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Pixel


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Rating: 4/5 (122 votes)
Comments (24) | Views (1,917)

PsychotronicPixelPixel is the new shooter from Hero Interactive, the developers of the Bubble Tanks series, and it's a curious little game. The titular pixels serve quadruple duty as your health bar, your ammunition, an omnipresent collectible, and the shrapnel in countless explosions, but the graphics themselves are not pixel art. All the characters are rotation-friendly collections of shapes that only become pixels when you blow them up, as though they were hiding their identity under a shadowy disguise, and by killing them you expose their pixelly lifeblood in a detonation of truthfulness.

It is very easy to control Pixel: move with the mouse. Shoot with the mouse button. You lose a few points from your life counter when you fire, but that's a small price to pay for the chain-reaction fireworks that result from every successful hit. By collecting the pixels from explosions, you both fuel your life counter and send out even more deadly pixels that can set off yet more fireworks. With every particle leaving a fading trail behind it, and a nonsense level of particles on-screen at any given time, a random screenshot of the game looks like an abstract expressionist painting from Jackson Pollack or Sam Francis.

Because it's such a trifle to fill the screen with death, Pixel is pretty much a cakewalk, from a survival standpoint. The more enemies show up, the easier it is to annihilate them in seconds. The game breaks things up a bit with mini-bosses and a satisfying mob of tentacles at the very end, but none of it is very challenging. I was able to unlock all the extras in my first playthrough. Rather, this experience is about relaxing into Brian Hall's mesmerizing soundtrack and watching the pretty colors zoom around. It's terrific as a chill-out casual shooter, but if you need a game to push back a little, this is probably a one-time play for you. It really could use some harder difficulty settings. However, with several unlockable ships and background themes (including the health hazard "seizure"), Pixel is a nice place to visit when your secret raver itch needs to be scratched.

Play Pixel

24 Comments

tenkuchima July 24, 2009 5:55 PM

the abstract style is nice, and the music was good too, but the game itself is lacking to say the least. the worst part had to be the controls. I just cant imagine why it would seam like a good idea to anyone to force you to fly towards your enemies in order to be able to shoot them. on the other hand, the game is so easy that by the time the controls become a real problem you have so much health running headfirst into enemies isn't much of a problem.

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Kind of easy and short. Finished it on the basic ship. There are some good options once you beat it. 3/5

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wow, this is the easiest game i have ever played. It is really really hard to lose...

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Jessica July 24, 2009 6:13 PM

This game is so addicting!
The music is beautiful!! The game play is awesome!
wonderful game :)

The tentacles at the end are soo overwhelming but it makes the game all the better >:3

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Fun and stylish, but easy.

I think there's a bug involving the last unlockable vehicle, as it started the combo chain at 101.

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ascorbate July 24, 2009 6:49 PM

This game doesn't deserve a front page mention. Nice art, nice music, yes--but having to move towards enemies to shoot them is completely unacceptable.

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Unacceptable?! I enjoyed it very much.

Nice work Hero Interactive. :)

It would be nice to see an increased difficulty setting, though, once you finish it once.

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jolson42 July 24, 2009 7:21 PM

When I fought the mini-bosses for the first time, it didn't seem to be going anywhere, so I came up with the strategy of kamikaze'ing them. I thought that was what you were meant to do. It didn't occur to me to just keep shooting, because everything else just takes one hit.
When I tried the same thing on the end boss, it was less impressive.
I then discovered that the checkpoints don't seem to work.

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OtherBill, I don't think that's a bug. I think using this vehicle is just all about bonuses, since it seems extremely strong and the game goes very quickly if you use it (it's over in about a minute and a half).

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Well... I won. But I wouldn't have known it without it telling me. I had no sense of progressing or achieving anything. That isn't necessarily a criticism, just my impression.

Pretty, though. And nice music.

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It was a fairly easy, relatively short game. I beat it on the first playthrough; well, actually, I think I died against the (final) boss once due to my browser acting weird, then beat him the next time. Then I tried out all the other options... Nothing too special. I liked that the Bubble Tank was one of the unlocked ships. Art was interesting, music was nice.

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I enjoyed it a lot, but these are what could be improved:

1) I agree with the previous comment that you don't really feel like you won.

2) More importantly, it wasn't clear how the checkpoints work. I was at the boss stage, and I thought "I should switch to a better vehicle," only to find that I had to start over.

Of course, playing with the higher-level vehicles is very fast, but it is also mostly pointless.

3) There just isn't any replay-ability. And this isn't just because it is too easy (I liked that fact ;-), but because it's ... linear? I guess? At least for a shooter. There's little variation in enemies, mostly. Just shoot them once, twice, or a gazillion times. And the final boss doesn't really require any strategy. Just point and shoot. Continuously. :-/

Despite this, I really enjoyed playing it!

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Night Stryke July 25, 2009 1:42 AM

Ran into an odd bug when using the unlockable Bubble Tank: The game somehow played through to the boss in all of 20-30 seconds, then when I killed the boss the game kept throwing carriers and tentacles at me until, after several minutes, I eventually died. Wish there was a high score feature, as I ended up with a score of 36,452,911 and a multiplier of 613, hehe.

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Nice graphics and all, still found it a bit boring after a couple of minutes - the fate of most games where you have to do the same thing for a long time in a sreen that's not really changing.

What I found extremely hard to get used to was that you don't shoot forwards. It's such a basic concept (I mean that you shoot straight forward) that the first minutes it usually took me 4-5 shots just to hit an enemy slowly moving straight towards me. Just as the others entioned, i had to approach it - i didn't find approaching a trouble, though.
But not shooting foward gave me the feeling throughout the game that i had a broken gun turret :)

As for the bosses - someone mentioned it and i second it: i got no indication that when i shot the boss I actually did any damage to it. I shot it a couple of times, nothing happened, so, i figured, aybe i have to navigate the ship towards its "tunnel" and dock it? Nope, but i still beat it.

Nice try, but i agree: it would have been a great LDF-entry rather than an independent review material.

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ZinVertigo July 25, 2009 4:36 AM

Is there any place to download the music?

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Anonymous July 25, 2009 4:39 AM

I find the "point towards an enemy to shoot" approach a poor one because in practice it always means you have to go towards them. That's not a rewarding strategy.

The final boss needed a better indicator of how well you were doing against it; a health bar would've been welcome.

Why would a game utilise a backdrop it acknowledges could cause seizures? Wouldn't it be more responsible not to create it in the first place?

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wlangford July 25, 2009 11:25 AM

I'm impressed by the particle system. With all those particles on screen at once, my system did not lag once. I guess it could be attributed to the fact that they were simple squares, but still. Collision detection on each of over 200 particles at once each frame sounds a bit intensive. VERY well done. (And I normally lag on particle stuff.)
It was a bit easy, but very enjoyable nonetheless.

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Vebyast July 25, 2009 2:07 PM

In general, I agree here with the arguments against always shooting in the direction you're moving. However, as always, there are special cases and exceptions, and I think that this is one of them.

First of all, flying by WASD _would_ _not_ _work_ in this game. The way the pixels move necessitates mouse control for the ship; doing it any other way would give neither the required speed nor the required precision. That leaves no really good way to aim smoothly.

Second, shooting is not a large part of this game. Agreed, the final boss may have been less strange if I could do anything other than just sit and shoot at him. But the rest of the game just doesn't require shooting. You fire once, to kick off the chain, then you go with it. A primary mechanic being clunky is inexcusable, but a tertiary mechanic? The rest of the game is good enough to make up for it.

A very nice game, in my opinion, even though it is a little on the easy side. And I really, really want to see this guy's particle engine.

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I ran into the same glitch as Night Stryke. It is rather interesting.

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Sorry about the double post, but it appears that if you pause the game after encountering the glitch, it thinks that you have won and you can't unpause it.

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I think y'all have played too many shmups. This game is NOT easy. I can never get the friggin' ship to fire the direction I want it to. I ended up with a strategy of flying around in crazy little circles, firing continuously. I also couldn't sustain chain reactions for more than a couple of enemies' worth.

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With a little practice Reka you'll get the hang of it. Mostly it's a matter of finding a place on the screen to sit for a few seconds then positioning your ship to fire.

The movement/firing function is kind of a mess though. You can't run away from an enemy and fire at him both.

The superlative ease of the game along with the glitches involved makes me wonder if it really rates a full write-up or maybe just a listing in LDF as has been mentioned before.

One approach I found amusing was after you get the 75k ship unlocked use it on the first screen and just circle around as best you can. The enemies trying to follow you will slowly spiral to the center and mass there. With patience you can get a bunch of 'em in there then with one blast you clear the screen and zoom to the final level.

Yeah, not a very tough game.

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For those asking for the soundtrack, Brian Hall sent me a link to it.

http://polyphonemusic.com/Pixel.wav

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Hey, i thought this game is awesome.

I feel special cause i finished the game with
HP : 18307783924
Combo x 788623
Final Score : 365169579

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