Unicorns are mythological beings similar to a horse with a sharp horn on their forehead. They’re very popular among little girls and hallucinogenic drug users. If I had to choose, I’d say that PiXelJAM, the creators of the game, belong to the latter.
Retro Unicorn Attack is a side scrolling platformer in which you play as a robot unicorn. It’s one of those games in which there’s no story whatsoever and the only important thing is getting a better high score than the last time. With only two buttons, Z to jump and X to “rainbow dash”, the game’s mechanics are quite simple. All you have to do is to keep your unicorn alive as long as possible and possibly collect some butterflies on the way. Should you find a portal you should dash through it and enjoy running in a parallel purple coloured world. Each time a new game is started you get three lives, and when you lose all three the scores are added together to form a final score.
The whole game feels like it’s tripping on acid, but maybe that’s the appeal of it all. Pixelated design, bright colours all around and a rainbow shooting out of the unicorn’s behind proves the game isn’t trying to be serious at all and that it shouldn’t, under any circumstance, be taken seriously. The sounds of retro techno music just add to the overall impression. To spice things up, each time you start a new game you will see a useless motivational quote like: “Don’t make me stop the car!” or “Unicorns unite for equal pay!”. Some of them are actually pretty funny once you get used to the whole ambient.
All in all, Retro Unicorn Attack is definitely a different game. Whether it’s because of the whole hallucinogenic design or simple yet addictive mechanics, I can’t say. Then again, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.