"MORE BLUE" : Arkedo/Pastagames' answer to Avatar.
Pastagames knows it has a hit with Pixel the Cat, already with two games to his credit: Pix'n Love Rush for the iOS platform and this, Arkedo Series - 03 Pixel!, another stunning modern take on retro out of Developer Arkedo. Every platformer needs its hero, and Arkedo's latest packs far more charm in his little monochrome body than Jumpman, Arkedo's first platform jumper, could ever hope to muster. What the world of Pixel! lacks in color and purposely low resolution it makes up for in charm along with the humor fans have come to expect from the Developer.
Pixel! gives players six large levels (Grassland, Caves, Big Tree, Sky, Space, and City) to explore. Given the pixelated nature of the game worlds, the themes only extend as far as the background artwork, layout of the blocks, and enemy types. For the most part each world has its own unique enemies to contend with from the ducks in the aptly named Cave of Ducks to the space aliens of Space, and the levels do their best to invoke the themes with tall platforming ascents in Big Tree to the death defying bottomless pits of Sky.
Each level is also home to three "useless relics," worthless items which can be unearthed by finding the location of a well hidden block and zooming in to locate the treasure. At any point during the game, the player can hold down the left trigger to bring up a magnifying glass to dive into the pixels of certain blocks and objects, bringing up a maze of blocks which must be traversed in order to obtain the reward. For the useless relics the reward is the useless item itself, but these mazes are also key to restoring Pixel's health among other uses. Many of the mazes Pixel encounters are timed, and an unsuccessful run will damage him just as an enemy would, adding another layer of challenge to the game.
Beyond the maze element, Pixel! is a rather simply constructed platformer. Pixel himself dispatches most of his enemies with the old standard leaping on their head, but he's also equipped with a meow attack when jumping on top of them is not an option. The meow is rarely used as he needs to successfully squash five enemies without taking damage himself to power up one meow blast; in practice, it's better to just avoid such enemies when they're encountered. In addition, Pixel can run, scale ladders, and slide around on ice blocks. It's basic platforming at its finest, and it suits the game like a glove. The challenge comes from the game's level design, and though it can get pretty tough as the player nears the end, unlimited lives and checkpoints help ease potential frustration.
Arkedo Series - 03 Pixel! is a wonderful game, feeling like some undiscovered original GameBoy gem. Pixel the Cat is such a interesting character full of personality and with a lovable, goofy appearance which is immediately endearing. The level of polish on display here is astounding -- it is the sort of game which will have people saying it's too good to be buried away on Xbox Indies. Aside from the potential disappointment in seeing that the "reward" for collecting all of the useless relics adds nothing to the game -- no bonus stage to unlock here as was in Arkedo's first effort -- spending time with Pixel the Cat is thoroughly a joy not to be missed.