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PixelJunk Shooter Review: The Depths of Disaster (PS3)

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PixelJunk Shooter Gameplay Screenshot

PixelJunk Shooter Gameplay Screenshot

© Sony

The Bottom Line

PixelJunk Shooter: The Depths of Disaster is one of the must have games of 2009, and at $10, there's no reason you should hop on the PlayStation store and pick it up. Elegant and easy to pick up, the game feels like an old family recipe reworked and served by an expert chef, it feels both familiar and exotic all at the same time. PixelJunk Shooter proves that great design doesn't require cutting edge technology, just lots of creativity and care.

Pros

  • PixelJunk Shooter is a steal at ten dollars
  • The HFB soundtrack is worth listening to outside of the game
  • Simple addictive gameplay will keep you coming back
  • Every level is a unique puzzle
  • Co-op makes this a great buddy-game

Cons

  • The saving progress only after completig a stage, rahter than a level, feels old and rough
  • The story is vapid, and largely unnecesary

Description

  • Publisher: Sony
  • Developer: PixelJunk Studios
  • ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
  • Genre Arcade Shooter
  • Other Platforms: PlayStation Network Exclusive

Guide Review - PixelJunk Shooter Review: The Depths of Disaster (PS3)

PixelJunk Shooter: The Depths of Disaster is one of those simple looking games that, at first glance, one might say, "I could make a game like that, I mean really, how hard could it be?"

And so it goes with very well designed, easy to understand games. But make no mistake, just because PixelJunk Shooter is highly stylized and cartoonish, it is by no means simple. I'd compare it to any top tier NBA player, they make basketball look so easy, but then when you go out on your local court and get schooled by 15 year olds you realize there is more than meets the eye to it. Such it the case with PixelJunk Shooter.

The screenshots and video clips simply can't do this game justice. Satoshi Ogino's art design requires consumption, not tasting to appreciate, yet it is intriguing enough to keep one eating after the first bite. The simple, almost Flash-esque graphics are fun, but it is the incredible down-tempo, trip-hop soundtrack, provided by High Frequency Bandwidth (HFB) that really steals the show, it's one of the few games that people actually stop me and ask about the music while I play it. The two together, however, are almost hypnotic and I sometimes have folks more interested in simply watching than picking up the second controller and playing with me.

So what is this game? Well, saying it's a highly-stylized shooter is really only so useful. So let say it's an arcade game with Robotron-esqe controls (aim with one stick fly with the other) where you pilot a small ship through caverns rescuing trapped workers and recovering gigantic diamonds. Along the way you'll have to solve puzzles involving ice, water, gas, lava, oil and lots of creepy crawlies. At the end of each world you get to fight some sort of giant boss creature in a traditional "figure out its weakness" battle. But that really doesn't get at the game.

At its core, PixelJunk Shooter: The Depths of Disaster is a study in the deconstruction of the shooter. It takes a very well established, 20-plus year old genre of video game, breaks it down to its bare essentials, and adds in modern aesthetics. In a way, its almost like all the retro-modern cars out there, they look like the Mustangs and Cameros of old, but clearly were created today. PixelJunk Shooter has the simplicity and charm of an old arcade game, but built with the understanding of art and games of today. The shorter answer? PixelJunk Shooter is sublime.

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