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Super Life of Pixel review for PS Vita, PS4


Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4, PC
Publisher: WhiteMoon Dreams
Developer: Super Icon
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E

Super Life of Pixel has been a long time coming. The basic game, about a pixel with big dreams, was first released way back in 2013 on PlayStation Mobile, Sony’s ill-fated attempt to get more mobile games ported to the Vita, and it’s been intermittently promised and re-announced ever since. I’m not sure what the exact hold-up has been — since, as I’ll explain in a moment, Super Life of Pixel isn’t all that different from the original Life of Pixel — but, whatever the reason, the game is here now.

And that can only be a good thing, since Super Life of Pixel, like Life of Pixel before it, is pretty enjoyable. While there’s no shortage of platformers that promise a retro-tinged experience, Super Life of Pixel is one of the few that doesn’t just throw some 8-bit graphics on top of a Mario clone and call it a day. Rather, it’s a game that doubles as a history lesson, as the titular Pixel goes through levels that start off in the earliest days of gaming (Amigas and Ataris and whatnot), before progressing onto more modern (well, modern-ish) systems like NES, SNES, and Game Boy. While I’d be lying if I said that I knew how accurately it represented every system, for those few I do know, it faithfully recreates the experience — and, just as importantly, it makes an effort to differentiate between the different systems, rather than just placing the whole game in some vague 8-/16-bit era.

And it’s not just the graphics that evolve, either. If you listen closely, you can hear the sounds and music evolve, going from the very basic to the chiptune soundtracks we all know and love today.

Of course, because Super Life of Pixel is mostly just Life of Pixel with a few dozen extra levels, that means it features both the good and the bad of the original game. In this case, “the bad” means a difficulty level that occasionally borders on sadistic. While the game is seldom impossible, it still requires lots of trial and error before you get things right –it’s not at all uncommon for you to be killed by a monster not currently on the screen (especially in the earlier levels where the screens don’t scroll), and you’ll regularly be asked to make blind jumps. Super Life of Pixel isn’t shy about reminding you of how many times you get killed either — after each level, you’re given a running total of how many times you’ve died.

Of course, at this point, complaining about how hard a retro-platformer is seems kind of pointless — it’s been ingrained in the genre since they first started popping up in the first half of this decade, and it doesn’t seem like it’ll be going away any time soon. Which means that Super Life of Pixel gets a pass on its difficulty — and, more importantly, it means you get to compare it to many other games of this type. For Super Life of Pixel, that comparison is only a good thing, since — much like Life of Pixel — it’s a standout of the genre. Hopefully this time around, more people will discover it, because it absolutely deserves more recognition than it received the first time around.

WhiteMoon Dreams provided us with a Super Life of Pixel PS4/Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: A