GDC 2012 Hands-On: PixelJunk 4am
You might have read our previous coverage of 4am, looked at the screens or watched videos and still wondered what this latest title from Q-Games actually is. Even though my time with the game was short, I only had maybe 10min to play (I was backed up from other meetings and arrived when the Sony crew was tearing the booth down), I know more about 4am not then I ever did before. This is really one of those instances where you have to play it to have it click with you.
The first thing I did was to get a hold of the controls. As we have mentioned before each of the face buttons on your Move controller, yes that thing you might have stashed away is the only way to play this, controls a channel of different loops and one shots. For instance I think Circle was controlling the high hat. The guys at Q-Games have done something really interesting with the Move, making it so there is a canvas and pallet around you. To bring a track in you have to find where it is living. When ever you find it the controller will vibrate and you can grasp it with the trigger. This tactile feedback makes adding different things to your mix very intuitive.
You can also control the way everything is sounding by moving around in 3D space. Holding down the Move button allows you to tweak different effects on a sample. By twisting or even moving towards or away from the camera will change the sounds you are producing. Doing this adds just that little thing to make your tracks go to the next level.
You can also switch backgrounds on the fly at anytime by hitting the select button. This seamless switching allows for rather unique sets that you can throw together. The visuals for each of these vary wildly from flocking globs to strands of hair or fiber to even this organic flower looking thing. Each of which is reacting to the music you are creating. At one point I was playing around with the hair visualizer samples and went to solo in on a certain loop. Doing so made the visualizer focus more closely on a group of certain strands, it looked incredible.
I really wish I had more time to play around with 4am, I was just getting into my session when I had to stop. They pretty much had to rip the Move controller out of my hands. You can tell that Baiyon has had huge influence over this project as it seems to scream his style. The minimalist building up of tracks that you are crafting is an experience that you can only have with this. If you have a musical bone in you at all, 4am is definitely something for you to check out. And if you are like me while you will probably mess around with it for a bit, you will always be able to listen in on what others are doing. This is what excites me the most about 4am and has me looking forward to its release later this year.