Retro platforming is quite the saturated market on the app store, a lot of these titles are nothing more than carbon copies of hits from the past with a few exceptions. Commander Pixman is the perfect example of one of those exceptions! From the second you turn on Pixman and you’re shown the title screen, you know this game is going to be something special and boy is it ever!
You are astronaut Andrew “Pixman” Blazkowicz and you’ve just crashed into an asteroid! what awaits you, hordes of enemies, complex platforming and death around every corner! Congratulations to One Minute Games, they may be using a familiar level structure for Commander Pixman, but at least we have an intro where so amny others just throw you into the gameplay without backstory!
Lets get one thing clear here, you are going to die… a lot! The trick, and almost the entire point of Commander Pixman is not to get frustrated with dying, accept now that it’s going to happen. The second you die you are reset at the beginning of the level. There is no break between dying and restarting so gameplay is continuous, and lives are infinite!
Once you’ve finished a level you’re shown a replay that includes the ghost of every life you lost along the way. It’s entertaining to watch a crowd of green astronauts start the level then as the replay progresses they get picked off 1 by 1 by various traps and enemies. Another nice feature I noticed was the main title screen displays your last replay in the background instead of just hitting us with a generic backdrop.
The controls are simply mapped out as left, right, shoot, jump and they’re super responsive to boot! Beware though, the jumping mechanics are not something you’re going to master immediately. At first they feel floaty and broken, but they’re not. You’re on an asteroid and wearing a jetpack, so don’t expect regular gravity to be in play here. A slight tap on the jump button will lift you barely inches off the ground, but holding down the jump button will send you soaring across platforms at sometimes uncontrollable speeds and height in utter pixelated glory.
You’re scored on your speed, the faster you complete a level the more stars you’re awarded. As you progress further through the game, not only will the levels get more difficult but more extravagant traps will be introduced beyond the regular floating platforms and spikes as well as the introduction of portals!
Moving on to the graphics, are they great? Hell no! It’s 8bit… Now I hate to break it to some people but we’ve far evolved from the Atari. Nostalgia is an amazing thing, but the visuals here are indeed dated when stacked against other games out on iOS. Does it ruin the game, no! Does it somehow in an unexplainable way make the more exciting… YES!
The hard work here for One Minute Games was to go down the 8 bit graphics route and pull it off, which is exactly what they’ve done. The fast moving background against the solid color foreground is a style that more than makes up for their lack of a 3rd dimension or any kind of shading and depth. Married with the music and sound effects you really get a genuine blast from the past here.
Commander Pixman boasts 65 levels with more to come in future updates as well as side missions that unlock an extra 15 missions if completed, bringing your total to 80 levels. Gameplay is addictive and enjoyably frustrating (if that’s even possible). The levels are short which make for perfect pick up and put down play too! What’s missing here is an iPad version with iCade compatibility as Commander Pixman is a perfect fit for this arcade enthusiast.
Commander Pixman $1.99
Seller: One Minute Games