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PICO Space

Cart #drakeblue_picospace-2 | 2023-03-27 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA

Defend the animals of the galaxy from the space weevil invasion in your grandad's space taxi!

Check the notice boards at space stations for prospective passengers. Gain rewards when they're delivered safely and discover how to defeat the weevil menace.

The galaxy is quickly becoming a more and more dangerous place so be careful out there - with 50-70 systems and some questionable government policies an animal needs to look after themselves!

Please report any bugs or if something is unclear below. Feedback helps me improve and is always welcome :)


Main Menu

  • Use Up, Down and X to select options in the menus.
  • Return/Start/P will always take you to the Main Menu
  • Hold Return/Start/P for longer to access the normal PICO-8 menu.

I recommend a gamepad if you have one, but keys work fine too. Holding the X and O buttons together is useful to use the ship flip ability successfully. On mobile, I've found swiping my thumb backwards and forwards between the X and O buttons works okay, but it does seem easier to play with keys or a gamepad (to me at least).

Starting the Game

Use the up and down directions to highlight an option and X to select it.

  • Begin New Game - starts a new game with the currently show captain in a new galaxy (Captain Magerquack by default).
  • Change Captain - chooses a new captain and galaxy with which to start a new game using the Begin New Game option. This doesn't affect the currently stored game or any game from a pasted code.
  • Continue Last Game - this retrieves the previously auto-saved game from your browser's cache or PICO-8's cartdata. The game is saved at the Dock Menu and on entering a system via a hyperjump.
    If you want to preserve further game states beyond this then use the next option.
  • Load From Pasted Code - every time the game is saved PICO Space places a save game code into the clipboard. By pasting this code into a text file or similar then multiple game saves can be maintained. To restore from one of these codes:
    > - copy the code into the clipboard from the application you've used to store it
    > - switch back to PICO Space running in PICO-8 and paste it
    > - Use X to select the Load From Pasted Code option in the menu


  • Set Difficulty - Adjusts how dangerous the galaxy is in the game. This option affects new games only so needs to be set before choosing "Begin New Game".
    > - Easy - for casual or inexperienced players, but still with some challenge
    > - Normal - a reasonable challenge, success is not guaranteed on each journey
    > - Hard - a difficult game likely to require multiple reloads

Please tell me if you think these ratings aren't very correct so I can try to tweak them

How to Get Around the Galaxy

(the following is an extract from the dog-eared manual you found in the glove compartment of your grandad's ship)

Congratulations on your purchase of a Farwilre P1C0 Star Taxi!

Your ship will enable you to fly anywhere within a system's boundary by directing it with the arrow keys or control stick (if fitted). Be careful of flying into a system's sun as there may be undesirable explosive consequences.

  • The Short Range Scanner is useful to see what's close to you and is located in the bottom right of the viewscreen.
  • The current system or current target (with distance in standard galactic units) is shown in the top left.
  • Your ship's remaining shield energy is displayed in the bottom left. If this is depleted then it will flash to indicate that you should dock at the nearest space station for recharging.
  • To locate space stations or other objects within a star system press Return, Start or P to bring up the main menu.

Main Menu (Pause)

Select the System Map (with Up, Down and X) from the options shown.

System Map

Solar systems are large so to avoid excessive journey time it is advised to utilise your ship's hyperdrive from the System Map (where traffic laws permit).

To do this:

  • Locate the cursor where you wish to jump to by using the direction keys
  • Press O, Z or V to execute a hyper jump
  • Press X to target the nearest system object. The target is shown in the top left and also indicated by a red marker.

Note: be sure to peruse the System Map in a safe location to avoid possible accidents while it has your attention. Last year 45% of ship accidents happened while pilots were viewing their map screens - don't let the next one happen to you!

Systems in PICO Space are linked by Hyperspace Wyrmholes (of as yet unknown origin). These can be used to traverse between stars even in ships that are unequipped with an interstellar-capable drive. Thus to travel to another system simply fly into the centre of a wyrmhole and your ship will travel through hyperspace to a point in the system indicated in the wyrmhole's name.

If you know which adjacent star you wish to travel to, it is easiest to find where the wyrmhole to it is by using the System Map.

To navigate about the greater galaxy and hence determine which wyrmholes to use it is advisable to examine the ship's Galaxy Scanner.

Galaxy Scanner

The Galaxy Scanner will open centred on your current location - shown by the ship icon and expanding circle indicator. Adjacent stars (i.e. those which are connected by a pair of wyrmholes) have lines drawn between them. Systems adjacent to your current location have green lines drawn to them. Corresponding wyrmholes should be visible on the System Map.

The view and cursor in the centre may be moved using the direction keys. The currently highlighted system will be the closest to the cursor position.

The galaxy is quite large so for optimal viewing it may be necessary to zoom the view in or out by holding the X key and using the Up and Down directions to change the scale of the view.

If your ship is fitted with an Interstellar Drive then it is possible to hyperjump (without traversing a wyrmhole) to adjacent systems by highlighting them with the cursor in this view and pressing O, Z or C.


At any time your current status can be checked from the Main Menu by selecting this option.

The screen shows:

  • You, the captain of the ship and your combat rating
  • Any current message
  • Your current passenger if one is present and to where they wish to be taken.
  • Information about any upgrades that have been added to your ship
  • The energy level remaining for you ship's shields
  • The danger level of this galaxy


Should you be unfortunate enough to encounter a hostile threat on your travels your P1C0 Space Taxi is fitted with a standard P3W Blaser; a small but adequate defensive weapon.

  • Tap X (and release) and the P3W will fire
  • Hold X to charge multiple shots that will rapidly fire on releasing the trigger.
  • Note: while energy is diverted to charging the P3W your shields are unable to recover strength.

Dock Menu

When docked at a space station the following standard options will be available:

Notice Board

Waiting passengers are listed here for an enterprising space taxi owner to transport to their desired destination.

Use the Up, Down and X keys to select a passenger that you wish to transport. Be careful to choose a journey you can complete - an animal never backs out of a deal!

New Paint

Choose from a range of desirable colour schemes to customise your Farwilre pride and joy!

Launch to Space

The station will launch you back to space so you may continue on your journeying.

extract ends


  • Choose your passengers wisely - some wish to travel further than others. Check on where they want to go via the Galaxy Map before committing to a journey you aren't sure you want to take.
  • Plan your journey before leaving the safety of the space stations.
  • If your shields are damaged it may be wise to stop at a station on the way to your destination to recharge them.
  • Charge your weapon before encountering enemies, but don't hold X constantly as it stops your shields recharging as you fly.
  • Use your hyperspace ability within systems to save on journey time or to escape a tough spot, especially as the galaxy becomes more and more dangerous.
  • Note that the game is only paused in the Main Menu, other screens don't freeze time.

If you are not sure what to do:

  • try ferrying passengers
  • later in the game, try reading the Beeb News or listening to what the NPC ships say to you.

Good Luck, Captain!


  • UI colour changes

  • fade effect improved

  • screen shake added

  • difficulty reduced (a bit); enemies are slower, shots do less damage


  • UI improvements: menus

  • bad loads shouldn't crash the game so badly

  • a little music for the title screen

  • bug fix: re-calculated system object placing so shouldn't ever be inside a system's star
P#89915 2021-04-03 16:56 ( Edited 2023-03-27 17:06)


I didn't get that far without being confused, but this is something I have not seen in a long time. Love the work!

P#89928 2021-04-03 19:27

This is simply amazing, however...

POO, WHY'D I HAVE TO GO TO POOOO00 000oooooooo...

I got a passenger in Docry, went looking for the wormhole for whatever destination it was, and saw "WYRMHOLE TO POO". How could I have resisted?

Ok, but in all seriousness, amazing game. Space games are one of my top picks, and yours is great. It has everything you need in a space game: Space travel, terminals, being a taxi, a galaxy map, pilot NPCs(makes it feel like an MMO), a system called Poo infested with weevils.. it has it all!

And you're three tokens away from the limit, wow. You are a very efficient coder.

TL;DR: Your game is amazing!

P#89961 2021-04-04 10:03 ( Edited 2021-04-26 06:15)

Thanks for the very kind feedback. I may be able to help with anything that's confusing with some stuff in-game (or at least in these comments).

wallgraffiti: I found myself going to systems because of their silly names too - I'm glad it's not just me :) Nice video too!

I think I'm more stubborn than efficient. I hit the token limit many times, the character limit (in the non-minified version) and I spent the last 24 hours before launch using tweetcart tricks and trying to second-guess the PICO-8 compression algorithm to get it under the compressed size limit.

P#89971 2021-04-04 12:57

Just realised something looking back at my GIF: You don't CLS(). Instead, you fade the pixels down to black one step every frame. That's very interesting, and makes the game have a certain feel to it. Never seen that in a big game before!

P#89973 2021-04-04 13:12

Yup - I've done more "normal" fade effects for other projects and wondered what more I could do with the code. So I started off with just a star-field demo.

This goes into it a bit more:

Inspiration was things like this though:


P#89974 2021-04-04 13:40

Finished this in ~4 hours. Really enjoyed my time with it, even though I needed to read the spoiler about

the immune hitboxes at the back of the Weevil Queen that are mentioned in Making PICO Space in order to finish
. I spend most of my time in the same 4 systems and only left them once I had the last upgrade and once I had that I was taking escorts that were on the way to my goal, because I thought that there could be another upgrade. I played on easy, so I never had any though situations until I got to the end, where I died a few times before I read the spoiler. I had a really nice time playing this and really enjoyed the graphics, news and sounds (Even after 4 hours, I hadn't turned the music off once). The only noticable weak point might be the UI that doesn't allow you to leave the dock from the main menu, but I got used to it (especially after switching to my controller).

P#90339 2021-04-11 00:34 ( Edited 2021-04-11 00:39)

Congratulations - as far as I know you are the first player to finish the game :) I'm so pleased that you enjoyed it and thank you for the feedback.

I'd have loved to put more upgrades (and stuff in general) into the game, but I hit the token limit, the compressed size limit (and even the character limit for the un-minified code) so many times... :(

That said, there's may be a bit of wiggle room left and I'll see what I can do about the UI and dropping more hints about the ending for a new release.

P#90352 2021-04-11 11:16

I've only played a couple of minutes, just enough to dock at the closest station but I'll definitely have to give this more time when I can - I love the genre, it's playing very nicely so far, and it looks fantastic!

P#114544 2022-07-19 16:19 ( Edited 2022-07-19 16:22)

This game looks bonkers I love it

P#114555 2022-07-19 18:49

I assure you it is entirely Snesible.

Happy that it still entertains.


Also wow - my game is on the front page...


P#114619 2022-07-21 22:13


P#114662 2022-07-23 02:15

I shared Pico Space in the Discord to try and get it a bit more attention since it really is fantastic, so maybe that had something to do with the feature (absolutely not implying that, it could entirely be coincidence)? Regardless you absolutely deserve it. Great job! :)

P#114691 2022-07-23 23:38 ( Edited 2022-07-23 23:40)

So you did! Thanks - I have a warm fuzzy feeling :)

P#114848 2022-07-26 16:35

@Noba Your messages on Discord were what got me to post in this thread, at the very least!

P#114849 2022-07-26 16:54

The fourth passenger I picked up wanted to go to a station that was inside a sun, and I couldn't drop them off anywhere else, so I had to restart. Other than that, a really enjoyable game!

EDIT: Also, why is there no EXIT button on the menu? I had to force quit PICO-8 to get out.

P#115533 2022-08-09 23:17 ( Edited 2022-08-10 00:08)

@WalrusesAreAwesome - urgh, I really thought I'd got the arithmetic right to avoid that happening. Maybe I can puzzle out how it works again at some point and push the planets out a bit further. Glad you enjoyed the game otherwise :)

I think I cut out the normal PICO-8 menu options because I was desperate for tokens and the normal menu can be accessed by holding down the menu button rather than tapping it (at least where I tested it). It's not an idea solution though.

P#115711 2022-08-13 14:51 ( Edited 2022-08-13 14:53)

I just discovered this cart while listening to radico8. I think this is already one of my favorite Pico-8 soundtracks, and I'm only a few minutes into the game but it seems equally as good! Thanks for sharing!

P#118147 2022-09-29 02:48

Some of you are crazy this game looks and sounds so great.

P#119195 2022-10-16 20:55

I saw a Queen in my map, I was too shy to go there...

P#127262 2023-03-17 18:28

Well done on getting as far as the Queen :) Even if you're shy, I think if you stay in her system long enough you may find she's not...

P#127360 2023-03-20 13:11

Honestly, I was just driving around but I had a great time still :)

P#140990 2024-02-01 15:12

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