What friends are for.
Lubiterum Game Studio wanted to create a party game you could pick up and play with your mates, score points, have a laugh and blow things up. There’s no logic; it’s a pixellated brawler with an emphasis on having fun. And in many respects they’ve succeeded. I played Crazy Pixel Streaker with fellow contributor Emily Sowden when we were kindly invited to a PR event and it turned out to be an absolute blast. But when you’ve got no-one to play with (cue violins) it renders the game far less enjoyable.
Diving straight in, you’ve got an Endless Adventure Mode, Party Mode and Arena Mode. The trouble being that as a lone reviewer, I couldn’t participate in the Party Mode. Searching online for players didn’t strike success and unfortunately this goes for all the modes; you’ll only be met with tumbleweed. Here at GameSpew we plough on, and that I did.
The adventure mode plants you on a map synonymous with the Super Mario franchise. Your character’s on rails and completing missions allows you to progress across the map, landing your character on another section and opening up another set of objectives. These tasks range from surviving a number of waves in order to defeat the end boss, to not using items at all throughout the duration of the stage. And surviving is at the very heart of Crazy Pixel Streaker. It’s all about evading the mounting threat from security forces that quickly escalates to insanity. Thankfully you’re not just a streaker relying on your shockingly impressive karate skills as there’s a couple of other inventive ways of dealing damage and racking up points. The first being a water pistol that – you guessed it – shoots a jet of water, briefly stunning opponents and allowing you to beat their boxy heads in. Followers also stand or run around the field, and you can tell them apart from the ensuing frenzy by their cute grins and little flags. If you run into three or more, they turn into a pair of legs with a bulbous, smiling bomb for a torso, and with the press of a button you can direct them into a group of enemies for an explosive trifecta.
With only four bars of life, Crazy Pixel Streaker is surprisingly difficult, as simply one touch from an enemy causes you to crash to the ground and lose a precious bar. Security guards fling themselves at you and present a real issue when they’re in huge groups. I found circling them whilst spraying them with my water pistol a highly successful tactic. This way I could pick off dazed stragglers and disperse them, preventing a head on encounter with a huge group, which’ll murder you and your health bar very quickly. Sooner or later you’ll be faced with bombs falling from the sky and SWAT teams peppering you with gunfire. Giant, angry bikers pop out of nowhere and start careering across the pitch, actually wrenching clumps of it out of the ground with their bare hands and just flinging them at you. At this stage, going for the water pistol drive-by won’t cut it. In order to deal with these pretty drastic threats, the game drops a variety of items for you to use wisely. As it’s a “drop in, drop out” kind of game, I believe I’ve seen most of them with the number of runs I’ve had. A favourite of mine was the water melon launcher that sends you flying backwards as you organically annihilate everything in one swift explosion that satisfyingly rains juicy slices of pink and green.
In stark contrast, the basic machete is a nice simple tool for close range one hit kills, but the machete launcher is a different kind of beast. Firing three machetes that fan out in a deadly formation and glide through the air lopping off heads that scatter blood all over the pitch is a beautiful feeling. I found the most effective power-up to be a handy laser pistol that fires a straight red laser beam across the pitch, incinerating anything unlucky enough to be in its destructive path. It’s no frills efficiency and perfect for when you’re really up against it. But if you’re lucky enough to run over a pig (or other animal) icon on the ground, you’ll enter God Mode that’ll see you ploughing through enemies astride a pig that leaves rainbow trails in its wake. Superb.
They’ve put some effort into keeping the experience as interesting as possible, with mini-games popping up every now and again, alongside some nifty environmental changes. Every few waves you might be tasked with burning 50 security guards in a set time limit to earn some much-needed goodies, or to simply punch one of three chests and hope that whatever pops out is friendly. They’re nice touches that add a welcome change of pace and variety in a survival scenario that could get stale rapidly. At one point I found myself on an ice hockey pitch when a blizzard kicked in, obscuring my vision and making it difficult to dodge tons of trophies that suddenly came flying towards me. I had to weave in and out of these golden missiles before moving onto the next wave. It was wholly unexpected and added to the humorous party game atmosphere Crazy Pixel Streaker evokes.
There are a few boss fights in Crazy Pixel Streaker, and I’ve only managed to reach one so far (it’s difficult, okay?). I faced off against Guillermo, a burly bloke who strongly resembles a certain Duke Nukem. When he jumped into battle, the camera panned out and I had to roll away from the wall of air strikes he was calling in and avoid his generous bursts of gunfire. In many ways the game transformed into a bullet hell where I had to find openings in his attacks before capitalising on them with a quick one-two. Overcoming Guillermo took me to an ice rink – where I continued my onslaught of bare fleshed disruption. Instead of footballs, there were ice pucks and even exploding walruses at one point. It felt a little like a coat of paint though, and I simply couldn’t beat the stage and progress as a lone ranger to the final boss. This is where the problem lies. Understandably, the game wishes to stringently maintain its difficulty level, but I would have to beat Guillermo again in order to even reach the next stage. It’s no mean feat doing so, and I simply didn’t have the energy or motivation to do so. I believe even with some friends in tow, we might lose our patience with a grind that seems a little unnecessary and repetitive.
The same goes for Arena Mode that’s 100% designed for you to play with others. Instead of a pitch of some kind, you’re in an bigger alien arena where enemies quite literally pour from entrances at the top and bottom of the stage. It’s extremely challenging and the drops are less generous, meaning that you quickly become overwhelmed unless you’re a god of streaking, which I’m not. I’ve attempted it a number of times but have never progressed past more than two waves. I imagine with 3 other players, it could be a fun experience attempting to rack up an almighty score in a bigger arena filled with mini-games and mayhem.
Finally the Party Mode. Now, I searched desperately online for people to play with, but couldn’t find a single soul. I tried accessing it by myself, but predictably, it didn’t work. So unfortunately I can’t pass judgement on this area of the game. I do know that it doesn’t follow the same structure as Adventure and Arena mode, rather it’s mimicking Mario Party, hitting you with mini-games that’ll involve streaking and destruction of some kind. I’d imagine they’ll be similar to things like “Don’t get hit by the gang of security guards”, “First to hit 10 SWAT members with pucks wins” and ” Don’t get hit by the flying trophies”.
From my time with the game, and especially playing it with Emily at the showcase event; Crazy Pixel Streaker is a barrel of laughs with friends. It doesn’t take itself seriously and this was demonstrated to me bizarrely, when an alien threatened to probe me where no object should be inserted, let alone by a strange green creature that was meant to be leading me on to the next stage. There’s fun with a few worried laughs, but with every party game, you shouldn’t be purchasing this if you want a decent single player experience. Its personality only stems from the “look how silly this is!” aesthetic and brief, often strange snippets of dialogue, meaning there’s also a lack of reasons to play, other than for a quick fix of violence.
Crazy Pixel Streaker offers a fair amount of variety and content for a simple, but surprisingly difficult co-operative brawling experience. There’s depth, but it’s shallow, and replayability suffers due to the deliberate difficulty; but ultimately, in short bursts there’s great fun to be had.