4am let's you get the party moving

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by TRACY-MARK GORGAS / Special contributor to NWCN.com

NWCN.com

Posted on June 1, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 5 at 11:54 PM

4am can be a quiet time in most places in the world.  Pixeljunk's 4am might have you up all night making some noise.  Let the rave begin.

Story

4am is not quite a game, it's more like an instrument.  It has no story.

Controls and Gameplay

4am is an experiment by Pixeljunk in music creationism and expressionism. Using the Sony Move you create music with song samples you find in the "canvas" around you.  The face buttons on the Move controller link to drums, rhythm, bass and synth.  Select one and the ball will change to the same color of the button.  You can then reach out to one of four directions (upper left, lower left, upper right, and lower right), when you feel the controller vibrate you have found a sample you can pull into the song by holding the trigger down, pointing the controller at the TV, and then letting the trigger go.  Once the sample is playing you can hold the Move button and manipulate that track; changing tempo, volume, echo, etc.

There are "splashes" of sound you can make also.  Select any of the face buttons, then with a motion like you are tapping a drum, tap towards left, right, up, or down.

If you are connected to the internet your performance can be watched by others who can then give you "kudos" by waving their Move controllers.  You can also promote your performance through Twitter and Facebook.

Graphics and Sound

4am art style can best be described as an eclectic collection of abstract art.  Each music set has a different abstract style.  As you pull in sound samples they provide a different piece of the graphic.  Manipulation of the sound samples changes the shape of that piece

Once again Pixeljunk has teamed up with Baiyon for music.  He has created quite the selection of samples and tracks for each set.  All the samples fit into one of the following genres of music:  House, Techno, and Electronic each genre lends themselves to 4am's remix-ability.

Overall

4am is a very unique program on the PlayStation Network.  It really can't be called a game since it is more of a musical instrument than a game.  It is also one of the best uses of the PlayStation Move I've gotten my hands on.  In a way the music and the Move combine to make the player a dancer and musician rather than just a gamer.

I rather enjoyed Baiyon's prior work with Pixeljunk, the excellent Eden soundtrack.  Here he continues to impress and by arranging all the samples into something that makes the player feel like a House DJ. 

After a long hard day 4am is excellent way of unwinding.  The live stream of the performance can also be something of a ego booster.  As you manipulate the music the instant feedback you get from listeners, via the kudos, encourages your performance.  During one performance I found myself even playing to the audience, tweaking samples as the kudos rolled in.

One drawback I have with 4am is that you can get lost in the mix.  Samples will fade after a while if you don't continue to manipulate them.  Sometimes, while tweaking, I would lose the original sound and be unable to find my way back.  Such is the unpredictable nature of 4am.  In many ways this makes for different performances every time you play.   A more general drawback of 4am is the very niche genre of it.  Unless a player is into house or techno music most folks will give it a pass, but if you do enjoy that style of music I highly encourage you to check it out.

If you don't want to perform, but instead just want to listen and watch the performances, Pixeljunk did make a free 4am Live Stream app for the PlayStation Network that allows you to sit back and enjoy other gamers works.

While niche, 4am is a relaxing and fun way of making music for even some of the most tone deaf people.  I give it a 4.5 out of 5.

4am is rated E for Everyone by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).  It is available now exclusively on the Sony PlayStation Network for the PlayStation 3.  At least one PlayStation Move controller is required (optionally two can be used).  For more information see the 4am web site.

 

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