FixPix: An Addictive Fit of Pixelated Madness
Jun 10, 2010 5:00 AM PT
There was a fair degree of anticipation surrounding "FixPix" a few weeks ago before it launched at the App Store. Delicious Toys posted a video of an early version in action, and viewers sat transfixed by the retro appeal of its artwork.
It's a throwback to 1980s Atari, Nintendo and Commodore 64 aesthetics, when video game artists had to make due with a technically limited palette and form their own sort of boxy impressionism.
"FixPix" is technically a puzzle game in which the puzzle part definitely takes a back seat to the art. The object of each of "FixPix's" 100 levels is to actually solve the puzzle, but don't be in too much of a hurry; there are hundreds details and bits of eye candy to take in as you explore each screen.
Fix It Up
Each "FixPix" level presents a scene in which certain objects, people and buildings are out of alignment.
A car is hanging in the sky, for instance, or a guy who looks like he should be sitting on the beach is out there in the middle of the water.
Tilt the screen enough for the iPhone's accelerometer to pick up on it, and the out-of-place elements change position.
It's a sort of virtual 3-D, and when you've lined everything up just right -- when the iPhone is tilted to that one correct angle and your perspective puts everything in the right place -- then it will click into place, a buzzer will sound, and you're off to the next level.
Look closely enough, and you'll find clues to the correct position.
The game presents a dense world of primary colors, thick and pixelated black lines, and 45-degree viewpoints. The most interesting images you'll see are tableaus of grand cityscapes, giant robots, or general madness. Zombies overtake Rodea Drive, workers paint a giant gorilla, a mecha terrorizes Tokyo, etc.
They look like what might have happened if Al Jaffee had taken a break from Mad Magazine in the early '90s to create video games.
You'll probably find a lot of hidden elements in these scenes -- characters or objects that are covered from view in the "fixed" version of the image, but which help tell the story if you pan around long enough to see them.
The various roadsigns, logos and text are just weird enough to sound like it all came from a slap-dash Japanese-to-English translation.
Not all the levels are this interesting, though. Some have you lining up facial features on a head shot, or just arranging pieces of food on a plain white background.
Other levels have you lining up puzzle-pieces of an image -- or even pixels themselves -- rather than the objects within the image. This can be a lot more challenging. See the last two screenshots for an example.
Even with its 100 levels, you could easily finish FixPix in less than an hour if you don't take much time gazing at the art. For some levels, though, the art really is worth a look. In fact, you may actually finish it in a single session -- it's incredibly addictive.
Apple managed to cram a gyroscope into the upcoming iPhone 4. Now the handset will know with greater sensitivity exactly how it's oriented: right-side up, upside-down, 26.4 degrees kerwonkedy this way or that, whatever.
The best it could give us for the WWDC presentation was a game of virtual Jenga, but it might be interesting to see what developers do with a phone that knows which way it's pointed.
I hope "FixPix" is a big enough hit to get Delicious Toys thinking in that direction in terms of a sequel. Until then, how about some extra levels offered up as an in-app purchase?