Super Life of Pixel Review

Super Life of Pixel was acquired for free as part of the #IndieSelect initiative.
Ahh, the platformer, my absolute favourite gaming genre. A genre that almost disappeared when 3D games started to take over the industry. Fast forward to 2019 and we can rest easy knowing that the genre will be a staple of gaming forever. I would like to thank indie developers for sticking with the genre and delivering us old-school platformers, and platformers with a twist. Super Life of Pixel is a mix, giving us both the old-school, and an interesting twist. While the gameplay is rooted in the old-school, the twist sees Super Life of Pixel spanning the history of gaming. Let’s take a look at Super Life of Pixel and highlight the game's joys and cons.

A Basic Yet Fun Challenging Experience

Super Life of Pixel is a fairly basic gaming experience, but that isn’t always a bad thing. You control Pixel, a small green square that really only knows how to do one thing, jump. You’ll guide Pixel through each stage by jumping (and double jumping) from platform to platform, and over enemies and obstacles to reach the level’s exit. However, you’ll need to make sure you collect all of a level’s gems, otherwise the exit will stay closed. That’s virtually all there is to Super Life of Pixel. Well, there are some items thrown in to keep the gameplay fresh like a bomb that you can use to destroy walls, and a jetpack to cruise the skies. The game’s level design is quite challenging at times, but there’s an addictive quality that kept luring me back to try again.

While most levels are designed to be fair, there are some things that I need to address that almost ruined the game for me.

Almost Ruined by Leap and Learn Gameplay

Super Life of Pixel takes a trial and error approach with some of its level design, and it’s an exhausting and frustrating experience. There are times when you will have to, as I like to say, leap and learn. Sometimes you’ll take a leap of faith right into a pit of spikes, while other times you’ll end up landing in an area littered with enemies. You’ll almost never see it coming, until you realize that the developer likes to liberally sprinkle these moments throughout the game. You can press up and down on the d-pad to look up or down, but the moments I’m talking about are even hidden outside the camera’s range. Making these moments more frustrating is the fact that these leap and learn moments are often instant kills. Dying in general sends you back to the beginning of the level and you’ll lose every gem collected, forcing you to work your way back to the point of death. Even when you know what to avoid the next time around, if you actually remember, it’s highly likely that another leap and learn trap looms around the corner. Giving the player checkpoints would have completely made this a non-issue, because it helps balance the challenge and lower frustration.

A Gaming History Lesson

I hinted at the game’s big twist in the introduction, so I think it’s time to talk about Super Life of Pixel’s most appealing aspect. This game acts as a video game museum of sorts as there are levels based on a total of 19 gaming systems. Each system acts as a “world” and has 8 levels that are designed to mimic what gaming was like on that specific system. Every system also comes with a basic history lesson that often focuses mostly on its technical aspects.


You start with the ZX81, a gaming computer, and work your way through time and visit levels based on classic consoles such as the NES, and SNES. Each system has its own unique look, and for the most part, the graphics are fairly faithful. There did seem to be times when the look wasn’t 100% faithful, like the NES level using a larger palette, but was close enough to get the point across. There are also some tributes to familiar games to be seen. Aside from the visuals, the developer delivers a soundtrack that emulates the sound of these systems, as well. In fact, the soundtrack is actually quite decent. Overall, I love what the developer did with the presentation here and loved unlocking new systems to see what was up next.

Tons of Replay Value

Super Life of Pixel has a ton of replay value, and at 6 hours in, I still have more left to see. The main “game” takes about 3 hours to complete, but collecting and completing everything will take between 7 and 8 hours. The things you’ll be collecting are special gems, fruit, and special collection consoles. There are 72 special gems to find, 56 pieces of fruit, and 6 special collection consoles. Collecting all of the special gems will unlock the Sega Master System, while collecting all of the fruit will unlock the Sega Mega Drive. There are even more systems to explore if you collect all 6 of the special collection consoles. The special gems are usually located in challenging to reach areas, while the rest are cleverly hidden behind fake walls, floors, or teleportation pods. Thankfully, you will keep these collectibles if you die, so going for them isn’t a big nuisance, although finding them can be a bit of a pain.

Conclusion

Super Life of Pixel is actually quite a good indie title. I was able to clear most of this game with no trouble, but definitely had to exercise patience and perseverance during the more frustrating leap and learn moments. While I believe the game could be improved by adding checkpoints, I think the game is quite addictive and I kept coming back to overcome its challenges. As of this publication, I have only completed 91% of this game, but I’m still playing and will go for 100% completion. I can truly say that I enjoyed this journey through gaming history and think it was worth my time.

Final Score: +2

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