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Cart #subsurface-2 | 2023-09-19 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA


A little Metroidvania featuring:

  • 40 screens to explore
  • 6 upgrades to find
  • 6 or so enemies to fight
  • A single boss fight!

WARNING: Starting a new game will wipe your save without warning! I completely ran out of tokens before I could add a conformation message so be careful! (That said, it only takes about 10 minutes to beat the game from start to finish, so losing a save is probably not the end of the world.)


This is my first attempt at making a Pico-8 game and I'm reasonably happy with it. I was definitely hoping to do a lot more and add a lot more polish but I completely ran out of token space. In the future, I'll probably plan things out a little better to make sure I can fit in everything I want. That, or maybe spread things across multiple cartridges.


  • O / [z] to Jump,
    Wall jump, Glide and Swim
  • X / [x] to Shoot
  • Left Arrow to run left
  • Right Arrow\ to run right


  • 1.0.2 - Added a save point to the final platforming section. I wanted it to be difficult since it's the run up to the final boss, but I agree that it's just too many screens without a save.
  • 1.0.1 - Closed the gap in the first screen so you can't escape out the top which would crash the game.
P#134197 2023-09-11 23:30 ( Edited 2023-09-19 10:14)


If you have walljump ability and attempt to (really) escape the 1st scene upwards, you'll receive an error.

(in another word, the character is systematically unwillingly to escape the planet...)

P#134207 2023-09-12 06:22 ( Edited 2023-09-15 01:05)

I've removed that opening, thanks for letting me know!

P#134209 2023-09-12 07:42

That must be one of the most beautiful games i`ve played. each area is uniqe,
the enemies are bizzare, player movement is perfect,
the text at the bottom is so interesting and touching,
there is a huge map to explore, its so satisfying to shoot and kill enemies,
that must be one of the best boss-fights I have ever played.
Also I just noticed that this your first pico 8 Game, this makes everythig just even more impressiv. I didnt get the error thePixelXb_ got. I thought that the water is a laser, just after I got the item I realised that its not.

Great Game, keep up the good work. :)

P#134211 2023-09-12 09:17

Nice first entry into pico8. This game has everything to make for a great metroidvania.

P#134217 2023-09-12 15:05

Great Game! I like the mini map system so much!

P#134220 2023-09-12 16:37

This absolutely stellar (kind of a pun considering it’s on a distant planet in space I think?), I love the strange enemies and obstacles. I didn’t follow the story completely but the little I understood was touching. Feels like a small but very complete metroidvania.

P#134223 2023-09-12 18:36

nice game but too hard in the last section , i got bored trying to repeat pixel perfect jumps and quit ... oh well

P#134231 2023-09-12 19:13

every aspect of it is great! except (yeah) the wall jumping is a little finicky.

P#134247 2023-09-13 03:12

only thing i didn't like was, i keep gatting hit by enemy without invincible
this game is challenging and fun

P#134260 2023-09-13 07:46 ( Edited 2023-09-13 07:47)

This is amazing! Nice compact and well-designed metroidvania. I especially liked the sound design (that checkpoint sound is very nostalgic for some reason). Well written as well, I found the story engaging and touching.

About routing: on my first playthrough I managed to get to a checkpoint that I don't think you're supposed to be able to get to without the last ability by damage boosting. Quickly realized I wasn't equipped to be there yet and headed back. But it got me thinking that maybe it's possible to skip it. I tried again and still couldn't get through, but I think it might be doable if you get the health upgrades? Not sure. That would be neat though

It's interesting that so little shooting is required that where you need it, it often took me a moment to remember I had a gun.

P#134280 2023-09-13 14:54 ( Edited 2023-09-13 14:56)

@ericb : Are you talking about getting into the lower left corner without the glide skill? I was able to get all the way to the brown button through careful management of where I took damage. But that took all of health even with upgrades, and I don't think it's possible to get out again...

I don't think this requires any change to the level design. Anyone getting this far has probably completed the level design. Unless that's where @bigjus had trouble. What last section gave you trouble? Was it in the lower left, lower right or upper right corner of the map?

For the game itself, excellent story delivery in the captions. It's clever how they remain quite coherent even when navigating by different routes. Very polished play as well.

P#134300 2023-09-14 00:09

@Cowirrie yes that's the spot I meant. Ah I didn't think about getting out, that seems like a no-go then. I can maybe see someone stumbling in there
without the ability and getting frustrated but at least it's easy to get out from the checkpoint

P#134301 2023-09-14 01:02 ( Edited 2023-09-14 01:03)

@ericb : "It's interesting that so little shooting is required that where you need it, it often took me a moment to remember I had a gun."

I had already been wondering if pacifist runs were possible. I had thought not, but the hitboxes are quite small, so you can jump over a lot of enemies even in tight passages. After a lot of respawning, I got everything but the final boss without firing a shot.

On the mandatory segments, the hardest were getting the walljump and back to a save point, and getting the green button and save point.

Harder than either of those was the heart near the top centre of the map. Even with refilling your health, getting out of the pit was very hard. but I escaped, barely.

P#134306 2023-09-14 01:42

The game is really good and well made, in the 20 minutes that I have been playing there was no bug, the only complaint is that the character feels very compressed, I mean he looks too thin and looks strange

P#134363 2023-09-14 22:39

pretty good game, the only "bad" parts were:

  • having very few I-frames when getting hit, leading to dying in seconds sometimes.
  • either having very few enemies or no enemies/none I can shoot, leading to barely using the gun.
  • having 3 health with no way to upgrade it

overall, great game, would fix some things, 8.9/10

P#134538 2023-09-18 16:17

@Dando_ : Have you explored every square of the map? You will probably find you can continue your existing game if you want to explore with all the upgrades you already found.

P#134554 2023-09-18 21:25

the part with the spikes after the like 3 button is so hard i cant get past it. so sad T^T

P#134564 2023-09-18 23:08

I've struggled so hard in bottom left side of the dungeon until I realized that I'm missing upgrades and health extensions.
It was easier after I found them but just one more checkpoint there would be great. Or move the one 2 rooms to the left of final exit.
Regardless, it's completable without the checkpoint.

P#134575 2023-09-19 07:26

Thanks so much for all the feedback!

A few folks have mentioned that the final platforming section is too hard. Looking at it again, I agree. I wanted it to be difficult for the final stretch before the end, but I pushed it too far. I've added in another save point just before the switch that will hopefully make it less frustrating.

P#134576 2023-09-19 10:17 ( Edited 2023-09-19 10:25)

Yay, the new checkpoint means that sequence breaking is possible - I got the brown switch without Glide!

I'm pretty sure this is useless to speedrunners. I don't see a way to do this without both extra hearts, which I'm sure take longer to get than the Glide upgrade. But I'd be very happy to be proven wrong, because it's such a needlessly difficult way to complete this game.

P#134577 2023-09-19 10:35

Finished this yesterday. Lovely, lovely game!!! The animations are excellent and controls are smooooth.

Will be replaying in the future for sure!!

P#136065 2023-10-18 08:59

Very fun game. The only problem I have with it is that areas locked behind

the glide ability

didn't seem obviously impossible. I tried for a while to get through an area that requires it before realizing I probably shouldn't be there yet. I maybe could have brute forced my way through the spikes to get the brown button unintentionally.

P#136082 2023-10-18 22:21

Really lovely game. I might have to come back to play it again, ha ha. <3

P#138708 2023-12-14 23:22

Awesome game, I played though it all... or so I thought. After beating the game, I looked at the comments, and noticed I missed a heart. Great game, 9/10. (Also, I think with all the hearts, you can beat it without glide.)

P#138876 2023-12-19 01:46 ( Edited 2023-12-19 01:47)

Very nice work overall, though it could use a little more invincibility time as someone mentioned. Got to the screen in Cowirrie's post and hit the checkpoint, but after dying on the next screen, my character wouldn't respawn, and I had to restart.

P#138880 2023-12-19 03:15 ( Edited 2023-12-20 06:02)

This is absolutely Gorgeous. I love the little "letter"-- it makes for such an interesting thread to base a game around

P#139133 2023-12-25 01:34

Very cool game. Didn't get to finish it because the last part is absurdly and in my opinion unnecessarily hard. A heart recovery or checkpoint midway through all those spikes would make it way less frustrating.

P#139295 2023-12-28 11:33 ( Edited 2023-12-28 11:34)

@m4rk : That section is pretty hard, but how hard it is depends on some optional upgrades.

Do you have 3, 4 or 5 hearts by that point?

P#139298 2023-12-28 12:05

This is a really nice little metroidvania. Coincidentally, the platformer I'm working on also has spider like things that swing back and forth on threads. I'd been really curious how you'd solved this problem in your own code, but it seems to be minified. Do you plan to make the original source code available? Thanks! :)

P#139422 2023-12-30 18:38

Thanks again to everyone for all the nice comments and feedback! I'll try to smooth out the difficulty a bit better in my future projects. (e.g. Actually get some play testers before release) ;)

@gradualgames: Sure! I've added it to the itch.io page: https://julian-reid.itch.io/subsurface. Afraid it's quite messy, so it might not make for the best example. For the spider, all the logic is in entity.lua. (Line 281 for the update code and line 1067 for the collision handling.)

P#139424 2023-12-30 19:34

Wow, excellent metroidvania! Fluid controls and animations make the gameplay feel solid. Map screen is wonderful. Great job! The game becomes incredibly hard about half way through. Not gonna lie, getting the 4th heart upgrade took me around 40-50 tries- go south and get swimming ability first.

My only suggestions are to make it easier by maybe adding more save points? Also change the color of the character to look less like metroid - this game does its own thing well and there is no reason to call it a clone or a demake of meteoid, but the red and yellow makes it feel thay way.

The other suggestion is that you make more levels in a sequel... or encourage others to make more levels for u. P8 needs more great titles with multiple carts and some length to them. This game seems like the perfect start for sequels, mods, and spin-off titles. There is also an epic boss battle in the end! Thank you so much for making one of the best games pico-8 has to offer!

P#139486 2024-01-01 16:16 ( Edited 2024-01-06 15:51)

One of the most polished games I've seen on Pico-8. Well done.

P#139571 2024-01-03 07:02

Finally cleared it! Was a real challenge. I have to acknowledge the presentation and polish put in here! I'm super impressed you fit all of this in here! Honestly, I was going to lead off with my gripes with the game in terms of gameplay which I think speaks highly that everything felt so natural and complete as to be transparent to me :)

The spiders were super tedious (especially when getting the top right health upgrade). I think having them be killed in 2 shots could help some (maybe also being able to shoot upwards?)

I found the auto-moving immortal blue and green blobs pretty infuriating. A lot of the platforming challenges where you have to wall jump or glide while avoiding them were punishing. Maybe disabling sliding for wall jumps would help? (though I imagine that would trivialize a lot of the platforming sections).

I think I get what you were going for though in terms of difficulty. I know how tricky it can be to balance fun and challenge :)

Thank you for creating this! Good job!

P#139848 2024-01-08 23:37 ( Edited 2024-01-08 23:38)

As a metroidvania fan, I enjoyed this game very much! It's unforgiving but rewarding! Thank you for the great game!

P#140875 2024-01-30 12:50

such a nice game, im crying

P#140902 2024-01-30 23:10

This is my favorite PICO-8 game right now. I am really impressed. Do you have any plans to make another one? Please say yes!

P#141245 2024-02-07 04:13

why is tiny pixel game making me cry at 03h22 in the morning...

P#142438 2024-03-05 06:03 ( Edited 2024-03-05 06:03)
P#142513 2024-03-06 17:46

Just beat it. Thanks for this awesome game! I really enjoyed the little story elements in each screen. Great job!

P#142527 2024-03-07 01:33

The lack of invincibility frames is getting on my nerves.

P#145492 2024-04-02 16:10

Amazing game.
The first Pico game I played until the end.

Thanks a lot!

P#147874 2024-05-04 00:25

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