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    A Pixel Story: Review

    It’s pretty safe to say that PC indie gaming is currently in the grip of a serious nostalgia boom, with every second game released seeming to opt for 8 or 16 bit graphics, old fashioned platforming mechanics or something of the like. A Pixel Story stands out from the pack of nostalgia based games not so much for being original but for the sheer scope of the nostalgia packed into the 2D platformer. Rather than paying spiritual tribute to one game or style, A Pixel Story instead mines everything for reference, and a keen eyed observes can spot nods towards hundreds of games and movies if they’re paying attention.

    Players take the role of the Pong pixel, anthropomorphized into a Rayman like sprite. It is the “Chosen One” destined to defend the system against the “Operator” and other things inspired by TRON. To defeat the Operator, the Chosen One must make its way through the four ages of gaming, starting as a simple sprite and working its way up to the shiny modern age. In addition to the ability to jump, the Chosen One has another tool at its disposal a very Mario-esque red hat with magical teleporting powers. The hat can be dropped anywhere in a level and the Chosen One can teleport to its location at the touch of a button. This location transfer ability is essential for solving the many rather fiendish puzzles that make up the core challenge of the game.
    A keen eyed observes canspot nods towards hundreds of games and movies
    Working out how exactly to combine the hat with regular platforming is simultaneously thrilling and hugely frustrating, as many puzzles not only require hugely precise movement but split second timing as well. Simple puzzles might see the player having to leave the hat at the highest point of a moving
    platform so they can then teleport to a platform above it when it drops low enough that the hat sits above it, but later puzzles see the hat being used as a quick way of getting between switches that need to be activated near simultaneously and even then only give a few seconds to complete the task at hand. It’s these later puzzles that serve as a frustration rather than making the game more mechanically complex as the stages and thematic ages of gaming progress thee puzzles simply get harder, and not necessarily in a good way. Adding more variables to a puzzle is good, but simply making the timing more precise just renders it annoying.

    Frustrations aside, there’s still a lot to like about A Pixel Story. The sheer weight of the nostalgia mined for reference is all but guaranteed to unearth fond memories in anyone who has played a game in the last 30 years, and the numerous characters met throughout the game are well written and often quite funny. It’s a pity that after the discovery of the hat there isn’t really anything new added in the rest of the game if there had been, A Pixel Story could have been genuinely great instead of just being good.


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