GAME NAME: Pixeljunk Shooter Ultimate
DEVELOPER(S): Q-Games and Double Eleven
PLATFORM(S): PS4, PS Vita
GENRE(S): Action, Puzzle, Shooter
RELEASE DATE(S): June 4th, 2014
Q-Game’s PixelJunk Shooter 1 and 2 have been given a new lease on life and combined by Developer Double Eleven into PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate. Available for both PS4 and PS Vita, PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate delivers an incredibly satisfying gameplay experience on both platforms.
Players start out responding to an SOS signal from a mining colony on the foreign planet, Apoxus Prime. The Yellow Dart is your ship and your mission is to rescue as many scientists and researchers as possible from the horrible fate that awaits them deep within the planet’s mines. Gameplay and smart level design is where PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate truly excels. Players will have to navigate treacherous terrain while solving a variety of “puzzles” in order to rescue scientists and collect precious gems.
Having fused two games into one, PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate adds a fresh coat of paint to the original games and if you haven’t played them before, now’s the perfect chance to do so. The experience is seamless with the line between PixelJunk Shooter 1 and 2 being completely blurred. Environments look great and the improved fluid mechanics deliver a delightful experience on both the PS4 as well as the PS Vita. Being a 2D puzzle-shooter hybrid, players will need to utilize the analog sticks to navigate their craft through the levels while using the triggers to shoot missiles and make use of grapple hook to grab scientists and objects. This control scheme works extremely well and is easy to master. It’s a big plus for any puzzle game because frustration from poor controls is almost never an acceptable outcome.
Speaking of which, the most important part about PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate lies in its puzzle solving gameplay. Defeating enemies and combining two elements together to open up pathways or protect yourself (and the scientists) from danger lies at the core of the game’s mechanics. Water and Lava in the early levels need to be combined to form rock that can easily be blown up and allow you to progress. Dangerous gas clouds need to be removed to open up new areas later. And when the addition of ice, darkness, magnetic oil and even acid enters the mix, these puzzles get a lot more challenging.
PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate’s challenge is one that could be best described as something those with the slightest bit of OCD would really enjoy. Perfectionists will easily spend hours playing this game, trying to rescue every single scientist and collect every precious gem. With each area being described as Episodes and a total of 6 areas available, the game is by no means short. These areas are further subdivided into 5 smaller zones each and PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate delivers at least 10 hours (if not more) of gameplay, depending on how much of a perfectionist you are.
Heck, I’ve even gone so far as to retry multiple levels just to get a perfect score and improve my global ranking so I’m pretty sure others will do the same. This game is addictive and even more so on PS Vita when you’re able to play it on the go (or while avoiding work).
Oh! One more important thing. At the end of each Episode, there’s also a uniquely and usually quite cleverly designed boss fight that awaits. These are rewarding encounters that deliver some more shooting action while still involving puzzle gameplay. Local Co-op and online multiplayer is also present and adds to the overall package. I just wish that the online multiplayer experience wasn’t ruined by people who leave games as soon as they are about to lose. For such a small game though, PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate sure is packed with features and my only gripe with the game is the fact that it becomes somewhat repetitive and frustratingly hard at some points.
Having recently launched on PSN in June, PlayStation Plus subscribers would have received the game for free. However, if you missed out on it, the game is currently available as a bundle for R175. It’s well worth the price tag considering it’s Cross-Buy and Cross-Play supported. PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate truly lives up to its name and is the ultimate package if 2D puzzle-shooter hybrid gameplay is your Forté.