PIXELS Defense

App review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
PIXELS Defense App Poster Image
Poorly designed promotional game with frustrating controls.

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Ease of Play

Poor, unbalanced design and bad controls mean the game can be too easy on one level and impossible on another.


Contains only cartoony, pixelated violence. Defeated characters simply "poof" off the screen.


Serves as promotion for the related film, and video game arcade Dave & Buster's is prominently featured in the game. In between levels, other game apps are advertised.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pixels Defense is a pointless commercial tie-in to the related movie. The whole point of it is watching the heroes of the film make sarcastic quips while blasting vintage video game characters with big guns. Violence is constant but bloodless; heroes and their video game enemies simply vanish upon defeat.

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What's it about?

PIXELS DEFENSE mimics the plot of its feature-film namesake, pitting a group of middle-aged slackers against an alien invasion. Having taken video feeds of classic '80s video games as a declaration of war, an alien race attacks Earth using giant-size characters from those games. The slackers' latent gamer skills finally come in handy when they're asked to defend cities around the globe using turrets, bunkers, and huge guns. On each level, you choose two "Arcaders" (heroes from the movie) and then set up turrets and soldier-filled bunkers at strategic locations. When you're ready -- or the timer ticks down -- waves of Tetris blocks and Galaga bugs stream through the streets, and it's up to you to blast them.

Is it any good?

Movie-themed video games are generally quickly conceived, poorly designed, and utterly lacking in fun -- and this tower-defense game totally fulfills those expectations. The first problem is that the heroes seem strangely reluctant to fire at these things and are nearly impossible to control. Another issue is that tapping heroes brings up huge menus that block your view and sends them everywhere but where you want them to go. Heroes and equipment can be upgraded, but that doesn't matter, since beating levels seems to have more to do with luck than strategy. The very first level, in fact, is impossible unless you pick the "right" two Arcaders; because of this, many gamers likely will give up and uninstall the game within minutes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the value of video games. Do video games teach players skills they can use in real life?

  • Discuss vintage vs. modern video games. Which ones are better, and why?

  • Think about how video games have changed since the 1980s. What's the biggest difference between old-school video games and the ones made today?

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love arcade and action games

Themes & Topics

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