Review: Pixel Lincoln The Deckbuilding Game – a table platformer
Earlier the world was not nearly as close as it is today. Everything was much more angular. For example, each circle had four good edges and yet we call it square today. But then, they could only dream about these rounded edges, words such as antialiasing and others were just a whiff of science fiction. This is the time, Lincoln lived in. A man, who acknowledged all the principles of honor, but he was fearless and often protected us from the invasion of monsters from unknown worlds. Today is one of those days and you have to help him..
As time for humanity goes forward, return to the roots of digital entertainment is becoming more popular. Millions of fans are enjoying pixelized games like Minecraft and board games should not be left behind. And that is, why a new board game from Jason Tagmire called Pixel Lincoln is coming to market. He released it along with Game Salute as one of their new products for 2013.
The packaging does not suggest, that there should be bulky pixels inside. Whole cover contains picture of the title president fighting laser sharks, which are beautifully rendered and detailed just as green dinosaur is. The more you will be surprised (pleasantly), when you open this massive and tall box. You will find enough space for all the pixels to fit under the lid.
You shall have joy in rectangular world with double-sided game board folded in half. It contains full twelve card slots – six in two rows, while the last in line is dedicated to your personal level deck. But before we get to the inhabitants of the box needed to fill up plan, we have to work our way through another quartet of players boards. It contains space for playing cards on one side, while the other serves as a counter of points.
Lower part of the box contains finally the coveted card. The plastic insert in the bottom is divided into two parts – first is a small hole with two paper boxes titled Level One and Level Two, one for each level. Along with them, there are also four wooden pieces, with which will you jump through the game.
Next to it, there is a binder for the cards, which can be found wrapped in plasting. Now you can categorize them into groups and use the enlarged cards (bookmarks), for their better searching in the future. This system is already proven from other deckbuilding games. You will not find only their name on cards, but also type, its offensive, pricing and financial value, plus special capabilities described in text. But in addition to equipment to hold in your hand and help, you will meet also enemies, who have contrary task. All game cards have also in the lower left corner an icon representing their „color“.
At the beginning of the game, each player takes randomly dealt card with playing order, one pawn in his color, player board and ten cards of starting equipment. Basic kit consists of five jump cards and further five basic weapons – beardarang. In addition, they also gets two cards of lives, that are put on their board in designated place along with their order card. These three add up number of character lives for the game and limit survival in both levels.
They are the right thing, we have to prepare now. First, players must determine the difficulty of the game and following recommended price tags, they prepare both levels randomly. It must always include three types of enemies and three different objects, each having five cards. These přimícháte have three cards of friendly characters. From a shuffled deck, first five cards are now reveal on game board and secret objects are shuffled in remaining cards.
Each level has three checkpoints, which are also mixed into the level (each one into a third). As a result, you obtain final deck of 32 cards (plus those five already revealed). After going through the whole level, battle with the boss follows. Now players must choose their cards randomly – two small bosses and a large, super strong one.This process is then repeated again for the second level. Players put their pieces at start of any of those two levels, draw five cards from their deck and jumping can finally begin.
Turns do not differ from the standard deckbuilding in most activities. You will enjoy playing cards and buying new additions to your deck. But all this is governed with entirely new system, because your chances are linked closely with a pawn on the board.
On your turn you can either play the jump card and move one frame forward or spend enough money (gold values in the upper left corner of each card) to purchase upgrades your wooden figure is facing. You can instantly take card of this object, place it on discard pile and move your piece over empied field forward. At the end of your turn, all played cards are discarded (you can keep the ones, that remained in your hand) and draw back to five. Once you run out of drawing deck, you shuffle discard and are ready to continue.
But in all that collecting and moving forward, there enemies will join you very soon. Cards are revealed from the deck at random, but you can always see, what awaits you on the next steps in the stage and you can prepare at least a little.
When you stand in front of an enemy at any time, you have to play cards with sufficient force to defeat it. Enemies can also be jumped over, but you will prepare yourself for valuable victory points. You can also wait for your next turn next to it. But when you start your new move next to one of monsters, you have to deal with it somehow immediately (beat it or jump it) otherwise you lose one life immediately. Defeated monster is placed on scoring site on player board.
Cards on the board are normally not added, your are moving your pieces instead. Only when you reach the end of the line, screen scrolls back to the beginning (= aligning the new cards from level deck). Cards you skipped are irretrievably lost.
Another surprise is waiting for you at the moment, when first of save (checkpoint) appears. Upon the revelation of this special place in the level, you can improve your next move or get rid forever of one card from your hand and put it on your scoring deck. At the same time, you also have the option to save your position in the level and jump to the other level. With the second and third checkpoint in the game, you will also meet small or big boss. You have to stand and fight, they can not be skipped. But thanks to the checkpoint, you have a chance to cowardly back out and run, even before the battle starts.
Only when you successfully complete both levels and defeat their bosses, you can add up the accumulated points. But you get them not only for scalps of enemies, but also for special task bound with your character. This will clearly prescribe a set of cards (colors), you should try to complete. After their counting, there is a clear winner – player, who scored the most points.
Pixel Lincoln is nothing less than amazing tribute to the classic arcade platformers of old computer era. This rule governs everything in it and its not only the jumping and fighting, but even scrolling, when you reach end of the screen. Old computer wolves will feel like home in this box, but no less enthusiasm will evolve in younger players.
The whole feel of playing is absolutely true and experience of arcade is raised to the max. To do very well in the game, you have to consider buying individual cards. It just depends on your desires, because you can easily wait until the next round, when you have better cards with more value. No one is forcing you to move forwards, but keep in mind, that while you miss a round, others are collecting points!
Fighting enemies is simply summing up power cards in player’s hand. Any more complexity would be useless and corrupted this straightforward entertainment. It is a great culmination of your whole efforts. Every enemy presents a challenge and has not only defense number, but also some special ability.
Pixel Lincoln puts a lot of emphasis on variability. There is not as much cards in there as we are used to from other deckbuilding games (each game uses half of available objects and monsters), but even with more matches, you do not feel some repetition. It’s in clever and gradually revelation of each level, which is randomly built, so even with the same cards, it will not look anyway near the same. Not to mention the bosses, who are always randomly selected and are a chocolate topping on this cake.
Game includes enough cards, so you can play whole game with four levels at the same time! However, we would certainly appreciate more new cards. This game would definitely deserve it and while a little one is already published (Pixel Lincoln: Twenty One), large expansion entitled Re-Election is about to come out in 2014. And even with components for a fifth player!
Most interesting situations occur, when more players is walking through one level at the same time, they skip over each other and fight for good position. That’s why the game unfortunately does not shine so well in two players. Everyone chooses his level and passes it in peace without any tactics or emphasis on jumping across. Winner is usually determined by time a player is able to reach end of his level, because then he could still jump to the other one and steal some points from his opponent.
This game is something else entirely in multiplayer and third player induces that special feeling, that this is the right gameplay author was going for. You should not be concerned about actual game time, because with more players, level cards are diminishing rapidly, so the time needed to complete the game is not significantly prolonged. The joy of victory can go wrong probably just because of coincidence, that can hit you largely in the form of a randomly drawn level cards.
It is good to know, that the game does not take itself too seriously. You will experience a lot of fun just from the fact, that a real chicken or swordfish is used as a weapon. And fun is present also in the game itself, because all the rules are simple. Among our test group, we did not find even one player, who would not have pleasure from playing it. This is especially true for children, who get the opportunity to prepare their own level. You do not need to encourage them to do that.
The world of card games with deckbuilding needed a push and Pixel Lincoln did it. It brings a little racing game, where you have to think everything through in advance. It’s not about who arrives first to end of current level. Players count points earned along the way!
Everyone should love Pixel Lincoln because of its unique graphics and perspective, but only a gameplay experience true scrolling screen make it into a real event. Deckbuilding makes a nice base for the whole game idea, but it does not control the entire game. Instead, it is driving the game through a level towards a rendez-vous with its boss. Take a deep breath, because this will be a tough fight.
Review: Pixel Lincoln The Deckbuilding Game – a table platformer
Pixel Lincoln invites all players into a world of bricks and chequered 2D graphics. They will stand in front of two randomly generated levels, which they have to walk through, pick up weapons and fight enemies. These defeated creatures are source of victory points, which will decide of winner in the end. Cards are bought into your deck in a moment, when you meet them lying on the ground. Once you get to end of line of five cards, the whole screen will scroll back, just like in a true computre game. On three places inside deck are hidden checkpoints, which hide boss fights. You can run away into a second level just before the battle. You will find lots of cards in the box, but its not enough for deckbuilding and its variability. You will use half of cards in each match and thanks to this, cards start to repeat themselves soon. Fortunately, characters and special items save it and even more the fact, that you can create your own level by combining cards. Pixel Lincoln is a new evolution step of deckbuilding, which will intrigue every platformer lover, whether he is playing them presently or is just nostalgically reminiscent of them.