Super Pixalo Review – Rage-tastic Platforming
Super Pixalo is a precision platformer developed by Phil Royer. The introduction to this game is something I’ve thought about for a while, but the best way to introduce it is to compare it to titles like Super Meat Boy and Fenix Rage, though it’s so much simpler, both graphically and control-wise, that that’s not even fair, because (at least to me), Super Pixalo is more challenging. It’s the first game in a while that’s made me throw up my hands in frustration and actually curse out loud, and that’s saying something. Having said that, I felt compelled to get as far as I could (which, admittedly wasn’t far), because I just had to know what horrors lay ahead. This is not a criticism – finishing levels was satisfying, and despite what some might call a not-very-polished product, Super Pixalo, just released for Kindle Fire HD, is a fairly strong title for passing the time, at the very least.
Graphically, it’s not a ground-breaking game. The main character is a doofy little square with a smile on his face, who flips around when he jumps, and slides when he lands. The scenery varies, but it’s extremely easy to tell the differences between bad things (like entire walls made of what I assume to be lasers) and safe platforms (they change color depending on the level set, but they’re distinguished enough from traps to be clear). The only time you see the main character (whom you name after yourself for leaderboard posting) change color is when he hits a danger zone, and then he not only turns red, but he displays a striking frown (at least in comparison to his normal expression). The bright colors are a little bothersome (as I’ve mentioned, I have issues with that sort of thing, so your mileage may vary), and even if I was able to pass the later levels, I couldn’t have looked at the game much longer, so be sure to watch out for that if you have light sensitivities. A dimmer option would be nice, or a setting to dull the colors for those who can’t look at bright things for very long.
The music is a sticking point, for me. It’s a high-pitched, arcade-style soundtrack that burns itself into your brain as much as the graphics do into your retinas. I finally had to turn the game sound off and start playing my own music, but again, you may feel differently. The steady sound may cause some people to be able to focus on the movement in the game. Others may simply ignore it. I had to quit it not because it was annoying, but because it was legitimately giving me a headache. Changing the music to something different didn’t change my playing experience – the sound, aside from a verbal confirmation when collectibles are reached (the gray pile that looks like gunpowder in the image above), didn’t impact gameplay. The death sound kind of gets lost in the background music, and the graphic confirmation of death is more than enough for me.
Playing a game with only the arrow keys and space bar is a challenge for me. I’m used to WASD movement, with my left hand taking care of all movement while my right hand deals with finer functions like shooting, digging, or whatever the game I’m playing requires. Trying to control one aspect of movement with my left hand while another with my right was hard for me to get used to, honestly. I spent so long in the tutorial level that it’s a little bit embarrassing, but once I got used to the movement style, it was easier to focus on the challenges the game posed, rather than those caused by player error. Having said that, the main character of Super Pixalo is the sliding-est little square I’ve encountered in a game since Thomas Was Alone, and I at least got to use my controller, then. If you don’t have the patience to try to be precise with landings, this is not the game for you. I see this being wonderful streaming fodder, however, much in the same way others have latched onto Super Meat Boy and other games with super-hard difficulty (like the Dark Souls series and even Quarries of Scred).
The bottom line is that despite its simple appearance, minimal controls, and minimal presence, Super Pixalo will more than pay for itself in the time spent, for many people. If you’re a fan of rage games (you know the ones I mean), then you can pick up Super Pixalo for $4.99 on itch.io (for Windows, Mac, and Linux), for Kindle Fire HD for a special introductory price of $3.99, or you can push it to your OUYA. If you like it, and want it included with the other games in your Steam collection, you can vote for it on Greenlight. Check out more about the game on Facebook, or follow the developer on Twitter.