Life of Pixel takes you on a nostalgia fuelled trip through the early era of video games. Playing as a fed-up green pixel – named, er, Pixel – you venture through worlds based upon the Atari 2600, Sinclair Spectrum, BBC Micro, Amstrad CPC464, Commodore 64, Game Boy, NES, and more.
Like the classic platformers that it's based upon, this is a mighty challenging game. Each of the levels task you with collecting ten diamonds in order to open an exit door, with an additional collectible also obscured within the world for the insane, lucky, or masochistic to snatch. Catchy tunes accompany the pixel art aesthetic, matching each machine's signature visual design, while highly responsive controls allow you to quickly move, jump, and double jump over hazardous objects such as retracting spikes, enemies, and gaming's classic nemesis, water.
Initially, it's a challenging but extremely enjoyable platformer. The visual style does a splendid job of taking you back in time, while deaths aren't particularly problematic due to instantaneous restarts. Gravity buttons – which turn the game world on its head – increase the complexity of stages, though they can lead to occasions where you get trapped. Fortunately, a quick tap of the touch screen restarts the level.
However, despite the implementation of a patch, cheap deaths are still a problem in the latest version of the game. Due to poor camera placement, you'll often find yourself leaping onto enemies that weren't visible when you made the jump. While the issue doesn't occur often, it's mightily irritating when it does.
Furthermore, the game is very basic. There are no leaderboards or stat tracking screens, making the experience extremely threadbare. It could have benefitted from a little extra polish to really push it into 'must have' territory.
Life of Pixel is a likeable precision platformer with a fantastic visual style. Its gameplay is hampered by occasional areas of poor design, and the lack of leaderboards is a particularly prominent oversight, but if you're looking for a charming, challenging, and cheap title, then this is a solid choice.