Game Review: PixelJunk Shooter
Release: Dec. 11th 2009
Genre: 2D Arcade Shooter
Developer: Q Games
Available Platforms: PS3
ESRB Rating: E
PixelJunk Shooter is the fourth game in the Pixeljunk series, following PixelJunk Racers, Monsters, and Eden. The Pixeljunk games have nothing to do with each other, but still feel like they belong in the same series. The PixelJunk series are all downloadable games available on the PS3.
PixelJunk Shooter is a 2D arcade style shooter. Gamers control a little ship sent into a dangerous planet on a rescue mission. Players will spend their time underground, trying to survive the harsh planet while saving the many survivors. Exploration is a big part of PixelJunk Shooter as well. There are lots of extra survivors out there and tons of hidden diamonds to collect. Collecting diamonds seem optional at first, but in order to progress to the boss of each of the three stages, players must collect a certain number of diamonds.
There are plenty of enemies that will try to destroy your little ship or the survivors themselves, but the real threats to your ship are some of the liquids in the world. Flying into lava, or simply being too close to it for too long, will result in your ship overheating and exploding. A black liquid late in the game is magnetically attracted to your ship. Stay in that liquid too long and your ship goes to pieces too. Fortunately water will cool down your ship immediately and will save you from overheating more than once.
The art in PixelJunk shooter is great. The 2D brilliance from the rest of the Pixeljunk series is definitely maintained in Shooter. Every level is crisp, colorful, and beautiful in 1080p. Seeing water or especially lava, bursting from the ceiling or even just flowing beneath you always looks amazing. I also loved my little ship. This may just be me, but it was great seeing little spurts of fire coming from my ship to stabilize it depending on which direction I was flying. Little details like that always lets me know that the developer is paying attention to every detail of their game.
The liquid and obstacles in PixelJunk Shooter is the star of the game. Water and lave will be the most common throughout the game. When water and lava mix soft rock is formed, which can be shot through in order to progress. Ice freezes water and needs to be melted by lava. Gas slowly brings your ship to destruction temperature and when it comes into contact with lava begins to explode. Q games developed great levels where figuring out how to use these reactions to save your people and survive each level is fun. Sometimes you have to adapt to Shooter’s dangerous world to win and other times you have to change the world to suit you. Learning how to do both is the key, and the fun, to this game.
Co-op is another selling point of PixelJunk Shooter. There is no online multiplayer, which means a lot to some, but the local co-op is great. I played through the game once alone and once with a friend. I was expecting the same experience both times and that is what I got most of the time. But sometimes in the game you get a specific “suit”, like the ability to shoot lava or repeal the magnetic liquid instead of attracting it. The way the game changes in co-op is that only 1 person gets each suit. This little change totally changes certain sections of the game. When one person has a suit on you each suddenly have to take different roles. One of you melts the ice as the other saves survivors or kills enemies. The biggest change is when one of you has the anti-magnet suit. You both have to stay very close to each other or suddenly the poor ship without the suit will be engulfed in magnetic liquid. I was surprised at how different some sections felt in co-op and would recommend playing with a friend.
Now as great as the art is, I would have liked to see more variety in the maps. You will be playing in 3 big areas and the levels in those areas have the same background and color pallet. Some more worlds would have allowed for more colors and landscapes to play in. This leads right into my second complaint. PixelJunk Shooter is shorter than I expected. Maybe it was just me wanting to see more of this world, but when the game ended I was not ready to stop playing. You have fun playing PixelJunk Shooter but when you are finished you will want more.
Bobby’s Final Say: Despite it’s length, PixelJunk Shooter is worth the 10 dollar asking price. The art is beautiful and the core gameplay will keep you on the couch till you beat it. Co-op changes the game in unexpected ways and is totally worth having to actually interact with another human being in person. Q Games has been putting out some of the best on the PSN and PixelJunk Shooter is another example of the companies skill.