Essential Assets for Pixel Themed Games
As with all of our guides, we are assuming you are using Unity to build your game. Also, you understand the power and value of the asset store. We often link to purchasable assets. This is in the best interest of you the developer and streamlining your project.
The Resurgence of Pixel Graphics
Originally a pinnacle of gaming video technology. Today, pixel graphics have become a great way for indie developers to create a unique and retro look to their project. Easy for early prototyping and gives your game an ageless style. Let’s get some basic assets into your project.
Engine and Templates
We’re going to be suggesting some incredible assets through out the guide. These very first two are probably the most through and we.ll get your game over half way to development on their own. The most popular style of pixel type games are usual from a top down perspective. So it’s only natural that we suggest using the best top down engine on Unity to date.
If side scrolling is the type of game you are creating, than this asset is what you are looking for. By the same developer and one of the most popular and updated assets on the store. For good reason.
We usually recommend the paid assets since they typically have better support and a constant development cycle. If you’re not quite willing to drop a bit of money on a development template yet, we also have a great free recommendation to get you started with.
Different Types of Pixel Themes
Typically a style is chosen early in development. If you’re still unsure on a specific look, you’re in the right place! We’ll delve further into each category a little more with great assets as starting points.
Atari and Early Arcade
The simple 8 bit graphics on a black screen. Almost as basic as pixel games get, still holds a special place for people as it is very nostalgic. This easier graphic style is a blessing and a curse. What is easier to create graphics wise, makes play ability more reliant on the actual core game play. For quick prototyping, we’ve got a few great freebies for you here!
That last link has an adorable Link like character. Unity has an excellent tutorial and write up on proper execution of 8 bit graphics. Check it out here if you want to learn this art in depth.
Retro Music and Sound FX
Reminiscent of that early frontier of gaming, the sound effects were also equally simple. Beeps, buzzes, blinks, and blomps. It’s hard not to recognize the charm these add to a very retro type of game. Which makes this sound FX pack the perfect companion to your project.
Sound FX and music should be easier to implement at first. Luckily there’s a lot more wiggle room for what sounds like it belongs in a game that is pixel themed. So we can start with the basics and go from there. This sound pack perfectly encapsulates the sounds of the retro gaming era!
16 to 32 Bit
Some of the most recognizable games in history come from this era of gaming. A harder look to pull off consistently, but you end up with a high quality visual experience. There used to be a clear line between these types of graphics. With game engine scaling options, and no longer an actual pixel size or boundary, we will be grouping most of this look and style together.
Super Nintendo Style RPG
There is an amazing gem of an editor that exists for making this type of game. Comes with an amazing tile set and characters to get you started. RPG Map Editor.
These 3 packs really encapsulate that Legend of Zelda dungeon feel. As always, Bit Gem has done some amazing work with these editions of Top Down Pixel Dungeon Level 1, 2, and 3.
While we’re listing Bit Gem’s work. They also have a very well done side view pixel dungeon.
We would be making a mistake if we didn’t mention one of the best effects pack for pixel themed games on the asset store. While this pack doesn’t fully flesh out every effect possible you would need for a complete game, it is an amazing starting point. If you can emulate the look and feel of these animations, you’re on the right track for a very successful game.
While we’re on the topic of sprite effects, we can’t pass up this gem that probably gets missed far too often. Pixel Art Particles Pack. A perfect addition to the side scrolling type dungeon style. All though some of the effects could be used in either perspective.
Isometric games have their own look and appeal. Considerably changing how simple mechanics and play style work in the game as well. It’s an obvious merger of two popular styles. The isometric world meeting the pixel style. Which means there is some amazing assets as a starting point. First and foremost, you need the best asset for creating your isometric game!
Now let’s get that pixel look in there right away with this awesome freebie. Really gives your game that pixel style.
3D Pixel Style
All good things seem to eventually become combined. Pixel games are no exception. With the advent of 3D gaming, eventually we would merge the retro pixel look, within a 3D world. Obviously a bit more of a task getting this to look right and consistent through out an entire game. But if building a 3D pixel game is your jam, look no further than these as a great starting point.
Similar but different to the 3D pixel look, we have a style that has recently emerged in the gaming world. Voxel. Combining of the word volume and pixel. With no set in stone appearance, basically the look is filling your 3D space with small cubes of glowing graphics. Coming up with this retro futuristic look. Utilizing a 3d space for the player to navigate, while reaping the rewards of a glowing eye candy type look and feel. These voxel effects are a great starting point.
This publisher also does some other amazing work. And even though they don’t think it’s classified as voxel, we believe it fits the theme well enough to be mentioned in this category. The more choices of effects, the better equipped the developer is.
🔨 Under Construction!
From this point forward we recommend coming to the guide at a later date. We only have so many hours in the day and hope to have all guides 95% complete within the coming weeks. Thanks for stopping by!