Game Reviews

Pixeline and the Jungle Treasure

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Pixeline and the Jungle Treasure

We’ve come to take the humble 2D platformer for granted. We forget that they're actually quite bizarre.

Think about it: they’re set in weird worlds filled with bottomless pits and magically floating clumps of land. Even the most normal of main characters is capable of jumping many times their own height and changing direction in mid-air.

These are hostile worlds where even the plant life is out to get you and the standard way of dealing with them is not to throw out a fist, but to leap on their heads. Like I said, weird.

Disappearing platforms: check

If familiarity hasn’t bred contempt, it’s certainly led to ennui, which makes Pixeline and the Jungle Treasure something of a curiosity.

It's the very definition of a traditional platformer. There's a jolly (and bland) lead character, lots of collectible knick-knacks that don’t really do anything, and disappearing platforms, special abilities that grant you access to 'secret' areas.

To be fair, it's competent. The action flows along nicely, with well-spaced checkpoints and levels that gradually toughen. Yet, it's predictable and plays it too safe to stand out from the pack.

Explorers in disguise

Developer Progressive Media has done well with decent virtual controls. Not only do they facilitate reasonably precise play, but they actually allow for a degree of analogue movement without wrecking the 8-bit feel.

The special abilities are a bit of a mixed bag, though. At numerous points throughout the game you need to transform into a beast of some kind – a scurrying lizard, a high-jumping bird, a destructive bear.

These are all reasonably fun to control, but their role in the world isn’t particularly clever – they effectively serve as keys for unlocking very obvious doors.

The selection process for these transformations feels lethargic, too, requiring a press to open a menu and another to select. It’s not slick enough and serves to slow things down, pulling you out of the action.

Pixeline not-so-perfect

On the plus side, the presentation is sharp and the game’s world is a colourful – if slightly sterile – place to explore. The music, too, is of a decent quality.

The main problem Pixeline and the Jungle Treasure faces is not that it will be held up against countless games from a bygone era: it’s that it shares space with a number of other excellent retro-tinged platformers on iPhone and iPod touch.

From Soosiz and Spy Bot Chronicles to Sonic 4 and Pizza Boy, there's a significant number of games that do what Pixeline and the Jungle Treasure does and they all do it better, and with more fresh ideas.

Playing Pixeline and the Jungle Treasure feels less like discovering a long lost treasure and more like visiting an ancient artefact in a museum for the twelfth time – impressive enough in its own way, but predictable and lacking that initial wow factor.

Pixeline and the Jungle Treasure

While it’s a solid enough platformer, there are plenty of iPhone alternatives that do what Pixeline and the Jungle Treasure does, and do it better
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.