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Hot Pixel
Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Atari
Media: UMD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle/ Classic/Retro/ Online

Graphics & Sound:
Hot Pixel (or Hot PXL, as it's referred to everywhere except for the front of the box) is an interesting throwback to the 2D games of yesteryear. Among the 200 games and 10 boss games, you will find a wide variety of games that are either small parts of classic Atari games or otherwise very simple tasks which are designed to take only a couple of seconds to accomplish. The graphics are made to look like the retro classics that inspired them, with unnecessarily blocky graphics. Some of the games forgo the pixelated graphic treatment and, instead, use realistic images that look much like cut-outs of photographs. This is all intended to give Hot PXL a street-like feel. This almost works, but the guy that acts as the "host" of the game, if you will, seems to be trying to straddle the line between skater and nerd. The problem there is that, quite frankly, that is a mighty large gap to attempt to straddle, and the guy comes out looking more geeky than anything else, so I'm not sure how much "street cred" Hot PXL actually manages to secure.

The production quality in Hot PXL is an interesting thing. The game seems to work perfectly; I never had the game freeze on me or anything like that. At the same time, the graphics are low resolution or are simply taken straight from photographs. This makes it look like very little effort was put into the appearance of the game. The interesting thing here, however, is that is a look they were evidently going for. For all I know, they might have taken thousands of photographs before choosing just the right ones for the games and generated lots of extra pixelated graphics that didn't make it into the game because they weren't exactly what Atari wanted. In the end, I find myself simply having to accept the graphical style as being completely intended.

So, you're a PlayStation sort of gamer? Don't have Nintendo gaming systems? Missing the madcap gameplay of Warioware games? Stop your cryin', because Hot PXL is here and is bringing with it a whole slew of frantic, twitch-filled micro-games that are just perfect for gamers suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder... and it is perfect for gamers with A.D.D. - not only that, Hot PXL has lots of micro-games! And it's here! (Stay with me, now...)

Playing Hot PXL is easy... sorta. Take the Episodes mode, for example. You select this mode, then you select which themed episode you want to play. Once you've selected an episode, you will be thrown into ten micro-games, one after the other, each of which will give you a very short amount of time to figure out what (simple) task you're supposed to accomplish. If you successfully pass enough of these micro games (I think eight is the minimum to continue), you face a "boss game." These boss games are more like mini-games, with longer time limits and more complexity than the micro-games leading up to them. Completing an episode will unlock the boss game as a playable mini-game in the Boss Games mode, as well as other goodies.

Some of the boss games are definitely worth playing again. The example that springs to mind is a version of Simon. This game is a decent version of the electronic memory game that was such a fad way back when; there are appropriately retro looking red, yellow, blue and green lighted buttons which light up and make their distinctive tones in a sequence and you are tasked with the job of attempting to reproduce this sequence. Each victory is simply rewarded by increasing the length (and, hence, the complexity) by adding another button press to the sequence. To play, you press the action buttons which correspond with the direction of the on-screen button you wish to press, making it very true to the feel of the electronic Simon game.

The difficulty in Hot PXL has largely to do with figuring out what you're supposed to do in enough time to actually do it within the time limit. Resultantly, once you've messed up a specific game once or twice, you should be able to figure out what you're supposed to do. Then, it's relatively easy to beat that particular micro-game. Some are more difficult than others, of course, but even then, practicing by playing a micro-game a few times will help you get the hang of it.

There's not a lot of challenge in working through the various levels. A little practice will get you through it. The fun is in the time element, so you'll need to work on your speed - and accuracy at higher speed for some of the micro-games.

The boss games are longer games and are, typically, a bit slower paced. You'll want to determine what you're required to do and hone your skills in those areas to get past these mini-games. I would suggest getting really good at the micro-games, so that you can easily get to the boss stage, since you won't be able to practice the boss games outside of the episodes until after you've beaten them in the Episode mode.

Game Mechanics:
Hot PXL has a look and feel that is one part irreverence, one part retro and one part street. This creates an interface and gameplay experience that is a bit, well, weird, but it seems to fit the game fairly well.

Fans of micro-games and/or fans of the 2D games of yesteryear are likely to enjoy the fast-paced, short-lived games in Hot PXL. I would say that the replay value of some of the micro-games might not be very high, but I can't think of any that are as pointless as Warioware's "Drop the controller" micro-game, so it's not all that bad. One thing that helps this title is the Playlist feature that allows you to choose what games to put into rotation for you to play. This feature allows you to tailor the game to suit you and even includes some automatic playlists that do things such as focus on the micro-games you play the most often or the ones you have the most trouble with.

If you're looking for retro goodness on your handheld or some twitch action in your pocket, then I would recommend Hot PXL for the PSP. It's an odd little title, but it's great if you need a little bit of entertainment while you're waiting for your Pop-Tart to finish toasting.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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