- This is my favorite tool for creating pixel art. It's a good price and comes with everything I need. It's easy to get in and start drawing. It also comes with a bunch of preset color palettes that let you play around with trying to stick to the color limits of different retro platforms. There's also a lot of built in support for animation. I haven't played around with too much of the animation, but it worked well for what I've done so far. For pixel art, this is tough to beat.
- I've been using this game engine recently and getting more familiar with it. It's primarily built for making old point-and-click style adventure games, but it's possible to also do some RPGs or side-scrolling games in it as well. If you're not much of a programmer, this is a great tool to get a game up and running. The tutorials are a bit old, but it doesn't take long to get the hang of it. You won't be able to do anything really crazy from a mechanics standpoint right off the bat, but if you've got a story you want to tell, this is a great option. It's also not just for beginners. The game company, Wadjet Eye, uses this for all of their games so it can definitely handle big projects.
- This is the game engine I recommend to anyone who is interested in learning about making games. If it's 2D, you can make it in GM. This does require programming skills, but it uses its own language, GML, which isn't too bad to pickup. There's a ton of tutorials out there as well so you'll probably be able to find help with whatever you're interested in making. It's also an engine that can easily grow with you as your skill increases. Beginners can get going quickly, but there have also been a ton of big indie games that have been built in GM. If you've got an idea for a game, chances are you can make it in GM.