not focus on classroom facts.
Creativity & Imagination
By the Player:
game doesn’t encourage much exploration on the player’s part - in fact, each of
its ordered stages scrolls from left to right automatically. This doesn’t stop
the game from hiding three trinkets in each stage, which require curious
players to poke around each level’s nooks to uncover.
real opportunity for player creativity is found in combat, and comes largely
from the fact that the player’s three weapons, which are quite different, can
be toggled between freely at any time. Combined with the option to increase the
power of each incrementally by collecting power-ups, players have several
options with which to tackle any of the game’s situations, including enemies
that pop out of walls, those that fly straight at the player, walls that need
to be muscled through, and the game’s four bosses which offer their own unique
By the Developer:
most striking elements of SideScroller are its audio and visual
components. Visually the game is made up of neon environments set into a screen
made to look like an old arcade cabinet, complete with a slight warping effect.
The psychedelic color scheme is complimented by the game’s BAFTA-nominated
ambient techno soundtrack (by musical duo High Frequency Bandwidth) to give the
game a really distinct and deliberately videogamey style.
game’s mechanics are simple and familiar, but they’re meant to be. The riffs on
the shooter genre are subtle, and mostly there to make the game a little more
accessible. The scoring system is straightforward, levels offer generous
checkpoints and the whole thing goes down smoothly, leading to the conclusion
that the game is meant largely as a showcase for its visual and aural style,
which are successes.
Business skills are
not a factor of SideScroller.
is best played with a partner, though there isn’t really any way for two
players to interact with each other meaningfully. Instead the game ends up
being more about splitting up work; enemies often come in pairs of waves, which
pairs of players are certainly well-equipped to handle. Since each of the
game’s weapons has its own specialties, having two players that level up
specific weapons can be very effective in many situations.
can get pretty hectic in some sequences with just a single player, but
having two players shooting up the screen simultaneously gives every inch of it
some added chaos.
largely comes down to tackling each new enemy as quickly as possible while
dealing with the native dangers of each stage. Generally players are flying
through tunnels as enemies come at them at waves or pop out, turret-like, from
the walls. The tunnels themselves frequently offer up their own hazards, which
range from rushes of lava and poisonous gases to mechanical contraptions like
complex mirrored lasers and crushing gear-walls.
the game’s first seconds players have access to three distinct weapons. One is
a basic machine gun that fires straight ahead; the second is a powerful laser
that fires in a straight line and penetrates through multiple foes but fires
very slowly; the third is a strange bomb-scattering gun that drops a handful of
projectiles on the floor and, when upgraded, the ceiling. Each of these is
useful in different situations, and while players can complete the game only
using one of them, much of the fun and challenge of SideScroller can be
experimenting with each in different scenarios.
stage offers segments where each weapon in useful, and the challenging bosses
in particular will test the player’s knowledge of the weapons as well as their
general reflexes and skill.
not a simulation game.
received largely positive reviews, with praise particularly aimed at its
graphics and soundtrack, as well as its difficulty level, praised for being
high without ever becoming inaccessible.
Controls & Options
offers three difficulty levels to start, with a fourth unlocked upon
completing the game. Difficulty levels are particularly notable in SideScroller
because each one offers a total reimagining of the game’s visuals -
terrain, enemies and the players’ ships are all given new coats of paint. While
the change is strictly cosmetic, each palette really does give the game a whole
PixelJunk SideScroller was rated E by the ESRB
with a descriptor for Mild Fantasy Vio