July 3, 2012

Review – PixelJunk 4am

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 7:03 pm

Review PixelJunk 4am
Though very nearly missing the boat on the latest release from Q-Games, I’ve finally stolen time with the title in recent days, which has proved a curious and intimidating affair.

Setting aside the presence of a very helpful tutorial for a moment, there’s a point at which the player begins their first performance, where music tracks begin to play and the trippy visualizer takes over the television screen, and the terrifying realization that one must find a way to create can feel a bit paralyzing and confusing.

Not unlike a frightened animal, I began flailing my limbs, which armed with a PlayStation Move controller exposed the interactive potential to manipulate the audio. Initially, the experience is similar to prehistoric man striking at objects with a leftover dinner bone to find a marvelous world of sounds all around. As a modern man, armed with said Move controller, I was no less perplexed and fascinated by the possibilities – the great discovery of the potential to create coupled with the terrible burden of making some sense of the opportunity, emerging from the cave with fresh experience for the trouble.

While I’m fashionably late to the party, PixelJunk 4am has picked up a bit of a reputation for being a terribly difficult game to review – fair enough given that there is no scoring system or end goal in the traditional sense. But the actual playing of 4am isn’t nearly so hard to nail down, so maybe that’s a good place to start.


November 4, 2011

Review – PixelJunk: SideScroller

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Mister Raroo @ 1:00 pm

Review PixelJunk SideScroller
Way back in 1990, when I was but a freshman in high school, I received R-Type for the TurboGrafx-16 as a Christmas present. As anyone who has played the game knows, it is an absolutely punishing horizontal shooter. I lost count of how many times I blasted off to destroy the evil Bydo Empire only to be met with failure, and I’m not too ashamed to admit that I never cleared the final stage. Nevertheless, I refused to give up, and in fact, the game’s extreme difficulty level may have made me love it more.

R-Type requires players to methodically conquer each stage one small step at a time. Getting just a tiny bit further in a level is cause for celebration. The more I played, the further I eventually progressed, learning exactly where on the screen I needed to position my humble spacecraft at any given moment. I can’t think of any other shooter in which so much trial-and-error, memorization, and perseverance is required to succeed.

“But Mister Raroo,” you might wonder, “Why are you spending so much time talking about R-Type in a PixelJunk: SideScroller review?”

Because, dear readers, playing SideScroller is very much like playing Irem’s masterpiece. SideScroller is clearly a love letter to the classic horizontal shooter genre of yore, and it contains elements that bring to mind games like Gradius and Darius, though more than anything, I couldn’t help but think it would fit most comfortably in the R-Type family.


June 8, 2011

E3 2011 – Hands-on PixelJunk SideScroller

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , , , — Mister Raroo @ 4:29 pm

Handson PixelJunk SideScroller
The PixelJunk Shooter games didn’t light my world on fire, to say the least. I thought they looked gorgeous and the concept was great, but I just didn’t find them to really be all that much fun. Getting through levels was more work than play, in my opinion.

But PixelJunk SideScroller? Ah, it might be love! I adore 2D shooters, and this is perhaps one of the best to come along in a quite awhile. If you grew up playing horizontal shooters, you know the drill. Pilot a craft left to right through horizontally scrolling stages and blast everything that moves. In many ways SideScroller feels like it was ripped right from the golden age of space shooters.

Even the game’s logo is clearly an homage to Gradius. Super cool.

And the retro love doesn’t end there. The game is designed to look as it were being displayed on an old CRT monitor, complete with washed out colors and scan lines. The screen also warps a little at the edges, which is a charming touch. The environments are a mix of vivid neon colors and minimalist vector graphics. It’s kind of like the lovechild of PixelJunk Shooter and Trajectile (Q Games’ cool rocket-firing puzzle game for DSiWare). The experience is only enhanced by the soundtrack, which is very akin to the spacey, beat-heavy tunes found in the Shooter games. It’s safe to say Q Games knocked another one out of the park in the audiovisual department and the end result is lovely.


March 7, 2011

Impressions – PixelJunk Shooter 2

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , , — Mister Raroo @ 3:13 pm

PixelJunk Shooter 2
There is certainly a sense of satisfaction that comes from a job well done. Even tedious work can be fulfilling once the task at hand is complete, providing a sense of relief and a feeling of accomplishment. But, when all is said and done, work is work and play is play, and while work can sometimes seem fun, in most cases the type of gratification I get from both differ greatly. I’d honestly rather play than work, no matter how gratifying the work might be.

PixelJunk Shooter 2 is work, and just like any type of work there are definitely payoffs that come when you complete what you set out to do, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re having a good time while you’re doing it. Too often the only real reward you get from playing comes from the relief of finally passing sections of the game that were proving annoying and frustrating—which are numerous, unfortunately.


June 9, 2010

PixelJunk Rhythm

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , — Aileen Viray @ 4:12 pm

PixelJunk Rhythm
Coming late to the PS3 scene, I wasn’t able to participate in the excitement of some releases that would have otherwise been day one purchases for me, one in particular being PixelJunk Shooter. Luckily, the PlayStation Store included the whole PixelJunk series in its “Spring Fever” sale on the first weekend of May, when I coincidentally had a sudden breakout of unemployment calling for a mix of vacation and celebration, leading me to purchase the whole series.

From the first five minutes of playing Shooter, I found myself especially drawn in by the art style and music. I plowed through the game, bobbing my head up and down while a rhythm of satisfaction came from destroying cavern walls with missiles and a personal mission that my subterranean ship would never leave any survivors stranded in those underground areas.

I became an instant Q-Games Fan.


January 4, 2010

Review – PixelJunk Shooter

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 9:03 am

PixelJunk Shooter
Talking about the physics of a videogame, or at least the way in which elements and objects physically react to the player, leaves me thinking of pop cans rolling down hallways, the splinters of wooden crates, or bodies flailing before flopping on the ground – and afterward if stepped on. I think of little eccentricities that mean to draw me into a world made more convincing by their presence, subtle additions that nourish the reality of the world within the game.

If said game avoids confronting me with an endless series of puzzles meant to force my appreciation of the effort, so much the better.

Beneath the shooter exterior, PixelJunk offers a subterranean world of environmental puzzles as a focal point, distinguishing itself with a playground of experimentation that directly drives the solutions and pushes the player forward. It isn’t a world made more realistic because of the physical elements within it, rather a world made more compelling and interesting because of the depth found in the interaction between elements that the player is allowed to interact with and manipulate.

What we’re left with is a game that is at all times inherently playful, a sensibility sadly missing from so many current releases.


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