With a surging nostalgia for the technology of yesteryear (Da Chip’s 8-bit renditions of Daft Punk songs, Pixels, and Tron: Legacy) there’s a strong desire to return to the simpler days of early gaming. Perhaps no one feels that desire as strongly as our hero in the short film 8 Bits. The film plays out like a ‘boss level’ where our hero attempts to rescue a goddess called 8-Bit from the evil 3D boss. A battle ensues as our shirtless hero fights through rounds of enemies helped in part by the 8-bit goddess herself who lights up, transporting our hero into 2D ass-kicking mode. When he finally reaches the boss, the ultimate battle ensues.
On the surface, 8 Bits clearly provides commentary on an unwillingness to let go of something one loves even when obsolete. It comments on the industry that constantly works to convince us to buy more by upgrading to the new and latest. These are themes echoed in the evil bosses cries to his cronies, “She made this world weak, and limited. But her age is about to end! Our domination is almost complete! And more is up to come my friends…”—even his red/blue color shift represents the future of 3D gaming. But the film clearly wants us to question that. After all, it takes a certain brashness for a character to walk into a club in his boxers and tear the place apart. Perhaps a way of saying, “Look at what I can do with so little.”
Stepping back a little, what’s really interesting about 8 Bits is its delivery. The film often breaks the fourth wall with an awareness of the world it inhabits. At one point the boss turns to the hero and asks, “Where do you think you are, pal? It’s not f***in’ Duke Nukem here.” 8 Bits is an homage to early video games and likewise a dialog from one early game lover to another.
Stylistically, I love this film. It combines a slew of animation styles that (for once) seem to come from the story rather than act as supplemental eye candy. The ending is particularly fun, where the gameplay slowly devolves into more primitive game styles—from 16-bit, to 8-bit, to Atari, to Pong. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that the creators behind this gem are in fact students at Supinfocom. It’s been extremely successful online with 500K views and now looks to rule the festival circuit with screenings planned at OneDotZero and Sundance this January.