Making a 2D video game is the perfect starting point for new game developers. Without needing 3D graphics or tons of coding, you can focus on nailing awesome 2D game ideas and making fun projects to build skills. This article suggests 10 easy 2D game ideas for total beginners based on real classics almost anyone can design. We’ll explain examples, art styles, and tips to code core features without pain. If you go step-by-step, you’ll finish your first 2D game feeling like a pro!

Endless Runner Games

Remember 2D game ideas like Subway Surfers, Temple Run, or Canabalt? Those are “endless runners” – where your character dashes left to right automatically and you tap or swipe to jump over stuff in your way.

Making a simple 2D endless runner is smart because:

  • Fun and easy to play even if made by beginners
  • Very simple controls like one-button jumping or dodging
  • Procedural levels means basic building blocks shuffle new challenges continuously
  • Easy pixel art since backgrounds scroll fast hiding imperfections

To code an endless runner, first make your character run forever. Then add platforms, obstacles, and powerups that spawn randomly. Polish by fine-tuning speed, how far the player can jump, scoring, sound effects, and making dangers appear smarter over time.

Classic Fixed Shooters

Before moving screens, games like Space Invaders put players on the bottom shooting upward as alien formations marched closer. New examples like Geometry Wars built on that.

Why these basic 2D game ideas in shooters rock:

  • No complex twin-stick controls to figure out
  • Hypnotic shooting waves of bad guys
  • Cool particle effects when baddies explode into pieces
  • Old school vector/pixel art style is part of the charm

To develop a fixed shooter, first map out enemy wave patterns that progress in difficulty. Allow shooting 360 degrees. Program different shot speeds, spray angles, and particle colors per weapon. Have baddies explode chaotically!

Basic Platformers

mario 2d game

From Mario to Meat Boy, platformers that have you run, jump, and stomp through levels define 2D game ideas.

What makes platformers so fun:

  • Pixel-perfect controls feel sublime when mastered
  • Nonstop movement over obstacles, pits, and enemies
  • Cutesy retro sprites full of character
  • Near endless level design creativity

When programming platformers, nail controls first before anything else. Make acceleration and jumping true to physics. Ensure landing animations feel right. Use collision layers, triggers, and boxes to prevent corner-clipping. Have baddies chase or shoot intelligently. Then build hundreds of challenging levels!

Quick guide to basic platformer elements

Core Mechanics:

  • Running
  • Jumping physics
  • Combat or enemies
  • Collectibles

Level Elements:

  • Moving platforms
  • Location-based triggers
  • Hazards (spikes, lava, etc)
  • Portals
  • Puzzle switches

Art Elements:

  • Tilesets and backgrounds
  • Character animations
  • Sound effects
  • Dynamic lighting

Brick Breaker Games

In games like Breakout, Peggle, or Arkanoid, players knock a ball into stacks of bricks to clear them all for points.

Why brick breakers hit big:

  • Super satisfying feeling wrecking bricks
  • Hundreds of unique brick types/effects
  • Powerups alter ball behaviors randomly
  • Formulaic but continuously challenging

When developing brick breakers, start with vector math for ball speed, angles, paddle rebounds. Generate brick layers by type – some crack differently, others need multiple hits. Implement powerups like lasers, multi-balls, or ghost paddles. Explode bricks in spectacular fashion with particles!

Table of Sample Brick Breaker Powerups

Powerup Effect
Multi-Ball Spawns two additional balls
Expand Paddle Widens paddle briefly
Slow Motion Slows ball speed temporarily
Fire Ball Ignites ball leaving flame trail

Retro Arcade Games

2d game design

For starters wary of complex 3D graphics, fake retro pixel art cosmetically suggests classic games without the pain of coding ancient designs exactly.

Why pixel art rocks:

  • Masks aging graphics allowing modern flair
  • Less need for animation frame perfection
  • Evokes warm nostalgic feelings
  • Fosters vibrant creativity unshackled by history

When crafting pseudo-retro arcade games, use signature genre motifs players intuitively recognize but filter through unique twists. Exaggerate charming retro console limitations without agonizing over bygone antiquated tech hurdles. Love letters don’t require total authenticity!

Old-School Retro Flair in New 2D Game Ideas

Lots of new 2D indie games use pixel art and mechanics inspired by classics from the ’80s and ’90s. Even with way better tech now, purposefully mimicking old-school limitations helps developers focus creativity. Let’s overview why retro works and name cool recent examples.

Using chunky pixels instead of high resolution art cuts workload. Strict color palettes look iconic too. Retro consoles displayed games on TVs differently than now, so adding fake CRT scanlines nods to that technology feel. This taps player nostalgia to fill gaps since modern games no longer face old tech limits.

Gameplay-wise, many retro genres depend on tight core actions like run, jump, shoot. Minimalist inputs let players master essential skills. But constraints also squeeze innovation – see how 4-player Goldeneye multiplayer emerged from limitations. Keeping signature sensations without coding ancient systems allows benefiting from retro foundations.

Overall, selectively keeping certain old-school constraints when making 2D game ideas today scaffolds creativity through focus, just like artists balance negative space or designers economize mechanics. Does pixelating that waterfall better spotlight explorable caves behind? Can adding a weapon wheel improve combat without overly slowing things down? Limits boost appreciation of what remains.

Some cool modern 2D game ideas with old-school style include:

Game Title Art Style Retro Core Mechanics
Shovel Knight 8-bit visuals Nail-tight 2D platforming
Stardew Valley 16-bit pixels Harvest Moon life sim formula
Dead Cells Pixel landscapes and characters Fast-paced dungeon crawler action
Undertale Lo-fi monsters amid minimalist backdrops Bullet hell battles mixed with narrative choice consequences

SImple Game Ideas to Consider

Now, let’s explore some tried-and-true simple 2d game ideas that have stood the test of time:


Platformers are some of the most iconic 2d game ideas out there. In a platformer game, you control a character who jumps and runs across platforms, avoiding obstacles and enemies along the way. Classic examples include Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, and Mega Man.

To create your own platformer, you could come up with a unique character and world setting, design challenging levels with tricky jumps and puzzles, and incorporate power-ups or special abilities to help your character along their journey.

Puzzle Games

Puzzle games are another excellent choice for 2d game ideas. These types of games challenge players to solve brain-teasers, match patterns, or strategically manipulate objects on the screen.

Some popular puzzle game concepts include match-3 games like Bejeweled or Candy Crush, sliding block puzzles like Huarong Trail or Klotski, and physics-based games like World of Goo or Cut the Rope.

simple game ideas

When developing a puzzle game, focus on creating addictive gameplay mechanics and progressively increasing the difficulty to keep players engaged.


Side-scrolling games, also known as “run and gun” games, are a classic genre of 2d game ideas. In these games, the camera follows the player character as they move horizontally across the screen, shooting enemies and navigating through levels.

Famous side-scrollers include Contra, Metal Slug, and Gunstar Heroes. To create your own side-scroller, you could design a unique post-apocalyptic world, equip your character with cool weapons and power-ups, and fill your levels with challenging enemies and obstacles.

Fresh 2D Game Ideas to Explore

While the classic genres are always a solid choice, there’s also plenty of room for innovation when it comes to 2d game ideas. Here are some fresh concepts to consider:

Narrative-Driven Adventures

Combining elements of puzzles, platforming, and storytelling, narrative-driven adventures can be incredibly immersive and engaging 2d game ideas. Games like Gris, Inside, and Limbo are excellent examples of this genre, using minimalistic visuals and environmental storytelling to captivate players.

To create your own narrative adventure, focus on crafting a compelling storyline, designing atmospheric environments, and incorporating puzzles or challenges that complement the narrative.


Roguelikes are a genre of games that feature procedurally generated levels, permadeath mechanics (meaning you start over from the beginning when you die), and a heavy emphasis on exploration and resource management.

Popular roguelikes like Enter the Gungeon, Dead Cells, and Rogue Legacy have found success by combining these elements with fast-paced action and intricate combat systems.

When developing a roguelike, focus on creating a balanced risk-reward system, designing varied enemy types and loot, and ensuring that each playthrough feels fresh and challenging.


Metroidvania simple 2D games are a subgenre of action-adventure games that feature a large, interconnected world to explore, with new areas and abilities becoming accessible as the player progresses.

Games like Ori and the Blind Forest, Hollow Knight, and Guacamelee! have captivated players with their beautiful pixel art aesthetics, challenging platforming sections, and rewarding exploration mechanics.

To create a compelling Metroidvania, focus on designing a cohesive and interconnected world, implementing a satisfying progression system with new abilities or power-ups, and encouraging backtracking and exploration through clever level design.

Tips for Bringing Your 2D Game Ideas to Life

Now that we’ve explored some awesome 2d game ideas, here are a few tips to help you turn your concept into a reality:

Start Small

It’s easy to get carried away with grandiose ideas, but it’s often better to start small, especially if you’re new to game development. Begin with a simple concept and focus on nailing the core gameplay mechanics before expanding further.

Learn Game Development Basics

While you don’t need to be a programming whiz to create 2D games, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of game development concepts and tools. Consider taking an online course or following tutorials to learn a game engine like Unity or GameMaker Studio.

Gather Inspiration

Don’t be afraid to draw inspiration from your favorite games or other media. Look for elements that you enjoyed and try to incorporate them into your own unique vision.

Playtest and Iterate

As you’re developing your game, make sure to playtest it regularly and gather feedback from others. Use this feedback to refine and improve your game, making adjustments to mechanics, level design, or difficulty as needed.

In closing, use inspired bits of retro style and mechanics without complete devotion. Suggest classics rather than 100% recreate. Give modern game design a nostalgic filter. Players want great worlds and feelings, not tech museums! Capturing timeless enjoyment through focused design shines any coating.