PixelJunk Shooter 2 gives biliousness a whole new meaning

Videogames put the player in absurd situations, but nothing comes close to the premise and setting of Q Games' downloadable PSN game, PixelJunk Shooter 2. Just put yourself in the shoes (for lack of a better word) of the food you eat. Yes, that's right. Now imagine drifting haplessly down your throat and into your stomach, where dangers in the form of digestive acids lurk in complete darkness. Now imagine that your food was human-shaped and could fly a little spaceship equipped with missiles, homing rockets and a grappling hook — if you've done this correctly, you have in your head, a picture of PixelJunk Shooter 2 game-world. Well, almost. The game is surprisingly complex and deep, sporting impeccable design, visual styling and the addictive properties of heroin, all the while remaining very unforgiving — a lethal combination.

The digestive tract (and subsequently the other parts) of a planet-sized alien creature serves as the 2D side-and-top/down-scrolling shooter's absurd setting, where the protagonist (that's you) has set out to rescue trapped miners while fighting off (what are presumably) antibodies and avoiding dangers in the form of magma and digestive acids. Water, on the other hand, contains healing properties in PixelJunk Shooter 2, cooling off your guns and repairing your ship. Speaking of which, your ship packs quite the mean punch in terms of firepower — hold down the trigger, and you will unleash salvos of homing missiles. Overdo it and your ship will overheat, causing it to gently plummet to the ground.

Several episodes

The game's ‘story' mode is split into several episodes, with the first being set in different parts of the creature's body, the second in an underground cave, and the third in what appears to be an industrial complex doubling as a heavy metal labyrinth. As you progress through the game's levels, new enemy types, puzzles and weapons are introduced. The game punches you in the nose as soon as you start playing, with the difficulty level becoming rather obvious at the get-go, and progressively, the game gets harder and harder, but at no point do you feel like you're being cheated out of victory. There's enough variety in terms of level design and challenges to keep you going for hours together, and if you feel the game world is getting lonely, you don't necessarily have to labour through it alone thanks to the included single console co-operative mode — all you'll need is another controller and a friend with an itchy trigger finger. If competitive multiplayer is your thing, the game's ‘online battle' mode guarantees endless hours of finger-damaging gameplay.

PixelJunk Shooter 2 looks fantastic, thanks to a retro arcade-inspired visual style and hi-definition graphics — and it's not just the visuals that are arcade-inspired. There are sections where the gameplay morphs into something from a different time and is guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of fans of arcade games of old. With all this and more, there's simply no excuse for not dropping 455 bucks at the Playstation Store today.

Keywords: Videogames