Updated: P1XL Party Review

P1XL Party has been updated, and certainly for the better. Any addition only adds value to its price tag, and– while we still don’t think it’s for everybody– this may be one party you want to be fashionably late to. It all depends on how much you like games from the 80s, because that’s really what informs the design of all of the games in the package.

The new game they’ve added, Bounced, looks like it was ripped straight from an Atari 2600 game box, from the graphics to the instruction manual. It’s got a pretty cool concept, but the controls feel weird to us.

The goal of the game is to get a specific number of balls in the game’s four quadrants. To do so, you shift two walls, one horizontal and one vertical. Each has a hole to allow balls to pass from quadrant to quadrant. The trouble is you would probably assume that you swipe horizontally to move the horizontal wall, and use a similar method for the vertical wall. Instead, the hole in both walls moves towards where you tap. It’s not an awful control scheme, but it doesn’t feel like the optimal one. You can also control the walls by tilting your device, but we didn’t prefer it.

The latest version of P1XL Party also injects some much-needed music into parts of the game that had previously been silent. The era-appropriate chiptunes make the game much more lively, as an homage to retro games should be. Still, we feel like this game is only going to appeal to a pretty specific audience because of its strict adherence to 80s game design. The games are still pretty simple and feel stuck in the era its developers obviously love, but if you want to take a trip back in time and don’t have a flux capacitor, you could do worse than P1XL Party.

P1XL Party – Retro Minigames! is the newest game from developer P1XL, whose throwback title RPG Quest – Minimae charmed a lot of people with its 8-bit style. It might be more appropriate to call their latest app a gaming platform, because its main menu has three minigames and six empty slots. These empty slots will have games in them someday at no additional cost, but what’s available now is a hard sell, even at just $0.99.

The first thing we noticed is that P1XL Party is an oddly silent piece of software. We expected some peppy chiptunes from a game with the words ‘retro’ and ‘party’ in its name. For a collection of games that are trying to channel the spirit of the Commodore 64, P1XL Party has disappointingly little music.

Let’s get this party started.

One of the three available minigames, Splatform, was actually made for the Commodore 64 in a 2002 homebrew contest. It’s not surprising that it won, because it’s easily the most engaging game in this package. It has decent music, simple Intellivision-esque graphics, and it’s a very challenging example of pure platforming.

To play Splatform, you tilt your device left and right to determine where your avatar, a little bouncy blob, is heading. It’s not a complicated game– you just direct your avatar from left to right and try not to fall into the bottomless pit below. There are nine stages to move through, and it’s a difficult game to beat. Fans of iOS platformers may enjoy it, but tilting the device feels like an imprecise and unnecessary control scheme.

While Splatform can be maddeningly hard, the other two inclusions in P1XL Party are nearly lifeless in their execution. One is Wanderers, a light action/adventure game where you wander around a field as a knight. While on your mission to find the King’s daughters and escort them back to the castle, you will encounter monsters that you may attack by running into them repeatedly.

The lady and I are going elsewhere. Got it, one-eye?

You’ll also find one upgrade each for your sword and armor, but it’s not a very exciting quest. There’s very little music, and the sound effects are no better than the dullest of Atari-era sound effects. It’s fairly sparse visually, as well.

Finally, there’s Marz. While Marz is easily the best-looking game of the three, it’s probably the least enjoyable. Your objective is to land on the surface of Mars, and you need to bomb the surface of the planet to clear the way for a landing.

Unfortunately, there’s no real challenge to it. As your ship moves across the screen and down towards the ground, you can just tap the screen repeatedly until the surface is smooth. The only sounds in this game are the bomb and its contact with your targets, and a short music cue when you finish a level. The levels don’t progress in an interesting way, and you’ll likely lose interest fast.

P1XL Party’s retro aesthetic and the promise of new content might be worth $0.99 to some people, but we see no reason to hurry and buy it. We wish the P1XL folks had finished more mini-games before asking people to pay for this incomplete collection.

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