'PixelJunk Shooter' mixes shooting and puzzles

"PixelJunk Shooter"

For: Playstation 3 via Playstation Network

From: Q-Games//Sony

ESRB Rating: Everyone 10\+ (lyrics, mild fantasy violence)

Price: $10

The inadequately-named "PixelJunk Shooter" is, technically, a shooter - superficially, a 2D space shooter in the vein of "Geometry Wars" and its ilk. But while there are enemies to shoot in "Shooter's" subterranean caverns, the real objective centers around rescuing workers trapped deep within. Blasting through dilapidated cave walls is all it takes to rescue some, but a majority of the rescue effort revolves around using one element - magma, water, ice - to nullify another. Cracking a wall to unleash a tidal wave, for instance, will cool a lava pool into rock, which then can be shot away to create an opening for civilian rescue.

"Shooter's" physics-laden elemental riddles begin as simple cause/effect puzzles, but the challenge ramps up nicely as the enemies grow more dangerous and the elements, environments and available tools increase in number. Executing adequate rescues and taking down the screen-sized boss enemies isn't a lengthy or difficult exercise, but engineering perfect rescues and mining the caves for every hidden valuable is.

For players bent on doing exactly that, "Shooter's" core action (playable solo or with a friend via local co-op) and terrific audiovisual presentation are more than inviting enough to inspire the repeat playthroughs likely needed to master it inside out.