One of the more unusual games I saw at E3 can’t really be called a “game” at all.
Q-Games’ upcoming PlayStation Move game “PixelJunk Lifelike” reminded me a bit of a cross between Spirograph, Q Entertainment’s “Child of Eden” and Nintendo’s cult DS hit “Electroplankton,” which let players create simple musical compositions by moving the DS stylus around the touch screen.
“LifeLike” uses a concept similar to “Electroplankton’s,” except that instead of moving a stylus around a touchscreen and interacting with little plankton, you’re creating customized compositions by moving the PlayStation Move wand around a 3D space as the camera tracks your movement.
“Lifelike” is the brainchild of Japanese performance artist Tomohisa Kuramitsu, aka Baiyon. While Baiyon demonstrated the software, Q-Games President Dylan Cuthbert said, “We’ve created an audio canvas” that puts players “in control of the entire track.”
It was a bit difficult to tell exactly how each component of the song was controlled during the demo, and there wasn’t much live explanation. But Baiyon manipulated the track through such motions as flicking his wrist up and down, turning the controller in his hand like a screwdriver, and whipping his arm from side-to-side.
After the demo was over, we got a little explanation of how everything works. Key elements of the performance, such as the beat and bass line, are chosen by the performer and then manipulated by moving the wand around. The face buttons on the controller can be used to introduce samples. Adding a second PlayStation Move wand will give you more options. We even got to see how a player can use a headset or microphone to add vocal samples to the mix. It made me wonder whether we’d eventually be able to use “Lifelike” to fuse the work of artists like Baiyon with the performance art stylings of Reggie Watts. (Warning: Embedded video contains some harsh language, though nothing you don’t hear in an average day out in the world.)
A spectator mode will allow players to drop in and check out performances by other “Lifelike” players via the PlayStation Network. This is a cool idea, but I hope Q-Games takes an active role in screening and featuring the most skilled performances. It’d be tedious to watch 20 or 30 performances by unskilled, tone-deaf fools like me before you stumbled across the stylings of Baiyon.
“PixelJunk Lifelike” is due out later this year as a PlayStation Network-exclusive download.