Might not be exactly what you mean but I have a procedural sprite generator (no shaders) for Unity on the Asset Store. It will produce an unlimited (well, whatever C#'s Int32.MaxValue is i guess) of spaceship, planets, moons, asteroids, suns, space stations (early stage) and backgrounds. It deals with setting pixels (and a few .net GDI drawing to make it a bit quicker). So while nothing is hard-coded like your example, I do consider them to be "pixel art".
Therefore, to answer your first question:
has anyone ever tried making a game with programmatic pixel art?
Yes, yes i have.