel like less of a slog.
  • Increased the size of Melon collision to make it easier to grab on the go.
  • Lowered Indoor Chance from 50% to 25%, giving the Hero more room to breathe.
  • Lowered Weather Chance from 50% to 25%, making it more of a unique event.
  • Removed Weather and Indoor areas from Year 1, so players get to see all the clean levels before adding complexity.
  • Removed Lightning Flashes from the rain Weather type, as it can be irritating visually and spends a fair amount of tokens for a rare event.
  • Fixed a bug where thrown daggers could hit flying enemies, causing a combo interrupt.


  • Fixed a bug where unbreakable objects in a combo chain would reset the chain, instead of just not counting as part of the combo.


  • Added a proper end game screen, allowing the Hero to return home.
  • Added per-difficulty level high scores, which are now shown on page 3 of info screen.
    • Removed bonus score per enemy kill from difficulty setting.
    • Cleared previous versions high scores (balance and compatibility requirement)
  • Hazards now have the same wider collision that enemies do when checking against flying enemy impacts.
    • Hazards and enemies retain their smaller collision when checking against player touch.
  • Added more gameplay info to the info screens.
  • Object now get bloodied when enemies are killed against them.
  • Fixed thrown daggers causing "stumbled into death" ending instead of "slain in combat".


  • Adjusted spawn rates for villagers and enemies over the years so there's fewer base enemies, making for faster early gameplay and less slog just to get to new enemy types.
  • Added bonus score for killing enemies based on difficulty level, so harder difficulties have higher potential scores
  • Swapped the rules for Hard and Hell difficulties, so Hard is now 1 hit death for Hero, and Hell adds game over for a villager getting killed.
  • Added high score saving
  • Added second page of Help screen, showing basic combat rules and difficulty settings information
  • Added some placeholder music cues
  • Fixed a bug where starting a level with camera shake active could cause bad object positions


  • Added first pass Help screen.


  • Adjusted color schemes, added title screen, called out impacts and score text more clearly
P#136245 2023-10-22 18:11 ( Edited 2023-11-17 03:25)

All Comments

Well, this is cool. Saw your post on Reddit and came here to try it out. It feels good to play, though it is a bit hectic the first few times, trying to understand what you're trying to do and how - for instance, some items or characters can be picked up. Also, the scoring mechanism is not clear, but from the Reddit thread it seems to rely on combos which is cool.
I know you're running out of tokens, but would you consider a simple entry in the main screen when you select the difficulty with:

[sprites of enemies] -> Bump into these (X pts)
[sprites of villagers] -> Save these (x pts)
[sprites of pickups] -> Collect these (effect)
[sprites of traps] -> Avoid these

Similar to the attract screens of old like Pacman and others?

I'll definitely come back for more and play the finished product.

Does this have a "Victory" condition?

P#136337 2023-10-24 20:14

Thanks for playing and for the feedback! Yes I'll definitely be adding instruction screens and a better title screen (and ending) hopefully, though it'll be close token-wise! :D

In the meantime, I just uploaded a new version that calls out the impacts and the number displays much better, so understanding you're getting more points for combos should be a lot clearer now.

P#136357 2023-10-25 03:42

@tmirobot - I like this game a lot! Strangely I was thinking of a similar concept recently and what turns up? An implementation better than I could have conceived. Its great fun to play. I love the trails of blood. The intermission blood splats. The hero bleeding to show energy levels ( I am not blood obsessed- these little details can just help a cart go from good to great )

Initially I found it very difficult to work out what was good and bad on the screen, so @pjft comment about the main screen would be great to see implemented (or at least in the description of the cart)

I can't wait to see this cart develop.

P#136363 2023-10-25 07:26

@tmirobot thank you - this is a great update. I'm loving this - just got to Year 2 for the first time, and having loads of fun :)

Question: do the villagers give you health back? They show a heart when I pick them up, so I thought that I'd gain health back, but I keep bleeding. If they don't, that might be something to consider? Would give you a bigger incentive to collect them other than just points, especially for levels where there's no sushi roll. Or maybe not by design? Just a thought.

Can't wait to see more of this :)

P#136366 2023-10-25 10:19

Haha, just as I was putting in the heart to show they were happy to be rescued, I was worried it might make people think that you gained health! I should have known! :D I think I'll remove it, as it IS confusing, and I don't want them to grant health, because health should be rare, but I want villagers to be common, as they make you take risks to get score that you normally wouldn't take. I may even increase their score (and thus penalty for their death) to incentivize grabbing them even more, because it's something that really makes you move differently.

Thanks again for playing and for the great feedback!

P#136372 2023-10-25 13:46

Yes, I'll definitely get that screen in ASAP I think. I tried to ensure that no enemies use colors of you or the villagers, or hazards, so at least there's some uniqueness there, though I intentionally went with sushi being a mix of colors both for the look and because it does throw some ambiguity that you have to pay a little attention to. I'm not sure if that was a good idea. I may actually change Green Ronin to be Blue and then make villagers green so sushi and villagers both share a "good" color.

P#136373 2023-10-25 13:48

@tmirobot - got it. Make it a smiley face then rather than a heart :) Makes sense!

Regarding colors, one thing I've seen other games do is using the outline colors to represent something - so, instead of everybody having a black outline, enemies/damaging sprites could have a red outline, villagers blue and health items something else (green).

Just a thought for you to consider, but likely a silly one.

Do update the thread when you have updates, and let me know if there's anything I can help with!

P#136374 2023-10-25 14:03

Uploaded a new version that unifies some color concepts, making all beneficial things (villagers, "food" items) green, and moves enemies into more aggressive colors, so there's less visual confusion between enemies, hazards, and positive items. Also swapped the heart particle to appear when grabbing food instead of a villager, to indicate the health gain you receive, and bumped up the bonus for rescuing a villager.

Also added a first pass title screen, and am looking at some other visual stylings on displays. Hoping to do an instruction screen next.

P#136407 2023-10-26 03:51 ( Edited 2023-10-26 04:27)

Excellent juice 🧃👌
The blood stains are well done (yeah, working on something like that myself 😜)
(need to test with a proper controller!!)

P#136410 2023-10-26 06:32 ( Edited 2023-10-26 06:32)

@tmirobot nice! This looks great :) I'll have to play it a bit more later, but congratulations - super smooth and fun.

P#136413 2023-10-26 08:01

@tmirobot I finally got to the bomb cats!! They look great but do they explode after a random amount of time or did I just get lucky? How about an option to start on a later year?

I really love the enmies in this game - their distinct behaviours are really well implemented.

P#136478 2023-10-27 11:19

@phil Bombers will wander randomly until you get within a certain range. At that point they’ll light their fuses and start moving toward you (with limited turn range). Their bomb will always explode a set amount of time after lighting the fuse. This way, if you don’t have something to knock into them, you can still clear the level. Also if there’s only one enemy left in the level you can kill them with an attack and their bomb won’t go off.

Glad you’re still enjoying the game! I updated it last night with a new info screen based off of your previous request. Also I’ll probably add another info screen that gives explicit gameplay instructions.

I’ve been thinking about the enemy progression and introducing the new enemies more quickly, since they are a lot of fun. Also been considering changing it from multiple years to just longer seasons over a few years but I think the variety of background changing is probably better than having a more “realistic” journey for the hero.

I was also thinking of having higher difficulty levels introduce enemies faster, but I generally like the same pattern with just changing aspects of the hero. We’ll see. Maybe just another difficulty level does this?

Or I could just add an option to skip years just so people can see the later chaos. Not sure yet!

P#136489 2023-10-27 13:29

I believe that, at least for now, the difficulty and progression is well done. If you'd want to change it, maybe a new difficulty level, or yes, just allow people to start from the year (not season) they last reached, if you'd like?

P#136527 2023-10-28 11:08

Also, just a small note, apologies. I felt that the villagers were more visible in blue - the green color is also used for some backgrounds (spring), and then the brown of its skin is used in other, and close to the remaining ones as well. Just a though.

P#136528 2023-10-28 11:17

I have an update coming soon with an adjustment to the starting value for enemies per level - lower amount so it’s faster to advance through the early levels. I think it makes the game more fun, but I’m still testing. I’ll also add high score/year saving in the same update.

As for the villagers, I’m definitely considering color again. I agree they’re a bit harder to spot though I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing - the goal was to make enemies and hazards stand out the most from any other object, so you can always immediately spot danger even if that means you have to be more eagle-eyed to spot beneficial items. I break this rule with vases but alas I was kind of running out of colors.

Anyway, I’ll keep thinking and testing with it. I might also be more prone to switching them back to blue if I could find a nice blue food, so beneficial pickups are still in the same visual zone :D (vases would go to green at that point, which is ok because they’re only ever found inside)

P#136552 2023-10-28 18:37

One thing I'm thinking: enemy spawn points should be slightly distant from the player's location - unless you feel we could just cheat our way though. Doesn't need to be too far, but at least not overlapping.
This is a really well done game. Congratulations.

P#136572 2023-10-29 07:11

@pjft I used to do this exact thing but found it made it too easy to hug the outer walls and just sit there knocking enemies away. Making sitting on the outside risky is what drives most of the action - it forces you to weave in and out of enemies.

P#136602 2023-10-30 00:08

That's fair! Maybe making the time it takes for them to fully spawn slightly longer then so that we can move away if we happen to be there would help?

P#136609 2023-10-30 07:16 ( Edited 2023-10-30 07:17)

Posted a new version today with lots of new changes, especially in the overall flow of gameplay. Also adds high score saving, so you can keep track of your progress getting better at the game!

P#136653 2023-10-31 02:52

Thank you - this new version feels really solid, well done!

P#136728 2023-11-01 08:43

The new version is great. "Normal" difficulty is a good challenge for me and I can often get to the bomb cats. It's great being chased by the fizzing bombs whilst the evil mice send arrows after me, hoping that I can get far enough from the explosion (and not take out any villagers)

2 more very minor issues:

  • When I get killed by an arrow I think it says "Stumbled into death" rather than "slain in combat"
  • I'd love to see high-scores per difficulty level rather than one overall high-score

But this is such a great game - I am a big fan of arena-based combat games

P#136837 2023-11-03 12:09

Thanks so much for the kind words! Glad you’re enjoying the new version! I’ll have another one sometime soon with a proper ending hopefully and maaaaybe another enemy type dunno what I’ll be able to squeeze in.

I’ll also get a fix for that death message, thanks for finding it.

Right now I have just one high score saved and I add more score potential per difficulty level but I think you’re right maybe I should separate them. I could display your high scores on third page of the help/info maybe. I’ll look into it!

P#136866 2023-11-03 18:08

This cart is so great, I love the variation and progress!

P#137039 2023-11-06 20:26

@CrownDeluxe thanks for playing! Glad you enjoyed it!

P#137073 2023-11-07 13:42

How many years do I have to complete to return to the village?

P#137183 2023-11-09 19:55

Only made it to second winter but I'm gonna improve it for sure! Normal is pretty nice but found hell exciting due to the constant chance to die.

P#137189 2023-11-09 21:29

@CrownDeluxe you return home at the start of the 10th year, so it’s kind of a high score chasing game cause lemme tell you reaching level 10 is pretty intense!

P#137230 2023-11-10 14:36

@Achie72 Thanks so much for playing and sharing! As I noted on the Reddit thread, I’ll look into allowing disabling of lightning for you!

P#137231 2023-11-10 14:37 ( Edited 2023-11-10 14:37)

What makes game really hardis you have possiblity to stop infront of enemy 1pixel left than enemy kick your ass boom. your head is sliced to face bomber mouse i had to reach year 3, but that happen rarely

there's no health bat, i can't figure out how much health left

P#137233 2023-11-10 15:09 ( Edited 2023-11-10 15:33)

@OWD5238 Yeah a lot of the game is about learning the exact distance of your attack, the time delay between attacks, and the distance at which enemies and objects will be knocked by impacts.

One thing I do to try to help is your attacks have a larger collision buffer than your touch, so you have a little room to avoid those “I just barely missed the guy” encounters, but it’s still really tight.

As for health, in modes below Hard you have 2 health points. You’ll know if you’ve lost one because you now have a blood trail behind you. You recover health by eating food, but you also recover to full after each level. Hope that clears up why I avoided including a HUD that would clutter the screen.

P#137242 2023-11-10 19:28

5600 in easy mode, well ten year is too much. who the hell will do that

P#137245 2023-11-10 20:51

Uploaded a new version that improves controls to be more precise, makes progression overall faster (fewer total enemies & villagers per level), adjust Weather and Indoor chances, and adds a new enemy type - the Grey Boss.

See the Version History for more information. I think this is a big improvement to the game's overall feel and flow, though I might have reduced the chaos a little too much. Curious what people think!

P#137289 2023-11-11 20:55

This is easily my most-played pico-8 game, other than celeste. I love the movement, the satisfaction of combos, and multiple factors that limit the player but at the same time can be used to kill enemies (spikes, rocks, and even villagers). I also enjoy the music as well! Clean and indicative japanese style intro.

Was able to reach year 5 (who the heck can get to year 10 lol) in normal mode, working on hard and hell mode. Really enjoyed it so far - Well I am trying to recall if there's something in this game that I didn't like for 30 seconds and I couldn't come up with anything lol.

Nice work!

P#137346 2023-11-13 01:18

@WIIASD Thanks so much, that's very kind of you to say! Glad you enjoy the game -- I still have fun playing it every time I'm testing something new, so that's always a good sign.

I'm not sure who will ever get to Year 10 -- I've left it high like that so it can be a long running challenge. One of the previous games I made, Lil' Space Rangers, I thought no one would ever beat, but someone did within a month, so we'll see! :D

If you want a separate challenge, I've just added Rush Mode for each difficulty level. It's a timed mode where you have to beat each season before a timer runs out. Now THAT mode I'm REALLY not sure anyone will ever beat. But it provides a different type of gameplay, so I think it'll be a fun challenge!

Keep on slicin'!

P#137349 2023-11-13 03:04

@tmirobot - Rush mode is a bit spicy!! It does really change the way you play the game. It makes me play it in a blind panic and the villagers often don't survive now. But a very welcome mode for a short frantic experience.

P#137414 2023-11-14 10:49

@phil Yeah, at first I was going to add a time bonus for completing seasons quickly, but I didn’t want to encourage that behavior in standard mode so I separated it out into Rush Mode. It really is a different experience.

Strangely enough, the very first time I tested it (with 25 second timer) I got reeeeaaally far into the years on hard mode. I think because I wasn’t trying to line up super good combos, was just killing everything around immediately. Sometimes you fill up too much of the screen or get in tight corners trying to focus on score I think.

P#137424 2023-11-14 14:00

@tmirobot Just wanted you to know that this is my 8 year old's favorite pico-8 game BAR NONE. He paired a bluetooth controller to his ipad to play for hours trying to get passed year 3. He even took it to his Code-Ninjas class to try to recreate it in Microsoft Arcade Makecode!
It's a brilliant, fun design and in a world of punching, kicking and shooting, I love that you've captured gameplay that redirects the mob's at each other turning their aggression against one another.

P#142823 2024-03-12 17:40

@mnkymol my heaaaaart ;_; this is the nicest thing ever! So glad they enjoy it and it’s awesome to hear they’re working on their own version! I hope they have fun with the project and can add some cool new things to make it even better! Thank you for sending this <3

P#142860 2024-03-13 14:20

Well that got bloody really quick.

P#143318 2024-03-16 14:56

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