Pre-E3 2008 PixelJunk Eden
Players: 1+ Player Game | Genre: Platform
We have had some time with the latest title in the PixelJunk series--PIxelJunk Eden--and I must say that I am very impressed. PJE is completely different than anything I have ever seen before and is a breath of fresh air for downloadable content. You probably have read my praise for titles in the PIxelJunk series before--most recently with the incredibly simple, but deep PixelJunk Monsters. I admit that I have sent e-mails to Developer Q-Games begging that they give us PixelJunk Monsters 2. However, they have consistently said that PJM2 may come later but they have other ideas for games they want to do first. After spending time with PixelJunk Eden, I am now convinced that Q-Games can take their time in developing the titles they have in mind and put off PixelJunk Monsters 2 to a later date.
PIxelJunk Eden is an original concept that places you in control of a creature known as a Grimp. Grimps resemble Nintendo's Pikmin creatures and they live in Gardens. The purpose of the Grimps is to start on the ground, jump in the air, swing and hang from plant to plant, collect pollen, and eventually reach the Spectra in the level. At first, each level (broken out into ten gardens) will have you collect one Spectra. After you obtain it, before time expires, you will then be dropped off at the main level slection--disguised as a garden--and you will have to collect two Spectras. This process continues until you unlock all Spectras for a level. Each successive garden, or level, will get more and more challenging. In addition, the more Spectra you unlock for each garden, or level, will also greatly increase the difficulty. This will provide an extensive replay value and give a lot of gaming time for the relatively low purchase price. While we don't have an official amount--all previous PixelJunk titles have been $9.99 or less.
When a player first goes into a given Garden, they will need to quickly obtain as much pollen as possible. This is done by jumping up, using your silk to swing around and then a seed will glow when it is ready to be touched. However, while it does make sense to stay at the bottom, gaining easy access to multiple enemies and lots of pollen--you can only open up new seeds if they are nearby. Players can guide their Grimps up into the Garden by following where the collected pollen is heading. When you reach the Spectra, you will see that it will glow. This gives another great visual indicator for where you should travel on the screen. But be careful--one bad jump can lead to you falling all the way to bottom. This usually results in losing valuable time and almost always causes you to lose the level. If you are able to grab the Spectra, the level will change colors and sounds for each one you collect. This provides an incredible amount of variety for each Garden.
While this gives a little insight as to what PJE is and how to play it, there is no substitute for actual hands on time with the game to give you a true sense of how special this title truly is. Eden is the type of game that you can casually enjoy but gives you enough depth and challenge that only the hardcore players will be able to fully unlock. Players will have to take great care to collect pollen and continue moving up into the level to seek out new pods to open so that you can ultimately obtain the Spectra or Spectras you are seeking. But if you really want to unlock everything PJE has--you will need to take full advantage of the new Trophy System Sony is delivering with Fimrware 2.4 and 2.41. Trophies are very similar to the Xbox 360 Achievements and will give players a variety of different tasks to complete in titles that support them. Each Trophy has a certain different difficulty associated with it. The harder the Trophy is to get, the more points it is worth. This will lead into an overall Score and you will gain levels after obtaining a certain number of points. PixelJunk Eden is one of the very first titles to support the Trophies and offers an incredibly difficult selection of tasks to complete in order to gain Trophies.
PixelJunk Eden continues the tradition of great music in the PixelJunk series. The tunes are very soothing and makes the mood and tone of each Garden relaxed. Although the music is a bit repetitive, the techno-vibes are very enjoyable.
PJE offers full support for up to three players to play at one time on the same console. While it would make sense to want co-op play over the PlayStation Network, for Eden the gameplay works better if you are playing with someone in the same room. The one change in the gameplay for multiple players is that each of the Grimps can stick on each other. This can create some fun acrobatic moments and can allow you to reach some very high areas as you jump off your buddies.
Another great feature that PixelJunk Eden offers is the ability to upload videos of your gameplay. The system will upload them to your YouTube account and you can share this awesome experience with the world. Unfortunately, that feature is not working in this build. But everything else seems to be feature complete. I wasn't able to detect any strange bugs or any incomplete areas of the game. Currently PixelJunk Eden is set for release sometime in August. And although is not a review of the game, I have already seen enough to tell you that PJE is going to be one of the best downloadable titles in 2008.