Monday, December 14, 2009

More Musings on PixelJunk Shooter

In my previous discussion of PixelJunk Shooter I totally forgot to mention two of the greatest aspects of the game.

The first aspect is the music. Performed by High Frequency Bandwidth the music has just the right blend of looping and hypnotic groove to keep you wanting to play through and finish a level. Once the level is done the beat is still resonating in your head and you want to finish listening to the groove so you just have to go back in to listen some more.

The second aspect is the ability to record short segments of the game and upload them to YouTube. Eden has the functionality and so does the sophomoric game Pain. Below is my first recording from Shooter. It's not much to watch unless you want to laugh at how quickly I die, but the fact that you can record cool moves and post for all to see is something you don't get from the other consoles.


Pixel Junk Shooter

Where did the time go this weekend?

Most of it was spent zooming around lava and magnetic oil.  Pixel Junk Shooter is the fantastically fun new game from Q-Games.  The object of the game is to save workers that have managed to get themselves into fairly hazardous locations which include the aforementioned lava and magnetic oil, as well as ice and explosive gas.  Navigating through the cavernous areas is simple to learn and there is little penalty for doing something wrong.  The catch to the game is two-fold, one playing through to save every worker, and two collect the diamond treasures hidden in the rock and lava.  Added to this is the leader boards that Q-Games have for all of their PSN games and you get an addictive game that is simple to play but challenging enough to make you want to play through again and again.

The majority of my play through this weekend was with my son.  At 9 he tends to enjoy the super hero games more, but as soon as he saw that he could affect the lava and water (by killing my ship no less) he was hooked as well.  The coolest part about playing local co-op is the sheer enjoyment of getting caught up in frantic battle, surviving, and being able to give each other a high-five at the end.  Also my son is a trophy hunter in training so as we progressed along through the levels he would be quick to nab up any diamonds that I might have missed.  Team work pays off in spades during the boss battles.  Once we figured out the patterns for second boss and the third we had a blast making short work of both.

Each level is unique and you can tell that the crew at Q-Games has spent a lot of time refining each section to maximize enjoyment.  As soon as you think you've seen everything that the Lava hazard has to offer you suddenly get the Inverter suit, which makes Lava your friend and water the hazard.  Magnetic oil is also another genius environmental hazard that caused many a tense moment as we tried to squeeze through the levels avoiding the various enemies that spawn when you save a worker or overheat from getting too close to any one of the beautiful hazards.  One of our favorites though has to be the Magnetic suit which repels the magnetic oil as you get close enough to.  The fluid dynamics really show off just how amazing the game engine is when you finally get that suit on.

While the game is fantastic both for single player and local co-op, there are a few points that I want to momentarily squabble about.  First of, if I'm playing a level solo there is no pop-in co-op.  Not a big deal as each section can be completed rather quickly or exited out (and any found diamonds or workers fore-fitted) but something worth noting.  Another squabble my son and I had was the fact that each player's ship could be pushed/shoved/bumped off course and into a fiery death if the other isn't paying attention.  I think this is intentional to stay true to the physics of the game (thankfully bumping into a wall doesn't cause damage) but certainly caused a few deaths between the both of us as we would try to stay close for the benefit of the magnetic suit.  A final squabble we had was the fact that there are only 3 areas and then the game is done.  As I stated earlier there is definitely plenty to do for replay but after the final boss was killed there was a sense of, "That's it?"  That is until we sat through the credits and watched final "To be continued..." and then we both started speculating on what new areas we would be able to explore and shoot.

Shooter is by far my favorite of the Pixel Junk games (mostly because I could actually see the end game and WIN!).  All of the Pixel Junk games hold true to a style of game play that is unique in a world of current gaming that crams hyper-realism down the collective gamers throats.  While Eden and Monsters start out relatively simple, mastering them is entirely beyond my reach.  Sadly I've never earned enough rainbows to even unlock the 2nd half of Monsters.  I have seen all 10 of the original gardens in Eden, but not all of the gardens in Encore.  Many gamers fall into the same boat with the Pixel Junk games, and may be hesitant to pick up Shooter.  Don't be hesitant with this game.  I can honestly say that Shooter is worth the money.  Even if it comes back to bite me in the arse, I'd love to see an Encore or Second Course (to play off on the ending) that adds a little more of the "Pixel Junk challenge" that we've seen from their previous games.