The straightforward name that PixelJunk Shooter bears conjures images of fast-paced, dual-stick combat against an unending swarm of AI drones intent on your demise. Strangely enough, though, shooting is but one small element in this spelunking puzzle adventure. As you wind your way through danger-filled caves, you must use your noggin to mix disparate liquids to free your trapped friends and harvest the precious metals buried miles below the surface. An occasional enemy will spring forth, spraying a slow-moving barrage of missiles or bullets your way, but these are minor obstacles. Just ignore its misleading name. PixelJunk Shooter is the most accessible of all the games in the PixelJunk series, using tight controls and a cheerful aesthetic to pull you deep into its underground adventure. That accessibility never dissipates, making this by far the easiest and shortest game in the series as well. In the five or so hours it takes to reach the end, this well-paced adventure rarely challenges, but it always manages to surprise and entertain.
6243538>There's more than one way to cork a volcano.None
Miles below the earth's crust, an excavation crew runs into a bit of trouble. Although the crew members foresaw the dangers of flash floods and lava flows, they did not anticipate a horde of mechanized monsters tormenting their every move. It is up to you--the intrepid pilot of a durable yellow ship--to rescue your distressed coworkers and put an end to the dastardly menace wreaking all this havoc. You are equipped with two tools that will help you free your trapped friends. Your dual-purpose gun can strike down enemies who unwisely decide to fire upon you, as well as carve a path through sturdy rock. Once you are near stranded survivors, you fling out your trusty crane to pull them safely into your ship. Each section in the multistage levels is cleared when all of your human pals have either been rescued or killed, but if you fail to save enough of them, your game ends and you are booted back to the very beginning of the level. The crewmen can die if they are attacked by enemies, drown in a sea of lava, or succumb to an ill-placed shot from your own ship, but these dangers are easy to avoid, so you rarely have to worry about restarting a level.
The challenge comes in the form of elemental puzzles that take a bit of patience to figure out. As you dive deeper underground, you come across a variety of liquids that threaten to halt your progress. Your ship is susceptible to heat, so if you fly too close to a sea of bubbling magma, your ship overheats and, subsequently, blows up. Pools of crystal clear water, however, counter the excess heat. If you destroy a rock barrier, you can mix the water with lava to form a cool, sturdy rock. When you come across viscous tar later in the game, your ship's engine's can get clogged by the gelatinous slime, causing you to lose control and crash into the unforgiving rock. If you mix the tar with water, toxic vapors form that slowly deplete your ship's shields. If you add a drop of lava to the gaseous mist, though, you create an explosive chain reaction. There are other elements that also crop up during the course of the adventure, and trying to figure out the best way to combine them to not only save your own skin but also your friend's fragile lives creates a rewarding and often thrilling experience.