Not so much a game as a creativitiy app, Nostatic Software's PixelMaker does exactly what it says in the title. Those of us with an arty side or penchant for retro gaming will enjoy creating or recreating well known pixel characters with the use of this tool, and the user interface is uncomplicated and easy to grasp. With the popularity of titles such as the various Art Academy releases on Nintendo hardware, PixelMaker could find itself a good home on the Wii U.
PixelMaker is incredibly basic; you are thrown right into the editing screen with a very simple tutorial which lets you know of the controls via the GamePad. There are the usual expected options such as draw, zoom, colour palette and so on. There is also a layers feature for those who are used to using programs such as Photoshop, and the option to use a grid as a guide for your creation. The colour palette can be customised so you can only see those you need at a given time, and there is a very wide range of colours to choose from.
There is a calming music playing in the background whilst you work, which makes for quite a therapeutic atmosphere. You can use the GamePad to draw with your stylus while your work is displayed on your TV screen; this use of the controller is excellent, as it offers far more control than a mouse, echoing the use of drawing tablets on PCs. Larger icons would have worked well, though, as at the moment they are rather tiny on the GamePad - you you might find yourself squinting to see what's what.
Once you have perfected your beautiful work of art you can export it to Miiverse to show off to your peers. Unfortunately there isn't much else you can do besides this, as there is no export function; this was also a miss in another Nostatic Software title, VoxelMaker. This could be something that is patched in later, as it will give it a little more of an edge. Another area which could improve Pixel Maker would be an animation feature, which would definitely add more longevity and diversity to the tool-set - we should recognise, of course, that it does come at a budget price.
That's actually it. There isn't much else to PixelMaker besides, well, making pixels. It does not claim to do anything else, however, and it should be treated as no more than a basic tool for those who are on a budget and have a keen interest in pixel art.
Pixel Maker is a no frills app. Everything works as it should, and we would recommend it to those who enjoy making pixel art as all the tools are there for you to flex your creative muscle. The use of the GamePad makes for a smooth experience, and the option of layers adds an advanced touch. However, those who are not as creative may find themselves bored due to the simplistic nature of the app, and the fact there isn't much to do with your art once it is completed.