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Cart #theblockydead-6 | 2024-01-29 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA


PIXBURGH, PIXELVANIA, 5/13/2023 - The city has fallen. The dead pixels have taken over. You can hear them growling all around you. They hide everywhere & pop out when you least expect it. They smell you, they get hungry. Hungry for pixel flesh. You can outrun 'em . . . for awhile. The longer you avoid them though, the faster & more determined they get. They got Spot, they got Dot, and now they're after me. I'm the last one left. Well, me & my buddy Point up in the tower. He's real good with fixin' stuff up, but parts & power are scarce. Every now & then he'll hit me on the radio with a new place to hide, or to let me know he's got a few seconds of juice for the lights & fences. Heck, sometimes he even rigs up a bomb for me to blast a few of the dead to oblivion! Just hoping it's enough. Hoping I can hold out long enough for them to give up & maybe take out a few along the way.


The Blocky Dead is a 64x64 timed survival game. Guide your pixel through the square, avoiding dead pixels for as long as you can. Use the helpers Point sends your way to hide from the dead pixels or take out as many as you can. Your initial goal is to survive for 10 minutes. Every game you survive the entire time bumps the time limit up by 5 minutes. See how long you can last and how many kills you can accumulate!


  • Arrow keys/dpad to move your pixel
  • X/Z/action buttons to use the currently active powerup
  • You can turn the growling noises on or off in the pause menu

There are 4 powerups to use. Point will rig up a new one every 20 seconds of game time, but you never know which one he'll get working at any given time. When you have a powerup, it will appear in the time box at the bottom of the screen. Point won't give you a new powerup while you're already holding one. Here is how the powerups work:

  • HIDER: Point has found you a hiding spot. Activating this powerup causes the dead pixels to wander away from you, but they will pick up your scent again after 3 seconds. You cannot move while hiding.
  • FLASH: Point powers up a powerful light on one part of the color spectrum. When the light is activated, any dead pixels the same color as the light are vaporized in 1.5 seconds. However, the light also stuns you and you can only move at half speed for that 1.5 seconds. Dead pixels of a different color than the light are not affected at all.
  • WALLS: Point has juice to turn on two lengths of electric fencing for 3 seconds. Any dead pixels who hit the fencing are fried to a crisp. You have insulated gear and are not affected, but the humming of the fence is disorienting and you only move at half speed for those 3 seconds. This one requires a lot of power, so Point doesn't get it working too often!
  • BOMB!: Point cobbles together a proximity bomb powered by your kinetic energy. Once you get the bomb, you can deploy it immediately, or you can hold it while you continue to run. For every 20 seconds you run around with the bomb, its blast radius increases. Hold out as long as you can for max carnage!

OK, But Why?

I've been super sick for several days now, and I decided I was going to spend this day in bed making a game in a single day. I also decided that I wanted the player character to just be a pixel. I don't know where the zombie idea came from, but I suspect how I'm feeling right now played into it. Anyway, today kinda turned into my own imaginary game jam, and this is the result! I will probably end up tweaking this a bit, but I told myself I was going to post the "jam version" regardless, so I did.

Credits & Thanks

All code and SFX by me. Music is also by me, but it's a riff on the theme from The Walking Dead by the excellent Bear McCreary. Cover art is a heavily edited version of the packaging picture from a kids' zombie Halloween costume. Pixels all pset by me :).

Thanks to everyone who played, the game just hit 1000 plays on the BBS as of 1/28/2024. Never expected my stupid little sick day game to end up being my most popular game :). Someone clued me in that a GIF of this was up on the PICO-8 Reddit (maybe I should join Reddit?), and another person did a Youtube playthrough, which is how I spotted the most recent bug :). Anyway, grateful to the PICO-8 community for giving my little time-wasters a shot.

Version history

1.3 - Fixed bug that let player button spam powers, but also caused player to lose the ability to move. Tradeoffs! (Also, thanks to everyone who's played for getting this to 1000 plays! Never expected that many)
1.2 - New power-up: proximity bomb. Also centered the game screen a bit better than it had been.
1.1 - Fixed bug where dead pixels could not kill player if player was hugging a wall
1.0 - Initial release

P#125002 2023-01-30 01:22 ( Edited 2024-01-29 16:34)

I wondered if getting two of them to run into each other would cause them to wrestle each other to death. There was an old game, often called "Daleks" where this was how you killed the enemies.

So far the best trick is getting them on the other side of the wall.

P#125007 2023-01-30 03:41

Slight error, @2bitchuck.

If you go all the way to the bottom of the park, they can't hurt you.

P#125008 2023-01-30 03:50

Got up to 3:32 without powerups (cause I didn't read all the instructions). It's an interesting concept, but I don't think I'd want to play it for very long. I prefer to do shooting or something while I'm circle strafing.

P#125010 2023-01-30 04:02

@joealarson zombie fights were on the "stretch goal" list, so they might end up making it into an update :).

@dw817 Good catch! There was a point where this was true for the top barrier and I may have over corrected when adjusting that (or maybe I just never fixed that at all). I'll get that fixed in the next update.

@kimiyoribaka That's actually pretty good. It took me awhile to break past 5 minutes even with powerups the first few times. Thanks for playing!

P#125020 2023-01-30 12:03

@2bitchuck If you add zombie fights it will change the game significantly. I kinda would prefer that, though, over adding a gun. It would make the game more strategic.

However, I also think the powerups need some rejiggering. First of all, something a little more making you aware that they're an option would be good. Maybe instead of "Hello, hit button now", it could be a rainbow flashing tile that gets an associated juicy splash that tells you that it's different and where it is. But in addition, the hide ability is basically 6 free seconds of not playing the game. It's a live pause button. Flash is okay, but it's basically a less efficient Thanos snap. Walls the most useful, but you don't know where it's going to be so it's hard to lure zombies into it. It would be neat if it projected where the walls were going to go before they went up. That would make them more like covering fire.

Ideas for better would be something that killed all zombies within a fairly small radius of you, encouraging you to let them get close for a second. Maybe bait that they follow and not you. This in conjuncture with having them fight and kill each other when they get close would be useful.

Good job on making a game, though. Well done.

Ideas for better

P#125032 2023-01-30 18:48

@joealarson I think you & I have a lot of similar thoughts on this. There are a few things you've mentioned here that are now on the "post-jam" list mostly because I wanted to hold fast to the one day for the first version. But the powerups were originally pick ups, not randomly assigned, there was a proximity mine that had a small kill radius & was also stackable for a wider effect if you held off using it, the zombie fight was there (the winning zombie would throw the other and take out anything in its path). And walls was going to move outward from its starting position, so the walls would sweep away anything to the left and right, but I found it was a little too good at killing, haha. The powerups that made it in were the ones that were super quick to implement in their current forms.

P#125038 2023-01-30 19:40

Hi @joealarson.

I am quite familiar with the game ! :)

I remember playing it originally on the FatMac (Macintosh computer) years ago. Then I went to write my own text-version for Turbo Pascal which had quite a bit more than the original.

You had to rescue all of the Doctor's companions - and I listed each of their names. You had at your disposal a sonic screwdriver that not only teleported you but you get 1-per level of Flashing with "*" anything within 1-space of you, all 8-squares, defeating daleks.

The Tardis was on the screen as "#" .

If a Dalek touched one of your companions "C" the companion would teleport to a new location on the board. The doctor of course was "D" and the Daleks were ":" or "_" when rubble. Later levels featured rocks that Daleks could atomize saying "exterminate" but the Doctor could not cross them unless he used the atomize, 1-per level remember, on any rocks around him.

In my game it was entirely possible to rescue the companion and make your way back to the Tardis before you defeated all the daleks.

If you want to know where the game originally came from, I believe we can thank David H Ahl for "Chase" back in early 1970.


P#125039 2023-01-30 19:57

@dw817 I actually have a physical copy of the book "Basic Computer Games" by David H Ahl right here by my desk. But I don't think he was the start of this game. I feel like I saw it on the C64 before that. But who knows. Paper trails weren't real strong back then.

P#125051 2023-01-31 00:26

Hi @joealarson.

David H Ahl hails back quite a ways. He was born in 1939 and worked on computers prior to computer display screens. They were using line printers in the day, is why in some of the games in your book it says "cut here" when reviewing instructions.

Originally published in 1973 as 101 BASIC Computer Games, the book was so popular that it had two more printing runs, the last in March 1975.

The Commodore 64, also known as the C64, is an 8-bit home computer introduced in January 1982 by Commodore International.

Yet you are right. It was such an interesting game idea, "Chase" especially when the original was turn-based, that it likely saw many ports to many different systems years later.

Who knows. In time I may make a Pico-8 version of that very Turbo Pascal game tribute to Doctor Who I made that many years ago. :)

P#125054 2023-01-31 02:40

@dw817 Thanks for catching the inadvertent wall "safe zone" for the player, this has been fixed.

Now that I'm mostly recovered from being sick, I hope to find some time to put into feature/gameplay improvements!

P#125260 2023-02-03 22:06

Hi @2bitchuck:

You might have them not follow the classic bee-line but move at angles according to the best possible way to reach the player. Also you could have walls that pop up randomly, like your other bonuses which the zombies can EAT their way through yet do not vanish when their bonus time is up - so the player can still use them as protection - as long as they last.

You might find a gun that has one bullet. shoot a zombie dead and the others will feast on him for a short while before they get back to you.

You might find items that are kept and can be activated at any time by pressing either 🅾️ or ❎.

P#125262 2023-02-03 22:23

@2bitchuck as I was approaching the end of my Wheel of Fortune game I was thinking about what I'd want to make next and the idea I had was Vampire Survivors but with pixels for enemies. You've beaten me to it! Nice work, it's got a satisfying core mechanic.

P#136694 2023-10-31 19:13

@hudgfactor Thanks! I keep meaning to come back to this to tighten it up a bit but haven't gotten around to it. I love the idea of just using pixels for game elements and leaving the rest to the imagination. I'm actually writing a game for the Atari 2600 right now, which really lets me embrace my love of plain pixels :).

P#136698 2023-10-31 19:52

@2bitchuck the 2600! Wow that's impressive! I'll watch for it for sure.

P#136801 2023-11-02 14:55

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