A jab at gaming – with love

PixelJunk Monsters (Encore, Deluxe) Review

– By Josh

PixelJunk Monsters is a tower defense game made by Q-Games. If you don’t know what a tower defense game is, I suggest clicking on the link for the Wiki page. Monsters is a game where you play as a cute little Tiki Man protecting his hut of 20 “babies.” The Tiki Man’s (or “turtle” – as one friend would say) entire goal is to protect the babies from being eaten by waves of monsters. The Tiki Man lives on multiple islands (?) and on each island there are multiple stages. Now the Tiki Man cannot attack the monsters directly, but can build defense towers on trees surrounding the hut. Here lies the strategy of the game; Killing monsters gives you money, money is used to buy towers, different towers work against different monsters. The gameplay consists of you controlling the Tiki Man to different trees, building different towers, and collecting money from killed monsters.

There are a couple other ideas in the strategy of monsters. Gems are another type of currency that are dropped by monsters that can be used to increase the ability of built towers, or can be used to buy new types of towers that are most specialized against certain enemy types. There is also dancing. Hovering over an already built tower will gradually increase the ability of the built towers; in the same way spending gems increases their ability.

There are two versions and one expansion of PixelJunk Monsters. PixelJunk Monsters and the expansion PixelJunk Monsters Encore are both download only on for the PS3. PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe is download only for the PSP. Deluxe has all the levels from the original and encore, as well as one more island. As a personal note, I have both version as well as the Encore expansion. I even bought a 2nd PSP so my girlfriend and I could play the Deluxe version together, but more on that later.

What I like:

Local Co-op – This game supports a two player version where you and another can work together to save your “babies.” My girlfriend likes this game because it’s “easy to control,” “simple,” and “addicting.” I love this game, because it allows us to spend time together that is interactive and uses strategy. Nothing can stress a relationship more than arguing about which person was suppose to place a tower on which tree. In the co-op mode, each individual has their own collection of money, but share gems, so if you play this game you will probably use the phrase “[why are you such a] money hog!”

Art & Music – Monsters is a very clean, colorful, vibrant, and unique art style that you don’t see in a lot of games (except for other Q-Games in the PixelJunk series). The music is also quite catchy, with the options to mute and play music off your hard drive if you prefer.

Addicting – This game supports online leaderboards, so striving to get the highest score is always a factor. Mostly, because of the methodical gameplay, hours seem to pass as you try to beat a level without losing any babies. Perfecting a level by beating it without losing any babies, results in receiving a rainbow. Need to keep getting those rainbows.

Value – After putting hours upon hours into this game, it’s the definition of a great value. We still play this game today, and it originally came out in Jan. 2008. It’s tough to say if we will continue to play this after we rainbow every level (still missing 1), but we are still plugging away at the PSP version and still have all the trophy challenges to finish. Oh, did I mention this game is $10? Plus $5 for the expansion (it might be cheaper now though). The PSP version is $20, but might be cheaper now (ignore the fact that I bought a 2nd PSP just for this game).

What is questionable:

Level Replays – Sometimes when replaying a level using the exact same tower setup, the results aren’t always the same. This has only occurred a couple of times, but it can be frustrating as the results aren’t consistence and leads to “Honey, what did you do differently? Why did the monster get through?”

Color Confusion – This may have been a design choice to artificially extend the life of the game, but at the bottom of the screen there is an indicator displaying what type of monsters will be arriving in the next wave. As explained earlier, sometimes certain towers are needed for specific monsters, but some monsters will flash different colors indicating they are special. I wish they would just flash the specific color so I would know which special monster is coming.

PS3 or PSP – Just wish they would release the deluxe version on the PS3… I mean why not? Also, the PS3 version doesn’t allow you to pass through your co-op partner, but the PSP version does. So on the PS3, make sure to move out of the way if someone needs to get by!

OVERALL – 4/4 stars. PixelJunk Monsters is one of the best, novice-friendly, relationship-enhancing, time-sucking, tower defense games I have ever played. The value, strategy, presentation, and replayability make this an exciting and worthwhile game. In a nutshell, if you haven’t played this game, you are missing out on a wonderful game that shows how powerful the download space for gaming has become.

4Couples – This is the game that we play. My girlfriend is not known for playing videogames, but she will actually suggest playing this game, which is a huge plus for me. Also, if I want to play something else, I can just give her the PSP version and she’ll be happy. Unfortunately, that worked for about a month as she preceded to rainbow every level on every island in the PSP version. Though the ups and downs of our relationship we have always come back to Monsters. This game is such a part of our relationship that I suggested that we have PixelJunk Monsters themed wedding if we get married. We could have artwork from the game as table decorations, maybe a rainbow over the altar. I even suggested we could dress as Tiki people and dance the whole time during the ceremony. – She hates the idea, but she loves monsters.

Oh well.


3 Responses to “PixelJunk Monsters (Encore, Deluxe) Review”

  1. Monsters is a great (and cheap) game. I love Tower D games, so this was right up my alley. Do you and your GF enjoy the other PixelJunk games as well, or mostly just this one?

  2. I’m not a gamer (much), but I do like this game a lot. It is fun and cute and easy for me to play which is a huge plus as I get easily frustrated if I can’t figure out the controls. I agree this is definitely a great couples game. Overall it is one of my favorite video games.

  3. We have played Eden and Shooter, but Monsters is really the best game 4Couples. Shooter is good to play together, but kind of short.

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