There’s only one thing better than playing games and that’s collecting every piece of merchandise tied to them. There was nothing like flipping through your favorite gaming magazine and seeing a profile of a limited edition collectible or discovering a piece of memorabilia from a beloved game in an overlooked corner of a shop and it’s a feeling we strive to replicate every month as we look through our own collector’s cabinet and dig out items new and old to show the world.
Gaming fans come in all ages. Whereas games were once considered a form of entertainment for children exclusively, that stereotype has since faded and many are adults with a home they’d like to decorate. Posters are great and all, but sometimes folks want something a bit fancier for their home decor. That’s where Level Up Labs come in with their line of Pixel Frames. Pixel Frames are framed pieces of artwork featuring a variety of classic video games.
These art pieces are not simply a nicely-framed poster. One thing that makes Pixel Frames stand out is that they are shadow boxes with three layers to each design. This means there’s a background, midground and foreground layer — each containing its own piece of the visuals. It may be hard to understand if you’ve never looked at this type of art before, but it makes total sense once you see it. The whole reason for the mix of layers is to create an image with “depth” and a 3D look to it.
All the layers are laser cut leading to sharp, clear layers and the layers themselves are held in place by foam within the frame. The foam keeps each layer at its appropriate depth. As a result, though, it might be difficult to replace the existing frame with another if you were hankering for a different style of frame. There are a wide range of franchises included such as: Battletoads, Castlevania, Contra, Double Dragon, Golden Axe, Mega Man, River City Ransom, Sonic the Hedgehog, Street Fighter, Streets of Rage and Tetris among others.
The art itself truly pops with bright colors and high quality pixel art. You can clearly make out each pixel and none of the design looks blurry. Some may lament the crystal clear visuals since there is no scanline approximation on them, but when viewed from afar you can’t tell anyway. All you’ll be able to see is an eye-catching moment from gaming’s history. It’s also exciting that the company focuses on presenting snapshots from gaming, rather than drawn artwork.
Each available design is truly a screenshot from a retro video game. For example, there are humorous moments such as in Street Fighter II when you can smash away at a car. Other classic moments include Contra, Castlevania and Altered Beast boss battles. At times there are just moments from games such as being in the middle of a loop while playing Sonic the Hedgehog. There are more designs on the way as well, ensuring that if your favorite game isn’t covered yet, it may very well be soon.
The frames themselves are wrapped with a faux wood grain design with black coloration. It’s just a sticker-type wrapping though, so if it starts to rip you’ll clearly see the light brown material underneath which is noticeable. Some Pixel Frames also include a commemorative silver plate. By default this comes in a little plastic bag and is not pre-applied to the art. This lets the owner decide whether or not to stick it on display, and if so, where exactly on the frame they’d want it to be. Art on each Pixel Frame is front and center, with the “Pixel Frames” logo only on the right side of the frame. On the back of each art is a ring hanger to enable folks to hang it on their wall. With that said, there is no additional hardware included such as a screw or wall anchor.
Each piece from Pixel Frames come in a 9” x 9” (23cm x 23cm) size. Due to the shadowbox nature requiring three spaced layers, the entire thing has about a 2″ depth. While so far all games represented are truly retro, there are newer games on the way as well. For example, a scene from Sonic Mania — a 2017 release — is currently up for preorder. Expect to see more games from companies such as Konami, Sega and even Arc System Works arriving in the future.
Each design costs $29.99 and is an excellent addition to a gaming fan’s collection. They can be hung on the wall, but the frame is thick enough to keep them standing straight up on a bookshelf or any other flat surface as well. Pixel Frames make a unique gift and have a lot of variety between titles to choose from. Here’s hoping they delve a bit more into modern, retro-inspired titles as well. Modern pixel art indie titles would open Pixel Frames up to an even wider audience.
Want to look through the rest of our Collector’s Cabinet? Head right here.