The amount of unique, quality titles being brought to the Playstation Network has continually impressed Playstation owners worldwide. Flower, PixelJunk Eden, Fat Princess; all unique, simplistic, addicting titles that make every gamer realize that simplicity done right can quickly become the most enjoyable time sink to escape your everyday life. Q-Games has continually delivered games that are entirely based around this very concept.
As the fourth game in the PixelJunk series, PixelJunk Shooter is faced with a heavy hitter predecessor in PixelJunk Eden. A 2D shooter with puzzle elements has been done time and time again. What does this game do that sets it apart from the rest? Simply put… more than enough to become addicted. Keep reading for the full review, and an accompanying gameplay video.
The human race has become further advanced in space exploration. Planets have been colonized and, surprisingly enough, resources have been depleted. Greediness ensues and danger intensifies. Save survivors, collect gems, shoot enemies, and solve puzzles along the way. Simple enough, right?
Shooter’s controls are as fluid and intuitive as one would hope for in a shooter. The left analog stick moves your space ship, while the right analog stick will rotate it. Although it can be a bit weird at first, it quickly feels natural. L1 and L2 both fire off your grappling hook which is used to rescue survivors as well as interact with objects. Shooting comes in two styles, as you can press either R1 or R2 to shoot bullets or hold either button to shoot heat seeking missiles – but be forewarned, while bullets are unlimited, heat seeking missiles can cause you to overheat if overused.
Overheating is something that will continually slip to the front and back of your mind at all times. Do so, and you will come falling to your death, which restarts the current area. Should you fail to save enough of the survivors, game over. Although there isn’t a race against time as with PixelJunk Eden, there is still a chance of failure that keeps you mindful of each move you make.
Multiple environmental elements are introduced in PixelJunk Shooter. These elements are what bring the puzzle style gameplay; which are presented and utilized in a stellar fashion. Water, the primary element of the game, quickly becomes useful as it will reduce your heat should you get too close to another element presented in the game: lava. While other elements are introduced later in the game, the concept is the same: each of these elements, when met, result in another form of element which may aid in clearing an area. Water and lava create molten rock, lava melts ice, lava and gaseous smoke create explosions, etc.
Throughout the game you will also be provided suits which will modify your ship. These suits, whether a “Magma Suit” or “Inverter Suit”, add to the complexity of the puzzles and operate as the tools necessary to solve them. However, due to the simplicity of the elements and the tools provided that make it a bit too obvious how the area needs to cleared, PixelJunk Shooter never really feels challenging. And while that is a bit disappointing, the amount of fun the game provides is enough to overlook this pitfall.
The 2D colorful environment and the fluidity and interaction of all of the elements are extraordinary. Everything about them is as true to life as you would imagine. This is a necessity as anything less would create a mockery out of the puzzles. When presented with a situation in the game - a survivor surrounded by a block of ice, a pit of lava that seems impossible to surpass - the solution you come to devise executes just as you would expect it to.
This roughly four to five hour game contains three main chapters, each chapter ending in a boss battle. Although a bit short, the game continually delivers enough to come back to. The “epic” moments (see 2:10 in the video below), the hectic boss battles, and the puzzles provide a unique feeling of achievement that is rare in games today; especially for ones at a $9.99 price tag. Each of these little moments help fuel that addictive element feeling that Q-Games continues to deliver. It is also inevitable that this addiction will slowly bring the completionist inside of you to rear its ugly head.
The collection element in the gems, the number of survivors saved, level completion time, hidden passageways, and more encompass the extraordinary amount of replayability this game contains for those completionists like myself. Local co-op is a blast to play and comes strongly recommended as the cooperative puzzle solving adds yet another interesting element to the game. Also factor in online functionality to rank your skills against others, PSP remote play functionality, in-game video recording with YouTube upload support (see a video below), inevitable future PixelJunk Shooter content, and you have, what is, in my opinion, the best bang for your buck on PSN.
Q-Games has truly outdone themselves this time around. If you have yet to try a PixelJunk game, this is a fantastic introduction into the series. Once completed, I urge you to be open to the rest in the series as I promise you, you will be pleasantly surprised. If you are a PixelJunk fan, this is a must buy.
As with other PixelJunk games, the title takes place in a simple 2D environment, but it goes a long way. Fluidity and interaction of the elements is some of the best to date.
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Shooter's gameplay is fun, addicting, and at times, challenging without impacting the flow of the game. Everything one would hope for from a PSN game.
Music and sound effects have continually been a high focus for Q-Games, and it shows.
The game may feel a bit short for some at roughly four to five hours, but with PSP remote play functionality, local co-op, online rankings, and collection elements, it will be a game you will find yourself continually coming back to.
PixelJunk Shooter is simple, fun, and addicting, but a tad short. Nonetheless, Shooter is quite possibly the best bang for your buck on PSN.