There’s a right way to make a free game, and that’s to make it so cool players will feel bad if they don’t donate a buck or two to the developer. That’s the path Taco Graveyard have taken with Omegapixel (Out Now, Free); very rarely do you find something this endearing at the magic price of zero.
As noted in our preview a few weeks back, Omegapixel’s defining feature is its object switching. In return for your protection from certain enemies, the titular Omegapixel serves as your shield against others — and also your lifeline for escaping dangers that are unavoidable unless you trade places with it. Omegapixel serves up increasingly exotic challenges as you dive further into its hefty 42-level quest. Enemies that push the Omegapixel around are mere nuisances when they’re first introduced; it’s when they work their mayhem while a laser barrier crawls across the screen that they become deadly. Some levels require you to simply keep your ship and the Omegapixel out of the path of asteroids that bombard boss planets; others have you using a force field to sling the Omegapixel at bosses. The developer has seriously stretched the concept as far as one could possibly imagine, resulting in an experience that’s both unique and continually evolving.
With numerous enemy classes in the mix once things get up to speed, the game could have become a memorization-heavy affair. Thankfully Omegapixel stirs in new enemies and bosses at just the right rate, and the behavior of every threat has a way of organically reminding the player what it does and how it needs to be countered. Nor is Omegapixel rife with intrusive IAPs; the credits for ship upgrades are easily raked in during the story campaign and through an Arcade mode that serves up Achievement-style goals. The upgrades are well worth working for too, as they add helpful destructive or life-saving properties to the instant teleport function.
Physics are the one area where Omegapixel could underwhelm. The default virtual joystick for moving the ship around is extremely sensitive, so novices will have difficulty steering it into some enemies while avoiding the ones only the Omegapixel can destroy. On the upside, the ship’s constant breakneck speed makes it easy to pull off last-second saves if your aim is decent, and it is possible to make more delicate maneuvers once you develop a very light touch. Accelerometer movement is also available but aim feels tons better with the joystick — so here’s hoping for some calibration options on both in updates.
Omegapixel skillfully recalls the 80s arcade experience while remaining visually interesting throughout. Along with the scratchy chiptunes and simple sprites come flashy particle effects and Matrix-like slowdowns when the ship or Omegapixel are critically endangered. Upgrades and accomplishments in Arcade mode give your ship a groovy makeover as you go along.
iFanzine Verdict: A unique and well developed action game, and the price can’t be beat. If you’re an action fan in the slightest, give it a download already — we’ll be surprised if you aren’t impressed!