PixelJunk 4am Review

PixelJunk 4am is an electronic music creator that lets you use your Move controller as a "paintbrush", apply strokes to launch and modify tracks and loops while the screen pulses with a hypnotic display of pulsing colors. The idea behind it is to make it simple to create electronic music, but a lengthy tutorial will certainly have you believing that the opposite is true. You use the buttons on the Move controller to isolate tracks, and various waves of the controller let you control each track's reverb, distortion, and a few other effects, and once set 4am will happily play each track in an endless loop. You can also use the Move to "hit" the edges of the screen as well as certain swirling movements to add additional one-time effects. You can't really mess things up to the point where you create an epic fail of cacophonic noise, so you're free to goof around with it at will and produce perfectly passable generic music. Conversely, the inability to create anything that's an abject failure means that those of you with actual talent at making music will probably find 4am to be too restrictive to make anything truly original with it. 4am is the sort of thing that you'll play with for a little bit and then be completely ready to move on to something else, although you can probably get a little more mileage out of it as a party novelty.

4am has an online component that allows anyone playing it to make their creation available in real-time to anyone else with the game. Browsing the available channels (or broadcasting your own) is an interesting short-term diversion, and you can let others know that you're watching by shaking your move controller to give them "kudos". But everyone's using the same tools so the music starts to sound similar once you've visited enough other players' streams.

PixelJunk 4am isn't a game so much as it's a musical toy, and as a musical toy it has pretty limited appeal. You've got to like electronic music to the point that you want to create it, and you've got to want something that makes it easy to make music but not something complex enough to let you create truly original music. Even if you fall into this somewhat select group of Move owners, 4am's simplicity soon begins to work against it and the novelty will quickly wear off.

Final Rating: 60%. A novelty toy that will hold your interest about as long as most novelty toys do.


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