Life of Pixel is a retro platformer developed by Super Icon for PlayStation Mobile. It follows a living pixel on a journey through gaming hardware of the past, visiting levels based on 8- and 16-bit computer games. Each world, represented by a particular platform, consists of 8 levels; to exit the level Pixel must collect all the gems in that level and then proceed to an exit door.
Most levels have obstacles, ranging from moving spikes, bottomless chasms, temporary blocks and water to more complex enemies that move around randomly or shoot at the player. Pixel has limited health, and can survive only one encounter with moving enemies, and will die instantly on contact with static obstacles; levels have no checkpoints and must be replayed from the beginning each time, but can generally be completed in a few minutes or less.
Levels often contain 'secrets' - levels in 8-bit worlds each contain a special collectible (usually visible, but difficult to reach) that unlock another computer when all are collected, and unlocking the final 8 levels require collecting another 50 extra-hidden items. Levels also occasionally include other items such as vehicles or jetpacks, or potions that allow Pixel to kill moving enemies by jumping on them.
Platforms, and the individual levels within them, are unlocked by completing the previous one, but can be replayed freely afterwards. Levels are timed with optional online leaderboards, and the game tracks several other statistics such as time airborne, number of jumps, and deaths.
The game also features an appropriate soundtrack for each world, created with the (sometimes emulated) sound technology of that computer.
Computer systems selected tend towards those common in the UK, such as the BBC Micro, and cover the period from 1977 to 1990 not entirely chronologically. The final three systems are shown only as question marks in-game until their requirement is complete. When a level is first loaded, an appropriate sound is played (such as tape-loading noise or startup tune).
"Retro" Gameplay Design
Level appearance is heavily based on the 'original' computer's abilities, and are often themed to match particular games released for that computer or era (albeit in a side-scrolling platformer format). For instance, the earliest playable levels are entirely in black and white and are only as large as the screen, but later levels eventually reach full-colour - with the exception of the Game Boy, which returns to a green-tinted monochrome - and progress from scrolling between segments to limited one-directional scrolling to full movement with background parallax.
To a limited extent, enemies are also linked to the various eras, with more complex enemies (such as a small tank that fires projectiles) introduced after a flying bat/ghost, in turn introduced after an octopus-like creature that moves only sideways with no reaction to the player.
On the other hand, gameplay itself is generally the same throughout the worlds. For instance, Pixel is capable of double-jumping from the very beginning, enemies behave the same whenever they appear, and levels are designed to fit a widescreen aspect ratio.