The PlayStation Network continues to surprise me with number of downloadable exclusives that get released every year. Most notably is the critically acclaimed PixelJunk franchise that is known for simplistic controls yet fun gameplay. Now Iíve only seen or messed around with some of the earlier games but I have to say their newest endeavor, PixelJunk SideScroller is easily the most addictive one yet.
SideScroller, as its name suggests, gets its space shooter roots from the R-Type and Gradius style games of the arcade days. Those titles instill a certain level of dread and even accomplishment wherever they are mentioned in a conversation. SideScroller while not to that level even in its hardest difficult, which is aptly named Brutal, is very similar even in its aesthetics. From the very start after a little screen tinkering you are presented with a classic cabinet style screen overlay complete with the insert coin start button.
Unlike the arcades, SideScroller has a very simple control scheme for both the old school D-pad and modern Analog fans out there. Either way you choose you will need quick fingers to navigate your ship through 13 levels of pure space combat. The ship is equipped with its three weapons; machine guns, bombs and a laser rifle to take out the classic moving and stationary defenses whose only job is to make you a little more frustrated when you die by random enemy fire.
With a little practice and the determination you can master every weapon and take out your foes a little bit better each time. The laser is a slow firing weapon but is great for taking out rows of fire at a time, but the bombs are devastating when you especially in tight quarters. My favorite however is the pretty reliable machine gun especially when you pick up the power-ups from defeated enemies.
I will say the only issue I have is with switching between the controls. There are a few options to use like the L2 and R2 or the Circle and Square buttons but you often have to switch between them at a moments notice and it can get confusing in the heat of battle. Luckily if you get overwhelmed SideScroller does feature checkpoints, unlike the arcades and the only coin you will drop to continue will be the price of admission.
One of the going things about PixelJunk is its simplicity and SideScroller follows the same even with its graphics. I found myself going through mechanical levels, ice levels and squishy walled areas that I can only hope is Jello. Each level is usually monochromatic in style though the mixture of additional colors makes SideScroller easy on the eyes. Unlike other shooters, SideScroller offers dynamic environments that can aid you such as destroying dams that will spill ďwaterĒ upon magma so you can blast through it. There are few other tricks to use but I wonít spoil them. To aid in the whole arcade presentation, the music is upbeat getting you in the mood to make your way though some tough levels. I could listen to that music all day long or at least at a club. The sound effects are simple but effective and I love the female voice that talks every time you switch weapons.
PixelJunk SideScroller is a title that I could sit and play it for hours if wasnít for the need to sleep and other necessities. The simplicity of the gameís design and the ease of use controls make it an easy game for anyone to pick up and play. Though itís totally up to the player if they have the determination to make it through 13 levels of enemy filled levels and creative bosses. If thatís not enough then there are Leaderboards to top and trophies to earn for those looking for more of a challenge. IF you havenít already started downloading PixelJunk SideScroller you should be. Fun starts with the drop of a few coins.