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Which holiday game will you play the most?

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Game Profile
PlayStation Network
GENRE: Action
PLAYERS:   1-4
December 10, 2009
PixelJunk Shooter 2

PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe

PixelJunk Eden

PixelJunk Monsters

PixelJunk Racers

 Written by Nicole Kline  on February 18, 2010

Review: Get ready to suit up and ship out in the latest installment from Q-Games.

I'll admit it ? the reason I downloaded all three of the PixelJunk demos last summer was because I thought the name was adorable. I was intrigued by all three titles: Racers, Monsters, and Eden ? but the only one that would really stick with me was the tower defense game, PixelJunk Monsters. I was obsessed with that game, playing levels over and over again until I could beat them with a perfect score, which they call ?getting a rainbow.? You play as a little tiki monster, trying to protect your family of adorable little pacifier-sucking tiki monster babies. Wave after wave of monsters come, and you build towers to destroy them. They, in turn, drop gems and money, which you can use to buy and upgrade your towers as well as purchase better ones. The game is incredibly addicting, and the soundtrack, done by Otograph, is something I listen to constantly, even outside of the game.

I couldn't get enough of PixelJunk after that. Made for the PSN, this series of downloadable games is the brainchild of Q-Games, headed by Dylan Cuthbert of Star Fox fame. I found myself eagerly anticipating their latest installment, PixelJunk Shooter, and I was overjoyed to find out it was coming out December 10th. I bought it as soon as I got home from work that day, and by Saturday, I had already beaten it and was on my way to getting 100% of the trophies. It is intensely addictive, even more so than Monsters was.

In Shooter, you play as a ship sent out on a mission to rescue miners and scientists on a far-away planet. It begins very simply ? you leave the ERS Pinita Colada, kill a few monsters, shoot out a few walls to pour water onto some magma, and save a few survivors. But things slowly begin to get more complicated, and strategies have to be employed to save everyone and make it out alive. You get to employ various ships to try to meet your goals ? a magma suit, impervious to heat; which shoots water and moves ice; the inverter suit, which allows you to navigate through magma; and and the amazing anti-gravity suit, which repels everything around you, allowing you to gain momentum and push dangerous liquids onto enemies. The game itself is broken down into three episodes, each with five stages, which in turn are split up into four parts. The final stage in each episode is a boss battle, both challenging and yet simply done, in that way PixelJunk has of being simultaneously clever and elegant. I am already anticipating the announcement of add-on content, and I am considering getting PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe on my PSP just to satiate my need.

Remaining completely off the charts is the music choice. For this game, Cuthbert recruited UK-based High Frequency Bandwidth. The tracks flow from hip-hop to electronic and back around again, melding perfectly with the gameplay and creating a soothing ambiance that ebbs and flows with the story. The tracks perform dynamically, changing with the player's interactions with the environment. Some of the best music emerges in the boss battles, so seamlessly integrated that it almost feels like part of the action.

Bottom Line
All in all: two enthusiastic thumbs up for PixelJunk Shooter. It has that old-school feel of a game like the original side-scrolling Gradius, all wrapped up in a brilliantly simple veneer with smooth controls, amazing physics, and all-around satisfying gameplay. The gameplay, music, and visuals combine for a beautiful experience. It's the celebration of and graduation from an older era ? an old spaceship game revamped with vibrant colors and a realistic feel. It is a definite must-have for all PS3 owners.

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