Pixel Frames shadow boxes have been around for a while. The idea is that the line captures a classic retro gaming moment, typically an 8-bit or 16-bit scene. Each is officially licensed for the sake of accuracy and authenticity. They all add a bit of depth by placing elements on multiple levels. A number of different series, such as Castlevania, appeared in the collection. Now the latest Pixel Frames scenes capture moments from the MegaMan, Sonic the Hedgehogand street fighter Series. And as always with these items, the impression left by the finished piece will vary depending on the scene chosen.
All three Pixel Frames shadow boxes I examined were of the 9 inch by 9 inch variety. Each frame is black and about two inches thick. They also each include a silver metallic name tag sticker. One person can peel off the backing and apply to the frame as desired, noting the game’s title and release date. The shadow box then has elements of a design appearing in a foreground layer, up to two midground layers and a background layer. The result is, well, an image that might be reminiscent of the old Sega 3D classic Entries on the Nintendo 3DS. You have a recognizable scene from a title, only with added depth to provide additional context. The company uploads YouTube shorts videos to give a better idea of how it works.
How well different ones work all depends on the design. Of course someone will have a taste for titles they love. But more objectively, the moment makes it. Take the mega man 7 dr Wily Pixel Frames shadow box. In many ways, this is a pretty ideal moment. You have Mega Man, Dr. Light, Rush and Dr. Wily everyone in the scene. On the left is the dial gauge. There is definitely more texture and you can see the 3D effect. However, since so much of it is in the foreground, it doesn’t “pop” as much as the other two Pixel Frames I have. The composition is great and it’s a fantastic scene. But the effect is not that remarkable.
Now with the Street Fighter II Car Scene takes the Pixel Frames mission closer to ticking all the boxes by depicting the bonus phase of the game. How the company understood the order can be seen here. The layers are very clear here and cast a large shadow. (Not counting those actually present in the art under Guile, the Auto, and Chun-Li.) The UI at the top of the screen looks good and pops. The car is about to break down. Guile uses a Sonic Boom while Chun-Li performs Hyakuretsukyaku. Some of the broken car parts are already flying away and are on their own level, which works well. The rest of the background may appear a little flat, but you can definitely tell the difference with the ground and the ocean beyond. It is tactfully done and instantly recognizable.
But from what I’ve seen, I think so Sonic the Hedgehog Loop Scene is Pixel Frames’ shadow box that best shows what this collection can do. First, we’re in the Green Hill Zone. Everybody knows. Sonic has just finished going through one of the show’s signature loops. It gives a sense of speed as we see that he has already gone through it and is in motion. Also, it offers the possibility of placing it in one of the midground layers, with the front of the loop and the “stage” in the foreground. Ahead lurks a Buzz Bomber, one of the series’ more well-known default enemies. Also, the background layer is far enough behind to provide even more context. It highlights a lot of things that people love about the show. We have four shifts in operation. There is a pretty good distribution of content across all four tiers. The shadows are really visible when they are displayed. I just think it’s a very well made piece.
The only thing I wish is that every Pixel Frames piece had an easel. All of them come with a sawtooth picture hanger on the back. That means you can pretty easily mount it on a wall and hang it horizontally. But there’s no stand in case you want it on a shelf or table. On the plus side, each frame is pretty thick. They’re about two inches wide, which means they can stand independently if you place them somewhere. But given the height, I would feel more confident displaying it with an actual easel. If someone wants that, it would probably be pretty easy to buy back an easel separately and set it up to work.
To be honest, I have the impression that Pixel Frames’ shadow boxes are handled rather well. They are sizable pieces. Care is taken to get licensing for games that people have fond memories of. The scenes chosen tend to be instantly recognizable scenes with familiar characters. Yes, getting one for a title that someone prefers will probably be the most influential part of the selection. But as for the actual display, it seems that the more detailed and active the scene, the more opportunities there are for the 3D effects and the nature of the collection to stand out.
The pixel frames MegaMan, Sonic the Hedgehogand street fighter Shadow boxes are now available from retailers such as Amazon and the IGN Store. Retail price is $29.99 each. The official website for the collection is also now open.