PixelJunk Monsters

Tower Defence games are a popular, well-known genre right? Well, to you, they may well be, but this reviewer must confess that this type of game is an entirely new concept, but a very welcome one. Taking just small aspects of successful strategy games such as Command and Conquer, a Tower Defence game alows the user to employ only turrets, in fixed locations, to defend a base against waves of enemies, In the case of PixelJunk Monsters, this involves a gentle villager setting up defences in nearby trees, with the aim of protecting younger unprotected villaers from a variety of scary enemies.

PixelJunk Monsters

The game starts gently, with only a handful of turrets available for use (a cannon, for heavy ground attack; arrow launchers for rapid attack against all enemies, and anti-air guns for flying opponents) and swiftly introduces you to the simple, but effective, formula. Each level features a forest area, with clearings that monsters traverse in waves, gradually making their way to your village. To successfully defend the villagers, a careful balance of resource management must be achieved. Monsters take a variety of forms, ranging from lightly protected, fast-moving spider-like creatures, through to large, stony behemoths that plod relentlessly through barrages of defensive fire, and even flying monstrosities capable of taking shortcuts to base that can easily catch the defence unprepared.

The waves of enemies, and the turrets set to defend them, are spread across colourful and lively forest maps with considerable terrain and environmental variety. Some levels feature thick snow (that is reflected by character movement which suddenly becomes a touch more slippery), large areas of water, dense forests, mountain regions and more, each significantly influencing the tactical play. This world is brought to life fantastically for PS3, with bright and crisp 2-D visuals and perfect handling of any number of AI critters on screen. Graphical flourishes such as the occasional butterfly fluttering through the forest perfectly contrast the violence of the various turrets, which serves to emphasize the more cutesy nature of this game. While the focus of the game is clearly turret defence, the enemies are slightly cartoony, and as much effort has gone into atmosphere and character as has been placed in tactical design. The playful music and effects also serve to accentuate the gentle nature of the game, leading to a thoughtful and enjoyable game for the Playstation Store.

PixelJunk Monsters

Tactically, the game is remarkably deep though, with a variety of unlockable turrets appearing as the game progresses. The unlockable part is important to mention, since the kit isn't free. Monsters, once defeated, drop coins, allowing the player to build more defences, and also gems which, in short supply, must be carefully managed, since they allow both rapid upgrade of existing towers and, crucially, the purchase of more advanced towers, such as flame turrets, lasers and electric coils.

Though there are online rankings, allowing score comparison, the main multiplayer draw is by far the cooperative mode. Allowing two players on the screen, working together and sharing resources while mounting a unified defence, PJM provides one of the most enjoyable cooperative experiences on PS3. The levels may only match those of the single-player game, but the cooperative game is a key feature that marks this title as worthy of note. Considering the game costs less than a fiver, now has trophy support, has an excellent cooperative mode, and features some of the best tactical play available on the store, there's little to criticize in this game. The graphical simplicity is acceptable, since the game would not necessarily benefit from MGS4-levels of graphical beauty (and it may even lose some of its charm). Perhaps the only criticism is the variety of the levels. After five or so maps, the wow factor is removed, although the monsters will still undoubtedly surprise you with increasing numbers and evolving defences against your turrets. That aside, PixelJunk Monsters is a superb game, and an extremely welcome addition to the store. It is very easy to recommend this top-notch game.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Q-Games

Developer:

Q-Games

Players:

1-2

Online:

Rankings

Release:

2008-01-24

Trophies:

19

Review summary

Gameplay:

Brilliant tactical play, perfectly balanced

Graphics:

Simple, colourful and effective

Sound:

Decent music and sounds

Lastability:

Loads of challenge and replay value

8.6

Supernova

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John Marston

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