There are literally hundreds of thousands of games in the world now and it’s getting progressively harder to make yourself stand out in the crowd. Unless you’re an established franchise, indie titles are getting a rougher time than ever before. Of course, the access to systems to develop on is better than it has ever been, with Xbox Live Arcade, Android and iOS systems now being open to one-man bands, but with this same blessing comes a curse – the plague of being drowned by a million other games.
So to find a game that’s actually worth playing in the hundreds of Tetris and space invaders clones and the latest killing Zombies title is a rare treat and to be developed by a one-man band is an achievement and this is something that Daniel Truong over at Damni Games has managed to accomplish.
At first glance, Pixel Blocked! screams lawsuit. There are a lot of sprites and artwork that are clearly a homage to other established games, such as stars from Mario, hearts from Zelda and many other types of sprite from various 2D games over the years. However, the more the title is played, the more it becomes clear that these aren’t just straight rips from legacy games.
After the first shock of such familiar, yet different, sprites, too actually start the game is very easy. With just a few taps of the button, you are quickly flicking shapes in circles and firing blocks into predetermined places. Yes, Pixel Blocked! has a very simple gameplay premise – fill in the gaps. It sounds easy at first and throughout the 180 levels, it gets gradually more complicated with the shapes that need completing containing blocks already, some that are magnetic, some toxic and some that just crumble after one touch. In case you make a mistake, there are up to three chances per level to destroy any block that already existed, or shot in the wrong place.
For the uncompetitive, this would be the end of Pixel Blocked! and for those who aren’t, it’s a real shame as Pixel Blocked! comes with a three star rating system. For each level there are a number of prerequisites that need to be completed in order to get a star rating. Easily the most challenging prerequisite that needs to be completed is the Time, which at times seems impossibly fast and will have you throwing the controller to the other side of the sofa and then grabbing it again to try to complete the level.
The game in itself is very clean cut, with basic recurring music and a very bright and colourful interface. It’s simple and enjoyable to navigate through and at no point can the player get lost in a sea of menus, sub menus and even more stats and the like. The only downfall would be the lack of Achievements available whilst playing the game – after all, everyone likes bragging rights.
The game itself looks and feels like it’s the sort of game you’d find on the iPhone or Android, but wish it wasn’t as with some games, you just need a controller.
Ultimately, Pixel Blocked! is a must have for any gamer who likes puzzle games, if it was touched up a little bit and given a lovely, expensive budget it would be easy to consider it the Chime for Xbox Live.