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Review

Review: Pix 'N Love Rush

Retro-trip.

Back when developers didn’t have shaders, motion blur and other technical tricks to wow their user-base, the key to a game’s success came down to whether or not its gameplay could get under your skin. Super Mario Bros., Space Invaders, Bubble Bobble, the knack was to somehow infuse addictive qualities in what, ostensibly at least, looked fairly rudimentary. Boil Mario down (Take a breath, Dan – Ed) and the coin collecting system along with bopping turtles on the head is all well and good. However, add in the tight level design and infectious, challenging gameplay and the result is a game that changed the medium’s landscape forever.

Pix ‘N Love Rush is a patent homage to this golden platforming era, a game that takes retro pastiche to a whole new neon-saturated level, evident in its kitsch, garish LCD-inspired visuals, 8-bit fuelled staccato soundtrack and beguiling platforming style. Beguiling, for though Pix ‘N Love Rush appears spartan by way of basic gaming architecture, its high-score topping driving force and ease of use is enough to entice most gamers back for one more acid-trip down memory lane.


Bats are not your friends. Ever.
It’s a varicoloured and intentionally pixelated affair, with the horned character charged with bouncing around variegated screens collecting as many “+” icons as possible. There are negative collectables too, and as is the case with most things in game-life, punishment is more severe than reward – hitting the “bad” pick-ups lowering your score twice as much as a singular positive item. Enemies also feature, depleting your life force and generally stymieing the player’s progress along the way. They can be shot, while angels also manifest who require your benefaction from the dreaded “purple bats.”

It’s starkly simple in execution, the dynamics of the game’s different modes quickly absorbed within seconds as if by osmosis. The charming aspect of Pix ‘N Love Rush, however, is its ever-changing level design and delivery. Some levels are of the more traditional left to right scrolling manner, while others sees the pixel persona scale up platforms from bottom to top, collectables sometimes stationary while other times moving about the screen. Levels are also exceedingly transient, the player barely having time to figure out where the necessary trinkets are before a milestone is reached and the setting morphs into a new area.

Pix ‘N Love Rush ships with a number of modes. The five minute classic rush is exactly that: a time-based “how much can you rattle up before the clock runs out” assault across visually shifting often duotone environments. Players are unlikely to see the game’s 125 areas via this mode, though, something reserved only for those with a little more time on their hands who choose to tackle the unlimited rush mode.


Uncle Joe's acid flashbacks came on at the worst times.
Variations on a theme, Cursed Rush requires players to stay above ground, a feat easier said than done as platforms crumble beneath the electric mite at varying intervals, while the On-Off Rush mode asks players to pick up suns or moons depending on whether the level is set during the day or night.

Simple to describe, easy to play, unfortunately Pix ‘N Love Rush doesn’t quite live up to the games it so blatantly extols. It’s a little too stark, an ascetic aesthetic (say that three times real fast) to the point where the designers have perhaps stripped things down so much that they’ve gone past retro and into some sort of primordial proto period of gaming that even the medium’s Ancients will find hard-pressed to recall (or, more likely, exalt). Honouring gaming’s history is an exemplary endeavour. Paring things down to a base element that is perhaps a tad too simplistic, however, appears almost masochistic.

Pros:

  • Retro style is deliciously nostalgic.
  • Soundtrack is head-boppingly good.
  • Easy to pick up, not always easy to put down.

Cons:

  • Niche to say the least. Some will simply not “get it.”
  • Can be a little easy when levels’ mechanics becomes apparent.
  • More modes would be nice.
  • People on the bus will think you’re on drugs, old or old and on drugs.

A port from the ubiquitous iOS version, the quick-fire gameplay and simple controls of Pix ‘N Love Rush lends itself to brief flashes of gratification. Despite its clever design and (too) authentic presentation, Pix ‘N Love Rush rarely exceeds in being more than an immediate distraction; essentially something to pass five minutes before the train arrives. It’s not that it’s shallow or totally without complexity, it’s just targeted at people who don’t have time to invest hours of their day into game progression. This is the paragon of pick up, play and progress on to something else gaming.

Info:
  • Retro with a capital ZX.
  • Free for PlayStation Plus subscribers.
  • Warning: psychotropic. May cause munchies.
It’s cute, simple, and even proffers a challenging element for those who want to reach toward the heady heights of some seriously prodigious high-scoring. On the PS3 it’s like staring into the mind of a demented wizard and is not recommended. The PSP version, however, dishes up some retro-themed enjoyment on the go.

It’s not rocket surgery by any means, but there’s enough LSD inspired mind-melting on show to make it at least worth a look. If you want to know what your Dad played back when he was half your age, Pix ‘N Love Rush might as well have come straight out of a time-capsule, a pair of tattered MC Hammer baggy trousers – their reflective sheen excusably now dulled – attached, poignantly fluttering in a futuristic breeze.

Score: 7/10

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17 Comments
  1. nofi
    One for all.
    Since: Forever

    Totally love this game. Looks ace on the Go but is also one of the best Minis on a PS3 TV.

    Comment posted on 20/03/2011 at 17:17.
  2. hannes_truce
    Member
    Since: Sep 2008

    Stupidly addicted to this. Brill little game and at a great price!

    Comment posted on 20/03/2011 at 18:26.
  3. Death_In_Flamez
    Member
    Since: Feb 2011

    Got this for free from PS+. Never like the idea of minis in general and this is by far the most boring I have played

    Comment posted on 20/03/2011 at 19:23.
    • nofi
      One for all.
      Since: Forever

      Really?

      Comment posted on 20/03/2011 at 19:40.
      • Death_In_Flamez
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        Yeh, I found Enigmo much more fun and the other two I have (Aero Racer and D-Cube Planet) were both the same case. I guess you could say I’m not much of a retro fan.

        Comment posted on 20/03/2011 at 19:43.
      • Kovacs
        Member
        Since: Dec 2009

        Absolutely. This was a difficult game for me to score as I am actually not a massive retro fan, though I know there are legions of people who are.

        Pix ‘N Love Rush actually has a rabid fan-base of people who adore it. I wasn’t bowled over and I had to rate it based on my own experience, which is what any reviewer can only do.

        Comment posted on 20/03/2011 at 20:16.
  4. moshi
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    I loved the style of the game but once I got the jist of what to do I got bored very quickly, felt like it needed more of a goal to aim towards. Even forgot I had on my list of downloads.

    Comment posted on 20/03/2011 at 19:40.
    • aerobes
      Member
      Since: Aug 2009

      Aye. I’ve experienced a fair bit through + and this is one I will actually pay for. :)

      Comment posted on 20/03/2011 at 19:56.
    • Kovacs
      Member
      Since: Dec 2009

      Aye, as I mentioned above:

      “Can be a little easy when levels’ mechanics becomes apparent.”

      It’s a little bit too transparent. A pleasant game that should be checked out, but it’s like getting a look behind the wizard’s curtain. Once you figure out its idiosyncrasies, it does lose some of its appeal.

      Comment posted on 20/03/2011 at 20:13.
      • moshi
        Member
        Since: Jun 2009

        Finely put Kovacs

        Comment posted on 20/03/2011 at 21:53.
      • nofi
        One for all.
        Since: Forever

        “Once you figure out its idiosyncrasies, it does lose some of its appeal.”

        I don’t agree, that’s entirely the point of the game – you expect what’s coming and that’s where the score challenges come from – keeping within the maximum multiplier.

        Pix’s gameplay variants (all based off old retro classics, or at least bits of them) rotate randomly keeping it all fresh, but are standardised enough so that when you see them you’re ready and in the zone.

        I think it’s brilliant, and much better on PSP/PS3 than iPhone.

        Comment posted on 20/03/2011 at 22:17.
      • Kovacs
        Member
        Since: Dec 2009

        I guess I’m just not attracted to high-scoring. Never have been.

        Comment posted on 21/03/2011 at 00:24.
  5. Smallville2106
    Member
    Since: Feb 2011

    I really like this game. Not tried it on PSN but have it on iPhone and love it.

    Comment posted on 20/03/2011 at 21:29.
  6. Mundham
    Member
    Since: Feb 2011

    The last paragraph of the review may be the greatest of all time… :-)

    Comment posted on 20/03/2011 at 22:44.
  7. gaffers101
    Member
    Since: Oct 2008

    “If you want to know what your Dad played back when he was half your age, Pix ‘N Love Rush might as well have come straight out of a time-capsule”
    I think that line may be direct at me. lol
    Great review!!

    Comment posted on 20/03/2011 at 22:50.
  8. colmshan1990
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    You may think staring into the mind of a demented wizard is a bad thing, but I know what I’m playing tomorrow! :P

    Comment posted on 20/03/2011 at 23:18.
  9. Kovacs
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    I have a spare (US) code by the way. First person to mail me (lee@thesixthaxis.com) with their favourite wizard and why gets it.

    Comment posted on 21/03/2011 at 00:27.

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