GAME NAME: Life of Pixel
DEVELOPER(S): Super Icon Limited
PUBLISHER(S): Super Icon Limited
PLATFORM(S): Nintendo Wii U
RELEASE DATE(S): June 18th, 2015
I know, I know, I need help for being a huge retro gaming junkie. I prefer retro style indie games over the huge mega blockbuster AAA titles most of the time and in fact the reason I will be purchasing an Xbox One later this year (or early next) is because of the awesome title Cuphead. Super Icon Limited has done a wonderful job of getting the retro juices flowing right from the get go with Life of Pixel and has left me wondering why I hadn’t heard of this game until now.
There isn’t a Hollywood type story here in Life of Pixel but instead one that hits right at home with gamers around my age or older. You star as Pixel and you work your way through the museum of video game systems such as the Amiga, SNES, Mega Drive, Commodore 64, Apple II, Game Boy, NES, Atari 2600, ZX Spectrum and Master System. Most if not all of the 8-bit and 16-bit consoles are accounted for as well as their unique gameplay and graphical elements. This was such a great idea for lovers of retro gaming that it’s hard to not look forward to reaching the next system if you play in the order the game presents the systems.
Each system will give you a background on the specs and such from the real life system before you jump into the gameplay. The older systems such as the Atari 2600 and the ZX Spectrum feature more simplistic levels but as you graduate to each newer system after the eight levels, the game becomes more complex with more hidden secrets and more nostalgia thrown in as nods to series such as Mega Man, Castlevania and Metroid just to name a few.
The gameplay is pretty simple, just use your platforming skills to collect the levels “coins” and then try to get the secret collectible and/or secret item such as fruit and then reach the exit. Collecting the secrets will unlock more consoles for you to try your hand at completing later on. This isn’t a game of fighting though, so you will need to mainly rely on your platforming skills to maneuver around enemies until the later consoles where you get vehicles and power-ups to help aid you. The earlier levels are super simplistic, keeping the action to just one screen. Later levels though will have you exploring a vast level in search for your collectibles.
There are online leaderboards for level completion times for all of you speed runners as well as 24 achievements to be unlocked. Some of the achievements range from collecting fruits and secrets to dying an absurd amount of times, which believe me you will. I did run into one issue while playing that I hope will be addressed in a future patch. If you play the game off screen (which is mostly what I do anymore being that my daughter has commandeered my TV to watch nothing but Jake and the NeverLand Pirates) there is no sound or music sent to the GamePad. This is pretty awful too considering how great the chiptune sound track is from artists such as Eric Shumaker, Gavin Harrison, Rob Lynch, Ashton Morris and more.
Graphically the game tries to hold true to each of the consoles graphics that it tries to emulate only with a much higher fidelity. There are effects that you can add via the settings menu to try to get the experience to be more in line with the old crap tube TVs and console connections that we use to have but I’m not sure why you’d want to do that when you have glorious HD now. I’ll take the Atari “in HD” look any day over the actual look.
There’s not to much to find wrong with Life of Pixel. The game accomplishes what it was meant to do from the get go and that is to take you a retro journey down memory lane. Aside from the audio issue in off-screen mode this game has a lot to offer fans of retro platforming goodness. There are plenty of nostalgic Easter eggs abound as well which never seem to stop bring a smile to my face when I notice them. If you are a fan of the classic era of gaming, stop what you are doing, visit Nintendo’s eShop and download Life of Pixel.