May 24th, 2012 | By Nick Pino
What happens when quirky retro gameplay of the arcade’s Asteroids meets the satirical, over-the-top dialogue of developer Taco Graveyard? This comedic and entirely too addicting result is the studios’ latest mobile release, Omegapixel.
Taking place in the year 2085, or as it is humorously referred to in the game – the second 80s – the game follows the appropriately named space pilot Mohawk and his comedic sidekick Dag, pitting the two against the hazards of the final frontier all in an effort to save the Omegapixel. While the greater significance of the game’s titular foci is never fully explained, all we know is that the job pays moderately well and it seems like there’s little else in the universe besides angry debris and the vast darkness of space.
Gameplay starts slow and predictable, but quickly escalates to a frenetic froth, as enemies rush in and beams of energy attempt to snuff out the universe’s mightiest point of light. Unequipped with advanced 29th century tech like laser beams, the player barrels the ship into enemies head first into oncoming enemies fearlessly smashing them into pixelated space dust.
Enemy units add real diversity as some swivel, duck, dodge, and bump while others become literally invincible until they come in contact with the unstoppable Omegapixel. Boss fights divide up each sector placing our protagonist pilot in clear conflict with a planet-sized foe, each of which having their own unrevealed weakness.
OmegaPixel plays in two flavors: either the 42-level strong Story Mode or the — if this is even possible — more hectic Arcade Mode. While story mode consists of a set number of enemy waves and some semblance of a coherent plot, arcade mode puts players in the cockpit and sends in wave after wave of enemies destroyed via mission-specific goals.
In later levels, the game ditches the trite smash-and-grab mechanics begin to fade and clear, concise teleportations become the only path to victory, a commendable if albeit difficult gameplay mechanic. Pixel placement is key and while each level gives the player five lives, between fervent foes bent on pixel destruction and the ever-approaching energy lines, five lives just isn’t enough!
Controlling the ship feels natural with left thumb in control of the ship’s flight pattern and right thumb working the ship’s teleportation mechanic, a unique aspect of the game that adds complexity and adversity to the otherwise too oft overdone mechanics. Movement strays a bit on the sensitive side, but after a few rounds (and a few thousand dollars in hull damage) players finally find a happy medium.
Though the game was released for free, an in-game currency called credits offers players both upgrades to the ship and special effects to quell the oncoming invasion. Attacks like energy ripples, radiant beams from the Omegapixel, and tracers all add extra ‘oomph’ to the generally defenseless vehicle.
A chip-tuned mix of guitars and 8-bit beats provide an exceptional soundtrack for the game’s eight universes. While many critics found this 8-bit intergalactic radio straying more to the sounds of a dying animal than acceptable background track, I thought the nostalgic tunes synced perfectly with the campy overtones developer Taco Graveyard goes above and beyond to achieve.
Boasting 42 levels of mind-maddening warfare and carrying the bottom-barrel price of $0.00, it’s hard to criticize a game that succeeds in so many ways. From the frenetic action, to the game’s campier scenes, even including the slightly skewed control scheme, the game does well to teleport its way into our hearts.