PixelJunk Monsters PSN Review

It’s hard to write this review without mentioning a certain free flash game that has become famous over the course of 2007 at least once, but I will try my best to keep its name from these pages for as long as long as I can. Oh screw it, I can’t do this, it’s Desktop Tower Defence. Phew, that’s a weight of my shoulders! So, now with that out of the way lets get down to telling you why it is a good idea to pay for a game that is so similar in its intentions to one you can play for free with just a few clicks of your mouse.

Well, for the most part PixelJunk Monsters plays pretty much like the game mentioned above, but goes a step further by slightly altering and expanding on that experience in different ways as you advance through the 20 levels on show. However, at its core it is still very much the same beast, as you are still tasked with stopping wave after ever increasing wave of enemies from reaching your base (located at a different point on each of the 20 maps you play). And, you must still accomplish this by building as many towers as you can with your in-game currency (coins). These towers can be easily selected for construction by running your undersized, nameless in-game avatar over to any tree in the game, pressing the X button, and selecting the tower you want from a wheel – then the tower of choice will be built and ready to fire in about ten seconds. Then as you kill the enemies in each wave you get access to more coins thus letting you build even more fortifications, and as a result transforming more of the game trees into a defence against the hordes.

However, it is from this point where the game differs from its predecessors, as along with the coins, the game also offers another pick-up called green gems which can be used to upgrade each of your already built towers to a more powerful version, or if it takes your fancy on latter levels, stash them so you can use a certain amount to unlock access to a different types of more powerful towers to build on the battlefield. Also if you are dead set on saving these gems to get access to new towers, then you can move your in-game avatar over to one of the towers where he will mysteriously dance at it to upgrade it. However, depending on what level the tower already is, it will take a longer time for him upgrade it with his distinct woodland rhythm. Another facet that sets the game apart from its Tower Defence building cousins is the addition of a co-op mode which offers play through the game’s twenty levels with a buddy by your side. Not only is the co-op option great fun, but it’s also exciting as you at your mate start rushing to build towers, collect coins and gems, and shout at each other when it all goes wrong. Unfortunately, co-op is only available offline, so that is one of the few bad points we can level against an otherwise unanimously joy filled game.

So, as you can most likely gather by the above paragraphs the game is not all that complicated, and in truth it has to be said that most levels can be beaten at the most basic level with some luck. However, the bigger challenge comes if you want to perfect a level – by not letting any of your men at your base die. If this is your aim then loads of planning ahead will need to be done to get your towers in the right place to become an effective defence as your foe march through the varying mazes of forests. In addition, a differing selection of towers will need to be built to take down bats, birds, and both slow and fast ground based enemy as quickly as possible. In turn, you will also have to judge which towers you have time to dance at to upgrade, which you would be better of to use a green gem at to auto upgrade, and what tower you should chose to upgrade mid-level. This is truly where the game shines, where you start to experience its immense depth, and where you start to look past it cutesy (but still beautiful) appearance and see the well laid out game beneath.

So, when all is said and done PixelJunk Monsters ends up being quite the compelling game, offering much more depth than its vibrant cartoony exterior first implies. It seems to have hit the nail on the head with just about everything it tries.

“One more go” factor, check!
Easy to learn but hard to master, check!
Cool music, double check!
Intuitive, check!
Fun in multiplayer, HUGE check!

In fact, for such an impressive game that costs such a small amount of money we could very near award this game a nine. However, due to the slightly trial and error nature that makes an appearance in the latter levels it is enough to knock a whole point off. Nevertheless, don’t let that put you off, as the game is still very much a must buy, and is easily one of the most interesting available on PSN today.

8 out of 10
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