PAX Prime Hands-On: PixelJunk Sidescroller
Much has changed since I last got my hands on PixelJunk Sidescroller. It seems that almost every aspect of the game has gotten tweaked, and for the most part almost all of these changes are for the better. But I will get into that in a second, here is a quick refresher all things PixelJunk Sidescroller.
If you read my quick impressions from back at E3, you will know that Sidescroller takes place in the PixelJunk Shooter universe. But it might not be in the way that you are thinking. Sidescroller is actually the video game that the miners of the ERS Pina Colada play to pass time in their pods. That is why you will notice things like scan lines and a simulated curved monitor in the screenshots. All of this added with the vector style artwork make the game a pleasure to look at. The flashy neon effects may remind some of Gravity Crash, but the similarity is only visually. The two games play nothing like each other.
Weapons are also something this game excels in, with three different ones that can be swapped on the fly. Each weapon can also be upgraded via power-ups dropped by enemies and as the game only allows your ship to face one direction it is crucial that you do upgrade and upgrade often. The quicker you do so, the easier it will be to stay alive as power-ups add backwards firing to both the laser and machine gun. You have to be aware of what gun you are using though, as it applies the power-up to the currently equipped weapon.
As I mentioned at the top, much has changed since the last time I played. One of the biggest changes are to the missiles. Now instead of launching out numerous homing missiles, a bouncing ceiling and floor hugging variant has been added. These can be used in a very tactical manner and are especially useful in tight corridors. The ships visual appearance now changes based on the weapon you are currently using. This is also a welcomed addition as it is much easier to tell which weapon you are using without looking away from the action. One change I noticed that wasn’t to my liking was the increased time it now takes to do a spin attack. I really like to use the spin attack in game to quickly take out lines of enemies, and in its current state I couldn’t do it as often as I wanted to. But as the game is still in development, I am sure there will be even more tweaking so I am not worried.
Fluids are back and they do everything you expect them to do. You can shoot water into lava and make dirt, shoot lava on to enemies and destroy them, and lasers can melt ice. Also do to the fact that your ship now has a laser you can cut paths through the ice with ease. Water is still your friend and can be used to cool off your ship when you are overheating. The blocky look of the fluids, while not in a vector style, still seems to fit perfectly into the game.
Bosses are also something that you expect from the Shooter series of games and Sidescroller will not disappoint. We did get the chance to play one of the more fleshed out bosses and it had some interesting mechanics. It was a blast to play and like most boss characters we had to do numerous things to destroy it. I wish we could have gotten footage of it, but picture a pinwheel type machine made out of 3 triangles. To damage it, we had to shoot off the triangle pieces and light its core up. The boss also teleported around the level, leaving a ghost image to where it would land. The boss creature that I played at E3 was also there, but I hear they are buffing it up as many E3 goers decided it too easy.
One thing that will ease the frustration of many players are the numerous checkpoints that are built into each stage. I never felt like we had to backtrack too much after dying and Q-Games have even added an option to continue at a lower difficulty. Dying is something that you want to try to avoid though, as there is a combo system in place for score attacking. Every time you destroy an enemy your combo goes up. There is a cool down time that you attached to this, so if you take to long to kill another enemy you get your combo reset. Score chasers will have to find interesting ways to keep those combos going.
Being the huge PixelJunk fan that I am, I can’t wait to play it some more. With the game still in development and changes being made everyday, I can’t wait to see how the final product turns out.