Developer: Pixel Heart Studios
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

pixel rush 1
On paper, Pixel Rush really doesn’t sound that spectacular. It marries one cliché, the endless runner, with another, faux-retro graphics. And yet, the way it executes on its seemingly tired ideas elevates the whole package. It’s the definition of “more than the sum of its parts.”

“Endless runner with retro graphics” is really all there is to the premise. Players tap on the screen to help an 8-bit jogger leap over increasingly crazy obstacles like holes, bombs and speed-dampening slime monsters. Outside of purchasable power-ups like slime shields and extra lives, the game doesn’t opt for the gameplay tricks or musical gimmicks of something like Bit.Trip Runner and it’s simple to a fault as a result. However, the quality of what is here is quite high.

Like the classic games that inspired it, Pixel Rush’s controls are precise and snappy. The touch lag is virtually nonexistent allowing players to make quick, crisp jumps that feel great to pull off. One power-up allows players to jump again while in mid-air. This gives players an even greater level on control that can lead to some exciting, skillful play. This extra level of skill is also possible due to the care given to level design. While there are only six courses, they have actually been entirely hand-crafted instead of being procedurally generated. This means players can actually learn the layout during each run instead of just dealing with obstacles on the fly. While this means they may reach a definitive end, which seems unlikely given how long and challenging the courses get, the satisfaction that comes from learning and improving a run makes up for it.

Pixel Rush is also just a great-looking, great-sounding retro throwback. The glorious sprites are colorful and chunky. Backgrounds are full of nice little details and animations like the sparkly trails that signal a high-scoring run. The chiptunes music will also remind players how majestic and soaring bleeps and bloops can be. The only quirks there are the silent menus that suck the air out of failed runs.

Pixel Rush proves why one shouldn’t write off games based on descriptions alone. The only way to really know how good a game can be is by playing it.


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