I have to admit that lately I’ve just been browsing the Astraware game catalogue alphabetically because I knew that there were games that I didn’t notice yet. Pixelus is one of them. It’s another puzzle game licensed by PopCap, and when you hear about a PopCap/Astraware published game, you’d better check it out!
Start with the gameplay of Four in a row, where you drop a coin in a grid, and it falls until it is blocked by another coin. Then multiply that by four, because you can insert ‘coins’ from all four sides. Finally add obstacles, a puzzle element, and a Greek story to it, and you’ll have the entertaining game called Pixelus!
The Pixelus trial limits you to playing the tutorial level and the first temple, meaning that you can play only the tutorial, and one of nine caves. However, these contain the easiest puzzles, so expect the remaining part to have a progressive difficulty! Also, the trial shows these delaying screens inbetween gameplay (to the right).
Main menu screens
After first starting Pixelus, you’ll be asked to enter your name. This will create a player account for you, where your progress will be saved. You can create several accounts, so you and your family and friends can solve Pixelus each at their own speed. While entering your name you have to decide if you want to play in regular mode or in ‘Expert mode’. Expert mode disables the Hint and Undo features. so here you have no other choice than to solve each puzzle with nothing but your own logical thinking. I chose not to play in Expert mode.
The next screen is the Pixelus main menu screen, from which you can start your game, change your options, and change the active player.
The Options screen contains several items, some of which leading to subscreens. In the Game options you can enable or disable the Instructions, Hint boxes and Trails (the path your tiles travel in order to reach it’s destination).
The Sound options allow you to set the level of the cheerful theme-matching music and the sound effects. You can also disable one or both of them, but if you want to disable all music, you can also just tap the “Mute” item in the Main menu (Options) screen.
The Register, About, Credits and Support items aren’t very important to the game (well you’ll need to register it in order to play everything, of course!) so that leaves us with the Exit button to leave Pixelus, and the Keys item where you can set the key repeat speed (for D-Pad use), and re-assign actions to certain keys.
Then, back in the Main menu screen, you can tap Change User in order to create, rename or delete player accounts or switch the current active player.
When you tap Play, you’ll be presented by some introduction storyline pages, where you find out that you are Claudius, and got shipwrecked on the island of Pixelus. Since the floors of the God’s tenple are broken, you figure that if you work to recover the mosaic floors, they will help you to get home.
You’ll then see island where your quest takes place. The cave in the center is where you can optionally follow the tutorial in order to get familiar with the game. Note that these puzzles don’t add to the “0 out of 201 solved” count, so the game consists of 201 levels + the tutorial levels. After completing or skipping the tutorial, you can start visiting other locations, such as the FLORA location in the bottom. Tap it to view the puzzles for that location, or tap-and-hold to see more details, such as the difficulty, and the amount of puzzles. Note that there are 12 puzzles in this level, but you’ll only need to complete 9 puzzles in order to advance.
On the island view, you can tap Menu to return to the Main menu, or Options to open the Options popup, which is exactly the same as on the Main menu screen.
When you enter a location, you see the character that corresponds to that location, and several puzzles. Each puzzle represents a floor on which you have to place several tiles. After doing this correctly, the floor turns into a mosaic. In the screen below, the first three tutorial levels are completed and have turned into mosaics, and the arrow displays the next puzzle. In later locations, you can play the puzzles in a random order, except for the locked puzzles which will become available after playing a certain amount of the other puzzles first. After playing 9 levels in FLORA you get a conversation saying that the other puzzles can be played in the full version, and the next location that is revealed (Cupid) will be locked until you enter the registration key. However, the trial still allows you to finish the remaining puzzles in Flora.
So, lets finally tap a puzzle and get started!
The first tutorial level starts explaining how you can add tiles to the playing field. Just tap on an empty spot, where the new tile will be stopped by another one. For example, in the screen below, if you enter a new tile to the spot where the arrow points to, it will be stopped by the blue tile with the red lines around it. Filling all highlighted spots with new tiles completes the level. However, as you can see to the left of each screen, there is only a limited amount of tiles available. In many levels you will need to place a tile on a spot just to help placing another tile, and then remove that initial tile again.
For example, as you can see on the screen on the left here, the red tiles are tiles that are not on highlighted spots, and therefore on incorrect places. While these will have to be removed in order to complete a level, they can be used to, for example, place a tile on top of one of the red block. If you then remove the red block, the new tile doesn’t touch any other blocks horizontally or vertically! This is one of the techniques that need to be used to solve the puzzles, such as the one on the right.
As you can see, this screen shows the amount of moves that are used, as well as an undo button. The undo button also takes away one move from the Moves count, so there’s no need to Reset the level just in order to get a good Moves count. However, if prefer starting over by just tapping a single button, there’s also a Reset button available. Then, in the center of the left button group, there is the Hint button, which will show you a crystal ball with the puzzle inside. You can then click “One Move” or “All Move” in order to see (part of) the solution revealed to you. This way, you can never _really_ get stuck, unless you’ve picked Expert mode in the beginning (since then the Hint and Undo buttons are disabled, so you can only reset a level).
Finally, a fun addition is that if you complete a level in the minimum amount of moves, you are awarded a golden medal. Silver and Bronze medals are available for almost perfect achievements. These medals are also visible in the view where you can see the puzzles for a location, so even after completing all puzzles you can still go back and try to achieve gold medals for all locations.
In some games, you get to read a story before starting the game, and then you’ll never think about the story again. Not with Pixelus. In Pixelus, you are taken on an adventure totally in Greek style. The story, as well as the tiles concept, music, and overall graphics all add to the Greek theme, supporting very original and challenging puzzles. Pixelus starts with a useful tutorial, and then the game gets harder and harder, in the 200+ levels of ancient Greek puzzle fun. And after completing all puzzles you can revisit them in order to max out your golden medals. Pixelus deserves it’s title as one of Astraware’s popular puzzle games!
By: Astraware, licensed by Popcap Games
Platforms/OS: PPC, and Palm. For PPC, PPC 2002 – WM 5 are supported.
Resolutions: Square (240*240), QVGA (240*320) and VGA (480*640)
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