For the sake of brevity, I'll call it excellent.
About a month ago, Pix’N Love Rush made its way from the world of iOS to the PlayStation Network as a minis title. The game was free for Plus subscribers for two weeks, but if you missed it then (or are one of us PS Neutral subscribers), you only have to cough up $2.50 to get your hands on it. My advice is to skip tomorrow morning’s coffee/bagel and pick up Pix’N Love Rush. Toss it onto your PSP, and bring it with you everywhere. Bumper to bumper traffic? Classic Rush. Elevator ride up to the 23rd floor? On-Off Rush. Last night’s homemade burritos coming back to haunt you? Cursed Rush. Pix’N Love Rush ranks amongst the likes of Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess and Coconut Dodge, which, for a minis game, is a major statement.
Like many of the best minis, Pix’N Love Rush is simple. It’s a run and jump game in which the objective is to collect pluses, avoid minuses, shoot bats, and protect angels. All the while, the screen is scrolling either vertically or horizontally; it’s up to you to keep up your pace or get left behind. That’s the Classic Rush mode, which is all the iOS version of the game offered. The minis version of the game received two additional modes: Cursed Rush, and On-Off Rush. In Cursed Rush, the objective is to make it from point A to point B, your only action being jump. The screen side-scrolls while you execute precise jumps to stay alive. It comes in five difficulties: Hard, Harder, Hardcore, Hardcorer, and Hardcorest. These are not only humorously, but also aptly titled difficulties. Trust me when I write that Cursed Rush is intensely difficult, which is where much of its appeal lies. On-Off Rush also strips the moving and shooting and concentrates on the jumping. When the sun is high up in the background, you must collect the sun icons. Hitting a wall reverses your direction and sets the moon up in the sky, at which point you must collect moon icons. Each correctly collected icon fills a meter at the top of your screen, and each 11th consecutively collected icon adds time to the ever-winding-down clock.
Pix’N Love Rush looks great. I don’t mean “for a minis title great” great, I mean the game bursts at the seams with colorful graphics both on the PS3 and on the PSP’s screen. Almost everything is rendered in 8-bit fashion, which works well given the core gameplay’s oldschool feel. The cat-thing character’s animations are fluid and expressive, and the backgrounds are vibrant to a t. In the two different Classic Rush modes (5-minute and Infinite), the backgrounds are based on classic video games including Lunar Lander, Tetris, Pong, and many more. The background only changes when you’ve reached a higher multiplier, adding a sense of heightened awareness to the fray. When you’ve collected enough consecutive pluses or killed enough bats (or, likely, a combination of the two), your multiplier jumps to 2x. Keep it up and you’ll eventually get to 5x then 10x. Completing a stage 100% (all pluses and bats, no negatives or misfires) awards you a major score bonus. As you progress, stages are picked at random from a large selection, ensuring that no playthrough will be exactly the same. Something clever that the game does in all of its modes is reverse a stage so that although you recognize the pattern, you’ll have to be able to do it in reverse. In playing the game A LOT, I found the number of stages to be large and varied, but the fact that they sporadically reverse random levels impressed and challenged me.
Much can be said about the music in Pix’N Love Rush. For the sake of brevity, I’ll call it excellent. The chip tunes vary from easy going and catchy to fist-bumpingly energy charged. They’re composed by SidAbitBall, a French guy who apparently knows how to put together sounds. The music is an integral part of PNLR, acting as a fitting backdrop to the intense latter moments of a high-score run.
Pix’N Love Rush was a cool app. It’s an even cooler game, and I’m glad Sanuk took the time to help bring it to the minis platform. I was looking forward to its release since it was first announced, and I’m happy to report that yes, buttons transform a good idea into a great game. It’s right at home on the PSP, encouraging 5-minute bursts of play, and its added play modes makes it all the more replayable. SidAbitBall does a great job matching music to gameplay. If there’s a way to get his music in America, let me know. Little touches like humorously animated loading screens and multiple profiles makes this a true winner. If you liked Coconut Dodge’s addictive score attack gameplay or Monsters’s precise platforming, Pix’N Love is a must buy. If not, it’s probably still worth a look, because at $2.49, the game is a steal.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Portable version of the game.
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Developer:Pastagames, Sanuk Games SARL
Release Date:March 2011
Price:£2.49, €1.99 / £1.74