Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
Super Pixelander is a casual 2-D arcade game in which players must navigate around a lunar-like surface (and the space above it) to collect space gems while avoiding asteroids and other environmental hazards. It plays very much like a classic arcade game, with each play session being largely self-contained, but it does what it does well.
Players control their lunar lander by tilting their iOS device and pressing the screen to create thrust. When thrusting, the lander also automatically fires whatever weapon it has. When players let go of the screen, the firing stops and they begin to fall back to the surface. These navigational methods are all that players have to dodge missiles and collect space gems.
As players collect these space gems, their high score increases by a single point. In addition, players randomly receive a new weapon. At the beginning of the game, these weapons are relatively simple and fire downward - away from the player's upward trajectory. However, as players gather space gems from round to round they may earn enough to unlock new and more complicated weapons that shoot out the sides of the ship or all around. The push to collect a certain number of gems over time is the key gameplay hook to keep each round feeling fresh.
If the weapon unlock mechanic was not present in Super Pixelander it would be a much less enjoyable game, as every play session ramps up its difficulty at around the same pace. Without newer and more powerful weapons to unlock the game could quickly become frustrating and repetitive, but since each unlock usually grants a better weapon, players gradually build up their survivability.
As a free game, Super Pixelander is plastered with ads. Whether it be along the top bar of a menu screen or a full screen popup between rounds, they don't get directly in the way of the action, but they are distracting and annoying in the way that most ads are. It isn't a game-breaker by any means, but it's still worth noting as it diminishes the experience.
Overall, Super Pixelander is a pretty good but simple arcade game. It is easy to jump in and out of and provides just enough extra content to make coming back for new playthroughs feel worthwhile and meaningful.