More Monsters? Yes Please!
PixelJunk Monsters, in my opinion, is one of the best titles to hit the PlayStation Network. Its premise was simple tower defense. You play as a tiki guardian (or at least, that’s what I’ve always assumed the on-screen character is) and your job is to protect a village of exactly 20 inhabitants against invading monsters. How is this accomplished? Through construction! The game starts you off with a small budget which allows you to build two or three structures, but as enemies die off, you’ll gain access to more money to build more structures and gems that can be used to either upgrade existing structures or research new ones.
The basic structure of PixelJunk Monsters is simple, but through the three islands that were included in the original and the Encore! Expansion, it gave players plenty of towers to defend on multiple difficulty settings. But even though there was plenty to experience here, the folks at Q Games have upped the ante once again by offering PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe, the definitive version of PixelJunk Monsters… on the PSP.
Although it is presented on a smaller screen, PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe has plenty of new content, and while the principle content has been moved to the PSP, this can hardly be classified as just a port. To start things off, PixelJunk Monsters has a whole new island of challenges. Dubbed Gati Gati Island, this new setting has all new levels, complete with a new beach setting. The new levels are nicely balanced against the old ones, and the difficulty setting is on par with the older island maps.
In addition to the new maps, there are also plenty of other new features that make PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe the most complete-feeling game in the franchise thus far. One of my biggest complaints about the original and its expansion was the lack of online multiplayer. PixelJunk Monsters is not a game that is easy to play solo, and I found that the single-player experience was much more difficult than playing co-op. While the PS3’s local co-op options certainly made for great times with friends close by, if you didn’t know anyone that was strategically inclined, the clearing of levels on the hardcore difficulty was next to impossible.
Fortunately, PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe has included a robust online mode that lets you meet up with friends all around the world and play cooperatively. You can join rooms in quickplay sessions, or you can filter rooms to display only those working on a certain island or difficulty level. You can also create your own room which gives you the freedom to complete the levels that you want with a friend. The online mode also supports voice chat, so you’ll be able to converse with your online partners to discuss strategy.
The online functionality is probably the best new feature of Pixeljunk Monsters Deluxe, allowing you to experience all the old and new maps in a whole new way. However, if you prefer your PixelJunk Monsters experience offline, you can also play ad-hoc with a local buddy. This plethora of options makes the multiplayer very accessible, which is great for a title where having two players is basically a necessity if you want to go beat every level and go beyond the casual difficulty setting.
The final improvement that has been made for PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe is the addition of two new towers. These new towers include a trap tower, which acts like a giant electrical tripwire, and a gem tower, which automatically upgrades towers already constructed on the field with gem upgrades. Both of these towers need to be unlocked, so you’ll have to play for quite awhile and stock up on those perfect completion rainbows before you will be able to use the new towers.
In addition to all the new content, PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe has also improved upon the challenge mode by adding an all-new Medal Challenge mode (as a substitute for the Trophy challenges on the PS3). Medals for levels can be unlocked after a certain number have been cleared, and challenges can include everything from the way you use your in-game currency to the way you defeat end-level bosses. The Medal Challenges gives this game (which already has a very high level of replayability) even more longevity.
Though much has changed for PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe, a lot has stayed the same as well. The visuals are on par with the PlayStation 3 version of the game, and everything still looks very crisp, and the animations are as solid as ever. The only real difference in the visuals between the PlayStation 3 version and the PSP version is the way that you view the map. On the PS3, the map is fixed, but on the PSP’s smaller screen, the map is too big, so occasionally the map will zoom in to certain areas automatically to show you where an enemy is approaching. Although this is a necessary change, it can sometimes be annoying when your character is on one side and enemies are on the others and your little guy disappears when the camera zooms in on the monsters. Still, this only happens occasionally, and a quick press of the left trigger zooms everything out again and refocuses the camera.
The sound in PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe also is very similar to the sound in prior titles, with the soundtrack for the previous levels and menu still featuring the same Otograph tunes. However, the new levels feature new tunes by Otograph, which are equally enjoyable to listen to and certainly match the level of the old score. I have always been a fan of the music in PixelJunk Monsters, and the new tunes just add to the enjoyable auditory experience.
If you are a fan of PixelJunk Monsters, the Deluxe edition has more than enough new content to justify another download. Between the new maps, new towers, and the online capabilities, there is plenty of new content and features for diehard fans to experience in this new version. If you haven’t experienced PixelJunk Monsters yet, it represents the best tower defense title this generation, and the Deluxe edition is definitely the one to get! Either way, PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe is a considerable upgrade over its predecessors and begs to be downloaded.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.4 Graphics
Graphics look just as good on the PSP as they did on the PS3. Although the screen sometimes has to adjust itself to fit the entire board, it is not terribly noticeable. 4.6 Control
Controls are identical to the PS3’s, which are very simplistic. 4.1 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music is again provided by Otograph, whose surreal soundtrack has become one of the game’s hallmarks. 4.9 Play Value
With all of the content of the PS3 releases, new challenge modes, towers, maps, and online modes, this is the most complete version of PixelJunk Monsters to date and has endless replayability. 4.6 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.