The year 2014 is almost behind us now. I'd expect someone else would be making a Nitrome reflection post at some point, so I decided instead to focus on looking back at the year in Pixel Love features.
2014 was a pretty good year for Pixel Love, with some great games and a new website Nitrome launched to host them all. Games could also include ones built in Unity and HTML5 and not just Flash. So here's a huge post that takes a quick look at all the Pixel Love games put up by Nitrome in the year 2014.
There is one more Monday until the new year, and Nitrome might feature another Pixel Love, but I will be on vacation during New Year's and will be unable to submit any blog posts, which is why I'm launching this early.
Bear in mind a lot of these ended up being written on Christmas day, and as a result, I think I made a ton of typos and may have not delved into some games as much as others. Well, are you ready?
To start off the 2014 Pixel Love year, Nitrome featured the second release from Askiisoft, Pause Ahead. Similar in structure to their first game Tower of Heaven, Pause Ahead focuses on a prisoner/test subject? sort of wolf-like creature with the intent to escape the place it feels trapped in. A few levels in and the narration shifts to that of an antagonist who questions the authority of control over the protagonist.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE the music in this game a ton. The mechanic is very neat too. The boss battle is what killed the game for me at the end, but overall it's a good second release for Askiisoft.
Loot Hero is a side scrolling RPG. The main character is a warrior, and like Slayin, has to defend his town from a ravaging red dragon. To do so, he must venture through five areas.
Loot Hero may not hold the attention of players who seek variety and excitement, since each stage holds the same structure throughout. But for those who have some minutes to spare, it's definitely a satisfying time waster. On the plus side, Loot Hero sports some nice chunky graphics and an epic orchestral soundtrack that you might miss as you gain speed. :/
Created for Ludum Jam 28, Underbyte starts out in a Mario-esque setting with what appears to be a monkey-like man trying to make it across a large jump. He ultimately fails and is condemned to a garbage dump where all characters who lose their lives end up.
While Underbyte has a properly fitting soundtrack and nice touches to add to the "glitchy" atmosphere, the rest of its features don't quite stand out. The main character's appearance is quite similar to that of most of the enemies you encounter throughout the majority of the levels. Health is represented by the player's score, which can be increased by killing enemies and then picking up the remnants of pixels they leave behind. It is crucial not to get hit in earlier levels, since low scores in later levels make it impossible, if not extremely difficult, to pass through long areas with a multitude of enemies coming at you.
Given the 72 hour time restraint, Underbyte was well done. On its own, however, the standards aren't quite there. I'd love to see a post-compo version of it someday.
Following a recent incident with developer King, Nitrome decided to feature Scamper Ghost for this week's Pixel Love. While being attacked by Pac-Man like ghosts, the player's objective is to collect as many coins as possible using the blue smiley face. From time to time, blue orbs appear on screen, allowing the blue emoticon to eat as many ghosts as it can in as few seconds as possible. Hit a ghost, and a life is lost. Collect fifty coins and an extra life is added to your quota. Lose all your lives and it's game over.
Scamper Ghost is one of those games you get the hang of after five seconds of playing. The controls are easy to handle and the addition of slow motion was a nice touch.
February kicks off with a game that shares the same swapping mechanic as Escape From Puppy Death Factory - Displaced. Take control of a cloud man creature...thing as he tries to find his place with a handy gun that teleports and activates blocks with emotions. Later levels depend on precise tapping, which the controls don't seem to be built for, but still manageable nonetheless. There are some glitches present such as the infamous "separating yourself from your gun" glitch, but restarting is often very accessible and tends to fix the issue.
Push has a neat mechanic. Clicking and holding causes your cursor to generate a circular pulse which you can use to "push" away blocks, including your goal. The music is smooth and elevator-like but somehow catchy. And respawning was very quick and easy for multiple attempts. I love how all levels are unlocked, but the game still keeps track of what you complete and what you don't. This allows you to skip through levels you are stuck on and come back to them later.
My First Quantum Translocator
This is a game about a...test subject?...who has to test out a new suit or something like that. The music got pretty catchy when they introduced a new tester, but I was turned off by its platforming. The mechanic was difficult to grasp, but I might come back to this one...someday.
The Company of Myself
Probably one of the sadder Pixel Loves in terms of story. The game recounts the life of a hermit whose past has led him to believe there can only be satisfaction in isolation. The mechanic involves creating shadows that copy your previous moves, allowing you to solve puzzles.
I love the music in this game and the mechanic was pretty fun to play around with. I especially love the end level, where you can make lots of clones and hear them stick to each other. Another aspect I like is how the game's mechanic ties in with the story so well; it's hard to find that in a lot of browser games.
Grand Mystic Quest of Discovery
I have to admit, the first time I played GMQD, I didn't like it. Maybe it was the fact that it had no sound whatsoever, or the fact that the game kept glitching every time it tried to save progress. But I kept coming back to it because the art style was intriguing, and the design was tight. It grew on me eventually, and I found out that Tiny Castle's soundtrack was quite suitable for background music (at least for me). Great design, in both game and art. The writing was a very nice touch and went well with the game's atmosphere. If only it had audio, hehehe.
A hunk of meat tries to find his bandaid love. The mechanics are cool, but I was a bit turned off by the excessive blood. Oh well; I adjusted later on and managed to progress further until the platforming started to get to me. Anyways, this one has a level editor, which is nice. Oh and they give you meat trivia too! Or just random trivia in general.
A Ghostly Journey
Follow the adventures of a lonely ghost trying to find out who they really are. Possess people, but don't harm them (for the most part), and manipulate them to help you accomplish your mission.
The game has a good art style, fitting music and ridiculous platforming. There's a few extra things you can unlock by collecting the blue souls found in the levels, though I haven't gotten around to unlocking the map entirely. I did complete the main path though. I love the ending to this game and the ghost's somewhat friendly demeanour.
Ahhh yes this is definitely one of my favourite Pixel Love features this year. Basically your planet has formed laws to "keep out the darkness", but they discover a rift full of opposers who want to take down your planet for good. The introduction to this game is epic, especially the narration.
You control one of the defense ships (?) I'm assuming, and maneuver around the area, defeating enemies that come to and fro. Gain pixels from their remains to level up your ship and gain skill points needed to upgrade your attacks and other powerups that will help you kill the endless stream of baddies. Destroy enough of them to learn a little more about each enemy's history and their intentions to kill your ship. Earn trophies to gain more starting skill points that help you upgrade faster.
The game is endless, as far as I know, but it was somehow quite addicting. Maybe it was the slick music and controls, or the game's pixelly art style. But yeah, I played it to completion, and then lost all my saves. I might come back to it someday, who knows.
Neutronized's browser demo of their second iOS release, Lost Yeti is a cute winter game about a yeti who gets distracted by a frozen treat and is left behind by his group. Help him find his way back by moving around the ice blocks to get him to the goal tile. Also ice cream is available to pick up for bragging rights. (They also can be used to skip levels in the iOS version.)
Lost Yeti is an all around adorable play without being too frustrating, as long as you're not trying to get ice cream. I just love the sound effect the yeti makes whenever he completes a level. Anyways, the iOS / Android version is definitely worth getting if you enjoy the browser. Especially since you get to see the little yeti's journey continue!
Another Pixel Love favourite from this year. Spiderling takes place in a cave where a group of spiders are planning to launch war on the flies. You, however, get a say in the matter, as you befriend a fly without the other spiders knowing. Can you find a way out before you get caught?
Spiderling is an overall very charming but short exploration platformer. The challenge mostly comes from the controls, but the design is simple enough that that's all you focus on. I am in love with the art and the atmosphere it brings to the game, along with the music. The creatures you interact with are loveable in their own way, and almost feel realistic without posing as direct harmful enemies.
You are placed on a farm, and have to protect your pigs from attacking green aliens the only way you can: using a gun. And mad gardening skills; that helps too. Your seeds become your bullets, which you use to replenish your ammo. Use this to fend off those nasty alien creatures (actually they seem kind of cute tbh).
Killer Corral has great chiptune music and a killer (no pun intended) pixel art style. I like how the music gains speed, adding to that sense of "chaoticness" without changing the waves too much. The game itself is a little too easy to manipulate in Adventure Mode, so I recommend playing Endless once you unlock it - it gets quite fun like that.
This was a first: Nitrome featured another game by the same developer two weeks in a row! Well maybe there was another; I can't really remember.
Made for a Game Boy Jam, Shybot tells the story of a robot who leaves its planet after being picked on. The robot crash lands and decides to make that new planet its new home. It's a metroidvania, but mostly with platforming skills. There's not that much exploration involved, but I guess it adds to the sort of "lonely" atmosphere...
The game is quite charming, particularly with its dialogue. The only major issue I had was with the hit detection. With the first boss; it was all too possible that the game would force you to get hurt after landing a hit on the boss. That aside, the boss battles were quite clever imo. For a Jam game, it's all right. Actually, no. I can't get over how cute this game is.
This game has a very similar setup and gameplay to Mega Man (from what I know about Megaman). It's got some good tunes and, like its Pixel Love description says, is "very difficult". I played it from time to time, but think I only completed the first and last stage before stopping. I keep chiseling my way through Bomb Raybot's and make progress, very little at a time. Oh well. If Mega Man is as hard or harder than this, then I must be prepared.
The Valley Rule
We kick off May with a Ludum Dare 29 entry, The Valley Rule. Made in 72 hours, this game stars a cat-girl who is trapped "beneath" the surface and must manipulate boxes and switches to activate the crystals necessary for her escape.
While short, the game is relatively well rounded and polished. The audio and art evoke a mysterious yet calming atmosphere and the areas change up enough to keep my interest. The wall jumping, however, is a pain. I can't tell you how many times I attacked my keyboard to make the cat-girl jump and climb outwardly on the wall. Some days I can pull that off; other times I cannot. That was really my only quip, as far as I remember. The ending was a little lacking, but given the time constraints, it's understandable.
G0 is a turnbased hexadecimal game. You play as an agent trying to take intel from a base. Avoid getting hit, and try to collect all the 37 intel hidden around the game.
While the game has no sound and the graphics are minimal, G0 makes great use of lighting and even incorporates some humour into the intel descriptions. It's cute, albeit a little slow for movement, but worth investing a few minutes into nonetheless.
It's hard to find a lot of information about Prominent Mountain...the game seems to be made by a Japanese developer and is one of the 50 mini games he has produced this year.  Heh, I just love how the developer ranks his own games from most enjoyable to dull. This one sort of stands in the middle.
Anyways, there's really not a lot to say about Prominent Mountain, other than the fact that it has a Flappy Bird feel to it even though it technically isn't identical to Flappy Bird. You don't control a car, but the elevation of rectangular mountains that the car can drive on. If you ramp up the height, the car goes higher into the air, and takeoffs of a higher elevation earn you more points. Along the way, red mountains lodge themselves in the green mountains' path. Avoid them to save yourself from a game over.
The game is good for a few minutes of entertainment, and the colours are nice. I don't personally enjoy it, but I'm sure it's entertaining to see how high you can fling the car/truck/vehicle. :/
Here's a simple physics game where you control sand. Sure there is a Sandman element to it where you pour the sand, but then you use the arrow keys/WASD to move your sand everywhere you please. This is often necessary because the vast majority of areas only have a tiny square for you to pour sand into. The goal? Get your sand to complete cover a single square and match its colour.
Aeolus Shift has a short loop that lasts maybe twenty seconds, but is mellow enough to not be super painful for a few minutes. This game was all right. I don't remember the levels being super tricky, except maybe a few that involve moving boxes around and that last level, which was an ultimate pain. Even though I closed off the openings and filled a square completely with sand, the particles still managed to leak out despite the fact that the switch wasn't touched at all! Oh well.
This is another Ludum Dare 29 entry, made in 48 hours. Play as a hare who loves eating carrots. But when the farmer finds out, he'll stop at nothing to try and catch the hare. One interesting thing to note about the game is that a number of the sound effects were actually recorded by the developer himself. The eating of the carrots actually comes from him eating a cucumber. The birds were also recorded too, if I remember correctly.
But wait, Ludum Dare 29's theme is "Beneath the Surface", right? So where does the theme come in? Throughout many of the stages, the hare can enter burrows to go underground and reach other areas of the crop, or evade enemies. The game also happens to be turnbased, which is an interesting approach.
The game is quite charming in its preamble text. I like the music a lot, especially the tunes when the dogs start coming in. It's not too challenging, and a very well rounded game for 48 hours' worth of work.
While Nitrome hosted their game jam, they missed out on two weeks' worth of Pixel Love games. To make up for it, they featured both Hare's Harvest and this game here on the same Monday. Created by the same guy who made "The Mind" for the Nitrome Jam, Hobo Bob stars a man named Bob who discovers a job opportunity while waiting in line. Eagerly, he bursts through the building to try and pursue that opening.
I feel like I should appreciate rhythm games more, but this didn't sit too well with me. The music was fast paced, but felt purely for the game and wouldn't be something I would listen to on a regular basis. Using the home keys for different actions is a neat idea, but the game introduces these concepts and expects you to master them from the getgo. As a result, it takes a lot of patience to withstand the failure, and also be able to coordinate which actions correspond to which key. I tend to get those mixed up, and haven't gotten very far in this game.
Out of all the games Wolve has created so far this year, this is probably one of his most successful ones. I'm still phased by the fact that he was supposedly challenging himself to make a game each week for 2014; that's very daunting in itself.
Ripple Runner Deluxe
I was hoping that Nitrome would feature a game by DDRKirby(ISQ), and finally got my wish granted when they featured Ripple Runner. Although I do enjoy playing it nowadays, it certainly didn't start out like that. I had a bit of trouble coordinating controls and reacting in constant to the rhythm. I really really LOVE DDRKirby(ISQ)'s music though, which is why I kept coming back to play it.
Like Hobo Bob, Ripple Runner is also a rhythm game. Your character has a reflection, kind of like Ditto, and you simply jump, flip and ripple to the beat.
This is probably the most fun I've had with a rhythm game, even more than Pixel Pop. The game has a simple premise but offers enough challenge to make it entertaining, which is one of the reasons why I think I enjoy it a ton. Unlike Pixel Pop and Hobo Bob, you don't have lives, but checkpoints, allowing you to retry whichever area you're stuck on for as many times as you'd like.
The only major problem I had with the game, besides getting occasional lag and issues where the spacebar doesn't always respond, is that the final part of the final stage doesn't feel like it matches to the beat at all. Well, I've only played through that area once, so as soon as I get the gist of it, I might understand. Overall, Ripple Runner is definitely worth giving a shot if you enjoy rhythm games.
This lowrezjam game was created by Bart Bonte. Control a set of pixels and align them to their designated spots. I like to think of controlling them like the alien clones from Bad Ice-Cream 3. The game's got good sound effects, or lack thereof. I found it frustrating and kind of dull. I'm not really a fan of this game, though I do like other works of Bart Bonte, such as In drmzzz... for the Nitrome Jam and Sugar Sugar was all right (I didn't play too much of it). I guess this game isn't really for me.
This game was made in 48 hours by Zillix, who also made another Pixel Love feature, Exposure. Denudation is about a wanderer searching for a lost shrine to gain its powers. The wanderer is able to shoot blocks in the area to destroy them, then absorb blocks to gain power. Blocks also determine the wanderer's power for shooting ammunition, and also allow him to jump multiple times in the air. In turn, the wanderer's jump height is constrained by the number of blocks acquired.
I just love how the music builds up as the wanderer absorbs more blocks. The art style reminds me a bit of Exposure but at the same time, the game has a different feel to it. Zillix's games have a distinct look to them, which is quite nice. There are several Easter eggs (like an alternate music track), and also an additional ending.
The game is very innovative and doesn't take too long to complete. I like this one a lot and come back to it from time to time to try and get that "no deaths" medal. I've come close, but I have a nasty habit of taking risks at the wrong time.
Glitch Lab is a fairly straightforward game that involves messing with glitches, as expected from the title. (also it was created for Glitch Jam) Your character must exploit glitches to advance through each of the rooms and...escape? Or maybe just crash the system. Each level has a unique set of glitches, or just weird things that occur. And that's pretty much it!
There is text to be read throughout the game, and it is humourous and entertaining to reach. Some of the "glitches" don't seem like glitches. The music is lax but good. If I had one issue with the game, it would be that the ending is kind of...eh. If you're sensitive to mature content, I highly recommend resisting the urge to try and decode what it says. You will not be happy. That aside, Glitch Lab is entertaining for the most part.
Music for Decay
The second game by LID Games featured on Pixel Love (the first was Displaced). Control an orb of light on its quest to search but never find what it's searching for. Perhaps it can't find that thing it's searching for because the game is endless, haha.
Unlike Displaced, whose music seemed unfitting and a tad annoying, Music for Decay's music is fantastic. I absolutely love the beat and how it works with the bass and melody. The game itself is all right as well. The perspective is done isometrically as the light travels down a long corridor, avoiding spike pits and skulls. You are able to temporarily phase through hazards while still using the arrow keys to evade them in one of three columns. Pretty fun for an endless game. I'd say it's worth taking a shot at.
I am Level
This game hits a couple of firsts in the Pixel Love collection. It is the first Pixel Love game to be built in Unity, and is also the first to be featured on Pixel Love Games and never on the Nitrome.com domain itself.
As for the game, I have to say it's like the pinball version of VVVVVV. Not that the mechanics are identical, but the art style, naming conventions for each of the rooms and enemies with unique designs but all behave in the same way are evident in this game as well as VVVVVV. In this game, you are a ball that must travel between a series of different rooms to collect as many stars and clear as many rooms as possible. At the same time, you gain EXP that you use to level up and unlock new looks for your pinball. And you're not controlling the ball directly necessarily, but rather the tilting of the room and its pinball flaps.
I am Level is the most hearted Pixel Love game. I honestly can't understand why. I mean there's a lot to check out, with its variety of different rooms and costumes, but it just doesn't hold my attention. I suppose if you are a completionist and like these kind of challenges, then it would be fun. I don't know; it's not the best Pixel Love game imo but it's not harmful or anything.
Yojimbrawl is the first Pixel Love game to be exclusively (local) multiplayer, and the second multiplayer Pixel Love game ever. (The first was Counter Terror, but Counter Terror is kind of...squished for two players on the same keyboard.) Like I am Level, Yojimbrawl is also built in Unity.
This game was created for the Jam section of Ludum Dare 29. There's not really much of that "Beneath the Surface" theme incorporated here like the previous Ludum Dare 29 features, but then again, games entered in the Jam actually don't have to incorporate the theme, unlike the compo.
The game is just a matter of beating out your opponent using a combination of movement and weapons to achieve a series of combinations that will help you defeat your opponent. When a fighter dies, a stone tablet drops and another fighter enters. I think you get four players per level?
The art, combinations and fighting sound effects are very cool and work well with the game. Even if you don't have a second player, it's still worth messing around with the controls and seeing what sorts of deadly combinations you can dish out on your opponents. Just as long as you don't play against opponents who love to "turtle" *cough cough my sister* aka "standing still and just mash the attack button".
No, Birdie, No!
At this point, Nitrome seemed to be on some Unity streak for Pixel Love. It was probably due to the fact that their old Pixel Love rules stated that games had to be made in Flash, but they decided to extend their platforms to include Unity and HTML5, as long as they could be played in a browser. This little endless challenge here has art and audio from Giuseppe Longo, whom you might recognise from some of Nitrome's latest releases. A poor guy hanging from a cliff must avoid getting his fingers busted by a yellow bird, who strives for nothing other than to make your life miserable.
The game simulates realistic "hanging" by forcing you to press down on four of the home row keys and let go to make two of the guy's fingers lift up. Get too many fingers pecked and you're forced to let go, falling down to your doom.
I enjoy the game's sound effects; they go well with the frantic pace of the game, especially when the bird starts getting fussy and pecks your fingers with rapid pace. Only using one hand to hold down four keys makes things confusing when trying to remember which fingers correspond with which key for the opposite hand, at least for me. Of course holding down all eight keys would make more sense, but I'm pretty sure most keyboards can't handle that amount, which is why you are given two choices. Overall, it's an okay endless game.
Caverns of IO
We head back to the world of hexadecimals-ish in the small scale maze shooter Caverns of IO. You're a ship that has to shoot all enemy ships down to advance to the next area. There are energy and health gages that determine how fast your ship can move and shoot, and how many hits you can withstand from enemies.
The sound effects are fitting for the art style, which the colours themselves are pleasing to look at. If I had any quips, it would be with the energy gage, but that may be a result of me not understanding the game enough. I dunno; I feel like maybe the energy gage needs to go down a bit slower, especially when a ship has to evade both fire bullets in every row and column alongside enemy ships... The game didn't really hold my attention for that long, but the first ten levels are kind of fun.
Steam Rogue GB
Created for Game Boy Jam, Steam Rogue GB is the demake of one of Adventure Islands' earlier game, Steam Rogue. A robotic gentleman is keen on collecting treasure from a factory, and using the power of steam, he can do just that.
The game as a whole works very well together. The aesthetics have a steampunk feel to them while still keeping with the GameBoy look. Even the in-game music uses low percussion and that also ties in with the factory atmosphere. If I had any issues with the music, it would be that the title music sounds identical to Tiny Dangerous Dungeon's. They use similar chord progressions and are done by the same composer, so I suppose that's why.
Another issue I had with the gameplay is the controls. While they do make sense, they're set up in a way that forces the player to use one finger to quickly manipulate the start/stop and jump keys and it's not practical for later levels especially when you need to switch between the up and down keys rather quickly. But to be fair, there are actually WS controls that work simultaneously, so I usually just put one hand on the up key and my right on the down and that works better for the most part. Steam Rogue GB is a very well put together game with great art and platforming challenges.
Cactus McCoy 2
Cactus McCoy's adventure continues in this adventure platformer starring a man-turned cactus. This time, he's off on another adventure to save someone who will help him find a treasure...I think. (I can't remember the story very well.) The sequel includes more challenges, weapons to wield and enemies to beat up and rocket into the stratosphere. Also it has music by Dave Cowen, although most of the tracks seem to carry over from the first game.
When playing the first game, I wasn't really a huge fan, but after actually sitting down to give it a go, I seemed to like it more. The second game is no exception. There is a lot to do in this game, with all the accomplishments and variety in each of the stages. The weapons are fun to discover and deploy. It's a pretty big, well rounded game and worth checking out.
Ludum Dare 30 happened, and thus, we get our first Ludum Dare 30 Pixel Love, Chipset-0. Created by Deep Night, Chipset-0 is about a robot programmed to take care of humans, who are contained in capsules. You are responsible for taking and removing cords to help you navigate around the lab and complete your task like an obedient robot. Or you could choose to save all humans and free them from this Matrix-esque environment. The game has multiple endings, so mess around with different possibilities to see them all.
I love the artwork in this game, and the robot is very cute and easy to handle. The only problem I had was that I experienced a lot of lag sometimes when dealing with disappearing platforms, and that made it very hard to time their disappearance. The puzzles have to do with using cords to connect the humans and manipulating switches so you can get to later areas. The robot is able to climb along walls, which is neat. Overall, a short but enjoyable game.
Out of all the Pixel Love games made in Unity, this one is probably my favourite so far. It's another LD30 entry, this time starring a boy and girl who live in different realms and can only connect to each other through the phone. Or the power of love...take your pick.
The game adds a few different elements while not making things too complex. I like how the music progresses throughout each stage, slowly building and then fading out in the subsequent stage. I especially like how the music in one of the stages just starts to elevate in volume, but it then it goes completely silent in the stage after. The realistic sound effects such as the girl and boy's "uh huh" voices or the applause at the end of each level don't really fit in with the game, but they do add charm that make the game memorable.
If I had to nitpick one thing I didn't like from Our Worlds, it is the fact that the game's timer seems absolutely unnecessary. It's a platforming puzzle game; I feel like it doesn't benefit from having a timer at all other than to annoy first time players. A game like this feels like players need to be able to take their time exploring the world and getting to understand the overall notion of this. Well, at least after playing through it several times, the timer won't feel like a constraint. This is currently the most played Pixel Love game and I definitely come back to this from time to time to play it. I really like it.
You are a robot with missing parts. Retrieve them to please Mother in this well known metroidvania. Everything is against you, including your own siblings and mother. But you can please her, right? Right?
The game recommends headphones for listening experience, and I too can agree to that. The soundtrack is mostly played on the piano, and it sounds beautiful and touching. The game itself is good, with its mostly dark colours and variety of powerups that slowly grant you the abilities you used to possess. I think I may be able to connect with this game on an emotional level, but that might just be the audio affecting me, haha.
The only major thing I didn't like about this game was how the game's scale can change drastically from room to room. While I understand that the developer wants to keep each room to one screen, the size change made it difficult to pick out my character sometimes, especially in larger rooms where the robot becomes really, really tiny. This aside, I like the map and interaction between the mother and robot. There's just something interesting about the way she completely disowns her robot child. I didn't get too far in K.O.L.M., but I do come back to it from time to time to progress the story a bit and listen to its amazing soundtrack.
A kitty seeks refuge from the rain in a giant tower full of traps, danger and dogs. Defeat the lowly evil in this tower and walk away victorious.
Created for Game Boy Jam, Meowlogical Tower does a nice job of tying in powerups with weaponry. I like how the key is your weapon and you're forced to give that up when it's time to unlock a door. You don't see that a lot in games, and that can be hard to incorporate, but this game does it well. The boss battle is annoying and a bit random near the end, but I didn't have as much trouble with it later as I did the first time. The premise of the game is hilarious, right from start to finish. I love the music and the game overall is done well for a jam.
Take control of a girl as she constantly has nightmares of trying to escape from the clutches of Death.
There's a lot to like about this game. Though endless, there is some incentive to complete the game by collecting all the medals and purchasing upgrades. The art is especially nice, along with the music, which works together to create a dream-like atmosphere. The medals are reasonable, as well as the upgrades. I guess the one thing I don't really like is the fact that playing it for too long causes me to experience the "waterfall" effect, which, while not harmful, is a bit irritating. But still, it's worth it to play a game this polished.
A turnbased strategy game with cute pixel art. You are given an array of people to choose from, each with their own special abilities and setbacks. Use these people to help defeat squads of snow, desert and forest baddies.
The title music is festive; the characters in the menu art don't tie in with the game itself at all but are fun to look at. The stages, while with variety, only seem to change aesthetics but keep the same enemy behaviours. The game is okay; I don't like turnbased games all that much but I kept going with this one until the game somehow decided to unlock all levels for me.
Stasis is a Unity built game created for Game Boy Jam 3. You control a constantly jumping character who continuously ascends. The character has the ability to "freeze" the level, effectively making him invincible and allowing him to pass hazards. Of course, there is a limit to this power, which can be regained by grabbing a few coins along the way.
This game has an interesting aesthetic for a Game Boy game. I've never really seen colours of this contrast being used in a Game Boy esque game before. It's very different and overall nice. I guess the issues I have with this game are that it takes too long to restart after death, which, much like Endless Doves, really removes a lot of the replay value from it. The music and sound effects are also very noisy and a tad annoying. The pallette used for this game is worth giving it a shot at, but I wouldn't count on being entertained with it for a long time.
Just Type This
Here's a remarkable idea: what if the typing genre met platforming? Put them together, and you get Just Type This. Move your character along by typing in the corresponding letters. At the same time, you are required to pay attention to hazards and all sorts of obstacles that stand in your way.
I was quite fascinated with this one; never has a typing game made me forget how to type properly and while trying to master the art of platforming. It's creative how the only way to jump is by moving between the gaps of words. This game frustrates me, but I absolutely love it. After completing it, I feel like a typing master. Haha. Maybe not. But I do feel it a little.
A Halloween Pixel Love feature created by young developer Letmethink, Grim is a simple puzzle platformer about a generic protagonist and his mummy friend who must work together to collect all the candy necessary to open portals. At least, that's what I get out of it.
The music is fitting for the art style; it's got a Halloween feel to it without being downright creepy or unsettling. I experienced a ton of glitches, particularly with the behaviour of the characters. The levels themselves don't progress in difficulty smoothly enough, at least enough for me to understand exactly how they behave without getting ultimately confused. For some odd reason, one of the characters (I think it's the mummy) can't jump off bats in the Pixel Love Games site, but yet he can in the version on the Stencyl site. I read some of the Newgrounds reviews, and other players were having this issue, but the developer said something along the lines of not being able to fix them because they were bugs specific to Stencyl. I really don't know. The art style is cute and so is the music, but overall the game becomes unplayable. It's worth checking out the first few levels and being impressed with the small scale time frame this game was worked on for. It needs more polish though....
This game is frustrating, but has very fun and upbeat music. Control a zeppelin with the urge to nosedive, much like the flying man in the 8bit Doves series. Unlike 8bit Doves, however, you use the mouse to tap and control the air power. Think of it as a linear Flappy Bird. Also this game draws its similarities from some other game called Retry, but I don't know much about Retry.
I got about halfway through the game before calling it quits. The first five levels were surprisingly easy, but afterwards, the difficulty ramped up too much for me. The hit detection is a little strange, but that might just be me. I don't get why the zeppelin doesn't have to touch a wall to get the "You Lose" message. :/
Heart Star is a cute puzzle platformer by the amazing Adventure Islands. Two friends exist in different worlds that overlap with each other on the same screen, but the two can only meet each other once they reach the designated goal platform. The friends can help each other by activating switches and moving each other across gaps to avoid hazards and the like.
If you're familiar with all the games Adventure Islands has put out before, this one is no exception as to what to expect in it. Cute graphics and music, fairly simple but progressively challenging gameplay with a smooth difficulty curve for the most part. His games tend to have really floaty jumping and that may become an issue in later levels, especiallly when the act of simply falling off a ledge can easily send you into a spike wall no matter how little you press the arrow key. The music is absolutely adorable, very colourful and relaxing to listen to. I personally don't feel like it's one of Adventure Islands' best games, but the art and music might be worth giving the game a go.
Think of this as LIDgames' take on Super Puzzle Platformer. In some ways, it is similar to Nitrome's very first Pixel Love feature, though there are some differences. I see it more as Twin Shot meets Super Puzzle Platfomer.
Okay, so like SPP, you're contained in a room where blocks constantly fall and you shoot them for points. There's a spike wall on the floor, and one touch means instant death. Unlike SPP, however, the game introduces some blocks that you can't destroy directly, but can shoot with your arrows (or I guess "stakes") to climb up them. The game also drops bombs and some turrets that constantly shoot horizontally, but that's about as far as I got for hazards.
The game is definitely one where Super Puzzle Platformer's similarities can easily be seen in, but I don't think it's trying to rip off Super Puzzle Platformer as much as it is providing a different take on the genre. The pallet choice is quite interesting; the black and white, completely devoid of colour, gives me the sense that the character is trapped in some sort of a dungeon that they're trying to escape. In terms of the music, it's better on the ears than Displaced, but I like it a little less than Music for Decay. It's more like Displaced in the sense that it's got a punchy motif, but this one is easier on the ears.
I get the sense that fans of Super Puzzle Platformer won't prefer this game over SPP, but nonetheless, Stakes is certainly an interesting take that you ought to check out.
This is a very simplistic game that incorporates flip mechanics while you avoid merciless spikes in an attempt to reach the door. For me, I personally didn't enjoy this one. It just felt very...plain. A game with such minimal graphics such as this needs varied design to keep things interesting, and for me, Sector 21 didn't really do that much. Perhaps I didn't get that far in it, but all the levels so far come off as being almost identical with each other. The music is okay, but not enough to save the game overall.
Like Nitrome said in their blog post, however, the game does have a very fast "respawn after death" animation, but so many games with this flip mechanic do that already, so I guess that's not really that big of a highlight. The only other sort of neat thing the game does is show you how to actually pass the first ten levels with an up and front walkthrough in the game itself. It helped me see how the developer intended the timing of each level to be done. The hit detection also seems to be a tad too sensitive for me; a game that requires precise timing like this shouldn't have spikes that cause instant death when touched from the side. I wouldn't really play it again, but I would like to know if the game is entirely spike puzzles or if it incorporates anything new past level 10.
miniQuest is a small scale platformer starring a nameless hero seeking treasure. Each challenge has a chest to collect as an added bonus.
Like My First Quantum Translocator, the game also makes the titlescreen playable, which is neat. I like the platforming challenges, though they don't really ramp up in difficulty until maybe halfway through. (I didn't beat it yet.) The music is nice, but I'm not a fan of how the titlescreen music fades out so quickly. The jumping near ladders behaviour is also odd and feels unintentional. I find it funny how the game lacks a death animation, but it really isn't a major problem. The hit detection for this game too feels a bit off, with the way the game handles fire dodging. Jumping off ladders is also one of my other quips. This game kind of falls on the "ehh" level for me.
A retro arcade shooter with a very simple goal: survive! (Isn't that the basis of every level game though? No matter.) Well so basically you move the ship around with your mouse, and avoid all the asteroids, blocks and shooty guys that get in your way. There's also some weird Pacman thing that moves rapidly around the screen...I don't know; that's pretty much how I see it.
I didn't play this one a lot, but I enjoy the way the game ramps up in difficulty at just the right time. It starts by introducing the basic maneuvers and obstacles, then gets to the point where it throws everything it can at you and it's just wild. Auto shooting is also a good touch. And there are checkpoints, so in reality the game isn't (as) endless as I thought it would be. Well, it's a nice game for what it is, though not my personal favourite.
Santaman & His Iced Muffins
What's this: a Pixel Love game featured without a blog post? I take the move for the reason why we never got one. A blog post or lack thereof actually makes me realise how much I appreciate reading Nitrome's preamble and reason why they chose to feature the Pixel Love game they selected. Right now, we'll just have to make do without.
I didn't really get too much into this, but from what I played, the game is about Santaman's journey to retrieve his missing ice muffins. He's fat, so he can't jump unless he's completely still. He can also collect orbs to shoot grinches or whatever. I don't know, hehehe.
That's a wrap! So, what are your top 5 Pixel Love games of 2014? Are there any that stood out for you in their greatness or downright obscurity? Here's my personal list (in no particular order):
- Pixel Purge
- Ripple Runner
- The Company of Myself
- Shybot - Despite its hitbox issues, I find this game to be really really cute. I don't know what it is; it's just pure adorableness.
Hope you have a happy new year!