Pixeline and the Jungle Treasure is a new family-friendly 2D side-scrolling platformer with crisp visuals, classic game play and some nice little touches.

Rumors of an ancient Jungle Treasure hidden deep within a dangerous jungle spark the curiosity of a young girl named Pixeline. It’s up to you to help Pixeline make her way through the treacherous jungle as she searches for gold and silver coins and treasure chests. Along the way she’ll discover valuable pieces of the treasure map which will endow her with magical shape shifting abilities allowing her to take on the form of a variety of animal spirits.

Sporting a very basic control scheme which allows you to make Pixeline move left, right and jump and the game takes a lot of cues from previous 2D plaformers like the Mario series. You must safely get Pixeline across the usual cast of obstacles including moving, disappearing and floating platforms, deadly pits, crumbling ceilings, slippery surfaces, water, spikes, and past various baddies like evil plants in order to complete each level. Along the way, you can optionally pick up silver coins to earn free lives. Each level also has a specified number of gold coins and treasure chests which can be collected, but are not required. In order to unlock the treasure chests you must first find keys.

Pixeline isn’t packing heat, so she must eliminate enemies Mario-style by jumping on their heads. And you will quickly discover that she will need a little help. This is where one of the most fun elements of the game comes into play, animal spirit shape shapeshifting. As you complete each of the first four sections of the game, you will unlock a new animal spirit ability for Pixeline. Similar to elemenst of some of the Mario titles, each spirit gives Pixeline special unique skills when she adopts their form. They include a lizard-like creature who can run really fast and can get into small places, but cannot jump very high. A pink flamingo who can jump really high, but cannot walk very fast and a big bear who can beat any enemy head on, but is slow and cannot jump. This adds a really fun element to the game and one that I haven’t really seen used in platform style games on the iPhone. This also adds a bit of a puzzle aspect to the game, as you need to figure out when and where you must switch to a new form. There are even areas in the earlier levels that may require revisiting once you’ve unlocked certain spirits in later levels.

The goal of Pixeline and the Jungle Treasure is not to earn points, but rather just to successfully complete he game’s 26 levels. Player sslect levels by moving Pixeline on a on overview map. When you move on top of a space on the game’s map, it tells you how many treasure chests you found and how many gold coins you collected in the level as well as the total number of each which appear in that level. There is a small indicator on the map when a level has been completed, but unfortunately there is no way to easily tell in which levels you successfully collected ALL of the treasures and gold coins, without moving Pixeline on top of that level’s spot on the map. It would be nice if I could tell from a quick glance, which levels have 100% completion. Levels are not timed, so you can pace yourself however you want. If you just want to plow through and finish the level you can, otherwise you can go for all the collectibles. The game would really benefit from some sort of social media integration, like Game Center, adding achievements for the number of gold coins and/or treasure chests collected.

The game’s graphics are crisp and clean and I never noticed any issues with the animations. It has a vibrant art style and a nice variety of locales; it that looks like a Saturday morning cartoon and will particularly appeal to a younger audience. The soundtrack is a catchy upbeat score that fits the game and at times almost feels a bit retro and familiar. There was some nice thought to level design, which except for a couple of instances felt fair. I liked how health hearts were visible , but greyed out when you didn’t need them, so you knew where they were in the level in case you needed to backtrack and get one. Occasionally I did notice some incorrect character collisions, where I landed on top of an enemy and it was registered as a miss, resulting in taking damage myself.

As far as controls go, you have a single left/right slider on the bottom left of the screen which controls Pixeline’s movement and two separate buttons on the right to jump and bring up the animal spirit selector. If I had one complaint about the game it’d be that the left/right slider control is a bit inconsistent and I found myself getting killed not because of a lacking of skill on my part, but because the control it decided it no longer wanted to go right (or left) in the middle of me moving. Often times I felt like I was fighting against the controls, or my finger would inadvertently move into the dead space on the left side of the phone (by the camera lens) and Pixeline would just stop moving. Usually the issue arrose when I was going one direction and tried to switch to the other, it would go in that new direction for few steps or more and just abruptly stop. This did not happen all the time, but often enough that it became a bit of a nuisance. It may be able to be corrected by positioning the slider a bit more toward the right, or by giving players the ability to adjust it’s sensitivity.

In Conclusion

Pixeline and the Jungle Treasure is a cute and appealing family friendly 2D side-scrolling platformer, that will appeal to players of all ages. That being said, more experienced players are unlikely to find much of a challenge here. The unique animal spirit game play mechanic adds a nice puzzle element to the game and mixes things up a bit. Levels were well designed, even offering slightly hidden extras to entice replay after all the animal spirits have been unlocked. The three available save game spots mean that different family members can take the game at their own pace. Despite the issues I had with the left/right controls, I still enjoyed the game. At $2.99 (for the iPhone release), it certainly won’t break the bank and will offer the kids a nice distraction. An iPad release is also available for $3.99.