Monday 7 August 2023

PixelJunk Scrappers Deluxe Review (Switch)

Everyone’s favourite innovative PS3 indie developer has finally released another game on the Switch. It may not be the collection of its first games we are all clambering for but anything from the PixelJunk team is more than welcome. We’ve covered the beautiful PixelJunk Eden 2 before and Monster 2 is also out on the Switch but Scrappers sees the team move into yet another genre – the scrolling beat’em up.

Scrappers has players take control of a robot who is tasked with collecting rubbish and fighting off electronic thugs in world where humans have long since become extinct. Up to four players can play at once and there is both local and online play available. The game scrolls left to right with players needing to pickup and stack trash in a big pile which they then carry to a rubbish truck that rolls along continually. The higher the stack the harder it is to keep the balance and the more you throw in the truck at once the higher your score is. While doing this, thugs will come out and try and beat you up. You of course need to hit them first with a host of weapons ranging from baseball bats to chainsaws.

Single players are helped by a little robot helper who zooms around picking up rubbish for you and throwing it to you. In truth there is little to substitute for a team of humans but it does make single player seem less lonely. Along with the scoring and fighting dynamic there are also level challenges to complete which give you medals. These start with your basic score attacks but branch out to finding hidden objects and defeating enemies in certain ways. Any challenges beaten unlock medals which are needed to progress. Unfortunately, this is one of the problems with the game as the medal requirements are quite challenging meaning it’s likely you’ll be playing the same levels over and over before you can progress to the next.

As you progress through the levels you can unlock more characters and weapons which can be permanently purchased between levels. You can also customise pretty much everything on your truck from the wheels to the number plate. These changes are cosmetic only but if your dream is to design your own rubbish truck then you need look no further.

As great as the idea of Scrappers is there are a few problems that get in the way of the fun. First of all, the game really is difficult if you are playing solo and it’s tricky to get near the higher end of the score challenges. It’s also the sort of game that would work best with you all zipping around the screen picking up trash and fending off enemies. But the pace of the game is fairly slow which makes it kind of plod along. This becomes even more noticeable when you are repeating stages for the fourth or fifth time in order to meet the requisite medal unlocks to reach the next area. Simply put, it's not manic enough for either a puzzle or beat’em up game and that is a real shame.

Overall, Scrappers has the classic PixelJunk DNA running through it but it’s not up there with the studios best. The mixing of the score attack, puzzle and beat’em up elements together is initially intriguing but it never really gels in the way you would hope. PixelJunk fans will be able to look past this and see the attempted innovation, but this may just be to far out there for a more general appeal. In multiplayer things improve immeasurably but this isn’t a game many will see through to the end on their own.

Overall 6/10

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