I’ve been playing electronic games for a long time, and one of the best genres since I can remember has always been the platform game. Sure they’ve evolved greatly over the years just like any other type of game, but the basic premise has always been “start at point A – run, jump and do whatever to get to point B – collect things and bop bad guys in the head along the way”. Pixeline And The Jungle Treasure exemplifies this tried and true formula. The truth is that it adds nothing new to the genre, and actually hearkens back to the simpler days of platform gaming in a lot of ways. Still, I’ve quite enjoyed it thus far, and hope we see more of cute little Pixeline in the future.
For some inexplicable reason Pixeline, a little girl that appears to be maybe 9 or 10, has decided to go treasure hunting all on her own. Obviously we’re not dealing with a deep, emotional story here or anything like that. Anyway, in order to find the treasure she must first locate 4 pieces to a map. Thus your journey begins…
If you’ve played even a few platform games, Pixeline will feel intimately familiar. The basic mechanics are left and right movement and jumping. There aren’t even any “sophisticated” features like climbing ladders or hanging from cliffs. As for the level elements, there’s really nothing new there either. Levels are filled with insta-death pools, floating platforms, random spike pits of doom, and many other traditional platform perils. Even the creatures are old hat – your standards that just move or fly back and forth without bothering you unless you accidentally run into them, the spike-headed ones that you can’t bounce on, the uber-fish that spring out of the water and always seem impenetrable…
Does this mean the game is bad? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s actually a pretty nice tribute to the simpler days of platform gaming. There is one nice little twist in the fact that at the end of each of the first three worlds you get an animal spirit which you can use to take the form of that animal. From level 2-1 on, almost every level requires you to transform into at least one animal, and some require multiple transformations to complete. Each level has a certain number of gold coins to collect and treasure chests to open with gold keys, and on some levels you’ll need to wait until you’ve gained a certain transformation in order to completely solve them (you can move on to a new level without collecting all the coins or treasure chests, however). There are also silver coins, and collecting 100 of those earns you an extra life.
So everything is all peaches ‘n cream in the land of Pixeline, right? Well, not exactly. Personally, I’m not real thrilled with the slide control they chose to implement for maneuvering Pixeline. You slide the bar left or right to move appropriately, but it makes things fairly difficult to just turn around in place or make precise jumps when you really need to. It’s actually a neat concept, but it seems more appropriate for a side view racing type game than a platform adventure. At least the jump button is really responsive, though. Of course, that can be a bad thing, if the slide bar isn’t doing exactly what you want it to!
To me the graphics felt a bit all over the place in terms of quality. I liked the hand sketched feel to the cut scene visuals. The backgrounds often had an almost painted quality to them, while the foreground tilesets and the monsters mostly felt like they came from graphics collections you might download off the internet. The main character herself was pretty cool, as were the animals she transformed into. I really like how they were all wearing red sneakers just like Pixeline. The animation was also pretty decent.
The sound effects are good, but nothing really out of the ordinary. It seems like at this point when a game like this focuses around a specific character that the character should have some sort of quips or at least a catch phrase to say, which never happened in this game. It also would have been nice if the different animals Pixeline transformed into made some noise. The music was quite enjoyable. After a while I realized that the songs for each of the worlds were basically remixed versions of the main one, but each was done in a way to make it sound fresh compared to the others.
Pixeline is a great example of how to take old school and make it still feel relevant. I will say, however, that the game probably would not have been all that interesting were it not for the whole transformation gimmick. It would have been nice to see a few more types of monsters thrown in, and they really need to provide an alternative to the slide control for those like me who don’t like it. Overall, though, I’ve had a lot of fun with Pixeline And The Jungle Treasure and I think anyone that likes platform games – especially those that actually remember games like Duke Nukem’ and Commander Keen – will get a big kick out of this.
Overall Score: 8/10
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