We were bound to get a gaggle of on-rails or stationary light gun shooters early on in the PSVR’s life. I mean it’s a perfect medium to finally bring these games to life in ways that old school light-guns and Wiimotes never could. Pixel Gear was the first of these types of games that I picked up to test.
Pixel Gear is an incredibly simple take on the wave shooter. You play through the game’s three stages with a single PS Move controller. The tracking of this controller to the in game gun is the best I’ve seen so far on the PSVR. I guess that since the game is only tasked with tracking one controller combined with simple head movements that the power needed to track all of this was minimal. I hope that other developers use this game as the standard for one to one controller tracking. It’s quite impressive.
When you first start the game you are presented with only a “Single Player” menu option on the screen. Selecting this with your gun opens up the three stages included, though you’ll have to play stage one to unlock the next. Difficulty selection is off to the left but that is it. The question has to be asked, why show off a “Single Player” button at all? If there is no other options, shouldn’t you just give us the choice of difficulty and take us to the stage selection? I kept looking around the main menu to see if I was missing something, but no… there really is only one game mode. Odd design.
The levels themselves are fun. You are presented with six waves of enemies culminating in an end of stage boss battle. Enemies spawn in front and beside you, so you literally have to keep your head on a swivel to defeat them all. The creatures themselves all seem to be voxel based, yet the levels look old school and pixelated. It’s an interesting design that reminds me of some of the older arcade shooters I’ve played where the enemies differed in design as to not get lost in the stage. The retro design and chip tune music throughout the game made the 80s arcade nerd in me smile.
As you make your way through the levels you will only face six different types of enemies. Skeletons, bats, armoured zombies, and a Frankenstein type monster with huge chain gun will appear in all of the stages with each additional stage bringing something new to shoot. I had hoped that the enemies would have been changed up between the different stages; heck even simple palette swaps to keep things interesting would have been nice to see. Sadly, the lack of enemy variety falls in line with the rest of the game’s lack of content.
Pixel Gear’s upgrade system, on the other hand, is quite interesting. Throughout the stages ghosts and angels will appear randomly and fly to the top of the screen. Shooting the angels will hurt your score, while the ghosts will give you bonus points. Every once and a while you’ll see ghosts that are holding coins appear. Shooting these ghosts will gather the coins, giving you funds to spend on power-ups at the end of every level.
These end of level upgrades are completely random and can contain new weapons or ghost upgrades. The new weapons you can unlock are a machine gun, grenade launcher and sniper rifle. The sniper is the only one that is, to me, more of a gimmick. You can zoom in by bringing the gun up to your face, but the stages are so shallow in depth that this isn’t practical when loads of enemies are on the screen. The ghost upgrades were confusing at first, but unlocking them will add more randomized ghosts to shoot that can explode, replenish your special ammo and more. This is an interesting system in practice, but I ended up just sticking with the stock handgun and spending my coins on ghost upgrades.
Another confusing design decision is that the game just stops at the end of a stage making your final score truly pointless. It would have been nice if you could have started on stage one and continue playing through stage three, keeping a running total throughout. Again, maybe this is something that will be patched in the future if a leaderboard system eventually appears, but it’s a glaring omission.
I’ve read in some early previews for this title that some additional content is or was planned. Online co-op modes, more stages and a true leaderboard system would all help this game greatly. I hope that the publisher, Oasis Games, is seeing enough return and that these additions are still planned for release in the near future.
I had plenty of fun with this title; I just wish that it were a much longer experience. That said it’s still the most accurately tracked light gun shooter I’ve played to date on the PSVR. With a small $10 price of admission it is a fun and cheap experience for those wanting to see how good gun tracking can be.
- Perfect gun tracking without any sway
- Voxel style graphics are clean
- Huge Bosses are a nice way to end the level
- Extremely short
- Severe lack of Leaderboards and game modes
- Did we say it’s too short yet?
I played a copy of Pixel Gear that was personally purchased. If you have questions about our review scale please see our About page.
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