PixelJunk SideScroller Review

The PixelJunk series have always been one of interest to me. Not wanting to stay focused one specific game type, the developers have created these games to cover different genres’ such as Real Time Strategy, Racing, Shooters and more. Keeping this time with the shooter aspect, Q-Games released the next in the series in Pixel Junk SideScroller on the PlayStation Network. And I’m happy to announce that this retro themed shooter is just as fun as it is flashy.

Gameplay for this “sidescrolling” shooter is simple. If it flies at you or shoots, shoot back. Enemies will come at you from all sides. Different color enemies provide power-ups for your 3 weapons: Machine Guns, Missiles, and Bombs. A charge attack option is also included, if you ever have the feel to ram your opponents. Each enemy might have their own weakness to certain attacks, but I found myself constantly using the machine gun. I believed this weapon to be the best for overall attack so call me old-fashioned.

Controlling your ship feels tight and responsive. Never once did I not move when I needed it too, or move a half-second too late. And trust me; you will need that control in the most hectic of times. Make no mistake, this game will provide a challenge. Enemy fire will come from all direction so you’d better have some quick reflexes to avoid all those shots. Expect to die a lot. But luckily none of this is ever controller/game breaking difficult. When you finally fly into the next checkpoint, many of which are located throughout each level, and die, you simply restart from there. This will save the frustration of having to restart the level all over again.

Expect boss battles before the end of each final level. Each of these has a pattern to learn, but patience is the key. Same rule applies to attempting to try to rush though battles. Fly quickly to reach any sort of power up or shield and this will quickly lead to you down fall. When complied (and I did beat it on Normal), you are shown that an extra bonus level is unlocked containing the real ending level and final boss.

PixelJunk SideScroller is presented in a beautiful 1080p HD presentation. Design for most of the levels and enemies are a mix of wire frame light outlines. It’s definitely a treat when all sorts of pixel themed colors beautifully fly across your screen. High definition “retro style” design might sound like an oxymoron, but it’s still one that should be looked at. Looking at your screen with a distorted look, only to see that the distortion is actually an enemy, is a very nice effect. Sidescroller also supports surround sound which complements the game very nice.

One of the few cons if any with the game was the music. Most levels play funky jazz-like or hip-hip style beats music selection, which at times sounds a bit eerie. In my opinion, it just didn’t seem to fit the style which it was going for. When trying to replicate nostalgia, if that is what this game is partly going for, it’s important to remember that the soundtrack is just as memorable as the enemies you battle. Lucky, SideScroller supports custom soundtracks. Don’t like the music, simply start up your own personal choice or mix. (The Tron: Legacy Reconfigured album is my personal recommendation)

If you’re a fan of classic arcade-type shooters with a modern twist, this is definitely one to play. The game, while challenging, is sure to make the $10 purchase very much worth it. In fact I believe that the only thing you’ll be missing when playing this game are the quarters in your pocket.

PixelJunk SideScroller gets a 9/10

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