Pixeljunk 4AM Co-Op Review
Sink into Synesthesia, Become a Slave to the Beat
Finally a reason to dust off the Move controller.
You begin the game with only one arrangement to play, and are no limitations, rules, or win conditions. 16 loops and 16 sound effects are at your disposal to create your musical masterpiece, and you will unlock more sessions as you play more Pixeljunk 4AM. I couldn’t find any rhyme or reason to when I unlocked new arrangements but they seemed to pop over time. There isn’t a campaign, there isn’t a deathmatch, nor score attack - this is purely a musical melting pot that you get to play around in. There wasn’t a ton of variation across each of the sessions but it was nice to have something different to play once the current track became a little stale.
My favorite feature of the game was the live sessions that automatically integrate into the experience. When you begin a session, people can hop in and listen to what you are doing and have no effect on your experience other than the added pressure of a growing audience. It is almost like a virtual concert that people can view in the comfort of their home, and the player is free to express themselves through the library of sounds provided. During most of my sessions I usually forgot that I was connected to the network until the notification popped that integrated into the stunning visuals happening on screen. Listeners can shake their own PS Move controller to give you praise, and the only score that is tallied is the number of listeners you have for each session. I have to admit, that once I had a couple people listening/watching to my session I wanted to ensure that I didn’t make any mistakes so I could give them a better show.
This is what you see while you play, no joke.
Pixeljunk 4AM can be played with only one controller, but where is the fun in that? You can dual wield two PS Moves and pretend to be a Star Wars kid, making beautiful music at the same time. Pass off one controller to a friend and you have the co-op mode in 4AM. Two local co-op composers can create a symphony together straight from the couch. Even though we label it ‘couch co-op’ I would highly recommend playing standing up so that you can get your whole body into your interactive concert. I found that having a partner changed the way I played the game and was slightly janky at first. Once you figured out how to transition smoothly it became a game of back and forth, where each player was able to feed off of one another. Ideas would spawn in the middle of a session and it was inspiring to see your co-op partner take an idea and run with it. Thankfully 4AM is all about experimentation, and having more than one composer lends itself to this style of creation.
Pixeljunk 4AM is a very simple toy that uses the Move controller in a creative way. The tactile feeling of being able to manipulate the music with the flick of your wrist was unexpectedly satisfying. The performance aspect is a really cool interactive multiplayer idea and the inclusion of co-op is always welcome. However, 4AM is limited by the number of samples and lack of customization which I think will turn off hardcore music producers. Casual players may find some fun here for the first hour or so, but will become complacent because there are no real objectives to the ‘game’. Novice music makers will become frustrated because they cannot figure out how to truly grasp the music manipulation. 4AM is a really interesting experience, but not necessarily a game for any particular audience.
The Co-Op Experience: Two local players can create musical tracks using Move controllers.