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iPhone  header logo

Pixel Ranger

For: iPhone

My favourite deputy

Product: Pixel Ranger | Publisher: Chillingo | Format: iPhone | Genre: Arcade, Shooter | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.1
Pixel Ranger iPhone, thumbnail 1
If we’d have known that blocky pixel-based visuals would enjoy such an astonishing renaissance we’d have held onto our dusty old Commodore 64 instead of shipping it off to the charity shop back in the mid-'90s.

Regrets aside, it’s clear that old skool aesthetics are striking a chord with iOS gamers these days, judging by the sheer volume of pixel-focused titles available on the App Store.

Proof that faux-retro visuals can be applied to almost any situation, arcade-style shooter Pixel Ranger takes your typical wild west setup and festoons it in glowing neon imagery.

Reach for the skies

With his good lady and trusty horse abducted by fiendish extra-terrestrials, the blocky ranger of the title has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. This is naturally where your influence is felt, as you control the ranger’s movement by tilting your iOS device.

You use a shotgun to dish out good old-fashioned cowboy justice to the alien scum, and tapping anywhere on the screen unleashes a shot of pixels. The catch is that these pixels are your life essence: every shot kills you a little bit.

Thankfully, downed enemies drop pixels, which you collect by walking over them. Therefore, it pays to take out as many aliens as possible with a single shot, as you expend fewer pixels and gain a whole pile as a reward for your pinpoint accuracy.

There’s a snake in my boots

Although the majority of your foes are airborne, you’ll also have to contend with ground-based enemies. You can choose to jump over these by touching the lower portion of the screen, should you be feeling particularly nimble.

Becoming accustomed to the controls is a must in Pixel Ranger, because on the later levels you’ll be facing some particularly taxing challenges. It’s not uncommon to have aliens hurling projectiles from the air while crawling monsters attempt to take a bite out of your boots.

Thankfully, felled foes drop power-up items. These include a screen-clearing bomb, a highly destructive rocket launcher, and even a high-tech laser ray. However, the question mark item is best avoided, as it reverses your character’s direction of movement.

There’s trouble at the watering hole

In terms of pure presentation, Pixel Ranger is hard to fault. The deliberately simplistic visuals look amazing, boasting an abundance of neon colouring and some seriously eye-catching enemies.

The gameplay is also refreshingly challenging, and the fact that each shot drains your life prevents the game from turning into a mindless shooting range. You have to make each blast count, and be as precise as possible with your aim.

Our only real gripe is that with tilting, jumping, and shooting to contend with it often feels like you need an extra pair of hands to fully master Pixel Ranger’s control method.

Although it makes sterling use of all the iPhone’s interface options, the game would play better with a traditional pad and button control system.

Regardless of this relatively minor issue, Pixel Ranger is a nostalgia-tinged arcade blast which will have trigger-happy players hooting with delight – but less dedicated iPhone owners may wish to sample something a little more sedate.
Pixel Ranger
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 6 October 2011
Pixel Ranger’s presentation can’t be faulted, and it offers a stern arcade challenge for those who are skilful enough to master its occasionally taxing control system
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