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PixelJunk Shooter Review

May 30, 2010

The Pixeljunk series, for me and many Playstation 3 players, has a special place in our hearts.  Each game in the series has a different gameplay style, ranging from tower defense in Pixeljunk Monsters, to platforming in PixelJunk Eden.  What each game in the series has in common however, is a polish and art style that makes it hard to not love each game.  Now the developer, Q-Games, is tackling the dual analog shooter, with, well Pixeljunk Shooter!

Like the previous games in the series, Shooter is a lot of fun.  For those who don’t know, a dual analog shooter is a type of game where players move a ship with right stick, while aiming the gun with the right stick.  The orientation of the ship does not matter, just where the right stick is aiming.  It’s a tried and true gameplay mechanic and still works well.

In shooter, the goal of the game is to rescue stranded miners on the planet Apoxus Prime.  In a change of pace, Q-Games has added a bit of story, well more of context for the game than a story.  A pilot on the ERS ship, the Pinita Colada, you come accross Apoxus Prime and find the colony there has issued an S.O.S.  That’s where the story ends and the game begins.  The game is split into three episodes, with five levels each, each level split into a few stages.  Each stage is beaten by rescuing five miners, which is easier than it sounds.

The core gameplay is to collect miners while also getting some treasure and defeating enemies.  The levels in the game are split up into multiple sections, with each section containing around five miners.  In order to precede to the next part of the level all the miners must be saved.  If a miner dies an X will go through  a miner bar at the bottom, you are only allowed to loose a total of five miners per level (restarting does not reset it but leaving the level does), but gaining a number of points or a “1up” point will remove the Xed miners off the list.

To fend off enemies, the ship has a gun and homing missiles.  While homing missles sound really nice, they have a downside, they increase your heat meter. The heat meter is more or less your life bar but in reverse.  If the heat meter fills up then you loose control of your ship and crash/die, unless you happen to fall into water which will instantly cool the ship down. Homing missiles aren’t the only thing that increase this meter, being hit by enemies, getting too close to heat sources among other things will also increase it

The game will throw a number of obstacles in your way that the conventional bullets and missiles on your ship cannot deal with, this is where brains, and handy suits come into play.  There are a variety of suits through the game, including but not limited to lava, water, and anti magnetic suits.  These suits change the function of the ship, for example lava gives the ability to shoot lava instead of bullets.  These suits not only change the weapon system, but also the “grabbing” system, a tool normally used to collect miners and treasure (In the form of gems).  The grabbing arm can be modified by different suits to grab different types of materials, such as giant ice blocks.  It’s this change to the ship that implements some puzzles aspects on what you can grab and or melt/freeze/etc to make it through the level.

There are three episodes in the game, each with its own levels and theme.  While aspects of other episodes will bleed into others, the setting is somewhat distinct in each chapter, even changing it up within levels.

Like all Pixeljunk games, shooter comes with local multiplayer and leaderboard support, as well as trophies.  leaderboards give players something to shoot for and thrive against, while multiplayer adds in some fun amongst friends.  The art style is very well done, with the colors bright and vibrant which helps bring the world alive.  The liquid physics are extremely well done, with each different kind of liquid acting how it would in real life, more or less.  The music is by High Frequency bandwidth, with the music and sound effects fitting the game perfectly, which should be a given by now with Q games.

Overall Pixeljunk Shooter is a great package, it’s low price of $10 with great gameplay, art style and music will win you over sooner or later.  At this point my love of Pixeljunk might make me a little bias, but Shooter is a must own game for any download enthusiasts.


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