PixelJunk Monsters Review

I can’t explain the sudden explosion of tower defense games. Hell, what was once a Warcraft mod has practically become a genre all on its own. It’s mind boggling. Some have even named Desktop Tower Defense as their game of the year in 2007, and DTD was easily one of the most played flash titles of the year.

With those kinds of expectations and fanbase behind the infant genre, PixelJunk Monsters comes wobbling onto the scene. As the latest PSN exclusive title, the game takes the idea behind the tower defense “series” but adds a few new factors to it. The result is a creation which is familiar, but also different.

Like any other tower defense game you’ve played, the whole premise is to construct and upgrade towers to ward off swarm after swarm of enemies. You have your towers which are good against ground troops, towers good against air troops, towers decent against both, etc., just like any other tower defense title. Unlike DTD, which gives you a cursor and a screen, PixelJunk Monsters gives you control over a little fellow desperately trying to build towers to protect his fellow brethren.

In PJM, you have three primary resources to use: gems, trees, and coins. Coins are needed to pay for building towers, which need to be built on a tree. Once you do that, you can use gems to quickly upgrade a current tower, or research developments for later on. Once a tower is built, it will shoot at any enemy that comes within its range. In an odd move, standing your character next to a completed tower will result in our tiny heroic carpenter dancing like there’s no tomorrow, which for some reason upgrades towers. I have no idea.

The whole game revolves around those principles: collect coins, build, dance, repeat. Later levels and harder difficulties are very unforgiving and require quite a bit of trial and error to learn monster types and patterns, but for the most part it’s just as accessible as any other tower defense title.

What helps is the wonderful co-op mode. You can partner up with another friend and play the game with TWO tiny heroes. This brings in a whole new element of strategy. Should your friend collect coins or dance while you build? Should you both monitor an entire section completely alone? What happens if you both end up collecting coins and no one builds? It can lead to some heated exchanges with friends, but overall it’s a blast, and rivals the best co-op games on XBLA.

The gameplay is addictive, and players can easily scale the difficulty to their own skill level. Like hard games? Crank up the difficulty and swear at some of the later levels. Like easy games? Crank it down, and play through with a friend. You can even play on your PSP via remote play, and it translates extremely well to Sony’s handheld.

PixelJunk Monsters is without question, the best PSN game yet. It’s accessible to all types of gamers, you can play it with a friend, and you can play it on the go on your PSP. It’s worth every penny, and if you were thinking to yourself, “I’m not going to pay for something I can play for free online!” think again. This is much more than Desktop Tower Defense with enhanced graphics.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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