starfoxa's Arkedo Series - 03 PIXEL! (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

Higher quality than some full-priced games

In a time where high-budget blockbuster video games thrive, Arkedo Series - 03 PIXEL! is a breath of fresh air. Pixel comes from French developer Arkedo Studio, the team responsible for Big Bang Mini and Nervous Brickdown. Designed by a team of two people, the care that they put into this gem is evident. From the sublime music to the soft glow of the faux-retro graphical style, Pixel is well-designed game through and through. 

 The soft glow of Pixel's faux-retro style give the game an incredible look

The first aspect of Pixel I would like to cover are the faux-retro 8-bit graphics that is a key part of Pixel (and actually factor into the gameplay). Like Arkedo's other Indie Game presentations ( Arkedo Series - 01 JUMP! and Arkedo Series - 02 SWAP!, both of which I highly recommend), Pixel is stylized with a soft glow of the pixels. I only have minor complaints with this style. The hit detection can be slightly off at times, with Pixel hitting enemies where you wouldn't expect or vice versa. Often, it's not a big deal, but it has a tendency to throw you off. 

Pixel plays like many other classic platforming games that we have come to know and love over the years, and it is this simplicity that makes up a large part of Pixel's charm. The game stars Pixel the Cat, who must travel through six levels to meet up with his lost friends. Throughout these six levels, Pixel can jump onto enemies, accumulating a more powerful "meow" attack, which decimates all enemies in the immediate vicinity. This simple combat is more of an afterthought than Pixel's more interesting concepts, but it plays out well enough.

The main draw of Pixel's unique gameplay are sequences where the player can actually zoom in to individual pixels on the level. Triggered by holding down the left trigger and scanning for areas that can be zoomed in on, these pixels are small, timed mazes that must be completed quickly in order to complete the puzzle (for example, zooming in on a tree allows the player to chop it down, forming a new path). While this is an excellent idea, these sequences tend to be a little bit more repetitive. With a little bit of variety, these sequences could have been executed much better.

Although the game does lack a variety unique puzzles, it more than compensates with excellent platforming portions. Largely linear, the player explores six different levels with varying themes and degrees of difficulty. Thankfully, the game has incredibly tight control, making it easy to time your jumps correctly, resulting in an almost nonexistent amount of "cheap deaths." 

 The responsive controls result in a nonexistent amount of cheap deaths

From the blithe "la la las" of the first stage's theme, to the faster beats of later levels, Pixel's soundtrack is absolutely fantastic. Again factoring into the game's overall presentation and style, the music fits the game almost perfectly. In fact, the aforementioned music from the first stage is one of my favorite songs I have ever heard in a video game, due to its incredibly catchy and simplistic nature. My only complaint about the music is that Arkedo has not made the soundtrack widely available online. 

Priced at only $3.00 (or 240 Microsoft space money) on the Xbox Live Marketplace, Pixel's simplistic charm, refined gameplay, and excellent soundtrack more than make up for its lack of stages (at only six stages, the game is rather short), among other minor complaints. This game is truly one of the best games on the Indie Games Marketplace, and I, for one, would have been willing to buy this as a full priced Arcade game.  
30 Comments Refresh
Posted by Turbo_Toaster

I LOVE this game. Haven't finished it but maaaaan.

Posted by Cwaff

After seeing this I tried the Free Trial, it does seem rather awesome. I think I'll be purchasing the full thing before long! Thanks for the awesome review!

Posted by Peanut

Arkedo seems to do some great stuff. I didn't like SWAP! so much, just because I'm not into puzzle games, but but JUMP is also really awesome. I would have loved to see either game be released as a full XBLA title, their quality is way too good to be stuck in the Indie section where few will ever play it.

Posted by Bollard

$3.00... so 300 MS points? Damnnn, why do I only have 180...

Posted by StarFoxA
@Chavtheworld said:
" $3.00... so 300 MS points? Damnnn, why do I only have 180... "
$3.00 is 260 MS points.
Posted by Bollard
@StarFoxA: Ah okay, thank you, I'm from the UK so didn't know how it converts.
Posted by StarFoxA
@Chavtheworld: Oh wait, my bad. It's 240 points.
Posted by RaisingIndiana

$3.00 is actually 240 MS points. 1$ = 80 points. 80 points multiplied by three ($3) is 240.

Posted by Bollard
@StarFoxA: Coolcool thanks, I'll check my balance again to see if I have enough (fingers crossed).
Posted by StarFoxA
@RaisingIndiana said:
" $3.00 is actually 240 MS points. 1$ = 80 points. 80 points multiplied by three ($3) is 240. "
Yeah, I don't know why I said 260.
Posted by DanielJW

Nice review. Game looks beautiful.

Posted by Sweep

Ima hit this game as I really enjoyed Jump! However your review seems a little contradictory at points. For example:

"Sometimes, the hit detection can be a little off, making it difficult in later levels to time jumps correctly (as it can be unsure whether or not your jump will actually hit an enemy).  "

"the game has incredibly tight control, making it easy to time your jumps correctly, resulting in an almost nonexistent amount of "cheap deaths." "

So you are saying the controls are tight but it's hard to tell if Pixel is actually going to hit his target? Surely if the collision detection is shifty then timing the jumps is harder despite the controls being good?
Edited by StarFoxA
@Sweep: I think the wording on the first part overblows it a little. It is much more minor than that wording makes it sound. I'll edit it to make it sound better, thanks.

The hit detection can be slightly off at times, with Pixel hitting enemies where you wouldn't expect or vice versa. This is very minor, although it leaves you unsure whether your jump will hit enemies, at times.

That sound a little better?
Posted by Sweep

Sounds good :D I will have to actually play the game before I can confirm whether it's accurate or not ;)

Posted by triple07

This sounds cool I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the review.

Posted by Tebbit

Come onnnnnnnn PSN release GO! This game sounds awesome.

Posted by StarFoxA
@Tebbit: I doubt it. Arkedo has only released their "Arkedo Series" on the Xbox Live Indie Games.
Posted by Xeiphyer

This was a great game, I picked it up a few weeks ago. I was a little scared of the pricetag.. 240 Space dubloons is a lot to spend on an indie game that could be crappy or broken, but it turned out to be a great investment.

Posted by DrRandle

Jump was super awesome. I need to finish collecting these games. Arkedo has quickly become one of my favorite developers in the last year. Big Bang Mini is amazing... 
Great review!

Edited by syzygyeolith

Why is it I can't find this (or any reviewed indie games for that matter) on XBLA on my xbox? Or even on the Xbox Marketplace website? 
I'm sure that theres something obvious that I'm missing here, but no one has ever explained this to me >:/ 
Edit: In case it matters, I live in Australia.. is it something to do with that?

Posted by syzygyeolith

Ah Ok, to answer my own question, I went to the US xbox site, and found it there. I tried to buy it from the website to download to my xbox when I turn it on next, and I got a message saying 'this offer is not valid for your region, or it has expired'.  
Whats the point of xbox mickey mouse money when you can't spend it in 'international' stores?

Posted by atomhawk

Grabbed this, really love the look of it. Saying that, there's some bits to the main game which are a bit lacking - in that there's too many leaps of faith and unfair checkpoints. Besides that, looks lovely.

Posted by StarFoxA
@atomhawk: The leaps of faith didn't seem too bad to me due to the responsive controls, and the fact that it typically gives you enough time to react. I'm not sure what you mean by unfair checkpoints, though. Too far apart? I didn't really think so.
Posted by CptBedlam

Very good review and fitting score.
I played Pixel! about a month ago and I enjoyed every minute. Great value für 3$.

Posted by Slimstar
Posted by Symphony

Great review for an awesome game. I played the demo, loved it, bought it, and sold 4 or 5 other people on it that night XD

Posted by JerkFace

It's really great.  The production values are really impressive for an Indie Game.

Posted by Metroid545

idk what you mean by the hit detection being off I never noticed an issue with it, yeah the puzzles were sorta tedious but there were few of them and they were over quickly at least

Posted by wolf_blitzer85

Here's hoping to a steam release.

Edited by Mington

I found it by looking in 'top rated indie games' it was third in the list, i'm in the UK
really top quailty for an indie game, i loved all the sound effects :P

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