There are a few positive things to be said about Pixel Hunter, but unfortunately none of them outweigh this key fact: the platforming aspect of it isn’t particularly good. Seeing as it’s essentially a platformer, that’s kind of a fatal flaw.
I’d like to be higher on it than I am. It’s got a cute, retro-influenced art-style that captures the look and feel of early 3D games pretty perfectly. It’s got bright, vivid colours that pop off the screen. The music isn’t half-bad, and echoes its early gaming influences without directly stealing from them. From an aesthetic perspective, Pixel Hunter has a lot going for it.
In terms of the gameplay, though? That’s where Pixel Hunter falls apart. As I said up top, as a platformer it falls flat. The game demands that you make all these crisp, precise jumps, and then makes it so that the controls don’t allow you to move with any degree of precision. There was no consistency to jumping distances, nor could the game ever seem to decide just how far enemies could get from you before knocking off part of your life. When jumping and avoiding enemies are two-thirds of what you’re doing in a game, not getting either right is pretty much a death knell.
Oh, and the other third of the gameplay is shooting — Pixel Hunter is a run & gun platformer — and…well, it kind of sucks on that front too. As with the jumping, it’s impossible to shoot your gun with any degree of precision. While this isn’t a huge issue for the most part, since you can generally blast away many of the enemies just by constantly firing your shotgun, there are a few bad guys here that call for a little more finesse, and as should be apparent by now, finesse is one quality that’s in very short supply here.
I suppose this shouldn’t be too surprising. After all, Pixel Hunter’s PSN Store page doesn’t exactly read like something that had very much quality control, so it’s not a stretch to think that the game may have suffered the same fate. Still, when a game looks as nice as this, it’s hard not to wish it played even half as well — and the fact it doesn’t means that Vita owners can stay far, far away.