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Pixeljunk 4am Review

Q-Games have produced some truly great and addictive titles at a knock down price on the PlayStation Network for some time now, taking classic genres and giving them a modern spit and polish all under a familiar PixelJunk art direction. With 4am, they are trying something very different, a game that mainly will not apply to gamers in the classic sense but for those that have any musical creativity in them, it is very hard to put down.

4am is an aptly named game that allows you to create sounds that only hardcore clubbers refusing to go home and hanging around the “chill-out room” or insomniacs watching a random European music channel will truly appreciate, thanks to its euphoric ambient beats creating never-ending sound loops all by waving the Move controller around.

Using the “Virtual Audio Canvas” i.e. the gap between yourself and the TV you are able to create ultimate lo-fi tunes that would make Zero 7 envious; the goal, if there is such a thing on this title is to gather as many fans as you can, as with every time you are performing it is to the rest of the world who can log on and listen and cheer you on; so no pressure then.

Creating your sounds can be a little confusing at first but once in the zone, you can craft some very original beats that will have all your fans cheering you on. The move controller acts as a mixture of a composer’s baton, PC mouse and an interchangeable electronic percussion instrument, allowing you to control pitch and fade, beat out original beats and pull a variety of pre-made loops to tinker with.

The best way to use 4am is to imagine you have a large square in front of you, with each corner rumbling the Move to indicate a loop is there to drag into the middle. What is then essentially a hybrid four track mixing desk, you are able to use the Move face buttons to select tracks and then move sound loops from each corner, testing them out and ditching them if you don’t like them, allowing you to freely create music on the go; an exciting prospect that will probably offend your fans ears early on as you learn what each track and loop sound like. Though best looked at as being separate tracks that you can mess around with independently, each face button has a rough sound to associate with them, with the X button being the back beat, the circle button being of a faster tempo like a high hat and snare to the square and triangle buttons giving you more interesting effects loops. With grabbing and releasing loops becoming second nature very quickly you can also beat out separate percussion loops by hitting each side of your imaginary square as either one-off’s or program their own loop, giving your tracks a little more originality.

4am starts off with a very basic sound package but as you progress by gaining fans and playtime more selections unlock, granting you even more loops and percussion effects to choose from pre-set packages, letting you keep your fans attention by lengthening your set-list and altering the general mood.

Visually, what occurs on screen initially does not seem to be anything more than a psychotropic explosion of colours and shapes that adorn most indoor market “hippy” stalls, but it actually reacts to each note and is slightly under control by yourself, with each track influencing the colourful shapes and squiggles plus your own interaction with the four corners or adding pitch effects also adding similar visuals to the screen.

4am is not really a game, it’s a musical experiment on your PS3, allowing you to get your creative juices flowing on the live scene and whilst a little restrictive on the tracks available to use, what is there though will entertain you for hours.

Rating: Excellent Review Policy (version tested: PSN/PS Vita)

Edited On 26 May, 2012

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