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Video Game / 8-Bit Armies

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8-Bit Armies is a Real-Time Strategy game from Petroglyph Games released on Steam and on 23 April 2016 as a follow-up to their previous title Grey Goo (2015). Unlike their previous games, 8-Bit Armies is a Genre Throwback to early Real-Time Strategy games, which isn't that hard to do considering the fact that some of the developers worked on those early games. As you might have already guessed from the title, the game features a faux 8-bit aesthetic in both it's graphics (though in full 3D voxel form akin to Minecraft) and in it's soundtrack, composed by the legendary Frank Klepacki of Command & Conquer fame.

The game is rather bare bones and it shouldn't take anyone long to get used to it if you're already familiar with Real-Time Strategy games (the game does have a brief tutorial on how it plays). Basically, harvest resources (oil in this case), build up your base, build units from the limited tech tree, and overwhelm your foes with superior tactics (is Zerg Rush a superior tactic?). And drop the occasional nuke or two of course...


At the time of the game's release, it featured a single generic military faction called The Renegades, the usual singleplayer and multiplayer skirmish modes, and a 25-mission campaign where you fight against the same faction with an opposing colour. It has become quite popular in multiplayer and the campaign missions offer some replayability due to the many bonus objectives they offer to challenge players and rewards them with additional units or funds that can be useful for completing future missions and previous unaccomplished objectives. Overall, a streamlined and simplified throwback to classic Real-Time Strategy games, though the general lack of content can put you off. This was rectified somewhat with a later update that added in a new faction called The Guardians, a map editor, and a downloadable campaign mode for the new faction.


On 13 August 2016, Petroglyph Games released the first of possibly several stand-alone expansions titled 8-Bit Hordes. Whereas Armies pays tribute to the early Command & Conquer games, Hordes does the same for the early Warcraft games, shifting the modern/near-future war theme of the former to a Medieval European Fantasy theme that the developers have been teasing since day 1. It introduces two new factions, the Deathsworn and the Lightbringers, who are a not-so-subtle take on the Horde and the Alliance respectively. General gameplay is also reminiscent of it's inspiration, setting it apart from Armies. Much like Dawn of War, Hordes is cross-compatible with Armies allowing factions and maps from one game to be used in the other and vice-versa. Long story short: we can finally pit Command & Conquer against Warcraft on the same battlefield! In case you're wondering how much this expansion costs, it costs about as much as the previous game but those who own either one will get a considerable discount for the other.

A third game titled 8-Bit Invaders htook the series to its logical next step. It features Starcraft-like Crannoids, a sort of Zerg and Protoss hybrid, and Marines, which are Terran Marines.

8-Bit Armies provides examples of:

  • Action Bomb: The Guardians Anti-Air Drone is basically a controllable missile, hurling itself towards enemy aircraft and self-destructing on them.
  • Arbitrary Head Count Limit: Armies originally had population cap but this wasn't popular with fans and was removed in the final game as a result. Hordes in keeping with the Warcraft-style gameplay features a downplayed example of this trope. Instead of power, you start off with 20 food and must build additional Farms to add 20 more each time. Each unit uses up 1 food. There's no definite cap so you're only limited to adding more food when you need it. The Crainoids also have this (they increase their pop cap via devices called Motivators).
  • Attack Drone: All Guardian and Galactic Marine aircraft are unmanned.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: The Renegade Transport Chopper and the Guardian APC are useful for transporting infantry but don't do anything remotely awesome otherwise. The former does have the advantage of flight and the ability to transport vehicles while the latter is more heavily armored and can run over infantry.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: Giant Spiders can be found on some of Hordes maps but they're just decorations that can be destroyed for bonus crates. The Crainoids though make use of alien bugs as Beasts Of Battle: Xenodogs serve as skirmishers, Stink Bugs can poison surrounding enemies or use their poison gas as a Breath Weapon, and Blast Bugs function as both artillery and heavy Anti-Air.
  • Car Fu: Some vehicles can simply run over infantry. A mix of this and Artificial Stupidity is what makes the otherwise harmless Harvester notoriously dangerous. Heavier vehicles such as Tanks can even plow through buildings. This is actually useful in that buildings tend to contain bonus crates.
    • Note that this doesn't usually work on certain infantry who cannot be crushed. These include the above mentioned Commandos, Deathsworn Warriors, Lightbringer Paladins, and all Galactic Marine infantry.
  • Cherry Tapping: Using Engineers to kill anything. They're armed with pistols which can deal decent damage to infantry but have low rate of fire. They're best mixed with other units due to their heal/repair abilities.
  • Cold Sniper: The Commando, whose shots deal heavy damage to nearly everything but are rather slow moving. The Guardians have normal Snipers who are not as powerful but their shots are faster and more accurate. They also cloak when not moving, making them useful in ambush tactics.
    • Lightbringer Rangers are essentially The Archer counterpart of the aforementioned Snipers but are available much later up their tech tree.
  • Combat Medic: The Engineer fills this role rather than his usual "capture enemy structures" role you'd associate such a unit with. While he can fight, his main strength is how rapidly he can heal/repair units. Its always a good idea to mix Engineers with your other units in order to keep them in good condition even during the heat of battles.
    • Lightbringer Paladins are heavy frontline combat infantry with healing powers and cannot be crushed, making them effective on both attack and defense.
    • Crainoid Motherships heal friendlies around it and are heavily armored but are slow and their attacks are rather weak. Plus, they become available only after achieving full tech requirement.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: Armies have oil and power. Harvesting oil gives you credits to buy stuff and power keeps your base functional. Hordes on the other hand have gold and food. Gold functions just like oil while food serves as the Arbitrary Head Count Limit.
  • Composite Character: The Guardians are a fusion of GDI and Nod, featuring things like Grenadiers, Snipers, Orbital Cannons (often used by GDI), as well as Scorch Tanks and Specter Tanks (mainstay Nod technologies). The bits of fluff mentioned in their campaign makes them more inline with Nod though.
  • Crate Expectations: Just like in the Command & Conquer games, bonus crates can be found on the maps which contain various goodies and hazards. They don't appear randomly though. Instead there is a chance a crate will pop up from a destroyed building/prop or vehicle. You can increase the chance of this happening from a slider in the skirmish/multiplayer menu. The things you can get from them range from a squad of units to a freaking tactical nuke blowing up in your face! Or if you're lucky enough, you can get things like Commando squads.
    • Crates are pre-placed on most maps in the Campaign mode, most of which are useful for completing the bonus objectives (e.g getting additional infantry when the condition for that objective forbids you from training more of them). Some missions have them as the objectives themselves.
  • Cursed With Awesome: The Eternal Commander a.k.a you is forever stuck in between The Multiverse, taking control of armies of different eras and waging a Forever War. No matter what war is being fought he always wins...most of the time.
  • Enemy-Detecting Radar: They detect enemies within it's large effective range and displays them on the minimap as blips. Build additional Radars to increase their range even further.
    • The Hordes factions' Radar equivalent (Aerie/Oracle Den) functions differently. It instead allows the use of a support power that reveals a chosen area on the map for a few seconds and any cloaked units in that area will also be revealed. Build additional Aeries/Oracle Dens to decrease the recharge duration.
    • In Invaders, the Cranoids have a structure called the Parasite Hive which enables the use of a support power that infects enemy units and structures in an area, allowing you to see what they see for several seconds. Building additional hives increases the duration of this effect. The Galactic Marines on the other hand have the F.I.D.O, which functions as a mobile version of Armies Radar.
  • Expy: The Guardians Anti-Air Drone is the Attack Drone counterpart of the Zerg Scourge.
    • Their Orbital Cannon, in addition to looking like the Ion Cannon, functions just like the American Particle Cannon.
    • In fact, nearly everything in their arsenal should be recognizable to Command & Conquer fans.
      • The Renegades Heavy Tank is basically the Mammoth Tank with one of it's guns stripped off.
      • The Guardians Spectre is basically the Stealth Tank but armed with a powerful cannon instead of missile pods.
  • Flying Saucer: Naturally used by the Crainoids. The basic Saucer is speedy and expandable, the Aggressor has a sinister bat motive and fires salvos of pulse missiles, and the Mothership is big, slow, heavily armored and can heal groups of friendlies while providing fire support.
  • Forever War: The Eternal Commander is stuck waging war for any side of a conflict. He neither has any reason to do so aside from winning nor can he stop even if he wanted to.
  • Four-Element Ensemble: The Lightbringers feature four high-tier units that embody each of the elements: Water Elementals, Air Elementals, Treants, and Phoenixes. The former two are Lightning Bruisers that can attack air and ground targets while the latter two are Mighty Glaciers that can heal (Treants) and resurrect (Phoenixes) themselves respectively.
  • Gatling Good: The Renegade MG Soldier wields a minigun but shoots single shots in bursts of three. Their MG Turret and MG Chopper on the other hand are able to fire continuously, as can the Guardian Heavy Drone.
  • Faction Calculus: While each factions are rather bare-bones and can simply win by Zerg Rush alone, they still have unique playstyles:
    • The Renegades are the Powerhouse. Their units are rather specialized, making them effective against their intended counters but a mixed bag is required to counter anything effectively. The Heavy Tank and Missile Silo are the pinnacle of their firepower dominance: the former can easily steamroll through enemies and destroy aircraft while the latter can instantly destroy entire armies. They also have arguably the best airforce in the game.
    • The Guardians are Balanced. A number of their units such as the Grenadier and Heavy Drone are effective against multiple unit types but they also have elements of Subversive, namely their usage of stealth units and long-ranged fire support. They also lack any combat unit that can run down infantry and buildings (the only one that can is an unarmed APC).
    • The Deathsworn are Subversive. They mainly specialize in melee combat and are considerably more reliant on special abilities such as using Rogues to ambush and steal resources from Miners/Harvesters or using Wraiths to bolster their forces with Archers resurrected from slain enemy infantry. Their superweapon is also the only one that does not deal direct damage. Instead it freezes all affected units and buildings, making them more vulnerable to attacks while instantly destroying aircraft.
    • The Lightbringers are the Ranger. Plenty of fast and powerful ranged units that can go toe-to-toe with Armies factions units such as the Ranger and the Air Elemental, making them effective at raiding the enemy from multiple sides. Their advanced units are pretty durable and their superweapon can heal friendly units while damaging enemies.
    • The Galactic Marines are the Elitists, having among the most powerful units in the game and all of them including their structures come with Regenerating Shield, Static Health, making them quite durable. This comes at the cost of their units being expensive, slow, slow to build, and their structures having high power requirements.
    • The Crainoids are the Horde or are at least the best at it. Their Xenodogs, like Zerglings, can rush players en masses in the early game and their units in general build rather quickly. They have a support power that lets all newly produce units spawn at a selected "drop zone" anywhere on the map instead, allowing them to reinforce their army directly at the frontlines and their epic unit, The Destroyer has a poison gas attack that converts anything killed by it into Xenodogs, essentially making it a literal One-Man Army.
  • Grenade Launcher: The Guardian Grenadier is armed with a classic single-shot one. It has a rather low rate of fire but makes up for it with it's even effectiveness against all ground targets and Splash Damage dealt.
  • Healing Shiv: The Lightbringers' Weapon of Mass Destruction is a massive enchanted spear that deals Scratch Damage on impact but creates a swirling vortex that burns enemies while healing friendlies. This makes it a very situational weapon that can be used to either weaken enemies or quickly heal your army. It's duration of effect can be increased by building additional Sacred Spears.
  • Herd-Hitting Attack: Several types of units are effective at cutting down mobs of units due to their large Splash Damage. Four of the factions' artillery are also perfect for shelling groups of enemies (the Renegade Artillery has a larger Splash Damage, the Guardian Siege Artillery has greater range and firepower, the Deathsworn Catapult can slow enemies down, and the Crainoid Blast Bug has Anti-Air).
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: The Eternal Commander has a chronic case of this, seemingly winning for one side only for him to have a change of hearts, switch to the other side, and win for them. This isn't usually the case though as he has switched sides due to unforeseen circumstances such as being betrayed or captured.
  • Homage: The entire game is one to classic Real-Time Strategy games as well as 8-bit games in general.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Comes in two different forms: some units will remain cloaked unless attacking or taking damage (Guardian Spectres, Deathsworn Rogues, Lightbringer Rangers) while others will only cloak when not moving, attacking, or taking damage (Guardian Snipers, Galactic Marine F.I.D.O).
    • Inverted with the Crainoid Floating Brain which cloaks all nearby friendlies except itself and other Floating Brains. If you see one chances are it isn't exactly alone... Meanwhile the Galactic Marines can use their Refraction Field ability to cloak whole groups of units. The cloak fades away the moment they move, attack, or fired upon.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Guardian love this. They have Scorch Turrets to keep waves of infantry at bay and Scorch Tanks to burn through infantry and buildings with. The Deathsworn have Dragons which ups the stakes by flying and can be used against other aircraft. Meanwhile the Lightbringers' Holy Arrow superweapon attack burns any enemies within it's area of effect.
  • Kill It with Ice: The Deathsworn's Weapon of Mass Destruction, the Mana Crystal, can conjure a Blizzard that freezes all affected units and structures in an area. Aircraft are instantly destroyed while ground units become Literally Shattered Lives when fired upon. Structures take more damage than usual for the duration of the freezing. Oh and speaking of the duration, frozen units return back to normal after a while.
  • Kill Sat: The Guardians' Weapon of Mass Destruction. While it doesn't have the spread of The Renegades Nuclear Missile, it can be steered into enemies.
  • Long-Range Fighter: The Commando and the Guardian Sniper, the Deathsworn Shaman and the Lightbringer Ranger, as well as the Siege Engines of the respective factions.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Plenty of units in the game are armed with rocket launchers. The Renegades Rocket Soldier fires a single rocket at a time while every other rocket-armed unit tend to spam 4 - 6 of them in a single barrage. And since these units will also be spammed...
    • Then Invaders introduced us to the Galactic Marine Manticore, a variant of the Ogre armed with a pair of missile pods. It can unleash several missiles in a burst but has low firing rate. Then its taken Up to Eleven with their epic unit, the Titan, which has twice as many missile pods and fires twice as many missiles. Unlike the Manticore, the Titan's missiles can track and kill multiple targets.
  • The Magic Versus Technology War: The games' selling point is that you could pit all the factions against one another if you have the corresponding games. Want a Mêlée à Trois between a modern military force, elves and dwarfs, and alien invaders? Well now you can!
    • This nearly happens at the end of the Deathsworn campaign when they attempted to summon both the Renegades and Guardians who were under your command to fight against the Lightbringers.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class: The Armies and Hordes factions generally play differently from one another, such as using different resources, different functioning radars, and more varied units. Each of the Invaders factions take up a gameplay style from one of the two previous games each (Galactic Marines have Armies playstyle while the Crainoids have Hordes playstyle). Unique to Invaders are their Harvesters which do not need to return to any Refinery building, epic units which stand in for superweapons, and the Marines' Regenerating Shield, Static Health general ability.
  • More Dakka: The Renegades love automatics. MG Soldiers, Armored Cars, MG Choppers are all armed with machineguns which are primarily effective against infantry but will shred through anything if a whole army of them is firing them off. They also have MG Turrets that can quickly cut down infantry. The Guardians Heavy Drone is also armed with a minigun to pick off infantry in addition to it's anti-tank/air missile pods.
  • The Multiverse: As confirmed by the Lightbringers, every game in the series exists alongside each other as parallel universes and the Eternal Commander constantly crosses between them to take charge of armies and win their wars. Its implied that the Deathsworn were aware that you used to lead the Renegades and Guardians, which is why they attempted to bring them over so that you may command them against the Lightbringers.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Building multiple Superweapons reduces the cooldown time for the next launch. Build enough of them (assuming you have the power and economy) and you can spam nukes after nukes in quick succession.
  • Non-Entity General: The game actually justifies this. According to the Lightbringers, you are who they call the "Eternal Commander", forever cursed to cross The Multiverse and lead various armies to victory.
  • Regenerating Shield, Static Health: A unique ability of the Galactic Marines, though they can only regenerate their shields when not in combat. The Overcharge support power can be used to temporally disable their shields and boost their speed by 50%.
  • Retraux: The game is essentially a love letter to the early days of Real-Time Strategy in both look and feel. Only in 3D of course.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: Full-on military installations can be built on the field rather quickly, as are the units you can build/train. In fact, building more production buildings will decrease the time it needs to build units. Build enough of them and you can effectively create an endless stream of tanks rolling straight onto the frontlines.
  • Shout-Out: Plenty to Command & Conquer:
    "I'm Seth. Just Seth. From God, to Kane, to Seth."
  • Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: Superweapons in this game, with The Renegades having a Nuke as their Weapon of Mass Destruction, are not very powerful and only serve to remove chunks of the enemy's army from the battlefield. They deal surprisingly little damage to buildings but recharge very quickly.
  • Spiritual Successor: This game is about the closest Petroglyphnote  has to a proper Command & Conquer game.
  • Tank Goodness: The Renegade Tank which is heavily armored and packs a mean punch. They then take it Up to Eleven with the new Heavy Tank which is even more heavily armored, can fire twice as many shots, and is armed with anti-air missile launchers. Its essentially the famed Mammoth Tank in all but name.
    • The Guardians have exactly one tank: the Scorch Tank which is armed with a huge-ass flamethrower but is not as tough as it's Renegades counterpart and cannot run over infantry.
    • The Galactic Marines have the Gorgon, a big Hover Tank armed with a pair of Wave Motion Guns capable of damaging groups of units. Unfortunately despite it's size, it can't crush infantry since it hovers.
  • Throw Down the Bomblet: The Renegade MG Soldier's secondary attack against buildings has him throw grenades at it. Its very effective when used in hordes, reducing most buildings to rumble in a matter of seconds but is short ranged.
  • Tripod Terror: One of the more versatile Crainoid units. Heavily armored with a beam attack that is effective against most ground and air targets. It also has the unique ability to see farther than any other ground unit regardless of elevation due to it's height, enabling them to function as spotters for artillery.
  • True Sight: All turrets and some units (most coming from Hordes) are able to detect stealth units. Units on higher elevation will be able to see further than those on lower elevation. Aircraft can see anything from any elevation but can be seen by ground units regardless of elevation. Special case for the Crainoid Tripod which can see from an aircraft's point of view due to it's extreme height.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: Missile Silo for Renegades, Satellite Uplink for Guardians, Mana Crystal for Deathsworn, Sacred Spear for Lightbringers, The Titan for Galactic Marines, and The Destroyer for Crainoids.
  • When Dimensions Collide: In the final Deathsworn mission, they attempted to bring over the Renegades and Guardians you used to command using the Mana Crystals. Fortunately the Lightbringers were able to bring you to their side before they could pull it off.
    • Pretty much the entire point of Multiverse mode in Invaders. As either the Crainoids or Galactic Marines, you'll be conquering various realms including those from the two previous games.
  • Worker Unit: The Harvester, a cute little tanker truck that bobs back and forth between oil derricks and refineries. Cute, until it runs over all your infantry...
    • Hordes factions use Miners which carry less resources, aren't as tough and can't crush infantry. However, they are cheaper to produce en masses.
    • Invaders version of the Harvester do not need to dock at a Refinery. Instead it processes the resources directly at the resource point, providing uninterrupted flow of funds. Resource Enhancers can be built to increase the rate at which the resource is processed and function as drop off points for the other factions' Harvesters/Miners if you have them. It cannot crush infantry though.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: You need to harvest oil from Oil Derricks to get the cash needed to buy anything and build Power Stations to make sure power is at optimum level. No oil means no money and a base on low power will have it's defenses to cease functioning and production of units slowed down considerably.
    • In Hordes, gold takes the place of oil but the same rule applies. You will also have to watch your food supply which serves as the Arbitrary Head Count Limit and increase it by building Farms in order to build more units.
  • Zerg Rush: The game encourages this with units being dirt cheap, resources can be harvested fairly quickly, and building more production structures reduces the build time of the units they create.

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