If the wildly experimental Roll Out proved anything, it was that as a publisher Bulkypix are unafraid to push things forward and take iDevice gaming in an interesting new direction. Well, at least until now they were. Because rather than looking to the future for inspiration for their latest title, they’ve teamed up with Pastagames and travelled back to a time when arcades everywhere were packed to the rafters and reverberated with the Ptchoo–ptchoo–Boom! of Space Invaders being blasted to smithereens, 8-bit games were groundbreaking, and I squandered a large chunk of my youth glued to my Game Boy playing Super Mario Land to death. The result? A visually stunning and infinitely addictive jaunt down (up and across) video gaming memory lane.
Whether or not you’re wrinkly enough to remember each and every game, gaming era and graphical style Pix’n Love Rush pays visual and stylistic homage to, you can’t help but be impressed by the ever-changing eye-candy and rapid-fire pace of the action on offer here, meaning this title is likely to bridge the generation gap and appeal to a wide array of iPhone owners. That said, if you have been gaming since the 80’s or 90’s, a geekgasm is all but guaranteed as you guide Pix the Cat through this nostalgia inducing mash-up of thirty years worth of classics.
A shooter-cum-platformer, Pix’n Love Rush keeps it simple with an intuitive move, jump and shoot set of commands in keeping with its retro sensibilities. Likewise gameplay boils down to rushing through levels collecting as many golden plus signs as possible, avoiding minuses and blasting enemies as you go. Not exactly deep by today’s standards perhaps, but instantly accessable, hugely enjoyable, and one-more-go-addictive all the same.
Bite-sized levels fly by at a dizzying pace, taking in side-scrolling and vertical scrolling sections which will put your run ‘n’ jump skills to the test, Space Invaders-esque shoot outs and, as they say, much, much more. The fact that these differently themed transitions occur without warning and randomly, only adding to the break-neck, authentically arcadey pace. Throw in an extremely catchy – and again authentic – soundtrack courtesy of Sidabitball and you’ve got yourself a flawlessly presented, fun game, and what just might be, dare I say it, a classic in the making.
Whoops, I’m gushing already, and I haven’t even mentioned Pix’n Love Rush‘s pièce de résistance yet. Here goes: as you rack up a high-score, retro skins inspired by video gaming household names and more obscure formats alike are layered on top of each another. The effect is jarring, but that’s sort of the point – one minute you’re barrelling through a close approximation of a Game and Watch classic complete with beep-beep-boop sound effects. The next you’ve fast-forwarded a decade and are hopping from platform to platform in Game Boy land. These impressive visual effects coupled with pitch-perfect survival platforming conspiring to make the game the most entertaining history lesson ever!
However, there are a few niggling problems with Pix’n Love Rush, that while far from being deal-breakers, do tarnish the overall experience somewhat and despite my really (really) wanting to award this game a 5 star score, gave me pause for thought. Top of the list is the locked-in default screen orientation. Honestly being forced to run games “upside down” on my iPod is just irritating, and meant that even as all the brilliance unfolded on-screen, I never felt 100% comfortable playing Pix’n Love Rush. To a lesser extent the frenetic splicing together of differing styles of play is at times a tad confusing and can lead to frustrating GAME OVERs when the pace of the on-screen action becomes overwhelming. All in all, though, this is up there with the best the App Store has to offer and is likely to get better with time (and a couple of updates). An essential download.
iFanzine Verdict: Funnily enough, in paying homage to the golden age of video games Pastagames and Bulkypix have created an instant classic themselves. Proof that occasionally they do make ’em like they used to, Pix’n Love Rush truly deserves to be the next App Store phenomonon a la Angry Birds or Doodle Jump.