Better Than Ace Banana, But So Is Being Punched In The Stomach
HIGH The dragon boss is a legitimately great fight.
LOW An enemy that wandered behind indestructible scenery made a level unbeatable.
WTF I’m confused as to why Frankenstein is wandering around this icy valley carrying a minigun.
The loading screen of Pixel Gear filled me with the kind of dread I rarely feel when a videogame boots up.
It seems that this title is brought to players by Oasis Designs Limited, infamous for being the publisher responsible for Ace Banana — the second-worst launch title for PSVR. As such, I went into it with the lowest possible expectations. All the game had to do in order to convince me of its value was offer basic functionality.
After spending time with it, I can report that Pixel Gear is an actual videogame that can be played. Its accomplishments beyond that? Few and far between.
As a virtual shooting gallery set in a voxel-built world full of voxel-based enemies, the game has no plot or overriding concept beyond ‘use these realistic-looking guns to shoot enemies in fantasy worlds‘. I could try to imagine some kind of justification for what a floating gun is doing waging war on blocky monsters, but seeing as the game owes more to the tradition of carnival shooting galleries than first-person shooters, it’s probably best to let the absurd premise slide.
Judged solely as a shooting gallery, it works remarkably well. There are plenty of places for enemies to pop out of, the various difficulties offer a variety of enemy wave compositions and numbers of foes. All of the guns are pinpoint-accurate, and even offer laser sights to make sure players know exactly where they’re aiming as they get used to being in its virtual world.
One of the four weapons — a sniper rifle — even has a clever aiming mechanic that has the player bringing the Move controller right up to the headset so that they can look through a scope. It’s a neat idea that might prove to be an interesting addition to some other game in the future, but it’s wholly useless here since no enemies are ever far enough away to require a scope, and the rifle isn’t powerful enough to compensate for its slow rate of fire.
While the bedrock functionality is here, Pixel Gear disappoints thanks to its inability to offer anything beyond basic light gun gameplay. Each level is exactly the same — five waves of enemies followed by a well-designed boss fight. The voxel environments are in no way destructible, there are no secrets to find, and there are no clever ways the level geometry is ever used other than being a place where the player can shoot explosive barrels.
Pixel Gear is a serviceable shooting gallery, but absolutely nothing more than that. A player can see all of the game’s content in less than an hour, with only the promise of trophies and high-score hunting enticing them back for more.
Here in the PSVR’s launch window, I could almost find myself giving Pixel Gear a recommendation, but unless players are desperate for software, it doesn’t offer anything that Rush of Blood or Brookhaven don’t already do better. That said, it’s appropriate for younger teens, which is a thing the PSVR’s other shooting galleries can’t claim.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Geronimo Interactive and published by Oasis Designs Limited. It is currently available on PSVR. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PSVR. Approximately 1 hour of play was devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. If there are multiplayer modes, I saw no sign of them.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E and contains fantasy violence. This is your children’s chance to shoot sppoky halloween monsters in incongruous fantasy settings. Who could be against that? Seriously, the game is completely harmless, other than the fact that each wave ends with a bonus sequence that invites players to shoot ghosts while avoiding shooting angels. That could get a dicey, but really it’s up to you.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There are no significant audio cues of note. It’s accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, this game’s controls are not remappable.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.