PixelJunk Racers

For people that remember playing on a Scalextric set when they were younger (and certainly for those that still do), PixelJunk Racers might be the ideal game. The proposed PixelJunk series of games (rumoured to involve at least three titles for release on the Playstation Network), looks set to feature miniscule characters, objects and heroes in high definition, taking part in a variety of activities which, in the case of Racers, involves tiny cars travelling at lightning speed around Scalextric-style tracks. It's the sort of thing that would probably never work if it was released as a disc-based, full-game release, but arriving on the store for just a few pounds, the game is quite an interesting prospect.

PixelJunk Racers

Controlling your little vehicle is a simple matter, involving little more than an accelerator, much like the real-life Scalextric sets. However, one key function adds a huge amount of potential to the game: cars can skip from one set of tracks to the next, with only a quick flick of a button. It might seem obvious to say, but this adds an incredible amount of scope to the game, with some quite inventive modes available to play. The most basic is a simple race, featuring a number of AI or human opponents, with the only real restrictions being other players and occasional slow-moving obstacles on the track. Thanks to the game's support for up to seven players (the PS3 limit for controllers), even this basic mode is ideal for party situations, with considerable opportunity for multiplayer mayhem. There are many inventive modes though, including tracks filled with rush-hour traffic, forcing racers to dive between obstacles, and also mini games like charging up your car's power and releasing at the optimum moment to see how far your car will travel. It's all quite simple stuff, but the variety and implementation is superb.

To keep players occupied, there's tournaments with trophies to win, and plenty of multiplayer options, although it's certainly not going to present the same level of challenge as a Gran Turismo game. There are a reasonable number of tracks, which get gradually more complex, often involving tunnels and other obscuration hazards that add to the lunacy of the racing, but the variety here is limited. You won't find yourself racing through a field of dinosaurs chased by hot lava (or cold lava either), but it's perhaps unfair to criticise the game for that, since it was almost certainly the intention to provide casual entertainment rather than cutting edge scenery. It's worth noting that the tracks will also appear very different depending on the selected game mode, with each having quite a different personality depending on the number of racers involved and the amount of traffic around.

PixelJunk Racers

Though it might not look immensely varied, the game does at least look quite stunning. It's not packed with detail, clever effects and subtle touches that could rival big releases like Motorstorm and Resistance, but it's incredibly sharp and colourful. It's understandably hard to keep track of a tiny little race car hurtling around the screen, but in high definition, with snazzy visuals like these, the job is made considerably more enjoyable. Mirroring the visuals side of things, the sound accompanying the game is a no-nonsense collection of effects that does nothing extraordinary, but nothing bad, and it has to be emphasized that this is exactly what store titles should be aiming for. There's no original score to take you on an emotional journey (though flOw had an extremely good go at that) and no voice acting, but it's not the sort of game that would benefit significantly from such things.

The thing to focus on with PixelJunk Racers is that it does exactly what it sets out to do, and does so extremely well. It's not here to send waves through the world of gaming, and it won't be a major award winner, but what it does do is provide an entertaining multiplayer experience and a satisfying single-player game that provides a welcome break from the high-pressure gun battles of the modern First Person Shooters dominating the gaming market. Though things are very much on rails, PixelJunk Racers feels like it offers freedom. It's a fine little store title and it'd be a shame to ignore it. It'd also be worth keeping an eye out for the other PixelJunk games in the series, with the next rumoured to be a strategic tower-defence game.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Q-Games

Developer:

Q-Games

Players:

1-7

Online:

Rankings

Release:

2007-10-05

Trophies:

0

Review summary

Gameplay:

Very simple but quite addictive

Graphics:

Sharp and colourful, but basic

Sound:

Passable

Lastability:

Lots of challenges to unlock and try

7.1

Solar Flare

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