Alawishus Pixel Has Retro Charm

Review of Alawishus Pixel on XBLIG: Try
A mixed bag, Alawishus Pixel has some great retro charm but is lacking in challenging puzzles.

The term “retro” is often abused in indie games to explain away poor graphics.  True retro games will not only limit themselves to the color pallets of old, but they will also keep to the simplistic nature of consoles past.  Alawishus Pixel is a puzzle platformer that excels on both counts.

In Alawishus Pixel the goal is to open a door by pushing a block into a switch.  There is always one block, one door, and one switch.  The 40 levels start out simple and slowly work in more and more enemy types and obstacles.  Conveyor belts, trolls, moving platforms, and shooting brain pods all make an appearance as the cave gets deeper.

There is a reason for entering the cave.  On the first level is a sign left by fellow spelunker, hoping someone will come to save them.  The fellow spelunker cannot assume anyone is coming however, and heads deeper into the cave hoping to find another way out.  In many of the levels there are notes left behind from the poor spelunker, sometimes offering advice and other times hinting of insanity.  Deeper into the cave, it becomes clear it is not a cave at all, but an underground base.  Who the base is for, or why the base is here is answered only when you reach the final door.  I won’t spoil the ending, but the story has an ending, and a decent one at that.

As a puzzle game Alawishus falls short.  None of the levels present any deep mental challenges, and many just require a bit of timing to complete.  As a platformer Alawishus does better, but not great.  There are a number of levels that require pixel perfect jumps, and though the controls make it easy to land these, I felt these detracted from, rather than added to, the gameplay.

The graphics of Alawishus rival those of any NES-era title.  The music evokes fond memories of Mega Man.  If you told me the same composer worked on both games, I would believe you.  There is a care and attention to detail for every level and sprite that is noticeable even if you’re not old enough to remember having just two buttons per controller.

I give Alawishus Pixel a strong Try.  The retro charm and interesting story do a lot to overcome the weaker elements of gameplay.  The game contains 40 levels and is easily finished in one sitting – this will not be a game that requires multiple play sessions.  I encourage gamers to check out the trial.  By the end of the eight minute limit, you will know if you want to spend $1 to see how the story ends.

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