Pixelmusement F.A.Q. / Support Last Updated:
November 27th, 2012

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PixelShips Retro --- F.A.Q. / Support

Have a very specific issue? Try using your browser's "search" feature to find certain words related to your troubles.


Installation and Configuration Issues:

Q: I'm running the game on Microsoft Windows Vista/7... is it just my imagination or are the colours wrong?
A: Some Vista/7 systems used to have palette problems with PixelShips Retro, but so long as you've updated to the latest version, those issues should be gone!

Q: The game stutters quite a bit and/or the controls feel sticky.
A: The game's pretty old now, and modern systems may take issue with certain combinations of screen mode and vsync settings, as the game does not use hardware accelerated graphics. While the game's loaded up, try cycling to different screen modes with F9 and/or changing the vsync mode with F8. Certain combinations will work better for some people over others.

Q: The game is using 100% CPU power and draining my laptop battery very quickly! Is there any way to fix that?
A: A new idling system has been implemented that will reduce CPU usage so that unused power isn't simply wasted, but it only works if VSync Mode is ON. Change the VSync mode with F8 while in the game. Note that this may cause the framerate to drop when windowed and works much better when running full-screen!

Q: My keyboard stops working properly when I task-switch with ALT+TAB!
A: When you switch out of PixelShips Retro the keyboard keys may stick inside the game. Simply press the keys you used to switch out to unstick them. If you switched out with one of the Windows keys, you may want to quit and restart the game. Task switching is almost always finicky on most systems and if you plan to do any it is recommended you run PixelShips Retro in a window.

Q: When I push F9 to switch between fullscreen and windowed, the game pauses, everything blanks, but then the game doesn't make the switch!
A: This happens if your system does not support one or the other. IE: If running fullscreen and you try to switch to windowed, going straight back to fullscreen means that windowed mode is not supported on your system. Usually the only reason this will happen is if your video drivers are outdated or not installed properly.

Q: I'm pushing F9 to make the windowed mode bigger, but all it does is go back to fullscreen!
A: The windowed mode can only do multiples of 320x240. If the next multiple is beyond the size of the desktop, OR EQUAL TO the size of the desktop, it will fail, thus looping back into fullscreen mode. (IE: You cannot increase to 640x480 if that's the same size as your desktop.)

Q: Why am I being asked for my registration code again? I already entered it!
A: If you are running the full version of PixelShips Retro and you do something to change the nature of your system or that of the installation, the game may suspect that it has been copied to another computer and asks for your registration code to confirm that it is in fact still on the correct system. Remember to store your registration code in a safe place if you ever need it again!

Q: Can I install the full version of PixelShips Retro overtop of the shareware version or vice versa?
A: The installers are designed to install to separate directories by default. It is not recommended you install one overtop of the other as you may end up with useless data in your registry tables. If you do this by accident, you'll need to install the shareware and full versions to separate directories and uninstall both of them to clear the unused entries from your registry table.

Q: When I press F1 or F2 I get a message saying that the sound system is disabled. What's up with that?
A: If the sound drivers are unable to load when you start PixelShips Retro you will not be able to access the sound or music volume settings. If you have a sound card (and most everyone does anymore) and you get this message there is either something wrong with your sound drivers, something you previously ran did not uninitialize its sound drivers properly, or a program you are running is using the sound resources and won't let PixelShips Retro access them.

Q: What keyboard keys may not be assigned to controls?
A: P, Pause, Caps Lock, all the F# keys, ESC and the Windows keys. All other keys are fine.

Q: I can't select my joystick!
A: PixelShips Retro only recognizes the first four joysticks Windows does. If you have four or less and PixelShips Retro can't detect it, chances are neither can Windows. Consult the documentation for your joystick to solve this problem.
A: Another cause of this problem is if you connect your joystick AFTER starting the program. The game will not properly detect if joysticks are connected or disconnected while running. Make sure to connect the joystick you wish to use BEFORE running the game!

Q: Does PixelShips Retro use the mouse?
A: Nope. You must use either the keyboard or a joystick. (Or both at once if you wish.)

Q: What's the difference between the different VSYNC modes accessed with F8?
A: AUTO is the default, which will vsync if the game feels it'll improve the game quality. ON forces the game to use vsyncing, which will smooth the framerate but could also drop the framerate on slower systems. OFF forces the game to not use vsyncing, which will give you the fastest framerate possible but may cause shearing effects.



Gameplay Issues:

Q: Wouldn't it be easier to have the ship change direction the instant you move in that direction, instead of having to push another button?
A: You would think so, but in fact, those kind of game mechanics makes it extremely difficult to hit things because you have to move towards them to shoot them; you can't be moving away from them. Making it necessary to hit a button ensures that you have control over where you're aiming no matter where you're moving!

Q: I noticed you don't have to fight a PixelShip at the end of the level if the bonus timer reaches 0. Couldn't I race through the game more easily this way?
A: In some ways you could. Every 5th level is a Search and Destroy mission though, so you can't do that on those levels, and if you lose any PixelShips it makes it hard to get more if you avoid fighting them.

Q: How do I use the vacuum device?
A: There isn't one.
Q: WHAT?! So how do I get the pixels of a ship when it's destroyed?!
A: The pixels are big and don't scatter very far, plus they remain for anywhere between 6 to 10 seconds and flash when they're two seconds from disappearing. Just fly over them to collect them and if you get them all you get the ship!

Q: In Search and Destroy missions, do I need to destroy the turrets too, or just the drones and PixelShips?
A: Just the drones and PixelShips.

Q: I beat the game from a saved game but my high score wasn't entered into the Top 10!
A: Any new game you start is only allowed to make one Top 10 entry, no matter how many times you save or reload the game, since scores in the Top 10 can only be made when you beat the game. This prevents someone from saving on the last level, making a great score, and then reloading their game and filling the high score table with just that score. To make another Top 10 score you'll need to start a new game.

Q: Why do I lose points when I blow trees up on Class M Planets?
A: Because you shouldn't blow trees up. :P

Q: How do I get the "Mission Bonus" in a level?
A: The mission bonus is awarded if you do not lose any PixelShips during the course of the mission and complete the mission in under the time limit. (Thus for missions with no time limit, all you have to do is survive.)

Q: How do I survive Warp Zones? They're really hard!
A: There are three beginner tricks to surviving Warp Zones: One, don't stay at the edge of the screen or you won't have enough room to dodge walls. Try to stay in the middle. Two, choose small, fast ships, so you can dodge the damaging walls more easily. Three, when drones approach you on the radar, don't stay in front of them otherwise their weapons will probably hit you. (Especially if they have beams.)

Q: Is it possible to capture an Annhilator?
A: Once the Annhilator is in your database from winning the final battle you will be able to see it as a random opponent in the later levels. (You'll also note the '?' on it disappears on Level 50.)

Q: What about the secret ship from the original PixelShips game? Is that in PixelShips Retro? Can I fly it in PixelShips Retro?
A: You'll have to find that out for yourself! ;)

Q: What does the '!!' powerup do?
A: Boosts ALL of your stats by one point. It's quite rare and very useful so be sure to grab it!

Q: What does the "Mystery Powerup" really do?
A: Very weird things. Some will be obvious, some will not. The effect of the Mystery Powerup is never worse than it is good so always grab it.

Q: I found a powerup with a green arrow on it. What does it do?
A: That is perhaps the rarest powerup on the game. It will instantly upgrade your current PixelShip to its next one if possible. If not, it will randomly boost the EXP of a ship in your collection to just 1 point from being upgraded!

Q: I picked up a star powerup and got shields! I thought the stars were experience?
A: They are, but some ships don't gain experience points because they can't be upgraded. When you pick up a star in one of those ships your shields are restored by 25%.

Q: How do I get a PixelShip into my database?
A: Either destroy it in a level or attain it by upgrading. When you fight a PixelShip you don't need to capture it to get it into your database, just make sure you blow it up. However, some ships cannot be found without upgrading others.

Q: How many Class X PixelShips are there?
A: VERY few. They are however the most powerful PixelShips you can obtain.

Q: Is it just my imagination, or do ships with more weapons do less damage per individual shot than ships with fewer weapons?
A: You're not imagining things. Having more weapons increases the ease of hitting opponents with them, but makes it necessary to get more hits to do the same kind of damage. If you prefer precision attacks, fly ships with fewer weapons.

Q: How come enemy missiles always hit and my missiles always miss?!
A: Missiles are tricky to use. They are generally more accurate the more aligned you are with your target. A target straight in front of you when you fire a missile is far more likely to be hit by the missile than if the target is half the screen above or below you. Enemies don't fire unless they think they can hit you which is why their missiles seem so much more accurate, when in fact, they're no different than your own.

Q: The Wave weapon is VERY hard to use. Is that normal?
A: Yes, the Wave weapon is perhaps the most difficult weapon to effectively use, but it can do a LOT of damage when used properly!

Q: My missiles aren't locking onto an enemy Starlet!!
A: Some of the ships in the game have unique features. The Starlet and Starborn for example are immune to weapon locks. You can read what specials a ship has by looking at them in your database.

Q: The different skill levels seem very much the same.
A: They might at first, but later on the differences between them become more and more pronounced. Level 50 on Hard is certainly more difficult than Level 50 on Normal!

Q: What do the different colours represent on drones and turrets?
A: The weapons they use. There are 12 different ones:
Yellow = Unaimed Bullets
Light Blue = Aimed Bullets
Red = Unaimed Spread
Dark Blue = Beam
Orange = Aimed Spread
Dark Cyan = Large, Aimed Pulse
Green = Tracking Pulse
Pink = Burst of Bullets
Purple = Spinning Pulse
Cyan = Star Pulse (Bursts into 3 bullets after a second.)
Grey = Aimed Bombs
White = Trail Pulse (Trail hurts to fly through.)

Q: Isn't it pretty hard to see things in the clouds of the different planets?
A: Just like in real life! ;)

Q: How do I destroy those turrets on the columns of Class H planets?
A: Each of those columns will have a weak spot, which should be obvious from the rest of the column. Shoot that spot a few times and the column will colapse, taking the turret with it. (Try not to be too close though as the pieces of the column will hurt a little if they hit you.)

Q: There's a force field I've come to which is so close to certain things I can't destroy its nodes! How do I get through it?
A: You can disable a forcefield by shooting the field itself, it just takes a little longer to get through that way. Remember, if it flashes white when you shoot it, it can be destroyed!

Q: What's going on with those computer circuits in the Network levels?
A: That would be John Conway's Game of Life. One of the most widely known cellular automatons.

Q: What are the cheat codes?
A: When you beat PixelShips Retro without cheating, the game anaylzes how well you did and determines which codes to allow you to have. For example, when you beat the game on Hard skill you get a code to unlock the first of the two secret skill levels. If you beat the game on Easy, you normally get a code to provide you with unlimited energy, but if you've logged over 20 hours of gameplay you instead get a code that provides you with permanent invulnerability!

Q: How do I enter a cheat code?
A: With the exception of the skill level codes, all codes are entered on the title screen. Skill level codes are input while selecting a skill level. A slightly different sound effect than usual is played when you correctly enter a code. If you input a cheat code that affects the gameplay a message will be displayed to remind you that you are cheating, and a ! symbol will appear next to any games saved using the code.

Q: What are my limitations when using a cheat code?
A: You cannot make any high scores, you will not receive new codes when you beat the game and none of the ships you discover for the first time will be entered into your database.
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