Pixel Ranger From MetroGames Brings the New West to iOS

Inspired by classic ’80s arcade games, Pixel Ranger is the first iOS title from MetroGames, a company that has until now released only social games including the popular Facebook title Coco Girl. In fact, the developer, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, has 20 games currently available on the social network — and Pixel Ranger is actually one of them.

Unlike its brethren, however, Pixel Ranger eschews and sort of simulation or strategy elements, instead focusing on visceral shooting mechanics. As a pixelated cowboy, players are out to get revenge on a band of wily space aliens who’ve made off with his horse, his sheep, and his best gal. A wacky premise, to be sure, but one that fits with the title’s delightful old-school graphics.

In order to stick it to the marauding space invaders, players must run back and forth on the screen using simple tilt controls while tapping where they want to shoot. This causes a blast of pixels to usher forth from the player’s gun, blasting through an bad guys in its path. Ammunition is limited and is counted in pixels. If it runs out, the game ends. This introduces another gameplay element: players need to pick up the pixels that enemies explode into once they hit the ground. Grabbing the pixels also fills a bar at the bottom of the screen. Once it’s completely filled, players move onto the next level. There are more than 50 stages in total.

Later in the game, players must learn to combine running, jumping and shooting in order to survive increasingly frantic onslaughts. Thankfully, the game dishes out power-ups now and again, such as health refills and stopwatches that momentarily freeze time. In addition to a level-based Classic Mode, the game contains an appropriately titled Endless Mode, wherein players try to survive for as long as possible against an unending stream of enemies. Achieving a high enough score on each of the Endless Mode’s levels unlocks the next.

Pixel Ranger is published on iOS by Chillingo and uses the publisher’s proprietary Crystal platform for social features. Despite this, the game does sync high score data to Game Center. Data tracked includes scores and achievements, of which there are more than a dozen. Although the game has a Facebook counterpart, there is no interaction between the two versions.

Currently highlighted in the App Store’s New & Noteworthy section, the iPhone and iPod Touch-only Pixel Ranger sells for $0.99 and does not feature any form of in-app purchases. Founded in 2007, MetroGames employs about 150 staff and has raised $5 million in funding, with one of its principal investors being Disney-owned Playdom.