Like it or not (I personally like it), retro-inspired pixel graphics are here to stay. A lot of people love the nostalgia that comes with such visuals, but it’s also interesting to see how pixel artists interpret different ideas. They can squeeze a surprising amount of detail out of a few well-placed squares. This list chronicles four of the pixilated worlds we find the most impressive. Not just the characters, mind, but the overall artistic style of their universe.
I’ll admit that it’s a bit rough around the edges. Some of the mechanics aren’t fully realized and the movement controls, while much better after an update, are still a bit tough to use. However this is a list about fantastic, pixilated worlds, and Arranger has definitely got that. Part homage to Atari classics, part acid trip through a 1970s arcade cabinet, it’s nothing it not incredibly imaginative and unique.
I know I’ve already mentioned how much I love the visuals in Pixel Kingdom but I’m going to reiterate because I really love them. Capturing so much personality and charm in characters that sport such small dimensions is no easy task, yet here it’s pulled off almost effortlessly. At least it seems that way. Simply watching the heros walk across the field brings a smile to my face. The added draw of discovering what other bizarre and wonderful creatures lurk just off-screen on higher difficulties is another big draw.
What impresses me so much about Canabalt is how minimal its visuals are. Aside from the main character, I mean. His animations are pretty spectacular. There’s no color and practically no fine details to the backgrounds, yet it manages to tell a rather harrowing story. It’s a world on the brink of destruction, under attack from seemingly invincible extra-terrestrial aggressors, all depicted through the use of various shades of gray and some silhouettes.
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
Of all the worlds I've visited that can be expressed through "bits," Sword & Sworcery's is definitely my favorite. It's a world full of whimsical forests and foreboding caves. The magic floating in the pixelated air is almost tangible. And to say it's gorgeous would be a rather terrible understatement. The warrior monk's quest might be sorrowful (and a tad short), but it's stayed with me ever since its completion.