The Way of the Pixelated Fist is a side-scrolling action platformer in the tradition of Prince of Persia, but it looks nothing like Prince of Persia, nothing like any game really. It instantly sets itself apart by how it frames its action. Most of the screen is black at any given moment, with only a thin slit of a window in which any gameplay takes place. It is counter intuitive framing, blocking out as much of the world as possible, but in practice, it serves as a clever way to emphasize movement and action as well as a workaround for its graphical limitations.
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Last week I wrote about the story content of Spirits of Xanadu. This week I want to write about its graphics, those terrible graphics that “look like a student project from the early 90s”. That description still holds true, but what’s impressive about this virtual world of simple geometric shapes is how much emotion and style it wrings out of such low fidelity graphics. It might not showcase much detail, but it know how to frame a scene, and in this case, composition is more important than detail.
There are two scenes in particular that I want to call out. Both can kind of be considered spoilers, but one can definitely be considered a spoiler, so I recommend that you play the game first before reading on. It’s only a few hours long and only $10.00 on Steam. With that said…
Spirits of Xanadu has some terrible graphics. Let’s just get that out of the way first.
From the robots and guns made out of basic 3D shapes to the flat texture-less walls of the ship, the game looks like a student project from the early 90’s. It certainly lacks a lot of visual flair, but I’m telling you about it now because it still manages to do a lot with the very little it has.
Mirror’s Edge is a racing game. Sure, you may be controlling a person, not a car, and you may be jumping across rooftops like a platformer, but neither the first-person shooter nor the platformer fully capture the ethos of Mirror’s Edge. It’s a first-person game unconcerned with shooting and a jumping game that’s unconcerned with jumping. Yes, you’ll jump a lot, but that’s not the really the point of it all. The point of it… is speed. Getting up to speed. Maintaining speed. Improving yourself to increase your speed. Everything about the game eventually feeds back into that singular idea.
I like a lot of mobile games. I’ve become the mobile-game guy among my friends and at Moving Pixels, but even I have my prejudices: I hate match-three mobile games.
I hate how they’re always timed, rushing to you make a match so that you can never really think about or plan your actions. I hate how cluttered they are, with so many different symbols in play on a little grid that it becomes hard to find a match. My eyes just glaze over the mess of icons until time runs out, and I fail at whatever I was trying to do. I hate how abusive they often are. The issues I mentioned before abuse my time and efforts, while microtransactions for special items abuse my wallet. Sometimes these two things work together, like when a level becomes impossible to beat unless you pay for point-boosting items. Even the supposedly great games like You Must Build A Boat just get on my nerves .