Star Guard and Pixelkiller

Hello.

If you haven't played Star Guard yet go do it.  I'll wait.

Wasn't that rad?  I thought that it was at least.  The style is super cohesive and almost every visual choice is made to the benefit of the design.  I wish that there was a way to pay for it.  In fact, I was just thinking that this would be a perfect candidate to port over to XBL indie games.  

As I was thinking that, I stumbled upon Pixelkiller.  This came out on XBL indie games a few days ago.  I generally try anything on there that even looks remotely interesting and so I gave it a go.  Lo and behold it was a Star Guard clone.  And boy do I mean clone.  Especially in the first two levels, this game does nothing but copy Star Guard.  Your character animates the same, there is text that plays along the back (but only once strangly), the first enemy you encounter is a red blocky beasty, the level architecture is composed  entirely hard angles, even the death mechanic is the same.  

Actually, the death mechanic is not as well implemented since there are no visible check points.  And yeah, the color continuity isn't present and the enemy design is sloppy.  Also, the level architecture is not as creative in those first few levels.  So even though it seemed just like a bad copy of Star Guard, I went ahead and paid the dollar for it, just to play something kind of like Star Guard but on my TV and with a controller.

Turns out that was totally the right decision.  The first few levels are a bit boring, but in level 5 Pixelkiller really comes into its own.  In level 5, you gain the ability to double jump and the level design opens up.  There are suddenly multiple paths through each level and the enemies placements get pretty clever.  It actually turns into more of a skill based platformer than a shooter.  In fact, you rarely have to shoot at all.  I think this game would have benefited greatly from dropping the shooting mechanic altogether and focused more on the platforming, which is really its strength anyway.

So, go play Star Guard and then play Pixelkiller.  Star Guard is great and even though Pixelkiller has some issues and a serious identity crisis, it is totally worth the dollar that it costs.   Pixelkiller is a good first effort from buddrick and I hope that they build on what it does well in the future.