E3 2011 – PixelJunk LifeLike Preview

A crowd of E3 attendees filled up a large meeting room on Day 1 of E3 with the promise of the reveal of an unannounced Sony title. Whispers and speculations could be heard all throughout. Some people thinking it might be Sly 4, others pointing out the two move controllers sitting next to the PS3 and others simply keeping to themselves enjoying the free candies, sodas and water bottles kindly offered by Sony.

Then to the stage came Dylan Cuthbert, founder of Q-Games, and Japanese musician Baiyon. Cuthbert announces that the game is the newest addition to the PixelJunk series, “PixelJunk Lifelike,” and then sets our expectations by saying “Don’t expect much gameplay”

Then the demonstration starts. Baiyon picks up a move controller while a small amoeba-like visualization appears on the screen. Soft ambient music fills the room.

All of a sudden Baiyon whips the controller into the air and a loud echoing sound starts looping. Several seconds go by and then another whip of the controller. This time A drum beat goes down to accompany the echo. Minutes later, a full blown dance song is filling the room, the formerly lifeless amoeba-like visualization is pulsating like a beating heart and Baiyon is masterfully moving the Move controller around like a conductor.

This is the essence of “PixelJunk Lifelike.”

Billed as an audio canvas, “PixelJunk Lifelike” allows players to create their own musical experiences using the Move controller and even broadcast their performance live to their friends over the PSN. The game also supports up to two controllers at once, with unique interactions between the two controllers being available as well.

It’s hard to really describe how the game actually works by just watching Baiyon wave the controller around, but in general terms, there are four regions of sounds that can be selected by pressing the buttons on the Move controller. By waving the controller, you can lay down a track that will loop. From there, players can twist, turn and shake the controller to modify the sounds.

As someone who is about as proficient with creating music as I am with quantum physics, this all went pretty much over my head. However, Cuthbert assured that it really is not that complicated and that there would likely be tutorials or tips in the actual game that can help players along.

Despite my own disabilities when it comes to making music, there was a part of me that was curious to see what kind of sounds I could make with the game. The reaction of the crowd also seemed overwhelmingly positive, so if making your own unique musical experience on a digital musical canvas sounds like something you’d be interested in, it’d be wise to keep “PixelJunk Lifelike” on your radar.

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