Pixel is one of the worst names ever for an XBLIG.  Worse than Brand.  Well, probably not worse than Dark.  It doesn’t really fit with the theme of the game, and doesn’t give you a feel for what to expect.  It’s so lazy and so uninspired that, as a consumer, it makes me question whether any effort was spent making the game itself.  I mean, they phoned in the name, so it stands to reason that the game was equally half-assed.  That’s not the case with Pixel.  Despite being an ungodly piece of shit due to really horrible play control and one game-killing glitch that I couldn’t get past, there was obviously some effort made here.

I’ll step away from my typical smart-assed attitude here and make a heartfelt plea to the Xbox Live Indie Game development community.  You guys already struggle so much to get attention.  Why shoot yourself in the foot right out of the starting blocks by not trying to come up with a memorable name for your game?  Pixel is such a prime example.  It’s a 3D dexterity-shooting puzzler.  I would associate a name like Pixel with 2D sprite-based stuff.  I guess Pixel gets it from the fact that there are blocks.  Okie dokie.  I still don’t understand the logic in it, but then again, XBLIGers seem to operate on a plane of existence where logic doesn’t dare tread.  This is evidenced by the fact that so many developers determined that the best way to get attention for their new XBLIG was to launch it alongside the Uprising, even though every major XBLIG writer was committed to covering the games in the promotion.  They might as well of launched their game on a platform that works exclusively in igloos for as much attention as they ended up getting.

It looks like one of those ink-and-paint cheat modes from Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, does it not?

I guess I went so far off topic because I don’t really have a lot to say about Pixel.  I made it seven levels in before I got fed up with it.  The idea is you walk around a sterile, blocky 3D environment trying to reach a goal.  Right off the bat, the biggest problem becomes apparent: the control sucks.  Everything is too loose, causing your character to scoot along like he’s been lubricated in bacon grease.  I tried fixing this by adjusting the control stick sensitivity, but it only half-worked.  Turning around became slower, but sideways movement was still set to Warp 9 and could not be fixed.  The jumping was also unresponsive, with a noticeable delay.  When you have a game centered around precision movement, having less than precise controls is a good way to turn me (or pretty much any reasonable gamer) off.

I’ve put up with worse, but the final straw for me was a pretty noticeable glitch.  On the 7th level, there are these platforms with a red stem poking out of them, not unlike a dog’s wiener.  You shoot the red part, and the white blocks rise up around the red part, allowing you to hop to the next platform.  As established, the controls are utter shit, so messing up is not only possible, but it’s probably expected.  When you fall off the stage, you just fall back onto it, with the idea being that you’ll have a slower stage time.  Something I filed under things I don’t give a shit about.  However, once I respawned, I hopped back to the first platform and shot the red thing.  At this point, without any movement, I fell off the platform and went back to the start.  Huh.  And then it happened again.  And again.  As it turns out, this is a glitch, and you have to exit out of the stage and try again.  But if you screw up at any point in the stage, the glitch will activate again and you’ll have to once again exit the stage and restart it.  Yea, fuck that, I’m done.

Pixel was developed by Ratchet Game Studio

80 Microsoft Points took a 3 day weekend in a land where Minecraft clones don’t exist in the making of this review. 

Other Pixel reviews: Clearance Bin Review (who also noted the glitch), and hopefully more to come.

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