PixelJunk SideScroller is a third-person shooter/side scroller in the same universe as PixelJunk Shooter series.
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he game has 3 stages each with 4 levels, with one additional hidden level at the end. A normal level will consist of the player navigating similar environments to the shooter games although with a different aesthetic style. Players need to navigate these alien environments while avoiding lava and cooling off in water all while shooting random bad guys and making sure you do not get shot by said bad guys. The different fluids also continue to interact in similar ways. If water hits lava it will turn to stone, water will freeze when it comes into contact with ice and lava will melt that ice. While there isn't as much puzzle solving with different combinations of liquids as in shooter you still need to be aware of how each interacts and be able to cool off quickly should the need arise. The heat meter however is gone and now you can really only take one shot from an enemy or heat source before getting killed. You can however still fly into water to get all patched up regardless of the damage source. There are also shields that allow you to take an extra hit before exploding as well. If you do happen to explode there are several checkpoints across each level that you will respawn at. After progressing through three normal levels and the end of each world and at the end of the last stage level there are boss fights. Again these bosses are fairly similar to shooter bosses. There are glowing red bits that you need to shoot while avoiding getting shot yourself.
Players can acquire points by picking up pellets and killing enemies, though former gains you very little in comparison to creating long kill combos. Combos are where the main challenge of the game comes in. A combo is created after killing an enemy, killing another enemy within approximately 10 seconds. Being able to manage to string one long chain from beginning to end seems to be the key to achieving maximum score and the highest medals. There are pretty extensive leaderboards that compare people at each different difficulty level as well as each stage and a total overall score.