Clever Hamster Games' Pixel Quartet [99¢] is a perfect example of a really unique puzzle game that came out of nowhere on the App Store. It recently popped up on our radar, and I've been trying my hardest to play through it. The thing is, it's incredibly difficult, especially if you're not very good at matching musical tones. I'm not sure how much of a "review" I can offer, as I admittedly got stuck fairly early on in the game, but I'll lay out the basic premise for musical warriors greater than I to take up their sword in attempt to vanquish the puzzles in this game.

At its most basic, gameplay in Pixel Quartet involves listening to a short musical track that only consists of a few notes. These notes are then represented by a ball that rolls across a grid, and in order to replicate the short clip you heard initially you need to position notes and directional arrows on the grid. Whenever the ball hits one of these tiles, it plays a musical note. The level is complete once you figure out where to position the arrows and musical notes to make the ball follow a path to repeat the initial musical loop three times.

Sound hard? That's because it is. The next level has you managing not one, but two balls, each which must play a separate musical loop. Further on, you're faced with managing even more loops and recreating them with the finite space of the game grid along with the various tiles you're allowed to drag on to it. These tiles do things like change the pitch of a note, make the ball pause for a number of beats, and more.

In order to solve each puzzle, you need to have each ball playing one of the musical loops laid out at the beginning of the level, and it has to repeat each time. You also have to avoid the balls crossing paths, adding an even greater wrinkle of difficulty.

I'd guess for most people, this level of difficulty will result in quite a bit of frustration. Often your loops can just barely be off, and fixing them requires reassembling all or most of your loops. Similarly, if you don't have a discerning ear, matching the pitch of each of the notes can involve an irritating amount of trial and error. I can hardly fault the game for this though, as I've told a few friends of mine who fancy themselves musicians who also love iOS puzzle games and they've reported having a fantastic time with the game. I'm just not the target audience.

If you're the kind of person who likes puzzle games with a difficulty level easily disguised as "brutal", and you've got an ear for music, Pixel Quartet is a game that you simply must try. To sweeten the deal, it's even universal for both the iPhone and iPad. I wish a lite version was available, as I feel this is a game that you'll be able to tell which side of the love/hate fence you're on within a few moments of playing. Regardless, at 99¢, it shouldn't be that big of a leap of faith to slam the "download now" button if this at all sounds interesting to you.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Ron Goodrich

    So do you score games? I always see best of articles about the 4.5 star and 5 star games of the month...but I never see star ratings when I see new reviews. Are they someplace secret or something?

    How many stars is this game?

  • Anonymous

    Is there a mode that lets you compose on your own, rather than trying to beat some puzzle challenge?

    • Taylor Calderone


  • Taylor Calderone

    I wrote the soundtrack for this game btw, if that helps out anyone still on the fence 🙂

  • Livename206

    I'm downloading Pixel Quartet now. I love rythm games like this. Too bad didn't give them a review otherwise I would have decided to buy it sooner.

  • Anonymous

    This is probably the most fun I've had with a game for a while.

  • Conner_36

    This is a unique game. I love that just by playing the first few levels I feel I'll be playing this a lot more. It has an old school game feel, though I am not sure whether it's from the graphics or the gameplay or both.

  • Dumpling321

    Hey! I'm on an itouch 3g and i make it through the first level fine, however; when i enter the second level the sound tweak on the note and arrow pieces i drop dont work, so theres no way to know what pitch i'm switching the note to... has anyone else hit this glitch??

    • Taylor Calderone

      When there are multiple tracks to a level, you have to mute the other tracks by tapping on their Treble Clefs in order to hear the note pitches while editing. It's because there's no way for the notes in the game to know what instrument you're thinking of without railroading the puzzle or using telepathy 🙂

  • Andy

    This game is amazing. And I've only played the first two levels. Can't wait to play the rest.

  • alex

    this game is awesome!

  • Lanstar

    My IQ is perfectly fine thank you, but I'm still not gonna play this game! : b

  • ultimo

    how many levels?

    • Taylor Calderone


  • Phoenix

    This is one of the most original puzzlers on the appstore. Absolutely love it!

  • Troklo

    i think I´ll give this one a try

  • Osolemio

    Looks incredibly cool. I can see myself blowing my brains out after 10 levels or so though.

Pixel Quartet Reviewed by Eli Hodapp on . Rating: 3.5