Now this is a rather interesting little escapade into nostalgia. You play a little green pixel who has escaped and enters the games from a museum of computer and video gaming, with games where the pixel was king!
The platformer starts with you selecting a machine to play and tackle the levels of – the two machines available at the start are Sinclair’s ZX81 and the Atari 2600. But you can then unlock the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, the (Acorn) BBC Model B, the Amstrad CPC464, the Commodore 64, the Gameboy and the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).
When actually playing the game, it is the pure essence of an early platform game. You go around a screen or multiple linked screens collecting gems to open an exit. You can double jump, and you have to avoid the bad guys, thrusting spikes, and later bad guys shooting at you with single pixel bullets you really have to keep your eyes peeled for, lest you explode into a shower of red pixels and black pixels (err.. even on the black and white ZX81… hmmm).
Getting past a certain level on each machine’s set of levels unlocks another machine until you have them all available.
The unique draw of the game is that each of the machine’s levels are most definitely in the style and colour scheme you would expect of a game from that machine back in the day. Pixel himself goes from black square with two white eyes collecting blinking circle “gems” on the ZX81, to a green animated block with blue eyes, a blue mouth and a yellow gleam collecting animated white/yellow/red gems on the BBC. In fact it’s kinda like looking at a game from the day as it would have been ported from machine to machine.
To be honest the only irritation about the machine settings is that the music is the same throughout, and in itself does not reflect the sounds capabilities of the machines depicted, though necessary for the ZX81 at least. (This is something being addressed at the moment for a forthcoming update with new music for each machine emulated or taken directly from each system – Ed)
Gameplay as said previously is basic jump and collect – and there are incredibly frustrating moments when you jump from screen to screen only end up landing on spikes or an enemy that you simply couldn’t see. But then again… that VERY authentic of what you would expect from a game of the era. Go back and play Jet Set Willy, Dizzy or any of the titles of the time and that’s exactly what’ll you’ll get.
However that one “flaw” in the simplistic gameplay means you get a little testy with the game… but it’s just one ingredient to make you keep coming back – that “just one more go” feeling. It’s as addictive as some of those simple games form back in the day, so be warned.
The really good news is that the game is set up so that once you have unlocked levels and you have the sense to keep continuing a game rather than starting a new one – they are all available for you to come back to, and in traditional style. You have an infinite number of lives, mainly as without them, you’d be breaking Wheaton’s Law and throwing the machine against a wall when your pixel perfect misjudgment sends pixel swimming because you tried to avoid that bat and that thrusting set of spikes for the tenth time.
You know, I thought that the game would probably only appeal to those of use who have the recollection, vague though it may be, of 8-bit gaming from back in the 1980’s, so my initial reaction was to recommend the title, but only for people of that demographic. Then my wife, whose first interaction with a computer was an Amiga 1200, picked it up and kinda enjoyed it (though clearly didn’t have the hand-joystick-eye co-ordination training to deal with it to start with) and then my 16 year old daughter loved it too, referring to it as one of those simple addictive games that she’d get into, just as she did with Tetris.
At under £2, you really can’t say fairer than that!
At A Glance
- Title: Life Of Pixel
- Publisher: Super Icon Ltd
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 18Mb
From the offset, I knew that this was a game that was going to appeal to me. I am always drawn to games that have a retro feel to them or are ones that are inspired by classic retro games, so one that is not only based on 8-bit gaming but one that recreates not one but a range of 8-bit computers was already going to be a potential hit with me.
Despite being insanely difficult at times (and frustratingly so on many levels) it’s still a fantastic platformer that has managed to retain all of the appeal of the machines it is attempting to emulate. Since the recent update, adding music and sound from all of the original systems, it has only added to the feel of the game making it an even more rounded package for the retro gaming enthusiast.
This really is a fantastic game and I’d say that it is one of, if not the best game available for PlayStation Mobile. If you haven’t already got this one in your collection then it’s something that you should get straight away. It’s a wonderful showcase for the format and a superb tribute to the systems that appear in the game.
Super Icon are currently working on porting the game to other formats (with a planned PS3 version in the pipeline) including additional computers and consoles which will hopefully see these added to the PSM version as well. They’re running a Kickstarter campaign to make this happen and you can support them over here:- http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1272313960/life-of-pixel?ref=card