E3 2011: PixelJunk SideScroller

By Andrew Yoon, Jun 07, 2011 2:30pm PDT

QUICKTAKE: PixelJunk Shooter gets another spin-off. Based off the secret ending to PixelJunk Shooter 2, SideScroller is a straightforward old-school shoot 'em up with a funky visual style, and remixed audio tracks from High Frequency Bandwidth.

THE DEMO: It may look like PixelJunk Shooter. In fact, in many ways, it is the same game. The demo we saw featured many of the same gameplay elements, such as the ship's unique way of interacting with fluids. Even the spin attack is back, letting you quickly collect points. However, there's one key difference between Shooter and Sidescroller: in this new game, you can't use the right analog stick. You shoot forward, and that's it.

DETAILS: Sidescroller may feel regressive, especially compared to Shooter 2's unique liquids-based puzzles. However, this is not about exploration, or saving survivors. It's a straight forward homage to classic shmups of yore, and we're sure Gradius fans will appreciate it. As with any classic shmup, you'll have to memorize the surprises in store for you, and quickly react to enemy ambushes. And unlike in Shooter, you'll be able to switch between a number of different power-ups that alter your bullet pattern to better confront the stream of enemies you face. There's some strategy, but because the screen moves automatically, you'll have to rely almost exclusively on your reflexes.

It is a difficult game, but Q-Games is promising that checkpoints will be "plentiful," unlike the single bonus level featured at the end of Shooter 2. There are also multiple difficulty levels, so if the genre intimidates you, you can always opt to play it on "Easy" mode.

In addition, there's local multiplayer support, so you and one friend can take on the challenges together. But don't expect the robust competitive multiplayer from Shooter 2 to make a return. Instead, you can expect other standard PixelJunk features: leaderboards and YouTube support.

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