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A Pixel Story Review

February 20th, 2017 by

pixel 001Oh for the love of god, another 2D platform playing on the nostalgia for the golden age of 8/16-bit gaming.  I haven’t seen one of these for a while.

Is it wrong to say that I have never played any of the original Mario Brothers games?  It didn’t even play the Sonic  until much later.  I had an Amiga, not a console.  Conning my parents into letting me get one because; A). My Atari ST had rubbish sound (not as good as my mates Amiga) and B). I could use it for school work.  Ironically I actually did the latter, doing part of my Art A Level on Deluxe Paint believe or not.  I had Zool, Fire and Ice (the Christmas version I got free on a cover-disk on Amiga Power) James Pond, the Killing Game Show, Prince of Persia, Super Frog, Gods, and Flashback.  To be fair, as the console generations emerged, I didn’t play many more platformers, preferring first and third person shooters allowing me the ability to dispatch enemies with varying fatal blows to the head or balls in glorious 3D.

We reviewed this game back in 2015 when it was released on PC.  Now it makes its way onto the current gen of consoles so I will focus on my thoughts and what has improved since we last saw it.

In essence, you are the chosen one, born from a pong ball (?!) with a magic hat. Of course, makes perfect sense.  When I say magic hat, this is not the untold story of Paul Daniels rise to fame, nor is it a  tutorial on how a dirty old man managed to bed his young nubile assistant?  Nope. It’s a hat that when dropped allows you to teleport back to it.  It’s a nice mechanic but I have seen it in other games.

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This is your traditional 2D platformer.  Not a super fast one like Sonic, and not plumbing related like Mario.  You can do all the other normal things like jumping and collecting coins like a homeless person with a harmonica and a half starved, mangy dog.  You then use these coins to gain access to a series of challenge rooms scattered across the various levels.  Rooms of pain. To hard for me.  I didn’t bother.

It’s a game that moves through the generations.  Starts simple and bloody frustrating with annoying looping 8 bit music that could no doubt be used by the new Trump administration as an alternative to waterboarding suspected terrorists. Then gets prettier as it progresses and continues to be bloody hard.

Characters will explain what you have to do or what’s going on.   No fancy voice-overs here, just lots of text. Text that is as frequent as it is sometimes long. Not as bad as those 2D Japanese RPG’s that have around 30 minutes of text before the game even starts, but it could have done with having less of it.

The checkpoint system issue was previously highlighted in our original review, throwing you further back than where you wanted to be.  I had to quit out on my first game and when I booted it back out I was right at the start of the level.  It’s like when you turn off a game of Halo without remembering to “save and quit”. But more sadistic.  Then I discovered later that I could fast travel to check points.  This may have been explained to me in the 20 volumes encyclopedic in-game chat text but I had failed to notice as I clicked through it all to get on with things.  I would also experience the odd bug in-game that would prevent me from progressing.  One such issue is that I jumped onto a certain platform and just slide right off it leading to my demise.  Right, I thought, I’ll check the walk through on PC version on YouTube, I must be doing something wrong.  I wasn’t.  Booted the game back up, no issues, it had fixed itself.  I would expect that a port of an 18 month old game would have not only fixed some of the complaints of its previous version but certainly not created some new ones.  Hopefully this will be patched but be aware before buying.

There is not a great deal to add from our original review of the PC version. It appears as nothing has changed; the physics are still frustrating, the check-pointing is still a pain in the bottom and it now has some occasional annoying bugs.

pixel 002

When you look at the games published by Devolver Digital such as Broforce, Luftrausers,  or Hotline Miami, I can’t help but think those are retro games that pay their respects but are brought bang up to date.  They are slick, challenging and fun.  A Pixel Story design and playability are faithful to those of old retaining all the elements that made those old games so frustrating.  It’s often the mechanics themselves that let it down, not that fact that I am a bit rubbish.  When I played Super Meat Boy as another example, I knew that when I died it’s because I wasn’t good enough.  That was not the case with this one on occasion.  It is cute, it was strangely compulsive but the difficulty is sometimes disheartening.

My score this time around is a bit lower as I have less tolerance for being punished for not having reflexes of a Ninja who has just downed a load of Pro Plus with two pints of coffee with a dash of MDNA.

Midlife Gamer Rating: 6/10     Format:  PlayStation 4 / Xbox One      Release Date: 20th February 2017

Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a review copy of  A Pixel Story for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of  two days . For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.

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