PixelJunk 4AM: the Non-Game You Won't Stop Playing

PixelJunk 4AM: the Non-Game Preview

At Sony's PlayStation Holiday showcase in New York City, I played a lot of games. We'll have impressions and previews of games for both the PlayStation 3 and the upcoming PlayStation Vita over the course of the next week, but the standout from the press event was a non-game game. Set your alarm for PixelJunk 4am, and be ready to use your PS3 in a unique and amazing way in Spring 2012.


PixelJunk is already well known for their innovative downloadable games exclusive to the PlayStation Network, and this time they're playing with the PlayStation Move motion controller. But this isn't a puzzle game, or a gimmicky sports collection. In fact, this isn't really a game at all, but rather an interactive experience. It's also without a doubt the most fun I've had with Sony's motion controls, and destined to be a huge time vortex for me next spring.

So what is 4am? It's a music-making piece of software developed in conjunction with Baiyon, the amazing DJ that provided the pulsing soundtrack to PixelJunk Eden. There are gorgeous, brightly colored visuals (three variations were shown at the demo), and from the very beginning, you are in direct control of the music made. Using the Move controller, you start by selecting a color. Each color (represented by the four face buttons on the controller) controls a portion of the music, like a bass beat or a synth vibe. By moving up, down, left, or right, you have the four individual one-time effects. With just those four solo shots per each of the four colors and the three visualizers (each has its own set of sounds), you have forty-eight effects to play with.


And then there's the loops. Each of the three visualizers has a unique set of loops tied to the same categories. By pointing the controller to a corner and pulling the trigger, you can drag your corresponding loop to the visualizer, letting it start the rocking. Your loops carry over into the next visualizer, so you can mix and match your favorites. Then the real fun starts. With loops providing your background, you can live mix, adding in the solo shots, tweaking loops, dropping the beat out, switching to another visualizer to throw the new one in… just as that sentence overtook my mind, the possibilities while I was live mixing overtook my body, and soon I was just letting the rhythm do the talking.


While you're doing all this, of course your friends locally can groove to the music you make (or in the club if you're awesome like Baiyon in the below video). But if your friends aren't around, you can also share your live performance over PSN. A Sony representative even hinted at web broadcast and sharing via social networks. In other words, look forward to me tweeting annoyingly about my amateur trance music on a regular basis in the spring.

4am may not seem like it's for everyone, but every other journalist I talked to had a blast with it during their demo, no matter what kind of games they usually enjoy. As this continues to expand, the possibilities are nearly endless. I still have one of the thumping bass beats in my head, and dreamt in crazy circles of pulsating colors last night. This is a reason to own the PlayStation Move, and I can't wait to get back to being Baiyon's amateur producer.

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