Preview: Pixel Gear
It has the charm of a Mario Party mini game but with the satisfaction of continuous play.
After yesterday’s announcement we now know the release dates for each of publisher Oasis Games’ PlayStation VR titles, yet with so little detail regarding the content of each of them – until now. Over this week VRFocus will be concentrating on each of the titles, including Ace Banana, Weeping Doll, and Dying: Reborn. All of these titles give such differing levels of enjoyment, but Pixel Gear has come out with the top fun-factor.
To put it simply, Pixel Gear, developed by Geronimo Interactive, is a stationary wave shooter. This might come as a slight disappointment to some as there is already quite a catalogue of stationary shooters, but Pixel Gear has a few twists to it that it gives it that spark of life most shooters are missing. Using one Move controller, players shoot down and clear the oncoming foes that threaten them, all while admiring the depth to each level.
How Pixel Gear has pushed the boat out in comparison to Blasters of the Universe or the HTC Vive title Space Pirate Trainer is that as you progress through the waves and stages there appears to be layers to what you are doing and how you are accomplishing your victories. Put plainly: cool stuff happens when you shoot things.
There are a few different enemies to defeat in each wave. Two of the simpler types are owls flying towards you and small bulky skeletons advancing the field. The owls may seem like the less interesting of the villains, but in the long run they are actually great to utilise in your gaming strategy as they vary from holding explosive pumpkins you can use against their allies, and others are engulfed in flames. There are two more enemies that are more complex, being a bulky man-like creature who sometimes comes with a mightily big gun, and a guarded robotic soldier who takes a few goes with shooting at until he collapses. There aren’t too many variations in enemies, but these all seem to serve great purpose in needing prioritised attention in order for you to clear the stage alive.
On top of these enemies, there is also a bonus mini wave where you can rack up additional points by shooting ghosts that come from the ground, or you could also mistakenly take away points by shooting the innocent angels who rise with them. This is a fun recovery slot of time that changes up the gears, giving you a threatless shootout before you get to upgrade either your abilities or guns. There are four weapons to choose from, including a machine gun, but your default hand gun is the only one to remain with unlimited ammo., and your upgradable abilities include being able to see the ghosts more clearly.
What’s more to Pixel Gear is that after a certain amount of enemies you can unleash a special mode by pressing the circle button, which in the demo was the slowing of time. When this mode was selected, you have a limited amount of time to obliterate all that you can, and of course if you time it nicely it can rack up some pretty high combo scores.
There are various levels of difficulty – easy, medium, hard – and as you progress through each of the three stages, which have a number of waves each, the difficulty naturally increases. This is a standard for most videogames, but with all of the aforementioned features it isn’t a simple case of increased weight to the waves. Instead, with how the slight complexities of the enemies bounce off of each other, it results in more calculated gameplay and potentially more devastating results. This is all rounded off with an explosive boss battle at the end of each of the three stages where it really gives you all its got.
The level of the overall graphics for Pixel Gear is bulky and cartoon-like, and this works perfectly into how light-hearted and almost whimsical this shooter is – even down to the slapstic recoil of the gun. Each of the levels are filled with obstacles and items that enemies can hide behind, which once again, compared to most stationary shooters, is something of a bit more substance than standing in an open field.
Pixel Gear is something that echoes the same type of fun and atmosphere of a Mario Party mini game that you keep your fingers crossed to play over and over. After finishing each wave and shooting down each of those ghosts (and maybe angels), there’s no doubt you’ll be left with a smile on your face and anticipation for the next level.