PixelJunk 4am is awesome.
At heart, this PlayStation Move game is an expression of organic music creation, using dance-like movement routines to compose beats and place new, progressive sounds on the audio canvas.
With the PS Move controller, the user is able to produce up to 441 unique sound layers for one canvas, much like a graphic designer uses layers in Photoshop. The way this is achieved is through accessing the four corners of the TV screen for four distinctly different sounds, plus the face buttons on the PS Move controller. The user is also able to make four distinct one-off sounds, that can be used to lay down a track via overdubbing or used as progressive impromptu noises for an organic twist to the ongoing music.
The player is able to manipulate any of these sounds six different ways, using the motion sensitivity in the PS Move controllers. The user can push, pull, swing left, right, up, down, and twist the PS Move controller to manipulate any of the sounds he is throwing down on the canvas to make something really unique and amazing.
The game is also gorgeous in terms of abstract on-screen visuals. Besides just being amazing to look at for casual observers, they actually serve a functional purpose by giving the player feedback on his performance.
Probably one of the coolest parts of this game, however, is the fact that when the user is performing, he is actually broadcasting to the entire world via the Live Viewer function. This enables even the most amature DJ to become, in a sense, an overnight celebrity. While I was playing, I managed to grasp the attention of a hundred or so viewers who gave me kudos, letting me know I was doing a good job at producing music. To top this all off, anyone can view performances live via the free Live Viewer app that is available in the PlayStation Store.
The progression through 4am is probably the only traditional aspect of game design that is present. As the user proceeds through the events, more track options or "albums" will become available. Some of the newer events will be made up of previous, existing cavases but mixed in with others, which allows the user to create more unique tracks by continuing from one canvas to the next without losing the previous built-up song.
My favorite is the Odyssey 649, with the fouth canvas selected, using the bottom-right corner of the TV, using the triangle button. It is a sort of chant…a really chill beat for the melody section of my music. I think every time I have played the game, I usually start there, then switch to another canvas for the drums and rhythm parts. PixelJunk 4am is truly something that can be personalized to the core, with each person coming away with an entirely different experience.
I showed some of my coworkers at the Minneapolis Activison office the game, and they were shocked at how esoteric it was, and yet they couldn't put it down. It was the enjoyment of being able to produce pleasurable music so easily.
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