There really is nothing like digging up old happy memories of the way gaming used to be. Instead of the reliance on big-screen action, ultra-realistic graphics, and processor speeds, there used to be loyalty to quality game series such as Mario, Zelda, and Sonic because they were unique and very entertaining in their own ways. Sometimes modern technology can lead a developer to put too much focus on how smooth and realistic a game looks and forget about the substance of the game. With flash games, this can also be the case with many of the 3D titles out there, but thankfully there are still games out there whose focus is still on quality gameplay with supreme style to back it up as well. Pixel Cricket is such a game, and its hugely fun take on the sport invokes the style of a past era in its aesthetics and its gameplay.
Pixel Cricket is in fact more of a sort of series of mini-games than it is a fully-fledged cricket game like Cricket World Cup 2011. The best thing about it however is that the gameplay in each mini-game could function as a separate game in of themselves, making the entire experience like having three games in one. Once you start the game, you will be introduced to the different sections you have to play in, and these are batting, bowling, and fielding. You will cycle through each of these dimensions of cricket starting at level one, then once you have completed these stages with enough points to pass to the next, you will begin cycling through these three dimensions of the game once again, only this time at level 2 where things are a little more difficult.
This wonderful game's first mini-game is batting. For this you have to assume control of a batsman receiving a set number of bowls from the bowler on the left hand side whilst the fielders position themselves on the field. There are only ever two fielders at a time and they always leave a gap between them which indicates exactly which direction you should send the ball out of the three shots available. These three shots are performed using either the left, up, or right directional arrow; tapping these keys send the ball in the corresponding direction. Once you know where the gap in the fielding is (either on the left, in the middle, or on the right), all you have to do is press the corresponding key at the right time when the ball whizzes past you. If you hit the wrong key you will be caught out, and if you mis-time the shot, you will not score any points. Successive shots will score you points multipliers, but watch out for the fireball, a very quick shot that must be blocked by pressing the downwards arrow key.
The next aspect to get to grips with after passing the batting stage is the bowling. Instead of bowling against a live opponent, you instead have to try and hit moving wicket targets much like in a gun range, only with sets of three cricket stumps moving back and forth at either close, medium, or long range. You press and hold the up arrow to choose the power of your shot, use the left/right arrows to change the shot's direction, and then release the up arrow to take the shot. Targets become harder to hit the further away they are but the distant ones earn you more points. The fielding aspect is quite a simple game and just requires that you use the left, up, and right directional arrows to make the corresponding fielders jump at the right time when balls are fired over there heads.
The mechanics of the game are quite wonderful in that they are simple, require very little remembering of complicated buttons, and are so easy to grasp that anyone could play the game. You are set a minimum score for qualifying each time and if you achieve it you will go to the next (more difficult) level but if you don't, you won't progress.
In addition to the single player mode of the game, you have the option to always enter into multiplayer, though this requires that you sign up and sign in to the developer's gaming website, http://www.gamenet.com/, though this can be done entirely in-game. Even your single player efforts go towards a world table of scores, making Pixel Cricket a part of a fully-fledged online community where your scores are added to the pool for whichever country you pick to play for in the beginning of the game.
The last aspect of Pixel Cricket that makes it a fantastic game is its design, which is obviously based on the old-time 8-bit games with large pixels such as the Nintendo Gameboy. It even has the 8-bit music accompanying it as well. The only downside to this game would be if you were expecting a more realistic experience, though if this is the case then you could easily just find an alternative such as Online Cricket that stays a bit more loyal to the sport yet doesn't have half the style of Pixel Cricket.