The history of video games, in itself, is pretty fascinating. Small tiny blocks on a monitor slowly evolved into more solid blocks, to 2D platformers, to 3D and beyond. Sometimes changes between different eras were more subtle, and other times they were quite noticeable. But while there have been many changes, not many games have showed the differences. Sure, there are throwback graphics and maybe a level or two or minigame in there, but an entire game about the evolution of gaming hasn't really been done, kinda like how movies about movies didn't become a thing until decades after the industry began there. A Pixel Story tackles this, and makes the history into a game itself.
The story is about as expected as they come. You're the chosen one (created by an errant Pong ball -- no, really) who can stop the evil power from destroying the world. There are names and such, but really, that's the gist. There are lots of characters and an ever increasing graphics change – and that's the real story here. Seeing the graphics change with each generation. Seeing new game types and styles evolve , stop and start. The storyline isn't all that original, but by going through the eras, the journey is well off.
The controls on the PS4 are fine. It was ported in, and it's pretty obvious that the game is still more designed for a PC control scheme. But after messing up several early puzzles, I got the hang of it. One of the action buttons I kept mistaking for another, so I had a bunch of mistimed jumps because I was used to other games have a set, but again, after an adjustment period, it's fine.
Gameplay is a little bit different. This is a platform, puzzle solver. No kills, no complex moves – just find the patterns or move the things the right way. That isn't too bad, but the game is going to throw a lot at you. You suddenly get portals, a weird glitch move and others, making each level WAY more complex. There isn't a curve here – it's steps. Each level starts hard, gets easy, plateaus, then does it again. And then there's the side characters. You have a little robot thing going along with you, and it's extremely annoying. It interrupts you more with useless info than that sprite Link had in the Zelda games. I wish there was an option to kill it, because every time you get a good pace going, it stops you, and the game stops being fun.
The game actually starts with Pong, as a show of the evolution of games, and the mechanics ramp up, so there is some cause for this and shows how games do get more complex. But it gets needlessly complex. Using the characters hat is one such instance, because it triggers things like glitches, and it can mess up your timing. Overall, gameplay starts off good, but just grows too big and complex by the end, like it's throwing in little extra moves because it could, not because it should.
As a game that goes through the decades of gaming, the graphics would need to match each decade – and they do. Early on it begins like early platformers – bare bones, but recognizable. Most eras of platformers they get dead right, including that Genesis era of having platformers having a mix of still backgrounds and copy/paste realistic interiors, with weirdly animated/boxy characters. And then that early 2000's period where they're ALMOST lifelike, but you can tell they're still very much digital. This level of detail doesn't deserve less than an A+.
The sounds and music of the game keep up with the eras, going from simple beeps and boops and becoming grander with each age. A few times they stagnate, but mostly they continue at such a pace you almost expect PS4 level 3D graphics at the end.
Pleasantly enough, there isn't much is in the glitch department. With so much design going in, they HAD to test each section for different things, and it shows. It's a fairly simple game too, and each jump, movement and puzzle felt completely natural in game. I never felt like it was slowing down or if the frame rate was dropping or even if the game went screwy. It was solidly tested.
A Pixel Story is a pretty good game. It's difficulty is all over the place and some characters can get VERY annoying VERY fast. However, in spite of these things, it's a marvelous showing of each generation of games, kept the overall quality up and was generally pretty fun to play. Honestly, at some points, I swear I was playing a SNES game or a Genesis game. It has faults, but it's strengths win out at the end.
Final score: 7.5/10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.