PixelJunk Shooter Review

Genre: Thumbstick Shooter/Puzzler
Platform: Playstation 3 (PSN)
Developer: Q Games
Price: $9.99 (USD)

Q Games has been making a name for themselves as a developer that can craft engaging, fun games with the simplest of graphical presentation and game play mechanics. Their latest, Pixel Junk Shooter takes the familiar “Thumbstick Shooter” genre, and marries it with a unique premise to bring us one of their best, if not, best titles in the PixelJunk series.

The setup is simple, in the future, ships are sent out into outer space to scout various locales for precious minerals and resources. Unfortunately, things haven’t gone so smoothly, and workers are now trapped in the various mines. Naturally, they need your help to rescue them. Using your rather versatile ship, you are able to traverse the hazardous mines and rescue the stranded workers.

Gameplay is, initially, very straight forward. You control your ship with the Left Analog Stick, Aim with the Right Analog Stick, and fire your blaster with the R1 or R2 Buttons. Holding down either one will charge up a barrage of missles, but be warned: You can overheat your ship and plummet to a firey doom if you don’t watch the heat gauge. The L1 and L2 Buttons launch your grapple hook, which can be used to snag workers in need of help, or gems that are scattered throughout the many locales you will visit.

It all seems rather simple, but what makes PixelJunk Shooter such a fantastic game is how Q Games have crafted some rather brilliant levels and obstacles to overcome. Beyond just shooting and grappling enemies, players are tasked with manipulating water, fire, and even ice and rock. For example, there is a scenario in which some workers are trapped in a cave underneath some rock. Unfortunately, lava has covered the rock, and drilling through it with your blaster will most assuredly release the lava onto your friends (which will count against you: killing too many workers will result in a game over, but collecting 100 orbs dropped by enemies and scattered throughout the level, you can reduce your casualty count by 1).

There are a few ways to solve this scenario, and I won’t spoil them, but it can revolve around using a very special plant that acts like a sponge capable of absorbing water and lava, and deposit it elsewhere (but be careful, as whatever you have absorbed with the sponge will still drip all over the place when in transit).

Graphically, the game retains the PixelJunk 2D style, with flat graphics and very stylistic representations of ships, rock, water, and lava. The water and lava, however, boast some impressive fluid animation, and the overall visuals are sharp and crisp. As with most PSN and PixelJunk games, the title supports 1080p resolutions, and looks wonderful.

There’s not much else to say about the title. What I’ve always liked about the PixelJunk series is that what you see is generally what you get. The game makes no pretenses about what it is, and the gameplay within.

VERDICT: BUY – At $9.99, PixelJunk Shooter is most definitely a worthwhile purchase. The game play is rock solid (no pun intended), and is a fresh take on the Thumbstick Shooter genre. The mixture of the elements, smart level design, smooth controls and crisp visuals make this another great addition to not only the PixelJunk series, but the Playstation Network catalog as well.

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