Every spring, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, people in Japan gather to celebrate in an ages-old tradition known as hanami. It's a celebration of nature's beauty, and a chance for friends and family to get together in the first blushes of spring. This year, Q-Games has assembled alongside its Kyoto compatriots on the banks of the Kamo River, laying a blue tarpaulin down beneath the tree that boasts the most impressive blooms for miles (a spot that a junior member of the team was sent down to secure some hours before the event started) before piling into a supply of beer, wine and other assorted booze.
2nd August 2013
22nd September 2011
31st March 2008
25th January 2008
Free with a PlayStation Plus membership from 5th March will be Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition on PS4, Tomb Raider and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons on PS3, and PixelJunk Monsters and Smart As on Vita.
PixelJunk Monsters developer Q-Games has announced a 26th August release date for the title's buffed-up Steam version.
Buy PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate pre-release and you'll get 15 per cent off - £12.74, down from £14.99. Or you can buy two copies at once and save even more (thanks, Polygon).
The game includes single player, local and online co-op, Big Picture mode, leaderboards, achievements, Steam trading cards and badges.
Double Eleven, the Durham studio that's worked on some of the Vita's most critically acclaimed titles such as LittleBigPlanet and Limbo, is working with Q-Games on a new enhanced version of Pixel Junk Monsters for Sony's handheld, with PC and Mac versions to follow shortly after.
Further sequels to any of Q-Games' acclaimed PixelJunk titles are unlikely, studio founder Dylan Cuthbert has told Eurogamer.
Cuthbert explained that, aside from a social networking Monsters spin-off, Q plans to focus on more original games in the near future.
"We get a lot of calls to do an Eden sequel and people also say they want more Monsters. We're actually doing a social network version of Monsters. Probably Facebook. It's a hell of a lot of fun," he explained.
Q-Games has a pair of patches prepared for PSN games PixelJunk Eden and PixelJunk Monsters.
Sony is readying a PixelJunk Monsters expansion for release on the US PlayStation Store in April.
Dubbed Encore, it will add 15 fresh levels to conquer, plus visual effects like weather, and rebalance some gameplay bits and pieces. Whatever that means.
Unfortunately Sony Europe has no price or date for us just yet, but we expect little difference between the two regions.
Q-Games has said it has two more PixelJunk games in development for the PlayStation Store.
You might be inclined to take one glance at PixelJunk Monsters and mutter something glib about it looking like it belongs in 1992 and move onto something altogether more alluring. Funnily enough, it also plays a bit like some forgotten 16-bit gem from the same era, based around the simple concept of defending a forest's timid population from a variety of encroaching nasties. Think of it as Space Invaders meets Dune 2.
Designed as a direct attempt to get Japanese gamers into real-time strategy games, it all works rather nicely. Set on a single screen and viewed from a fixed isometric viewpoint, a typical level in PixelJunk Monsters tasks you with controlling a nameless little guy whose job it is to defend the base from ten waves of differing enemies. These remorseless foes snake inexorably towards your frightened populace in single file, and the basic plan is to kill them before they can. But because the scurrying little creature you control can't shoot or fight, you must strategically position defence emplacements on any tree on the map and take the fight to them.
Intuitively, you run your man over to a tree of your choice, press the X button, cycle through the weapon wheel, and select the one you feel is most appropriate. To begin with you have the option to place basic arrow or cannon units, both of which are good at dealing with ground-based enemies but rather feeble and slow in isolation. The key is always strategic placement and strength in numbers - each weapon has its own radius of fire (itself denoted via an oval outline on the screen), so the best plan is to try and memorise the path the enemy takes and set up your units accordingly.
PixelJunk Monsters heads up this week's PlayStation Network updates for PS3, while Syphon Filter: Combat Ops takes top billing on the PSP Store for PC, with a PSone version of Judge Dredd also in attendance if you have a few more quid to spare.
Q-Games' Dylan Cuthbert has revealed that US PlayStation Network users will be able to buy PixelJunk Monsters "next week", which presumably means Thursday 24th January.
Q-Games founder Dylan Cuthbert has been lending Level Up his perspective on the Japanese games market - about which he has an understanding somewhat more intimate than the average Westerner, having worked at Nintendo among other places - reflecting on the fact games aren't taken as "seriously" as they used to be, and revealing that the downloadable PlayStation Network service "really hasn't caught on".
Q-Games has said PixelJunk Monsters will be out worldwide on the PlayStation Network in January.