PixelJunk Shooter

Common Sense Media says

Entertaining sci-fi shooter/puzzler features mild violence.

Age(i)

2
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Your goal is to rescue stranded miners. Players can shoot the people they are trying to rescue, but it’s not in their best interest; kill just a few and its "game over." The game raises questions about the environmental cost of human expansion, but doesn’t delve deeply enough to make players pay it much consideration.

Positive role models

Players take on the role of a pilot who’s trying to save his fellow humans who are stuck in caves on a planet with hostile indigenous life. Their goal is to save these people, harvest any resources they come across, and shoot any alien animals that attack them.

Ease of play

Blissfully simple. There are just four controls: Move, aim, shoot, grab. Even rookie players should be able to get the hang of things in mere minutes. However, some of the challenging navigational puzzle elements later in the game could cause impatient players to pull their hair out.

Violence

Players fly a tiny ship around the inside of a planet shooting hostile alien life forms, which disappear when destroyed. Players can also shoot and kill the little cartoon human miners they’ve been sent to rescue, which results in a yelp of pain shown in text form and the miner falling down.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

The words “damn” and “hell” appear in one of the game’s songs.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that PixelJunk Shooter is a puzzle/shooter hybrid available only through Sony’s online store for the PlayStation 3. Players will spend some of their time shooting hostile alien creatures (which simply disappear when hit) but most of their attention will be focused on how to deal with the puzzle-like environments and finding ways to reach trapped human miners. The people players try to save can be accidentally shot and killed (they emit a small moan in text form and fall over), but it’s not in the player’s best interest, as killing more than a handful will end the game. Note, too, that one of the game’s songs contains the words “hell” and “damn.”

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What's it about?

The latest entry in the PixelJunk series of games available for download through Sony’s PlayStation Store, PIXELJUNK SHOOTER sees players taking on the role of a pilot whose mission is to dive deep into a planet being mined by humans and save stranded excavators. Players zoom around caves avoiding seas of lava and diving into pools of water to cool down as they fend off hostile aliens with rockets and use a retractable grappling hook to pick up any people they run across. The game supports local two player co-operative play as well as online leader boards.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

PixelJunk Shooter is a deceptively simple and extremely habit-forming game -- one of the best downloadable titles of the 2009. The controls, which make use of both thumbsticks and just two buttons, are immediately accessible, and the play is surprisingly forgiving -- you’re only penalized for getting struck by hazards such as lava, explosive gas, or enemies; not, thankfully, for smashing into cave walls, which happens a lot.

What’s more, the puzzle elements are simply terrific. Figuring out how to, say, move water from one area to another to solidify molten rock and then shoot through it to get to stranded explorers is both fun and challenging. Plus, finding and exploring hidden areas filled with treasure prompts a surge of endorphins not dissimilar to, say, finding a hidden vine or 1up mushroom in a Mario game. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking here, but sometimes the simplest games are the best.

Online interaction: There is support for online leaderboards, but not online play.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the notion of humans colonizing other worlds. Do you think our civilization could keep from making the same mistakes made by earlier human cultures when they discovered new, habitable lands here on Earth?

  • Families can also discuss whether the player actually takes on the role of a hero. Our little ship attempts to rescue other humans, but we also end up shooting indigenous life and harvesting resources from a planet that isn’t ours. Perhaps the aliens, if they were sentient, would see us as invaders of their world.

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation 3
Price:$14.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date:December 10, 2009
Genre:Puzzle
ESRB rating:E10+ for Lyrics, Mild Fantasy Violence (PlayStation 3)

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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