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Commander Pixman Review

By , on October 3, 2011


Commander Pixman
Download on the AppStore
4 out of 5

PROS

  • 65 short, skill-based platforming challenges; 15 unlockable super-hard levels.
  • 'Objective' system teases players by forcing them to step up their game.
  • Simple, but vibrant retro aesthetic.

CONS

  • Annoying collision detection issues; spikes can kill the player even when not touched directly.
  • 'Jetpack' floaty physics for jumping makes it hard to feel entirely comfortable.

VERDICT

If you fancy yourself a deft-hand at precise timing you'll get a kick out of Commander Pixman's gameplay that walks the fine line between fun and frustration; those after a casual platforming romp need not apply.


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As someone who had to slog his way through the 80s and 90s and the gaming obsession with platformers, coming across one of these genre classics these days is met with trepidation. I say this because we have a rich history of what does and doesn't work, including other less tangible aspects like how the should 'feel'. Commander Pixman gets the first part right as it smooshes Super Meat Boy with the visual stylings of the free game Star Guard, but something about this game by One Minute Games doesn't quite fulfill the second part.

As to be expected the game features a basic virtual button setup to move left and right, jump, and fire your weapon. Unfortunately though, the game plays with your expectations by modifying how jumping feels by incorporating a 'jetpack' feel of floatiness. This results in a sort of acceleration curve while jumping, that tapers off to a smooth arc; as such the start of your jumps have an inverted fidelity, giving you fine control over relatively low jumps, but instability nearer the top of the curve. Thankfully the game is consistent and once you start reaching the seriously challenging levels you'll start to adjust, but it's hard to entirely shake off that awkward feeling.

At least the challenge of mastering what should be basic controls falls in line with the style of the game as players attempt to conquer up to 80 levels by finessing their way through multiple traps and hordes of enemies that are likely to stop you in your tracks. Much like Super Meat Boy the game tracks your progress, showing you all the deaths you incurred before passing the level. In the case of the 15 bonus levels, this could be several dozen instances of 'Pixman' racing off to their doom, making for an entertaining way to celebrate your victory.

These super-hard stages are unlocked by completing various challenges, which are not always easy in and of themselves, so at least you know what you're in for.

Packaging the whole thing with retro pixel art and chiptune music only helps to solidify its links with the often brutally difficult platformers of the past, so consider this a warning of sorts - you will die and you will die often, but perseverance and skill will win through.

A solid pick for gamers after something to beat their skull against for a while.

Screenshots

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Comments

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FalloutNewVegas 3 years, 1 month ago

2011 seems like the year of Atari-style pixel art for the iOS...It is getting a bit overwhelming for me...