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We have heard that there are games of the 8-bit era, 16-bit, 32-bit, and so on. However, these terms have been used so loosely that right now it is almost devoid of meaning. How would one exactly define 8-bit graphics from 16 bit graphics? How can you claim that the game you have found on the Play Store is 8-bit? In order to truly define what is 8-bit, we must first see what its original definition was.

A bit is how computers store information. One bit is either 0 or 1 – on or off, which equates to 2 possible information kinds to be stored. 2 bits mean that the information stored can be up to 4 types of information – 00, 01, 10 and 11. 8 bit means that you can get up to 256 different kinds of information. It describes how systems used to store memories, and how they are presented. In the older consoles, it meant that there can only be up to 256 set kinds of colors, amongst other limitations like tiles for sprites, the kinds of sounds it can produce,  and how a sprite is made of a couple of tiles. Through these limitations, games like The Legend of Zelda, Contra, are able to showcase its creativity in order to bring the most of its limitations.y

However, after comparing the screenshots of some games provided in this article, such as Megaman 1, Megaman X, and Megaman X4, you would notice that the largest difference is the color range. The fact that it is retro-styled, is less important than the colors which are present on the screen, and how smooth the gameplay is between generations of consoles.

The conclusion that I am trying to draw is that 8-bit, 16-bit, and others are a poor way to differentiate a game with retro-styled graphics or songs. Being inspired by games of those ages are fine, however to limit yourself to 8-bit limitations are regressive to the gaming industry. The look is certainly something ageless, but the method of creating it definitely something that we can keep updating. The most proper term would be retro-styled, more than the number of bits in a picture.


  • Yogi Udjaja
  • Alexander Edwin

Published at :
Written By
Yogi Udjaja, S.Kom., M.T.I
Subject Content Coordinator - Game Art & Design | School of Computer Science

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