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PixelJunk 4am Is Going To Make You A Musician

Posted by on May 2nd, 2012 | 0 Comments | Tags:

There’s something soothing about PixelJunk 4am, Q-Games’ latest PSN piece. Having played the beta for a good chunk of time, I’m still struggling to understand what it is. Perhaps its the way in which the Move controller subtly vibrates as you near a new loop to throw in to your track. It could also be the way that, it you choose to use two move controllers, the entire track loses clarity as you bring the two controllers together, as if the song is being heard through the walls of the club. Its a strange sensation, opening the doors of a virtual club and hearing your creation spill out towards you, beckoning you to play with it a little more, tweak a beat here and there to achieve something slightly different to be just as proud of.

22min of Baiyon performing a live set via PixelJunk 4am

The entire experience can be achieved with just one move controller, with the light on the top of the wand representing the track you’re currently pulling loops in to. Red is drums, and the direction you swing the controller in dictates what beat you’re going to use. I found myself making a snare drum noise to the rhythm, adding a constant beat to the piece. Of course, the beats you lay down can be erased with a simple button press, so you don’t just end up laying one on top of the other and creating a cacophony of white noise. The one off sounds are only part of 4am though, the real meat comes from exploring the musical space, and seeing what auditory treasures lurk within. When you find a loop, the controller vibrates, allowing you to grab it with the trigger and pull it in to your audio canvas. Finding loops forms the main part of experience, with each loop bringing with it a specific feel, one new loop in a song and the entire mood is changed in ways you sometimes might not expect. Its a fascinating sensation, dragging in a new drum beat and fading it in by releasing the trigger slowly.

4am is a game about the experience of music discovery, and while you may not be aware of it happening, when you play online other people will come in, watch you, and if they enjoy what you’re making, they can reward you with kudos for your actions. Indeed, there is a free portion of the game that acts as a viewer, so players can do this without even buying the game. Discovering what other people are doing with the game’s loops is a wonderful experience, as you can learn things that feed back into your own music, and let you further experiment with your style.

4am is a bizarre, endlessly playable take on the music game genre without the game portion. By removing almost any sense of progress from the title, Q seems to have created a title that is just ‘music’. That’s what has me most excited to see the finished product.