Sequels can take many paths. There’s the refining, fixing-the-problems approach most take. There’s the kitchen-sink option, throwing in everything you can think of. Then there’s what we call the Lost Levels approach. Like the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 (released in the U.S. as part of Super Mario All-Stars and called The Lost Levels), some games just take the first game and give you another, somewhat more challenging version. Though PixelJunk Shooter added a battle mode (and we’ll get to that later), for most of the game, the team took this latter approach.
(Warning: spoilers of the first game ahead. Go play that one if you haven’t yet.)
You start where you ended the last game: in the belly of a giant beast. This explains the major gameplay additions from the original: new substances to manipulate and deal with. There’s acid, which essentially poisons you and kills you if you don’t quickly find water; eggs, which multiply and block paths (and hatch if wet); and light and darkness, which is practically life and death in certain levels. You venture back out of the beast and into a variety of levels, some of which are similar to the original and others which take the experience to unexplored areas.
Things play like you remember: controls are identical, though little-used moves like spins are given more significance with the new elements. Special suits change up gameplay, though now even more so with the addition of suits like the Hungry Suit that changes the game’s mechanics completely. Did you want to play Dig Dug in the middle of a PixelJunk game? Well now that’s basically what you can do. And, as with the original, you can take on the entire campaign with a friend.
As for that battle mode? Yeah, you can challenge friends to battles, fighting to rescue more scientists and using unlockable weapons against them. This certainly takes the gameplay and turns it on its head, changing things from a ship-based adventure title to a heated arena, but for something the system clearly wasn’t designed for, it’s surprisingly fun.
If you didn’t like the original PixelJunk Shooter, there’s nothing here to change your mind. If you did like it, there are many reasons in Shooter 2 to make you like it even more.