Tuesday, November 22, 2011


In my experience, people don't really hate pixels. If anything, pixel LOVE is more the order of the day, as retro gaming has been slowly but surely coming back in big ways. (Hell, most browser games kinda RELY on pixels, and generally do so to critical acclaim.)

But not here. Here, in Pixelhate, you abhor pixels. You must, for destroying them is your all-consuming purpose.


Pixelhate is a scrolling shooter title. You, the little yellow fighter pictured above, are placed on a vertically-scrolling screen filled with baddies, like so:

And, just like any game of this kind, you need to weave around and destroy as many enemies as you can before succumbing to their attacks. A classic arcade shooter - and at its core, that's all Pixelhate is: a shooter. Nothing REALLY innovative about it.

The catch? Well, this game has a weird sense of humour. As mentioned it hates pixels, and consequently your attacks chip away pixels one at a time. As a result you may wind up fighting enemies who look like this before they actually blow up:

Yes, that ragged mass of yellow in the north IS an enemy. (And, yes, those are the Pac-Man ghosts. The ragged mass is Pac-Man... just... not lookin' so good.) The fact that the enemies get ripped apart bit by bit is both neat and frustrating, because it can prevent them from shooting back... but it may also mean that one or two little pixels will be left floating around, barely noticeable, that will kill your ship on contact.

Beyond all this, you also get weapon upgrades (purely to your guns) and shields that will protect you from taking accidental dings. That's the sum of Pixelhate.


Very easy: move your mouse around. The ship will follow. The only big problem comes from steering too far, for if your mouse leaves the Flash window, your ship will fly wildly out of control - and probably smash into something.

My major gripe, and I don't even know if I SHOULD gripe about this, stems from firing. It's not difficult to do, mind - just hold down the mouse button - but every time you do, you start to overheat your weapons. Do so sufficiently and your rate of fire will drop to almost nothing until your guns run dry. This is doubtless a conscious choice to keep the game from being too easy, but I got killed too many times from sheer bad luck because my weapons decided to crap out at a bad moment. (Though you could argue that I should have paced myself, as well.)


Pixelhate is one step up from Atari but one or two steps down from SNES or Sega Genesis. It's pretty, but in an extremely simplified way - which makes sense since it's all about pixels. I personally like the overall aesthetic, though the repetitive, uniform backgrounds are boring after a while.

What I really appreciated in Pixelhate was the incorporation of retro icons, such as the Pac-Man above or the Atari symbol below:

Both of which, I might add, are bosses. It's nice to see references that aren't hidden in frantic action, particularly since most players wouldn't stand a chance in hell of catching smaller easter eggs if they were hidden in the game.


The music in Pixelhate is space shooter fare, which is to say, weird alien sound effects. Not especially impressive. That said, the music is accompanied by a male and female voice, both computerized, who comment on the on-screen action and bring a great deal of charm to the game...

... that is, until you reach the later levels. Hearing the female voice tell you every time you collect a shield upgrade that shields are for weaklings - and you get the upgrades CONSTANTLY, so she's always jabbering - is really irritating. Mute, mute, mute.

Challenge Rating

Pixelhate is not that difficult. If you didn't have shields it would be near-impossible, but since they fly out of enemies all the time you'll have no trouble zipping through massive crowds of enemies. Consequently, reaching the final stage - 7 - can be accomplished after just a few practice runs.

What makes this game so weird is that, at least on the Newgrounds version that I played (which I assume is THE version of the game), it craps out halfway through stage 7. The game will freeze, and there's no way to fix it. And though I thought at first that it might just be my computer, glances at the comments lead me to believe that it's intentional. I suspect this is a reference to the infamous 'kill screens' of the old Atari-era gaming systems, though it's hard to say without input from the programmer.


Pixelhate is pretty dang fun. Anyone who ever owned an Atari - I can raise my hand there - will appreciate its adherence to old-style gaming; and everyone else, well... they'll get a fairly solid shooter with a bizarre sense of humour. Just, ah, be careful swinging that mouse around.


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