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Hands-on: PixelJunk Racers 2nd Lap (PSN)


As the first PixelJunk game from Q-Games, Racers was largely misunderstood by most. Now, after the success of Monsters, Eden and Shooter, Q-Games is ready to go back to its first concept and give it a second chance. PixelJunk Racers 2nd Lap isn't just an add-on to the original PSN game, but a new game (with new features like Trophies) that warrants a second look from fresh PixelJunk fans.

Like the original, 2nd Lap is a unique interpretation of classic top-down racers of yore. However, Q-Games' take on the genre makes it more of a puzzle or rhythm game, rather than a racing game -- an easy mistake for players to make, considering both the game's look and title. While some modes do require "winning" a race, most are about achieving rather specific goals. For example, you may need to complete a number of laps in a constantly-accelerating vehicle, while avoiding all the other cars on the road. "Sunday Drive" will have you trying to get past as many slow-driving cars as possible. It's a frustrating recreation of being stuck in traffic, yet it's oddly compelling.

In its second iteration, PixelJunk Racers remains essentially a collection of car-themed minigames, with the ultimate goal of scoring as high as possible on the leaderboards. Thankfully, 2nd Lap has been made considerably easier and more accessible than the first game, easing players into a much easier single-player experience. The addition of YouTube recording support should appease the show-offs, while the presence of PSN Trophies may make the overall package far more rewarding. (Don't worry Trophy hunters, Q-Games' Dylan Cuthbert told us that they've learned from PixelJunk Eden and Monsters, and will make the Trophies much easier, akin to PixelJunk Shooter.)

Gallery: PixelJunk Racers: 2nd Lap | 4 Photos

Another important addition to 2nd Lap is "Ghost Attack," inspired by ghost data commonly found in the Mario Kart series. In addition to your scores, you'll be able to share a ghost of your best attempts online. You can download ghosts from friends, and see their silhouettes race in tandem with your own playthrough. In many modes, that means you can create asynchronous multiplayer races. Cuthbert predicts that players will also be able to learn from each other's ghosts, especially in one mode inspired by Ikaruga.

For the uninitiated, 2nd Lap is the definitive PixelJunk Racers game to get. However, for those who purchased the original, there will be a discounted "upgrade" option available in the PlayStation Store. Details are still being tweaked, but the intent is to have owners of the original Racers get a very cheap way of buying 2nd Lap. Unfortunately, because 2nd Lap is a brand new game altogether, buying 2nd Lap is the only way to get access to PSN Trophies. (The original game will not be patched.)

PixelJunk Racers 2nd Lap doesn't have a release date yet, but it is complete and awaiting a worldwide release. It should be available on PSN "very soon."

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