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Published on March 8th, 2011 | by Cameron Woolsey

PixelJunk Shooter 2 Review

Platform: PlayStation 3 – PlayStation Network
Developer: Q-Games
MSRP: $10.00

Coming from Japan-based Q-Games, PixelJunk Shooter 2 is the sequel to the company’s highly-successful previous outing, PixelJunk Shooter, a 2D retro-styled game with great graphics, catchy music and rewarding gameplay. Q-Games had promised that the sequel would feature some similar aspects, and end up being a much bigger game over all. Over a year later, PixelJunk Shooter 2 is now available for all PlayStation 3 owners. Q-Games has delivered on its promise, being bigger, badder and hitting harder than ever. The game also includes multiplayer in the forms of two player co-op and a one-on-one competition mode. But does bigger always mean better? In the case of PixelJunk Shooter 2, it may not.

Before the credits ran in PixelJunk Shooter, it was clear that our little ship’s rescue operation hit a snag. Apparently all the wanton drilling and scavenging didn’t go unnoticed, and the planet began to fight back using the different elements at its disposal. The victory at the end was short-lived as the little ship was swallowed whole by a monster which burrowed even deeper underground-out of the frying pan, into the gastric acid.

Up to two players are able to jump in and play, zooming through tunnels and dodging environmental hazards and enemy fire while saving stranded scientists. The game is split into three episodes with five levels each, including a boss level. Each episode offers different environmental challenges unique to one another. From dodging jets of digestive juices to getting chased down by nocturnal monsters in pitch-black caves, PixelJunk Shooter 2 will keep players on their toes throughout the adventure.

PixelJunk Shooter 2 sports a refreshing retro feel while providing fantastic aesthetics. The game is beautifully crafted, featuring bright, colorful graphics, a catchy soundtrack from High Frequency Bandwidth, addicting and challenging gameplay, and an impressive fluid engine.

Gameplay has not evolved much between the two games. Bullets and missiles remain the primary means to take out pesky enemies. The ship’s claw arm is used to pick up scientists or manipulate objects to progress through a level. The only addition to the regular arsenal is the ability to dash forward by clicking down on the right analog stick while spinning. This move grants a temporary boost or, when aimed properly, can turn the ship into whirling missile capable of destroying most small enemies.

The primary difference between the two PixelJunk Shooter games is the “shooter” part. In the first game, shooting and exploring were more even, which offered a finely-balanced experience. The sequel, on the other hand, leans more toward the shooting element, making the game feel slightly off-kilter. I realize that saying there’s too much shooting in a game that has “shooter” in the title sounds odd, but the decision to fill the game with more enemies disrupts the balance that the first game had perfected. Q-Games promised a more challenging adventure, and the game definitely is harder than its predecessor. But in this case harder doesn’t equate to being better.

The boss fights are especially challenging, especially the final boss fight had me pointing at the screen, hoping that the vile curses that spewed from my mouth would damage it somehow before my neighbors called the police.

Magma can be your friend. But sometimes, it's your enemy. Actually, most of the time it's your enemy.

The challenge doesn’t make it a bad game though. Make no mistake, Q-Games has crafted another fun, yet more challenging, retro shooter that fans of the first will have no problem getting into.

The multiplayer mode pits two players against each other in a battle to save more scientists than the other. After jumping into League mode, players are given 200 points to purchase an initial weapon. The mode features multiple weapons which can be set to a face button. You can only enter a game with three items and are given a number counter which displays how many times they can be used in a match. Each item varies from offensive to defensive. For example, a player can choose to have a heat-seeking missile or use a special item that inverts the opponent’s controls. Some of the more powerful and expensive items can reverse gravity or exchange water with magma and vice versa.

The name of the game is simple. Two players start off on different sides, one player hunts for scientists while the other hunts the player. The offensive player avoids the other while navigating through the small playing field, picking up scientists and dropping them at the home base signified by a circle matching the player’s color. The player can choose to attack the opponent or just dodge their attacks and focus on the job at hand. The offensive player is also invisible to the opponent until falling into the defensive player’s field of vision, which temporarily stuns the offensive ship.

The multiplayer can be a distraction for a little while.

The game is played in four rounds with players switching roles after one round is completed. The winner is chosen on amount of scientists saved.

The multiplayer is a nice distraction but nothing truly amazing. It’s satisfying to outwit an opponent and take a win, but with only one game style and so many maps, it can’t stand on its own.

The Final Truth:

PixelJunk Shooter 2 is a solid sequel and a lot of fun. The game could have turned out better if the team kept the balance intact, but the addictive and rewarding gameplay easily makes this one of the better downloadable titles money can buy on the PlayStation Network. For $10, PixelJunk Shooter 2 has great gameplay which will keep you happy and occupied for quite a while. If the multiplayer floats your boat, then you don’t have many reasons not to be happy with PixelJunk Shooter 2.

Rating: 8/10 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

+ Great aesthetics.
+ Addicting gameplay.
Weak multiplayer.
Feels off balance.

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About the Author

Video game journalist since 2006, and gaming since he was old enough to use an Atari joystick. Follow me: @Cam_is_16bit

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