From time to time here we discuss the less savoury videogames, and as an avid recreational casual sometime gamer, I think it’s important to also share some of the good stuff.
Like… PixelJunk Eden!
Or, as it is known in our house, “Jump jump!”
As in —
Husband gets home. Shoes still on, bag still packed.
Me: “Hi! Jump jump?”
Him: “Sure sweetie we can play Eden, just let me…”
Me: “Jump jump!”
Him: “Yeah, of course, I just want to…”
Me: “JUMP. JUMP.”
Eden, or Jump Jump, is part of the new wave of PS3 games, the latest title in the PixelJunk series, out of Q-Games studio. It’s the same excellent ilk as FlOw, or Little Big Planet. Gameplay is very dynamic, relying more on a good 2D application of physics than linear storytelling.
You can read how Wikipedia describes it here. It’s a very accurate description. But it doesn’t capture the fun.
Here’s how I describe it (scroll down to skip straight to the pretty):
You are a little coloured blobby with big hair. The in-game label for you is a “Grimp”. But Grimp makes me think of something that steals Christmas presents, and that’s not how I think of you, so I call you a blobby.
The game can be played cooperatively with up to 3 blobbies on-screen at a time (a pink one, a green one, and a blue one). The blobbies’ job is to grow a garden, and collect objects called “Spectra”. In each level, you start off with just a couple of plants, and a bunch of floating flowery thingies.
Blobbies are a bit like spiders — in that you have a long string you can create and swing from, around and around in a circle. If you swing through, or bonk your head against, the floating flower thingies, they turn into big puffs of pollen (bigger puffs the more you hit in a row). Activating this pollen, by jumping or swinging through it, sends it zipping up to the seeds that are scattered throughout the level.
When a seed has enough pollen, it can be jumped into, causing it to sprout into a brand new swirly, bouncy, curly, stretchy (or whatever) plant. You keep bustin’ and swirlin’ through pollen and growing your garden, jumping from plant to plant to get up around and through until you can jump onto, and thus collect, the Spectra.
All of this is done against an oddly soothing original trance-style soundtrack and shifting background colours.
There are no horrible consequences in this game. If you jump and miss, the worst case is you fall off the screen and respawn (though this will cost you pollen). There’s a countdown timer, but even it can be refreshed by finding and acquiring the extra time bonuses within the level. If you absolutely fail out, run out of time, none of the levels are so long or so hard that it’s put-the-controller-down-and-never-play-again devastating (yet. We’re on level 5).
Co-op mode is particularly well done. Sharing the screen feels natural, not forced. You can swing out and catch your partner, ziplining them to safety, or doing little acrobatic throws to help cross big distances.
Which can lead to narrating (“saaaaaave meeeeeee….”) as pink blobby falls past green blobby’s safe foothold. I’m very good at saving. I’m also very good at falling. Sometimes you just have to go with it and shout “CANNONBALL!” as you fly past. (Really the narrating is a game in itself.)
Check it out for yourself (if a bit blurry) in the YouTube-age below. It gets two thumbs up and a big pile of pollen from me.