PixelJunk Shooter is Awesome

Progress with TRAUMA grinds to a halt whenever I get swamped in work in my dayjob. My girlfriend being sick doesn’t help. It seems like I won’t make it this year after all. But I made a storyboard for the missing parts and I organized a camera and scheduled the shooting. Will try to wrap up most of the project during holidays.

The worst thing is that I get into this self-reinforcing state where I’m frustrated with my lack of progress so I play games to have at least some sense of getting things done… instead of REALLY getting things done. Which brings me to PixelJunk Shooter.

I fell in love with the PixelJunk games long before I even played them. Especially Eden caught my attention. I always thought they were on Xbox. So I was very disappointed when I bought one and realized they were PSN exclusives. I bought Eden when I finally got the PS3 Slim but it got buried in the backlog. It may be because Eden is quite time-consuming.

But now there is PixelJunk Shooter. A slim, cool, fresh, cheap and extremely well-done game. It’s basically a twin-stick shooter in a cave with some remarkable liquid physics. It comes in a cartoony pastel look and with some extraordinary music by High Frequency Bandwidth (which I admit I haven’t heard before but I’ll just continue pretending I know what I’m talking about).

The game is almost flawless. It has extremely polished controls. There are quite a lot of verbs and but they are mapped in a compact and easily learn-able fashion. Some verbs (like the spinning move) have some secondary functions which you are free to discover, explore and exploit for yourself. There is actually very little hand-holding. No tutorials. Sometimes an unobtrusive help message when you really need it. It’s all about experimentation and exploration. The game is very short and finishes just before it gets repetitive. It never gets too difficult, just more dramatic. The collectibles provide you with a way to extend the experience if you need a fix. The ending promises an encore, like the other PixelJunk games.

The critique would be that the collectibles are sometimes a little TOO well-hidden. Some of them were a bit frustrating to get. I’m working on an article on collectibles right now. It’s a difficult subject. Also, the visual style somewhat clashes with the music. Don’t get me wrong. The songs are excellent. The visual style is lovely. The two just don’t quite fit. It worked better in Eden. Finally what Roher said about Eden still holds true for Shooter. It’s “twiddle with your thumbs to make cute things happen”. Yes, it’s game-candy without a deeper meaning.

But it’s very well-made game-candy with a distinct and captivating flavor. It’s game-candy for game-candy-gourmets. Actually, all PixelJunk games are. Shooter made me even get PixelJunks Monsters Deluxe for the PSP and you know what? I’m contemplating on getting them on the PS3 as well so I can get the Trophies. But then again, maybe I should finish Eden first…

Actually, the PixelJunk games also made me reconsider PSN. It’s fascinating how just a few key titles can improve the entire experience. It’s a bit like the Moments of Truth effect.

I’ll better stop before I turn into a geeky fanboy (Ooops, too late). If you have little time, can spare a few bucks and want some enjoyable distraction, I can recomend PixelJunk shooter without any restrictions what so ever.

P.S.: The PixelJunk series is made by Q-Games who also made DigiDrive which I also adore and recommended buying some time ago. Everything comes together now! I can clearly see! … I’m a goddamn loonatic.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

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The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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