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PixelJunk Eden

I'm a man. And I like to play a game designed for men. Games with guns, explosions, and guns. And explosions. Which is why I decided to play PixelJunk Eden, a game in which you play a kind of protozoan creature that leaps around on plant leaves while soothing trance techno music plays in the background.

Your goal, my manly friend: pollinate those plants!

As puzzle games go, PixelJunk Eden has to rank as one of the more original games I've played. As a player you control a 'grimp' -- a little creature that leaps from one plant structure to another. You indicate the angle at which you want to leap and then you jump. If you manage to land on another structure you can repeat the process to jump to another point on the plant itself, or some other, more distant plant. Your grimp can also jump and deploy a strand of silk which allows you to swing around the anchor point.

So, but swinging around on a strand of silk and releasing at the proper moment, your grimp will sail through the air and (hopefully) land on a nearby plant. Part of the game's challenge is to figure out a way to reach various areas of the map by swinging and jumping.

To advance through the game your grimp must collect 'spectra' -- which are these glowing... things. I don't know what they're supposed to be besides glowing things. They are usually located in areas of the map that are difficult to reach. We'll get to how they are reached a bit later.

When you start the game (which is divided up into maps called 'gardens') you are in the intro garden. In the center of that garden is the PixelJunk Eden logo, and a number of plants. Near some of the plants are little warp points that bring allow access into the various gardens. To reach those upper garden warps, however, you must complete the lower gardens by collecting the aforementioned 'spectra'. Once a garden is completed the nearest plant will bloom -- branches and flowers opening up and growing outwards. From these new structures your grimp will be able to reach other gardens, and so on.

Now, back to collecting spectra. so that maps can be completed.

To reach the spectra, however, you'll need to grow the garden by pollinating 'seeds'. The seeds are glowing circles of light. Seed 'pods' float through the air, and by contacting the pods with your body or a strand of silk you can make the pods explode into great clouds of pollen, which you must then collect by passing through them physically, or swinging through them on a strand of silk. You can also make your grimp rocket downwards by snapping the PS3 controller downwards. This makes them actually detonate like little pollen supernovas.

Once pollen is collected it will increase your score and (if an unpollinated seed is nearby) rush off towards a seed. Once the seed is completely illuminated (it's like a circle that slowly gets filled up by the pollen) you must then land your grimp on it. And then it will sprout a new plant. This new plant will allow your grimp to climb higher up in the garden and eventually allow you to reach the various spectra scattered through the garden.

The game is simple to learn by takes time to master. The graphics are sleek, vectorized, glowing -- they look great in 1080p resolution, very interesting to watch. The music is very minimalist and relaxing -- a jazzy sort of techno beat. But the game can become frustrating at higher levels. There are some enemies in the game, which can knock you off a plant or break a strand of silk -- sending your grimp plummeting all the way back down to the ground. Many times I found myself knocked off a high perch and falling past every plant that I had grown by mere inches.

Also, you start each garden with a kind of life timer, which slowly counts down. You can power this meter back up by collecting crystals scattered throughout the garden. In later maps I found myself low on health, hunting frantically for some of these crystals. PixelJunk Eden can actually be more frustrating than a multi-player online shooter. I can get blown to bits by 100 rocket-propelled grenades and laugh -- but Eden makes you want to scream when you fall all the way to the bottom, or make a long leap towards a plant and just barely miss it, only to (again) fall all the way to the bottom.

Overall, PixelJunk Eden is a fun, relaxing game -- at first. The slick visuals and addictive music make it fairly unique among video games. And at just $15 to download, it's not a great risk --.if you're confident enough in your masculinity, like me. Excuse me, I have to go hang some sheetrock real quick, and then go pickup my hot new girlfriend Christie -- who will most likely wear her thong while she clings to me on the back of my Harley.

Graphics: 
8
Gameplay: 
9
Reviewer's Overall Rating: 
8
0

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