Release Date: Q4 2006
HOT PXL is one of those situations where a game is going to catch absolute hell because it wasn’t the first one out of the gate with a given idea.
It contains two hundred minigames, with fifty more available for download via a PSP-to-PC download; it provides a sort of updated Atari classics collection for your PSP; it has a bizarre artistic look and feel to it; and it comes with a built-in tool to help you synchronize your music and videos.
It is, in short, Wario Ware with a host of extras. That is why it’s going to catch hell. HOT PXL is fun, addictive, colorful, and has some excellent artistic design, but it could not be more Wario Ware without the fat bastard himself showing up onscreen.
The basic notion is the same. When you play HOT PXL, you’ll be thrown into a series of minigames that’re each over in seconds, with no explanation as to how to play them. Either you’ll figure it out instantly and solve the puzzle, or you’ll fail. Some are simple tasks, like scrubbing the filth off of someone’s arm; others are updates or reimaginings of classic Atari games like Asteroids; some are brand-new games that look or play like classic Atari games. The minigames are split up into various categories like Underground, Awareness, Street Sweat, and Statement; as for what those categories actually mean, your guess is as good as mine.
You can also unlock weird “buddy screens,” which turns your PSP screen into a glass of soda, a skateboard, or a spray can, among other things. Each one’s basically a weird screen saver, allowing you to interact with it by pushing buttons. Pushing one button while your PSP is a glass of soda, for example, adds more ice cubes to the glass, and another will drain or raise the soda level.
HOT PXL is pretty damned weird, all in all. It’s fast-paced and diverting the same way Wario Ware is, but has a feel all its own. (It’s very French, in its own way, in that it’s often a triumph of style over substance.)
In the end, though, it’s a vast collection of fast-paced portable games that may give the PSP something it really has lacked up until this point: a title that provides a series of small gaming microbursts. Most of the PSP’s lineup are tabletop console games crammed into a portable format, but HOT PXL doesn’t roll like that. It’s a helpful addition to the PSP’s library. Now all it has to do is be any fun at all, and from what little time I spent with it, it seems to have managed that fairly well.
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